An obvious problem facing America today is the battered economy and lack of jobs. As a consequence of the losses in the economy in 2008 and beyond, personal bankruptcies in the United States have reached an all time high. Most of the reasons for the increase in personal bankruptcy petitions have been a direct result of job losses in the business and financial sectors. Aggravating this fact is that many young families dependent on incomes that have been devastated by the recession and older Americans facing a medical crisis or nursing home stay have not had the personal resources or incomes available to weather this. As a consequence many more Americans than normal, including older Americans and retirees, are turning to the courts and a bankruptcy lawyer for guidance and help to weather the crisis.
But just what is bankruptcy? As stated by the Supreme Court in a case in 1991 the purpose of the bankruptcy code is to give families and individuals in the United States a brand new financial start. Another way to look at this is that bankruptcy allows you a fresh start without any debt burdens to impact your life. How do you go about seeing if you qualify for this fresh start? The best way is to make an appointment with a qualified licensed bankruptcy lawyer in the state that you live in. Bankruptcy is a specialty in the law and no one knows more about the ins and outs of bankruptcy better than a qualified bankruptcy lawyer.
One of the first things your lawyer will have you do when you meet is to complete is a worksheet laying out your assets and your debts, along with a list of creditors and the amount of money owed each along with your payments. This is to give everyone a snapshot of your current financial situation. This snapshot is needed to see which form of bankruptcy protection you are eligible for and how best you should proceed. There are two basic forms of bankruptcy protection chapter 13 re-organization and chapter 7 liquidation. The basic differences are that under chapter 13 you agree with the court and your creditors to re-pay, in most cases at a drastically lower rate, all your outstanding secured and other debts over a fixed time period, usually five years. A chapter 7 liquidation, on the other hand, is a complete sell-off of all of your non-essential assets and a complete discharge of all outstanding debts. With a chapter 7 you are allowed to keep some assets that are essential such as work tools or equipment, automobiles and other transportation, IRAs and savings and your primary home. You are just not allowed to keep or hold on to anything that is superfluous. When you have decided which way you need to go with your bankruptcy to give yourself a fresh start your bankruptcy lawyer will help guide you through the maze of the petition filing and court proceedings to accomplish your task of starting over.