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What to think about before declaring bankruptcy

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Filing for bankruptcy is not something that should be done on a whim. A bankruptcy can remain on an Ohio debtor's credit report for up to 10 years, which may make it difficult to get a loan or even get a job in the future. Prior to deciding on bankruptcy, it may be worthwhile to talk to creditors to see if there is anything that can be done to achieve debt relief without filing.

In the event that creditors are not willing to negotiate a new payment plan, it may be possible to work with a credit counseling service. While there may be fees associated with using such a service, some nonprofit organizations will charge little or nothing to those who cannot afford to pay. For those who don't have any other options, it is time to look into which bankruptcy may be appropriate.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy results in a relatively quick discharge of eligible debts. However, it may also lead to a debtor losing some or all of his or her property. Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves reorganizing payments, and it may be the only option for those who have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the last eight years. Neither type of bankruptcy may be able to erase tax, student loan or child support obligations.

It may be beneficial to look at all options prior to declaring bankruptcy. However, if it is the best option for an individual, a bankruptcy attorney may be able to help. An attorney may be able to guide a client through the process and ensure that his or her rights are respected by creditors. Those who file for bankruptcy may gain the immediate benefit of the immediate cessation of debt collection activities.

Source: FTC, "Debt Relief or Bankruptcy?", November 20, 2014

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