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Published on June 20, 2023

Consequences of Filing for Bankruptcy and How to Deal With Them

In pursuit of a good credit score and a clean credit report, each of us diligently makes monthly payments towards our loans. However, life can be very unpredictable, and there are times when people simply cannot meet their credit obligations. Some of them make every effort to make payments on a student loan debt or car loan, while others choose to file for bankruptcy.

What is Bankruptcy?

When unable to pay their obligations back, people, businesses, and organizations can get financial relief through the legal procedure of bankruptcy. It is governed by particular laws and rules created to give debtors overwhelmed by unmanageable financial responsibilities a fresh start. The process of filing bankruptcy can be complicated, necessitating the assistance of a bankruptcy lawyer or a qualified insolvency practitioner.

How to Declare Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy process involves several steps, varying depending on the jurisdiction. Here are the general steps involved in filing for bankruptcy:

  • Pre-filing Counseling: Usually, the first thing you will have to do before filing for bankruptcy is credit counseling. This is necessary in order to assess the financial condition of the debtor. In addition, such counseling will help identify additional options for managing debt.
  • Filing the Petition: The debtor must file a bankruptcy petition with the appropriate bankruptcy court. This petition comprises a list of assets, obligations, income, and spending, as well as comprehensive financial data.
  • Automatic Stay: Upon filing the bankruptcy petition, an automatic stay is imposed. It halts most collection activities by creditors. This stay provides temporary relief, protecting the debtor from harassment, lawsuits, wage garnishments, and foreclosure.
  • Bankruptcy Trustee and Creditors Meeting: A bankruptcy trustee is appointed to oversee the case. The debtor is required to attend a meeting of creditors. At this meeting, the trustee and creditors can ask questions about the debtor’s financial affairs.
  • Debt Discharge or Repayment Plan: Depending on the type of bankruptcy filed (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 in the United States), the debtor may seek a discharge of debts or propose a repayment plan. A discharge eliminates certain debts, while a repayment plan allows the debtor to repay a portion of their debts over a specified period.

Why File for Bankruptcy

Declaring bankruptcy is quite a difficult and traumatic event, especially for your credit score. Therefore, it should be considered as a last resort. Before declaring yourself bankrupt, you should consider all available options: debt consolidation, negotiations with creditors or credit counseling. It is also worth consulting with a qualified bankruptcy attorney or financial advisor. Such professionals can provide valuable guidance in determining whether bankruptcy is the most appropriate course of action. For those in the Texas area, Weston Legal has been a trusted source of guidance and representation in bankruptcy matters.

Here are some common reasons why people or companies file for bankruptcy. Knowing them, you will be able to assess your financial situation reasonably.

Debt Relief

People usually declare bankruptcy to get relief from their heavy financial loads. People can restructure or discharge their debts legally through bankruptcy, which gives them a fresh financial start. It can give you a fresh start and lessen the weight of overwhelming debt.

Protection from Creditors

Filing for bankruptcy triggers an automatic stay, which puts a halt to creditor collection activities. This protection gives people time to regroup and evaluate their financial situation without the constant pressure of creditors’ actions. For example, it can be wage garnishments, lawsuits, or foreclosure.

Repayment Plans

In cases where borrowers have a regular income but are unable to meet their debt obligations, Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides an opportunity to propose a repayment plan. This allows debtors to repay a portion of their debts over a specified period. Usually, it’s three to five years, based on their income and reasonable living expenses.

Asset Protection

Bankruptcy laws often include exemptions. Such exceptions are intended to protect certain assets of the debtor from being sold to pay off debt to creditors. The list of these exceptions may vary by jurisdiction. However, the most common exceptions are the main place of residence and personal belongings. In addition, the list of exceptions may include retirement accounts and some vehicles that are cheaper than a certain value.

Elimination of Certain Debts

Certain debts are dischargeable under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. And this absolves debtors of their duty to pay back those debts. Although not all debts are dischargeable, typical examples include credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, and utility bills. Discharging these debts can give borrowers a fresh start and the chance to start over financially.

Business Continuity

For companies with unmanageable debt, filing bankruptcy may also be a wise strategic move. By declaring bankruptcy, companies can restructure their operations, renegotiate contracts, and create a repayment strategy. In some circumstances, declaring bankruptcy can save a failing companyю. This strategy enables it to carry on while making the required adjustments.

Legal Protection and Structured Process

Filing for bankruptcy provides borrowers with legal protection. It also ensures a structured process for debt resolution. The involvement of a bankruptcy court, trustee, and established rules and procedures helps maintain fairness and transparency in dealing with creditors and debtors.

Consequences of Filing Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy can provide much-needed relief from overwhelming debt. But it also carries significant consequences that people should carefully consider. Here are some key negative effects of bankruptcy:

  • Negative Impact on Credit Score. Filing for bankruptcy has a severe impact on creditworthiness. A bankruptcy filing remains on an individual’s credit report for several years. And it makes it difficult to obtain loans in the future. It can affect loan approvals, interest rates, and even job applications, as some employers review credit histories. However, loans for people in bankruptcy still exist. So this does not mean a complete impossibility to borrow money.
  • Limited Access to Loan. Following bankruptcy, access to loans becomes challenging. Lenders may be hesitant to extend credit. Also, they may require higher interest rates and stricter terms. Rebuilding credit takes time and requires responsible financial management.
  • Loss of Assets. Depending on the bankruptcy type and jurisdiction, people may be required to surrender certain assets. And then, these assets will be sold to repay creditors. Exemptions may protect some assets, but others may be subject to liquidation.
  • Professional and Licensing Implications. Bankruptcy filings can have professional and licensing implications. Borrowers can have problems, particularly in fields such as law, finance, and real estate. Some professions have stringent requirements regarding financial stability. So bankruptcy may affect one’s ability to maintain licenses or practice in certain areas.
  • Emotional and Psychological Impact. Bankruptcy can take a toll on people’s emotional well-being. The stress, shame, and feelings of failure associated with bankruptcy can lead to anxiety, depression, and strained relationships. Seeking support from professionals or support groups is crucial during this challenging time.

