Bankruptcy is when you legally declare that you can no longer repay your debts. Individuals have the choice of either declaring chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcies, depending on the severities of their debts and the incomes being made. Of most, chapter 7 bankruptcy makes the most sense, although you should consider both carefully and do what is right for your. However, if you do declare chapter 7 bankruptcy, here is how it will play out:
First, your declaration officially begins when you sign the paperwork and file the proper documents with a bankruptcy court. In most states, you have to finish a counseling course regarding bankruptcy so that you can be sure this is the correct option for you. This can be done no longer than six months before file your paperwork. Upon filing, your wages will no longer be garnished and your creditors can no longer proceed with legal actions against you or, in most cases, even call you regarding your debt. The court will contact your creditors.
Next, you must meet with your creditors in what is called the 341 meeting. Creditors may or may not choose to attend, but you must be there. A trustee will be assigned to your case and presides. This meeting will typically only last five minutes, and creditors usually do not show up. Afterwards, your trustee will sell any of your possessions that are nonexempt. Creditors have up to 90 days to then file claims. A bankruptcy lawyer will be assigned to help you through this process.
After the 90 days are over, or after all of your creditor have files their claims (whichever comes first), you will be discharged and all of your debts will be written off, except certain exceptions, like student loans and child support payments. Other debts that cannot be wiped clean from your slate include alimony obligations and taxes.
Be aware that most of your possessions can be sold when you file for bankruptcy and will be sold rather quickly. In many cases, it is better to sell them yourself for more money before you declare bankruptcy and use them to help pay off debts. If you can do this effectively, you might not have to declare bankruptcy at all. If you can, look for options to avoid bankruptcy. You have choices, and debt counselors can help you figure out a financial plan that is right for you.