In Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, bankruptcy is a judicial process in which the debts of a person or business can be absolved or restructured. This allows the debtor to climb out of a financial hole, and move on with a clean slate, which is sometimes more economically proficient 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 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.
Therefore, it is prudent to consult with an experienced Lock Haven, 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 a Lock Haven bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
In Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, 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 Lock Haven, Pennsylvania will be about the same as anywhere else in America. 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.
The other form of bankruptcy most often used in Lock Haven is Chapter 13. It allows a person to pay off their debt over a prolonged period of time, often consolidating it into one periodic payment. In this system, the amount of money the debtor owes is not actually reduced, but the payment of the debt is made far more manageable. This gives the debtor some breathing room, allowing him to continue to earn a living while gradually paying down his debts, and gives some security to creditors that they will eventually collect all or most of what they're owed. 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 Lock Haven Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in Lock Haven is not one to be made lightly, and it certainly should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an accomplished Lock Haven bankruptcy attorney.