Can Bankruptcy Save My Life?

by Jim Ince

This is not the typical article that you may have seen that tells you that Bankruptcy is great for everyone and is the best invention since the automobile.  Frankly, bankruptcy is not, nor should it be, the first option at the very earliest signs of trouble.  At this point it would be safe to assume that bankruptcy cannot do anything as dramatic as saving your life.  Maybe or maybe not.  However, it can seriously improve the quality of your life if you are at a point that your life is so burdened by your situation that you cannot possibly imagine a time when you were ever happy.  You certainly cannot see a time in the future for any hope or happiness.

The time to file bankruptcy becomes a delicate balancing act.  If it were as simple as putting numbers into a formula and spitting out a calculation that states that you need to file bankruptcy, it would not be a difficult process.  There are also emotional and physical factors which must be considered when analyzing any attempt to file.  First, you have to be in debt to such a level that you cannot see your way out of it.  Most common causes are serious health issues, job loss or salary reduction, divorce and some cases, mismanagement of finances.  I don’t focus on the mismanagement aspect because quite frankly, I have found that it does not matter how responsible a person tries to be.  If the cards in the deck of life fall just right, nobody can avoid a bankruptcy if they have any type of life at all.  So, for the purposes of the rest of this article, I will assume you have debt sufficient to warrant talking to someone about a bankruptcy.

It may surprise many that simply having enough debt to file is not enough for the average person to consider filing.  Most people begin by trying to negotiate with their creditors for some type of payment plan or assistance.  Most often, these attempts are met with some of the rudest comments and pushiest people most of us ever encounter.  The next step is often simply avoiding the phone calls.  For some people, this is fairly simple.  For others, this is a dramatic change of life.  The constant fear of the phone call starts impacting the ability to sleep and relax.  What follows next depends on the person and the creditor.  Often, the threats become more blatant and the callers begin to describe their ability to file a lawsuit and take a judgment against the person in debt.

Often such threats greatly reduce the ability to sleep and can greatly impact a relationship.  Whether it is a dating relationship or a marriage, there is enough stress without adding the additional burdens of threats and intimidation from others.  Often, particularly in males, the stress begins to take on physical manifestations.  One can become depressed and such physical symptoms as high blood pressure, chest pains and even heart attacks are possible.  Financial stress is one of the leading causes of divorce.

Taking the step to visit with a trained bankruptcy attorney and filing bankruptcy can take off the single largest stress event in a person’s life.  Yes, there is guilt and stress in filing the bankruptcy.  Both of those feelings pass quickly.  The continued stress of the overwhelming debt and phone calls will not pass unless you take action.  When a person files bankruptcy, the court issues and injunction, or “stay” which immediately stops all collection efforts.  Usually within days of filing, the phone calls stop.  The pressure stops.  The person who files is no longer responsible for the debt.

So, can a bankruptcy save your life?  The answer is simply yes.  Either it can improve the quality of your life or it can relieve the stress that has manifested itself into physical symptoms that can lead to an early death.  Is it the answer of filing bankruptcy for everyone?  No.  You have to be at that balance with the personal factors and the debt amounts combining to make it the right solution for you.  There is no way to know with any certainty how a bankruptcy can help you until you talk to a trained bankruptcy attorney.

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