What Can Be Lost When Filing Bankruptcy

Of course, if you declare yourself bankrupt, it will help you get rid of a huge debt, which will be a great relief. However, this is unlikely to make your life much easier due to the consequences of declaring bankruptcy. When submitting, you may lose some things and this is worth considering. Here is a rough list of what you could lose if you file for bankruptcy.

Non-Exempt Assets

Bankruptcy laws provide exemptions that protect certain assets from being liquidated to repay creditors. However, assets that are not covered by exemptions may be at risk. These can include luxury items, valuable collections, second homes or properties, investment accounts, and expensive vehicles. The bankruptcy trustee may sell these assets to generate funds for creditors.

Home Equity

Significant equity in a primary residence beyond the exemption limit may be subject to sale in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, many jurisdictions have homestead exemptions. They allow people to protect a certain amount of equity in their homes. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, individuals can usually keep their homes as long as they continue to make mortgage payments and fulfill the terms of their repayment plan.

Personal Property

Bankruptcy exemptions often protect essential personal belongings. It includes clothing, furniture, basic household items, high-value items, or luxury possessions. Expensive jewelry, artwork, electronics, and other valuable assets may be subject to liquidation to repay creditors.

Non-Essential Vehicles

The value of vehicles that can be preserved under bankruptcy exemptions normally has a cap. A debtor may run the risk of having their cars sold to pay off creditors’ claims if they own several cars or one with more equity than the exemption allows.

Inheritance or Windfalls

In some cases, an inheritance can be used to repay debts to creditors. This typically occurs when the debtor receives an inheritance within a certain time frame before or after filing for bankruptcy.

Credit Cards and Lines of Credit

Debtors usually have to turn in their credit cards and lines of credit when filing for bankruptcy. Existing credit accounts will be closed, and access to new credit may be severely restricted in the future.

Impact on Co-Signers

A co-signer may take full responsibility for a debt if they co-signed for a loan or credit account with the bankruptcy applicant. The co-signer is still responsible for the loan even after the debtor’s bankruptcy discharges its obligation to pay it back. 

How Filing for Bankruptcy Affects You and How to Deal with It

Declaring bankruptcy can have a substantial psychological impact on people. Recognizing these effects and developing coping strategies for any potential psychological challenges is essential. Following are some psychological repercussions of declaring bankruptcy on people and suggestions for coping with them:

Feelings of Failure and Shame

Unfortunately, just like anyone else, you may experience feelings of failure, shame, guilt, or even develop a fear of responsibility – hypengyophobia when filing for bankruptcy. In order to avoid or minimize them, remember that bankruptcy is, in fact, intended to alleviate your situation and help you start over. In this way, you are taking a step forward to regain control over your financial situation.

To deal with negative feelings and emotions, reach out to friends or even an emotional support group. Be open with family members and friends who want to support you. In the event that you feel that you cannot cope with the pressure on your own, seek professional help.

Fear and Uncertainty

After filing for bankruptcy, people often experience anxiety and unease. This is mainly about financial stability, creditworthiness and life restoration.

Do as much research as you can on the bankruptcy process and its long-term effects. You should collaborate closely with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. The expert can guide you through the process and explain it to you. Make a sensible plan for managing your money after declaring bankruptcy. Focus on recovering financial security and refining your astute money management techniques.

Impact on Self-Image and Self-Esteem

Bankruptcy can have an impact on one’s self-esteem and self-image because it contradicts the notion of people’s financial achievement and responsibility,

To deal with it, remind yourself that your worth as a person is unaffected by financial failures. Recognize that declaring bankruptcy is a financial and legal choice, not a critique of your personality or skills. Accept self-compassion and focus on improving yourself and learning from previous mistakes. Participate in activities that boost your self-confidence. Create realistic goals, take up a hobby, or give back to the community as examples.

Social Stigma and Judgment

Bankruptcy carries a bad reputation in society. This can frequently lead to condemnation and social exclusion.

You should keep in mind that millions of people have used bankruptcy as a method to become financially independent. Spend your time with caring people who can make you feel free from criticism. Find online forums or support groups where you can connect with people who have experienced similar things. Inform your friends and relatives about bankruptcy to debunk misconceptions and lessen prejudice.

Building a Positive Financial Future

By filing for bankruptcy, you have the opportunity to make up for past financial mistakes and establish sane financial habits for the future. 

Use this opportunity to broaden your knowledge of personal finance and money in general. Establish a budget and adhere to it religiously, emphasizing responsible spending and saving practices. Create an emergency fund as a backup in case of unforeseen financial difficulties. Enroll in financial management courses or look for financial counseling to improve your money management abilities.

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