In Washington, Illinois, bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which a person or business has some or all of their debts legally excused, 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 little 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 Washington, 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 particular situation. This determination is highly dependent on the details of each individual case, so a Washington attorney's advice is truly indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in Washington, Illinois
In Washington, Illinois, there are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most commonly used. They are known as Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Being a product of federal law, the procedural rules governing bankruptcy in Washington, Illinois will be very similar to those in any other part of the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of part of the debtor's assets to pay off as much of his or her debt as possible. Once the liquidation is complete, and the proceeds given to the creditors, the rest of the debt is discharged. Liquidation is essentially selling assets to the highest bidder. Only some of the debtor's assets have to be sold, and numerous classes of property are exempt, meaning that the debtor can keep them, including homes, cars, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. It should be noted that certain types of debt cannot be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, child support payments, criminal fines, and recent taxes.
The other popular bankruptcy system in Washington 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 agreement with the debtor. Though Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be used by individuals, it is almost always used by businesses. Similar to Chapter 13, Chapter 11 involves restructuring of debts, rather than complete discharge. The debtor is required to come up with a restructuring plan that lays out how it plans to cut costs, streamline operations, and pay its debts. The plan must then be authorized by a vote of participating creditors.
While going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a business can continue operating, and its stock can continue to be traded.
How Can a Washington Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankruptcy in Washington is a very important decision, and should not be made easily. Before filing, one should consult with a seasoned Washington bankruptcy attorney for advice.