In Westminster, Maryland, 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 a good idea to talk with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Westminster, Maryland. They will be able to advise you on the likely legal and financial consequences of filing for bankruptcy, and help you determine if it's the right option for your. Because this determination depends heavily on the facts of each individual case, the counsel of a Westminster bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in Westminster, Maryland
In Westminster, Maryland, 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 Westminster, Maryland will be about the same as anywhere else in America. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of some of the debtor's assets to pay off as much of his or her debt as possible. Once the liquidation is complete, and the proceeds given to the creditors, the rest of the debt is discharged. Liquidation is essentially selling assets to the highest bidder. Only some of the debtor's assets have to be sold, and many classes of property are exempt, meaning that the debtor can keep them, including homes, cars, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. It should be noted that certain types of debt cannot be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, child support payments, criminal fines, and recent taxes.
The other common bankruptcy scheme used by consumers in Westminster 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 agreements 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 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.
While going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a business can continue operations, and its stock can continue to be traded.
How Can a Westminster Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to weigh all the options and consider the costs and benefits of filing for bankruptcy in Westminster cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Westminster bankruptcy attorney beforehand.