If you’re struggling to get out of debt and researching bankruptcy online, you’ve most likely come across phrases like, “Bankruptcy isn’t right for everyone.” But you may wonder, understandably, whether bankruptcy attorneys will actually steer unqualified people — consumers who don’t truly need bankruptcy to fix their financial problems — AWAY from filing. After all, isn’t that like an auto mechanic telling a car owner their troubled car doesn’t need to be fixed? Not exactly.
Things that cause serious debt
People get into burdensome debt for many reasons. Common causes of serious debt include:
- An income drop due to a job loss, layoff or reduction in work hours
- Business problems and investment failures
- Uncovered medical bills from an illness or accident
- Divorce and other significant family problems
- The loss of a spouse or other loved one
Any of these events can bring sustained financial hardship. For some people, a bankruptcy filing can bring huge relief and a “fresh start” that is often spoken of. For others, the problem can be solved by restoring income, getting on a payment plan with creditors, credit counseling, the selling of an unaffordable home, or through other methods.
Objectivity and natural safeguards
How can consumer bankruptcy lawyers, who make their living from Chapter 7s, Chapter 13s and other filings, be fully objective about what is best for their clients or potential clients, who may or may not need to file for bankruptcy? There are several important factors to consider:
- Bankruptcy filings must be approved by federal courts run by real judges.
- Would-be bankruptcy filers must meet certain criteria to file. The Chapter 7 “means test” illustrates this.
- Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 (which is known for use by corporations and other large entities but is also used by some individuals) require a commitment to some form of debt repayment, typically with a strict plan involving trustees appointed by the court.
- Attorneys are bound to codes of ethics and subject to bar association rules that demand a fundamental orientation toward what is best for their clients.
Get your questions answered
It is normal and healthy to be concerned about major decisions like bankruptcy. If you aren’t sure about what your debt relief options are — and you may have several viable options — seek advice from a bankruptcy attorney you trust.