Misconceptions About Bankruptcy Could Be Keeping Away Those Who Need Help

Historically, bankruptcy has been stigmatized. Narrow-minded people saw those filing for bankruptcy as failures, as deadbeats or as being guilty of living far beyond their means. Nowadays, though, we know that the great majority of people filing for bankruptcy protection are victims of circumstance: their debt could easily have been caused by a job loss, divorce or serious illness that racked up a mountain of medical bills.

The bankruptcy laws have undergone significant changes in recent years, and some people think it is now all but impossible to file. If anything, however, the new laws make it easier to use this legal tool for a financial fresh start. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation - both good and bad - floating around about the purpose of bankruptcy and about the process of seeking bankruptcy protection to deal with personal or business debt. This article will help dispel some of the myths and make it more approachable as a debt management option.

No More Stigma

Most people considering a bankruptcy filing fear that they will be stigmatized by family, friends and coworkers. Luckily, this is not true; unless the filer is a public figure or involved with a large company, 99 percent of the time the public will never know about a bankruptcy filing. Likewise, they may fear that lenders will forever view them as a bad risk and that they will never qualify for financing on auto or home purposes in the future. This, too, is a myth. While a bankruptcy filing does show up on the filer's credit report, most filers can start building their credit again just a few years afterwards. For some filers, the wait is even less.

Do I Have to Sell Everything?

Some people have this abstract view of bankruptcy as being a court-ordered "rummage sale" of sorts where they will have to liquidate everything from their household furniture to their great-grandmother's china. Yes, the court may order a filer to sell superfluous and extravagant assets (like a vacation home in Aspen that is used one week a year or an original Shelby mustang that has been under a tarp in the garage for a decade), but the majority of filers get to keep their home, clothing, household belongings, work-related items like tools, furniture and the family vehicle.

You CAN File Again

For some people, a second - or even third - bankruptcy filing is a necessity. While common knowledge may say that bankruptcy is a one-shot deal; you get a single chance to get a financial new beginning through the bankruptcy code. This simply isn't the case. While there are waiting periods put in place to prevent so-called "serial filers" who might have a pattern of irresponsibly running up massive amounts of debt and then filing for bankruptcy again and again, the law doesn't bar a subsequent filing if legitimate financial circumstances dictate.

Even though bankruptcy is more accessible than it has been in the past, the process can still seem overwhelming and even scary. With the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney, though, bankruptcy can be a great way to get out from under a mountain of debt and get a fresh financial start.