In South Bend, Indiana, 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.
Accordingly, it might be a good idea to consult with a South Bend, Indiana bankruptcy attorney. Your lawyer will be able to counsel you about your options, including alternatives to bankruptcy, if such alternatives exist in your case. Whatever the result, it is often difficult to foresee the long-term consequences of any bankruptcy-related decisions, so the advice of a bankruptcy in South Bend could prove invaluable.
Types of Bankruptcy in South Bend, Indiana
In South Bend, Indiana, 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 South Bend, Indiana will be very similar to those in any other part of the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or "liquidation," requires the debtor to sell some of his or her property to the highest bidder, and using the funds from the sale to pay down as much debt as possible. Once the sale is complete, all dischargeable debt is deemed paid in full, whether or not the sale was able to raise the full amount owed. You should note that some property (usually the types of property deemed essential) is fully or partially exempt from liquidation, meaning that the debtor gets to keep it. This includes houses, cars, and retirement accounts, among others. Some types of debts, however, cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, including taxes, child support, and student loans.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy in South Bend, most of the debtor's debt is not discharged. Instead, the bankruptcy court, working with the debtor and participating creditors, work out a payment plan that allows the debtor to pay off most of his or her debts over a longer period of time, thereby theoretically making the debt far more manageable. Once a payment plan is approved by the court, creditors are prohibited from attempting to collect payment under their original agreements that gave rise to the debt in the first place. Although it can be used by individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is used almost always by businesses. Not unlike Chapter 13, Chapter 11 focuses on restructuring of debt, rather than discharging it. Chapter 11 requires that the debtor come up with a reorganization plan designed to reduce debt and cut costs. Before being implemented, this plan must be approved by a majority vote of participating creditors.
One major advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows businesses to continue their operations while the process plays out. Furthermore, their stock can still be bought and sold.
How Can a South Bend Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankruptcy in South Bend is a very important decision, and should not be made easily. Before filing, one should consult with a seasoned South Bend bankruptcy attorney for advice.