In St. Joseph, Illinois, bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which a person or business has some or all of their debts legally cleared, when they are unable to pay them. This hopefully allows them to begin over with a clean slate and move on, after having learned to better manage their use of credit in the process. However, bankruptcy is not a free ride, allowing someone who simply doesn't feel like paying their debts to get out of that legal requirement. It is designed to prevent debt which has slight chance of ever being paid back from ruining the life and finances of the debtor. It also carries significant long-term consequences, which must be carefully weighed against the potential benefits. For example, bankruptcy makes it very difficult for the debtor to obtain credit in the near future.
For that reason, it would be advisable to speak with a good St. Joseph, Illinois bankruptcy attorney. This attorney will be able to advise you as to whether or not filing for bankruptcy is a good idea, given your specific situation. This determination is highly dependent on the details of each individual case, so a St. Joseph attorney's advice is really indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in St. Joseph, Illinois
There are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most commonly used in St. Joseph: Chapters 7, 13, and 11. Bankruptcy is a creation of federal law, so the process for filing for bankruptcy in St. Joseph, Illinois will be roughly the same as it would be anywhere else in the U.S. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of many of the debtor's assets in order to pay off as much of the debt as possible. This sounds harsh, but there is an upside: once the liquidation is complete, the debts are legally viewed as having been paid in full, whether or not the full amount was covered by the liquidation. Liquidation involves selling some personal property, and using the funds to pay off debt. Numerous types of property are exempt from liqudiation, and therefore may not need to be sold. They include homes, cars, and insurance policies, among others. You should know that some types of debt cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including taxes, student loans, and child support.
The other popular bankruptcy system in St. Joseph is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Under this system, the debtor's debts are restructured, instead of discharged. This involves creating a new repayment plan that the debtor will find manageable, given his or her income, and that will result in the creditors being paid in a decent amount of time. When a repayment plan is authorized by a court, creditors are legally barred from trying to collect under the original terms of their arrangement with the debtor. Though applicable to individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is typically used by businesses. Like Chapter 13, Chapter 11 requires the restructuring of debts. Under this system, the debtor must come up with a plan to reduce debt, cut costs, and improve operations. Once this plan is finalized, it is submitted to the participating creditors, who must approve it by a majority vote before it can be implemented.
During the Chapter 11 process, a business can typically continue its operations, and the stock can be traded, even if it is de-listed from a major stock exchange.
How Can a St. Joseph Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to examine all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in St. Joseph cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a St. Joseph bankruptcy attorney beforehand.