In Lancaster, 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 Lancaster, 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 Lancaster bankruptcy attorney cannot be replaced.
Types of Bankruptcy in Lancaster, Massachusetts
In Lancaster, 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 Lancaster, 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.
The other popular bankruptcy system in Lancaster 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 decent amount of time. When a repayment plan is authorized by a court, creditors are legally barred from trying 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 authorized by the participating creditors through a simple majority vote.
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 Lancaster Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to examine all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Lancaster cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Lancaster bankruptcy attorney beforehand.