Don’t let ugly rumors keep you away from Chapter 7 bankruptcy
If you are struggling with debts that you have little hope of paying back, you may have heard about Chapter 7 bankruptcy and how it can help you. However, you may have also heard some negative things about it that discourage you from pursuing it further. In reality, some of the things that you may have heard are only half true or are flat out myths.
All my property will be lost
One of the top negative things that you may have heard about Chapter 7 is that filing it will cause you to lose all your property. However, this is not the case for most people. In Chapter 7, it is true that there is a liquidation sale of certain property. However, the only property that may be sold in the sale is nonexempt assets. In truth, the majority of your most important assets, such as the equity in your home, car, retirement assets and most personal belongings, are protected by federal or South Carolina law. Because of this, it is likely that you would lose little or nothing during the bankruptcy process.
I do not qualify for Chapter 7
Another rumor about Chapter 7 is that it is difficult to qualify for, due to Congressional action several years ago. Although the bankruptcy laws were recently changed to require Chapter 7 filers to pass a means test before they may receive relief, most people have little difficultly qualifying.
During the test, the court examines your income. If you have income below the median for a similar South Carolina household of your size, you automatically qualify for Chapter 7. However, if your income exceeds this amount, you may still qualify. In such a case, the court will look at your disposable income, or what is left over after you have paid for bills and other necessities. If your disposable income is below a certain amount, you qualify. Even if you have too much disposable income, all is not lost. You just have to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. However, since most people in your financial situation have little disposable income, most have no trouble passing the means test.
My credit will be ruined
You may also hesitate seeking Chapter 7’s help because you have heard that it will destroy your credit score. Although filing Chapter 7 will cause your credit score to drop significantly, the negative effect it has on your credit is only temporary. After you finish bankruptcy, if you demonstrate responsible spending habits, your credit score will begin to increase. With continued financial responsibility, most people find that their credit score will return to respectable levels in as few as one or two years after bankruptcy. Unfortunately, many people needlessly focus on this temporary negative effect on their credit scores, using it as an excuse to do nothing to remedy their situations.
Seek legal counsel
If your finances are in disarray, it is important to keep a clear head and get all the facts about the options available to you. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can listen to your situation and recommend the debt relief option that will get you back on track.