In St. Joseph County, Indiana, 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.
Accordingly, it might be a good idea to consult with a St. Joseph County, 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 challenging to anticipate the long-term consequences of any bankruptcy-related decisions, so the advice of a bankruptcy in St. Joseph County could prove invaluable.
Types of Bankruptcy in St. Joseph County, Indiana
In St. Joseph County, Indiana, there are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most frequently used. They are identified as Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Being a product of federal law, the procedural rules governing bankruptcy in St. Joseph County, 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 done, 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.
The other typical bankruptcy scheme used by consumers in St. Joseph County is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In this system, debt is not discharged. Instead, it is restructured. This allows the debtor to have the terms of the arrangements that gave rise to their debts in the first place thrown out, and replaced with new terms that call for a structured repayment plan, designed to allow the debtor to survive on whatever income they have, and allowing the creditors to get paid back eventually. Once a payment plan is authorized, creditors are not allowed to attempt to collect payment under the original agreements. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is generally used by businesses, though it can be used by individuals (which is quite rare). Chapter 11 bankruptcy requires that the debtor come up with a reorganization plan - typically telling the court how they propose to cut costs, streamline their operations, and pay their debts. This plan must be authorized by the participating creditors through a simple majority vote.
A major advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that businesses can continue their operating while going through the process. Also, they can continue to buy and sell their stock.
How Can a St. Joseph County Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankrtuptcy in St. Joseph County is an influential decision with costs and benefits that must be weighed carefully. Before filing, it would be a good idea to speak with a seasoned St. Joseph County bankruptcy attorney.