Bankruptcy creates a ripple effect that touches many beyond the people and companies that file. It is best to thoroughly understand the process of bankruptcy to know what to do when encountering it as a consumer of a company that has filed for bankruptcy, as a friend or loved one of someone who has filed for bankruptcy, or as the person person filing him or herself.
A recent piece published in The Atlantic describes a phenomenon it dubs “the bankruptcy feedback loop.” This is the cycle of impoverished individuals filing for bankruptcy to eliminate their debts only to find themselves back in debt not long after, considering filing for bankruptcy again.
When you are unable to handle your debt load, whether that debt load is personal or business debt, you might consider filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a legal process through which an individual or company in debt can have that debt discharged, either through the liquidation of assets (Chapter 7), a repayment plan (Chapter 13), or a reorganization of the company (Chapter 11). Other chapters exist as well, such as Chapter 9, Chapter 12, and Chapter 15, but these are for niche purposes and only utilized by specific groups.
When you are struggling with an uncontrollable level of personal debt, filing for bankruptcy is not an ideal outcome. However, it is sometimes the best outcome for your situation because it allows you to make the lifestyle changes you need to make to regain control over your finances and negotiate a fair settlement with your creditors. Whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will work closely with the court to ensure that your rights are protected and your debts are paid.
Although each bankruptcy case is unique, every filer must eventually decide which bankruptcy chapter is best for their particular situation. Chapter 7 and chapter 13 are the most popular forms, each offering different bankruptcy options. The American Bar provides a detailed comparison.
Many people assume that debt is inherently bad. The truth, however, is that debt and credit can be tools that allow individuals to live more comfortable, fruitful lives. Loans help people buy homes and attend college, and credit can help those who find themselves in temporary financial hardship. Unfortunately, poor financial management and unexpected circumstances can cause debt to spiral out of control. When this happens, bankruptcy might be a viable option.
Debt is a familiar reality to many Americans. However, contrary to popular perception, debt is not inherently bad. When people understand how to manage debt responsibly, they can improve their credit score and acquire loans. Responsible debtors have more opportunity when it comes to buying a home or starting a business. Unfortunately, unexpected circumstances can put debtors in a position where they cannot make payments. An injury or a natural disaster, for example, can produce steep expenses, and in these cases, one viable option may be filing bankruptcy.
Several respected financial analysts predict that the U.S. will continue to experience a decline in the number of bankruptcy filings in 2015. Some data suggests an estimated 800,000 bankruptcy petitions will cross the judicial bench of district bankruptcy courts across the U.S. this year.
Although the percentage of U.S. bankruptcy filings experienced a decline in the final quarter of 2014, Illinois remained ranked among the top five leading states with the highest per capita filing rate.