In South Portland, Maine, 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 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 truly 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.
Accordingly, it might be a good idea to consult with a South Portland, Maine bankruptcy attorney. Your lawyer will be able to counsel you about your options, including alternatives to bankruptcy, if such alternatives exist in your case. Whatever the result, it is often difficult to foresee the long-term consequences of any bankruptcy-related decisions, so the advice of a bankruptcy in South Portland could prove invaluable.
Types of Bankruptcy in South Portland, Maine
There are 3 bankruptcy schemes that are typically used in South Portland: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, so the procedures in South Portland, Maine are very similar to what they will be anywhere else in 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 funds from the sale to pay down as much debt as possible. Once the sale is complete, all dischargeable debt is deemed paid in full, whether or not the sale was able to raise the full 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 form of bankruptcy most commonly used in South Portland is Chapter 13. It allows a person to pay off their debt over a longer period of time, often consolidating it into one periodic payment. In this system, the amount of money the debtor owes is not actually reduced, but the payment of the debt is made far more manageable. This gives the debtor some breathing room, allowing him to continue to earn a living while slowly paying down his debts, and gives some security to creditors that they will eventually collect all or most of what they're owed. 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 implemented, 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 South Portland Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankrtuptcy in South Portland is a major decision with costs and benefits that must be weighed carefully. Before filing, it would be a good idea to speak with a seasoned South Portland bankruptcy attorney.