In West Chester, 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 relieved 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.
Accordingly, it might be a good idea to consult with a West Chester, Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney. Your lawyer will be able to counsel you about your options, including alternatives to bankruptcy, if such alternatives exist in your case. Whatever the result, it is often difficult to foresee the long-term consequences of any bankruptcy-related decisions, so the advice of a bankruptcy in West Chester could prove invaluable.
Types of Bankruptcy in West Chester, Pennsylvania
There are 3 bankruptcy schemes that are normally used in West Chester: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, so the procedures in West Chester, Pennsylvania are very similar to what they will be anywhere else in the United States. 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 proceeds 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.
The other normally used bankruptcy system in West Chester 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 agreements 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 usually 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 implemented, this plan must be approved by a majority vote of participating creditors.
During the Chapter 11 process, a business can usually continue its operations, and the stock can be traded, even if it is de-listed from a major stock exchange.
How Can a West Chester Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in West Chester is not one to be made lightly, and it certainly should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an experienced West Chester bankruptcy attorney.