In Winona, 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 Winona, 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 Winona attorney's advice is truly indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in Winona, Minnesota
There are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most commonly used in Winona: Chapters 7, 13, and 11. Bankruptcy is a creation of federal law, so the process for filing for bankruptcy in Winona, Minnesota will be roughly the same as it would be anywhere else in the U.S. 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 funds 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 Winona, 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. 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 major 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 Winona Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in Winona is not one to be made easily, and it definitely should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an experienced Winona bankruptcy attorney.