Bankruptcy is a legal process allowing an individual or business to have some or all of their debt excused. It is almost always considered as a last resort because it can have some negative long-term consequences which must be considered, even if you eventually decide that they are outweighed by the benefits. Bankruptcy is controlled by federal law, and proceeds in federal courts. So, the process for filing for bankruptcy in Pennsylvania will be very similar to the process everywhere else in the U.S. However, individual bankruptcy courts have different rules for exemptions, so it might be a good idea to consult with a local lawyer in Washington, Pennsylvania before filing.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Washington, Pennsylvania
There are 2 typical forms of bankruptcy in Washington, Pennsylvania. They are known as Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of some of the debtor's assets. It requires some percentage of the debtor's property to be sold in order to pay off as much of his or her debt as possible. However, the majority of property that most people own is exempt. This typically includes homes, vehicles, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. These do not have to be sold.
Once all non-exempt assets are sold, and the money from the sales turned over to the creditors, most remaining debt is excused. But some forms of debt cannot be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. These include child support payments, student loans, and criminal fines, among others. If most of your Washington, Pennsylvania debts are not dischargeable, you may want to consider options other than bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Washington, Pennsylvania
Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Washington, Pennsylvania is markedly different. It may or may not be a better option than Chapter 7, depending on the facts of your specific case. Chapter 13 does not excuse debt, but restructures it instead. Typically, various debts are consolidated into a single monthly payment. This is designed to make the debt more manageable, giving the debtor the chance to pay off the debt over a longer period of time, without all of it coming due at once. This is typically manageable, as long as the debtor can make some sacrifices.
Which Type of Consumer Bankruptcy Should I File in Washington, Pennsylvania
Which Bankruptcy type to file under depends strongly on the facts of each distinct case. If you have a stable stream of income (enough to make a payment plan manageable), and a large amount of non-exempt property that you don't want to part with, Chapter 13 may be best for you. If you don't have a stable income or large amounts of non-exempt property, you may be better off filing for Chapter 7.
In any case, you should talk with a local Washington, Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyer. Your lawyer can advise you of your options and inform you of their likely result. This will make it much easier for your to make an informed choice.