In Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 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 start over with a clean slate and move on, after having learned to better manage their use of credit in the process. However, bankruptcy should not be treated as a way to avoid debt that one simply doesn't feel like paying. It is meant to be a safety net for people or businesses who are really unable to pay off their debts. Because bankruptcy is not without negative consequences (such as a severely damaged credit rating for many years afterward), it should be viewed as an option of last resort.
Therefore, it is prudent to consult with an experienced Barnstable County, Massachusetts bankruptcy attorney, who can advise you of the costs and benefits of bankruptcy. Because the decision to file for bankruptcy depends very heavily on the facts of each individual case, the advice of a Barnstable County bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in Barnstable County, Massachusetts
There are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most commonly used in Barnstable County: Chapters 7, 13, and 11. Bankruptcy is a creation of federal law, so the procedure for filing for bankruptcy in Barnstable County, Massachusetts 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 proceeds 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 Barnstable County 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 reasonable amount of time. When a repayment plan is approved by a court, creditors are legally barred from attempting to collect under the original terms of their arrangement with the debtor. 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 approved by the participating creditors through a simple majority vote.
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 Barnstable County Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankrtuptcy in Barnstable 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 good Barnstable County bankruptcy attorney.