Bankruptcy is sometimes difficult to consider, especially when you've worked hard for everything you own. You might be considering bankruptcy because of an expensive medical emergency or because you lost your job.
Whatever the cause, the reality is that bankruptcy can be a valuable option. Unlike what many myths suggest, you won't lose everything when you file for bankruptcy. People who opt to go through bankruptcy have exemptions open to them, which make it easier to keep the items you need, like your primary vehicle, home and other key assets.
Does bankruptcy really make you "start over?"
No, bankruptcy isn't designed to make you start from scratch. Instead, it helps you eliminate debt while giving you a firm foundation for moving forward without financial trouble. For example, if you own three vehicles and two properties, you might have to liquidate two vehicles and a single property to satisfy the bankruptcy, but exemptions may allow you to keep the single vehicle and home that you need.
What should you do if you're facing bankruptcy near retirement?
Bankruptcy can seem frightening if you're nearing retirement. However, it could be the solution that actually makes your retirement more comfortable. Instead of paying back bills every month, you'll free up credit and reduce your estate's debt load. In the long term, filing for bankruptcy prior to retirement is a good idea, since you'll have what you need for retirement but won't have as much debt on a lower income.
Do you have to liquidate assets?
No. In fact, Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not have you liquidate your assets. Over three-to-five years, you'll pay back a certain amount of the debt that you owe to your creditors. After that time, the remaining debt is discharged.
You pay a single lump sum to the bankruptcy trustee or court each month, and it is then distributed to creditors. This is a great option for people whose income is too high to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
No one should fear bankruptcy. While it will impact your credit for some time, there's a chance that you'll be so much better off financially that the impact won't affect you much at all. Over the next few years, your credit will return to normal, too, so you can have access to loans, credit and other services.