You certainly know that bankruptcy is an option for debt relief, and you may have even considered taking this step to find some breathing room in your financial struggles. What has held you back? Was it the stigma of filing for bankruptcy? Was it the hit on your credit score? Perhaps you simply didn't understand what bankruptcy could do for you.

Filing for bankruptcy is not always the answer to overwhelming debt. In many circumstances, you may have other options, including negotiating with your creditors. Trying every legitimate alternative first is often a wise course of action before diving into bankruptcy. However, there are some times when uptcy is appropriate.

Evaluating your circumstances

Your first step in making any decision about dealing with your debt is to learn as much as you can about your options. For example, bankruptcy offers several forms. With Chapter 7, a court-appointed trustee liquidates some of your assets and pays your creditors as much as possible. Chapter 13 allows you to create a repayment plan for a certain period with payments that fit your budget. Whatever debt remains at the end of these bankruptcies may be discharged.

Because not every debt qualifies for bankruptcy and this process will affect your credit rating, it is wise to think carefully about it. Here are some situations where filing for bankruptcy may be in your best interests:

  • You owe much more than the value of your assets. If the amount of money you earn will never allow you to catch up on your debt, bankruptcy may be the appropriate option.
  • Your creditors refuse to work with you. In many cases, a creditor will reduce the amount of your debt or adjust your payments to give you a fighting chance, but some creditors will not negotiate.
  • You have lost your job or other source of income. If you have no means to pay your debts, you may be better off seeking to eliminate the debt.
  • You have suffered another type of financial disaster. A disabling accident, catastrophic illness or other medical emergency can cripple even the most stable budget.

When bills keep coming in, but your assets are limited, you may be a prime candidate for bankruptcy. Despite the misgivings or hesitations, you may have, you should also know that you have every right to seek this kind of relief. Starting fresh without the weight of overwhelming debt can open up a brighter future for you and your family.

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