In Haverhill, Massachusetts, bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which a person or business has some or all of their debts legally absolved, 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 honestly 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 Haverhill, 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 Haverhill bankruptcy attorney cannot be replaced.
Types of Bankruptcy in Haverhill, Massachusetts
In Haverhill, Massachusetts, there are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most often used. They are recognized as Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Being a product of federal law, the procedural rules governing bankruptcy in Haverhill, 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 completely 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 Haverhill, 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 prolonged period of time, thus 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 executed, this plan must be approved by a majority vote of participating creditors.
One advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows a business going through it to continue operating, and to trade its stock.
How Can a Haverhill Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
One should not make the decision to file for bankruptcy in Haverhill easily. Before making any such decision, it would be highly advisable to contact an accomplished Haverhill bankruptcy attorney.