In Fairhaven, Massachusetts, 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 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 truly 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 Fairhaven, 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 Fairhaven bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in Fairhaven, Massachusetts
There are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most commonly used in Fairhaven: Chapters 7, 13, and 11. Bankruptcy is a creation of federal law, so the procedure for filing for bankruptcy in Fairhaven, Massachusetts will be roughly the same as it would be anywhere else in the U.S. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the debtor to liquidate some of his or her property, and use the proceeds to pay creditors. While this doesn't sound like much of a relief at first glance, the upshot is that once the eligible property is sold, and the proceeds given to the creditors, all of the debtor's eligible debts are deemed paid in full, regardless of how much the creditors actually ended up getting. Not all of the debtor's property has to be sold off - the debtor will usually be allowed to keep things like a house, at least one car, some types of personal property, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. It should be noted that some debts are not dischargeable, and will have to be paid in full even if the debtor files for bankruptcy. This includes student loans, taxes, and criminal fines.
The other form of bankruptcy most commonly used in Fairhaven is Chapter 13. It allows a person to pay off their debt over a longer period of time, often consolidating it into one periodic payment. In this system, the amount of money the debtor owes is not actually reduced, but the payment of the debt is made far more manageable. This gives the debtor some breathing room, allowing him to continue to earn a living while gradually paying down his debts, and gives some security to creditors that they will eventually collect all or most of what they're owed. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is almost exclusively used by businesses, but there is nothing that legally prevents it from being used by individuals, and its use by individuals is very rare. Chapter 11 bankruptcy requires the debtor to come up with a restructuring plan - telling the court how they propose to cut costs, improve their operations, and pay down their debts. The plan has to be approved by a majority vote of participating creditors.
A main advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that businesses can continue their operations while going through the process. Also, they can continue to buy and sell their stock.
How Can a Fairhaven Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankruptcy in Fairhaven is a very important decision, and should not be made lightly. Before filing, one should consult with a good Fairhaven bankruptcy attorney for advice.