In Washington County, Minnesota, 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. Bankruptcy should be treated as an option of last resort, and should not be viewed as a convenient way to get out of debt that you just don't feel like paying. Bankruptcy can have severe consequences, including but not limited to damage to your credit rating. A bad credit score can impact your ability to get loans in the future, to rent an apartment, and possibly even your ability to get hired at some jobs (as some employers now run credit checks on prospective employees).
For that reason, it would be advisable to speak with a good Washington County, Minnesota bankruptcy attorney. This attorney will be able to advise you as to whether or not filing for bankruptcy is a good idea, given your particular situation. This determination is highly dependent on the details of each individual case, so a Washington County attorney's advice is truly indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in Washington County, Minnesota
There are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most commonly used in Washington County: Chapters 7, 13, and 11. Bankruptcy is a creation of federal law, so the process for filing for bankruptcy in Washington County, Minnesota will be roughly the same as it would be anywhere else in the U.S. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of part 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 various 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 popular bankruptcy system in Washington County 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 agreement with the debtor. Though Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be used by individuals, it is almost always 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 authorized by a vote of participating creditors.
During the Chapter 11 process, a business can usually continue its operations, and the stock can be traded, even if it is de-listed from a major stock exchange.
How Can a Washington County Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to weigh all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Washington County cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Washington County bankruptcy attorney beforehand.