Bankruptcy in Charleston, West Virginia is a court procedure which allows an individual or business who is drowning in debt to be absolved 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 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 a good idea to talk with an seasoned bankruptcy lawyer in Charleston, West Virginia. They will be able to advise you on the likely legal and financial consequences of filing for bankruptcy, and help you determine if it's the right option for your. Because this determination depends heavily on the facts of each particular case, the counsel of a Charleston bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in Charleston, West Virginia
In Charleston, West Virginia, 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 Charleston, West Virginia will be similar anywhere else in the U.S. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of some of the debtor's assets to pay off as much of his or her debt as possible. Once the liquidation is fulfilled, and the proceeds given to the creditors, the rest of the debt is discharged. Liquidation is essentially selling assets to the highest bidder. Only some of the debtor's assets have to be sold, and varied classes of property are exempt, meaning that the debtor can keep them, including homes, cars, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. It should be noted that certain types of debt cannot be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, child support payments, criminal fines, and recent taxes.
The other recognized bankruptcy scheme used by consumers in Charleston is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In this system, debt is not discharged. Instead, it is restructured. This allows the debtor to have the terms of the contracts that gave rise to their debts in the first place thrown out, and replaced with new terms that call for a structured repayment plan, designed to allow the debtor to survive on whatever income they have, and allowing the creditors to get paid back eventually. Once a payment plan is approved, creditors are not allowed to attempt to collect payment under the original agreements. 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 main advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows businesses to continue their operations while the process plays out. Additionally, their stock can still be bought and sold.
How Can a Charleston Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in Charleston is not one to be made lightly, and it certainly should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an accomplished Charleston bankruptcy attorney.