In Hampden 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 begin 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 heavily damaged credit rating for many years afterward), it should be viewed as an option of last resort.
Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Hampden 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 Hampden County bankruptcy attorney cannot be replaced.
Types of Bankruptcy in Hampden County, Massachusetts
In Hampden County, Massachusetts, 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 Hampden County, Massachusetts will be very similar to those in any other part of the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the debtor to liquidate some of his or her assets in order to pay off as much debt as possible. Once the sale of the assets is verified, and the proceeds handed over to the creditors, the debt is perceived as discharged. Liquidation is basically selling assets to the highest bidder. Not all of the debtor's assets will need to be sold, and many types of property are entirely or partially exempt, including homes, cars, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. This means that the debtor can keep them. It should be noted that some types of debts are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, criminal fines, taxes, and child support payments. Even when the bankruptcy process is complete, these debts will have to be paid in full.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Hampden County, 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 an extended period of time, therefore 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. Though applicable to individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is typically used by businesses. Like Chapter 13, Chapter 11 requires the restructuring of debts. Under this system, the debtor must come up with a plan to reduce debt, cut costs, and improve operations. Once this plan is finalized, it is submitted to the participating creditors, who must approve it by a majority vote before it can be implemented.
One major advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows businesses to continue their operations while the process plays out. Moreover, their stock can still be bought and sold.
How Can a Hampden County Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to examine all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Hampden County cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Hampden County bankruptcy attorney beforehand.