Adrienne Woods, Esq.
Common Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Misconceptions Dispelled - It’s Not as Bad as You Fear!
One unfortunate part of my job is that no one is ever looking forward to speaking with me at first. My clients are invariably embarrassed about their financial position, scared about the future, and deeply concerned about the condition in which bankruptcy will leave them. Many if not all of these concerns are the result of widely-held misconceptions about the bankruptcy process and result.
First, don’t be embarrassed. Your attorney isn’t here to judge you (and neither should anyone else). Any bankruptcy attorney worth hiring knows from experience that you aren’t calling us because you are lazy, lack basic financial acumen or simply want to dodge your debts. As I note in various other articles, life happens and it’s not always within our control
Second, the process is not nearly as bad as you think. Really. In most cases, after we prepare and file your bankruptcy petition, you have one meeting with the trustee assigned to your case. It is generally brief, and while it is public no one there is thinking of you. Every other debtor in the room is far more concerned about the outcome of their case, and the attorneys are too. You will most likely never have to go to court. Judges are not typically heavily involved in the chapter 7 process, and most work is done by your trustee who is tasked with determining whether you have assets or not and, if you do, liquidating them.
This brings us to the third point – will you lose everything? No. You often get to keep your car, your home, and all your personal property. There are exceptions. You will have to give up some things. If you drive a really nice car, you may need to downgrade. If you can’t afford to keep your home, you won’t be able to. And if you have expensive jewelry, that’s going to be sold. But if you’re filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy you probably don’t have much that a trustee is interested in selling. And in exchange, you get freedom from most of your debts – credit cards, medical debts, some tax debts and even sometimes student loan debts can be discharged. You get a fresh start, with the exception of certain specified debts such as child support, alimony and certain taxes.
Clients are invariably distressed about the impact on their future when considering chapter 7 bankruptcy. Again, it’s not as bad as you thought. Your credit scores will improve in a couple of years – perhaps as little as one – if you avoid new debt. By then, you should even be able to buy a house – watch for the blog article on this! True, bankruptcy may create a barrier to getting certain kinds of jobs. This generally occurs in private sector jobs involving finance where a prospective employer asks to run a credit check as part of the hiring process. That said, while the employer will likely take your bankruptcy into consideration, most employers take a number of factors into consideration when hiring. And no, your current employer cannot fire you if they find out you file for bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy has some downsides, but so does carrying too much debt. Only you can decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. But to do so, you should give yourself the benefit of educated and qualified counsel who can help you make that risk assessment.
Call the Law Offices of Adrienne Woods, P.C. today for a free consultation to see if bankruptcy might be right for you. (917) 447-4321
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