Personal bankruptcy can be an effective way for people dealing with financial challenges to get rid of paralyzing debt. Many people have compared it to a reset button for people looking for relief from overwhelming debt. Still, the decision to file for bankruptcy is a major life decision for Wayne County residents, and it is a good idea to consider a number of factors before taking the plunge.
Wayne County consumers looking for a fresh financial start have probably heard of Chapter 7 bankruptcy and may be wondering how it could help them. This blog post describes the basics of Chapter 7 and how it could help a consumer obtain debt relief.
When people are struggling with overwhelming debt, it can be difficult to see a way out of the situation. People may be so wrapped up in trying to make ends meet that they don't even consider their other financial options. The pressure placed on a person by creditors, bills and other obligations can make the future seem bleak.
When Michigan residents are facing overwhelming debt it can be scary. People may be concerned with how they are going to feed themselves, pay their bills, keep a roof over their head and pay for transportation to work. Creditors can make these fears even worse with their constant calls, threatening letters and legal action. Michigan residents may not know where to turn or how to even begin to get out of debt. People may know that bankruptcy can take months to complete, but need immediate relief.
Many Michigan residents likely have some idea of what bankruptcy entails. Most understand that bankruptcy is an option for those who need escape from a desperate financial situation. However, that is often where a person's understanding of bankruptcy ends. Sometimes, the many details involved in filing for bankruptcy can prove to be a mystery. One facet of bankruptcy that some Michigan residents may not be aware of is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
The U.S. Supreme Court has recently agreed to hear two Florida chapter 7 bankruptcy cases where the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a bankrupt homeowner with two mortgages on their home may "strip off" or "strip away" the second mortgage. The "strip off", according to the 11th Circuit, can occur where the first mortgage balance on the home exceeds the value of the home. There would be no remaining value left in the home to support the lien of the second mortgage. A "strip off' of a mortgage should be distinguished from a "strip down" or "cram down" of a mortgage. What the latter two words mean is that the mortgage's principal balance is reduced to the current market value of the property which only partially supports the second mortgage. The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that a "strip down" or "cram down" cannot occur in a chapter 7 bankruptcy. It has not yet ruled in a chapter 7 bankruptcy that a second mortgage can be "stripped off" where it is wholly unsecured.
It can feel like a helpless situation. You're struggling with debt, which is hard enough as it is, trying to make payments while providing for yourself and your family. But then you get constant phone calls at all hours, official-looking letters in the mail, maybe even your friends and family in Wayne County have been contacted by your creditors looking to collect. Some of these communications may have left you feeling threatened in some way.
We often write on our Wayne County bankruptcy law blog about the similarities and differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Just in our last post we referred briefly to the means test required in order to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is not a prerequisite for Chapter 13. Because this is an important distinction, let's take a closer look at the means test in this post -- with the understanding that this is simply a general review and does not constitute specific legal advice.
Last week on our Wayne County bankruptcy law blog, as we were discussing the consumer medical debt crisis in this country, we mentioned how some turn to credit counseling or debt negotiation agencies for debt relief. There may, as we mentioned, be underlying concerns about the true interests or even the legitimacy of some such companies. This week, we want to highlight another situation in which Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be a better option for Wayne County residents who are seeking a fresh financial start.
Wayne County residents may have heard the recent story about an unorthodox foreclosure in a neighboring county. The details are chilling, and may raise questions about what actions our readers can take to stop foreclosure in their own situations.