In Topsfield, 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 Topsfield, 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 Topsfield bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in Topsfield, Massachusetts
In Topsfield, Massachusetts, 3 types of bankruptcy procedures are in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. Being governed by federal law, the procedures involved in filing for bankruptcy in Topsfield, Massachusetts will be about the same as anywhere else in America. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of many of the debtor's assets in order to pay off as much of the debt as possible. This sounds harsh, but there is an upside: once the liquidation is complete, the debts are legally viewed as having been paid in full, whether or not the full amount was covered by the liquidation. Liquidation involves selling some personal property, and using the proceeds to pay off debt. Many types of property are exempt from liqudiation, and therefore may not need to be sold. They include homes, cars, and insurance policies, among others. You should know that some types of debt cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including taxes, student loans, and child support.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Topsfield, 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 longer period of time, thereby 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 available to individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is mostly 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 proposed, it is submitted to the participating creditors, who must approve it by a majority vote before it can be implemented.
One main advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows businesses to continue their operations while the process plays out. Furthermore, their stock can still be bought and sold.
How Can a Topsfield Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
One should not make the decision to file for bankruptcy in Topsfield lightly. Before making any such decision, it would be highly advisable to contact an experienced Topsfield bankruptcy attorney.