In Indiana, Pennsylvania, bankruptcy is a judicial process in which the debts of a person or business can be cleared or restructured. This allows the debtor to climb out of a financial hole, and move on with a clean slate, which is often more economically useful than requiring the debtor to pay off everything they owe. 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 Indiana, Pennsylvania 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 an Indiana bankruptcy attorney cannot be replaced.
Types of Bankruptcy in Indiana, Pennsylvania
In Indiana, Pennsylvania, there are 3 types of bankruptcy in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Because bankruptcy is a result of federal law, the procedures governing bankruptcy in Indiana, Pennsylvania will be similar everywhere 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 Indiana, 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. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is almost always used by businesses, but there is nothing that legally prevents it from being used by individuals, and its use by individuals is very rare. Chapter 11 bankruptcy requires the debtor to come up with a restructuring plan - telling the court how they propose to cut costs, fix their operations, and pay down their debts. The plan has to 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 Indiana Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to weigh all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Indiana cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with an Indiana bankruptcy attorney beforehand.