Bankruptcy in Winston Salem, North Carolina is a court procedure through which a person or business who is unable to pay their debt is able to have some of their debt legally cleared, or "discharged." This theoretically allows the debtor to move on with a clean slate. Of course, one should never view bankruptcy as a "get out of debt free" card, allowing someone to be relieved of their requirement to pay their debts just because they don't want to. It is meant to serve as a lifeline, preventing uncontrollable debt from resulting in complete financial ruin. Accordingly, it is best treated as an option of last resort, because it can carry with it significant negative consequences, which must be weighed against the possible benefits. For example, filing for bankruptcy can heavily damage a person's credit rating.
Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Winston Salem, North Carolina 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 Winston Salem bankruptcy attorney cannot be replaced.
Types of Bankruptcy in Winston Salem, North Carolina
In Winston Salem, North Carolina, 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 Winston Salem, North Carolina will be roughly the same as everywhere else in America. 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.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Winston Salem, 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 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.
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 Winston Salem Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to weigh all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Winston Salem cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Winston Salem bankruptcy attorney beforehand.