Bankruptcy in Niagara Falls, New York 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. Bankruptcy should be treated as an option of last resort, and should not be viewed as a fitting 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 receive 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).
Therefore, it is prudent to consult with an experienced Niagara Falls, New York 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 Niagara Falls bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in Niagara Falls, New York
In Niagara Falls, New York, there are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most frequently used. They are identified as Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Being a product of federal law, the procedural rules governing bankruptcy in Niagara Falls, New York 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 entirely 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.
The other normally used bankruptcy system in Niagara Falls is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows a debtor to repay most or all of their debts in a structured manner. It reorganizes the debt into lower periodic payments that, with a bit of frugality, the debtor should find manageable. This allows the debtor to continue to earn a living, and allows the creditors to eventually collect what they are owed. Once a repayment plan is approved by the bankruptcy court, creditors are legally barred from seeking repayment under the terms of the arrangements that gave rise to the debt in the first place, and will instead have to accept payment under the new plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is typically a better option for people who have a steady income. 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 enforced, this plan must be approved by a majority vote of participating creditors.
One main advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows businesses to continue their operations while the process plays out. Moreover, their stock can still be bought and sold.
How Can a Niagara Falls Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
One should not make the decision to file for bankruptcy in Niagara Falls lightly. Before making any such decision, it would be highly advisable to contact an efficient Niagara Falls bankruptcy attorney.