Bankruptcy in Wahpeton, North Dakota is a court proceeding through which a person or business who is unable to pay their debt is able to have some of their debt legally absolved, 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 absolved of their obligation to pay their debts just because they don't want to. It is meant to serve as a lifeline, preventing unmanageable 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 severely damage a person's credit rating.
For that reason, it would be prudent to speak with a good Wahpeton, North Dakota bankruptcy attorney. This attorney will be able to advise you as to whether or not filing for bankruptcy is a good idea, given your individual situation. This determination is highly dependent on the details of each individual case, so a Wahpeton attorney's advice is absolutely indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in Wahpeton, North Dakota
In Wahpeton, North Dakota, there are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most often used. They are recognized as Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Being a product of federal law, the procedural rules governing bankruptcy in Wahpeton, North Dakota will be very similar to those in any other part of the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the debtor to liquidate some of his or her assets in order to pay off as much debt as possible. Once the sale of the assets is complete, and the proceeds handed over to the creditors, the debt is viewed as discharged. Liquidation is basically selling assets to the highest bidder. Not all of the debtor's assets will need to be sold, and many types of property are completely or partially exempt, including homes, cars, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. This means that the debtor can keep them. It should be noted that some types of debts are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, criminal fines, taxes, and child support payments. Even when the bankruptcy process is complete, these debts will have to be paid in full.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Wahpeton, 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 prolonged period of time, thus 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 exclusively 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 executed, 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 operations, and to trade its stock.
How Can a Wahpeton Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in Wahpeton is not one to be made lightly, and it certainly should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an accomplished Wahpeton bankruptcy attorney.