Bankruptcy in La Crosse, Wisconsin is a court proceeding which allows an individual or business who is drowning in debt to be discharged of their legal obligation to pay off some or all of their debt. Hopefully, this will allow both the debtor and creditors to move on with their lives. Of course, one should never view bankruptcy as a "get out of debt free" card, allowing someone to be discharged 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 La Crosse, Wisconsin 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 La Crosse bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in La Crosse, Wisconsin
In La Crosse, Wisconsin, there are 3 types of bankruptcy in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Because bankruptcy is a creation of federal law, the procedures governing bankruptcy in La Crosse, Wisconsin will be similar anywhere 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 proceeds to pay off debt. Numerous 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 La Crosse, 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 an extended period of time, therefore 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. Though applicable to individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is typically used by businesses. Like Chapter 13, Chapter 11 requires the restructuring of debts. Under this system, the debtor must come up with a plan to reduce debt, cut costs, and improve operations. Once this plan is finalized, it is submitted to the participating creditors, who must approve it by a majority vote before it can be implemented.
A main advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that businesses can continue their operations while going through the process. Also, they can continue to buy and sell their stock.
How Can a La Crosse Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in La Crosse is not one to be made lightly, and it certainly should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an efficient La Crosse bankruptcy attorney.