Filing for bankruptcy can be a lifesaver for an individual or company caught in a bad debt situation, but it can also follow around after you later and impact on your life for many years. Prior to taking such a step, it is wise to research other available options to avoid a bankruptcy, if possible. There are many companies that can assist you in preparing a debt repayment plan that you can afford without going to the extremes of a bankruptcy. These companies do collect a fee for their services, but oftentimes can reduce your debt by a substantial amount. There are some restrictions, such as the amount of income you make and the value of any property you own, which will affect whether or not you are eligible for a repayment plan.
However, if filing for bankruptcy cannot be avoided, you should consult with a legal professional to determine which chapter is the best for you.
You should also know that once you file for bankruptcy, you will be protected from continual collection attempts by the “automatic stay” that is put into effect upon filing. This also includes existing lawsuits, auto repossession and wage garnishes. You might even be eligible for money damages against any creditors that continue to attempt to collect from you after filing.
This automatic stay is in effect until your bankruptcy matter is completed. However, be aware that there are circumstances under which a creditor can apply for and obtain a Court order granting their relief from the stay, as in the case of an existing lawsuit that may be close to final disposition. The creditor would need to make a motion requesting the relief and it would be ruled on by a judge.
Once you have filed for a bankruptcy it is, obviously, much more difficult to obtain credit of any kind. For instance, should your car breaks down necessitating that you purchase a new vehicle, you might have difficulty. It can be nearly impossible for someone presently in bankruptcy or just after the discharge of a bankruptcy to obtain a car loan, and if you can get a loan, it is often a ruinous rate of interest. However, once your bankruptcy is discharged, a car loan is one of the best ways to reestablish your credit, provided you are consistently on time with your payments for at least a 6-12 month period.
A bankruptcy will remain on your credit history for seven years and can create issues when attempting to obtain credit for at least that time frame. Furthermore, there are more and more credit reporting services available, and there is nothing that requires them to stop reporting your bankruptcy after the seven years have passed. Therefore, once your bankruptcy has been discharged, it is a good idea to get regular credit reports from several different agencies to determine the status of your credit score. You may also want to write to the different agencies upon completion of the seven years to request that they remove the bankruptcy information from your credit report.