In Merrimac, 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 Merrimac, 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 Merrimac bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in Merrimac, Massachusetts
In Merrimac, 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 Merrimac, Massachusetts will be very similar to those in any other part of the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or "liquidation," requires the debtor to sell some of his or her property to the highest bidder, and using the proceeds from the sale to pay down as much debt as possible. Once the sale is done, all dischargeable debt is deemed paid in full, whether or not the sale was able to raise the entire amount owed. You should note that some property (usually the types of property deemed essential) is fully or partially exempt from liquidation, meaning that the debtor gets to keep it. This includes houses, cars, and retirement accounts, among others. Some types of debts, however, cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, including taxes, child support, and student loans.
The other recognized bankruptcy scheme used by consumers in Merrimac is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In this system, debt is not discharged. Instead, it is restructured. This allows the debtor to have the terms of the arrangements that gave rise to their debts in the first place thrown out, and replaced with new terms that call for a structured repayment plan, designed to allow the debtor to survive on whatever income they have, and allowing the creditors to get paid back eventually. Once a payment plan is approved, creditors are not allowed to attempt to collect payment under the original agreements. Though Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be used by individuals, it is almost exclusively used by businesses. Similar to Chapter 13, Chapter 11 involves restructuring of debts, rather than complete discharge. The debtor is required to come up with a restructuring plan that lays out how it plans to cut costs, streamline operations, and pay its debts. The plan must then be approved by a vote of participating creditors.
While going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a business can continue operations, and its stock can continue to be traded.
How Can a Merrimac Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to examine all the options and consider the costs and benefits of filing for bankruptcy in Merrimac cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Merrimac bankruptcy attorney beforehand.