Bankruptcy in Oak Harbor, Washington is a court procedure which allows an individual or business who is drowning in debt to be absolved of their legal requirement to pay off some or all of their debt. Hopefully, this will allow both the debtor and creditors to move on with their lives. However, bankruptcy is not a free ride, allowing someone who simply doesn't feel like paying their debts to get out of that legal requirement. It is designed to prevent debt which has minimal chance of ever being paid back from ruining the life and finances of the debtor. It also carries significant long-term consequences, which must be carefully weighed against the potential benefits. For example, bankruptcy makes it very difficult for the debtor to obtain credit in the near future.
For that reason, it would be advisable to speak with a good Oak Harbor, Washington bankruptcy attorney. This attorney will be able to advise you as to whether or not filing for bankruptcy is a good idea, given your individual situation. This determination is highly dependent on the details of each individual case, so an Oak Harbor attorney's advice is absolutely indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in Oak Harbor, Washington
In Oak Harbor, Washington, there are three basic bankruptcy schemes that are most often used. They are recognized as Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Being a product of federal law, the procedural rules governing bankruptcy in Oak Harbor, Washington 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 verified, and the proceeds handed over to the creditors, the debt is perceived 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.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Oak Harbor, 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 prolonged period of time, thus 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. Although it can be used by individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is used almost always 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 operating, and to trade its stock.
How Can a Oak Harbor Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in Oak Harbor is not one to be made easily, and it definitely should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an accomplished Oak Harbor bankruptcy attorney.