The Benefits of Bankruptcy Compared to Its AlternativesJohn Steinberger
April 29, 2009 — 1,504 views
Are you in serious financial straights, but afraid to file for bankruptcy? You're not alone. Many people are fearful of a bankruptcy's effect on their future. They wonder about their credit score, and worry they'll lose their house. In reality, filing for bankruptcy is often a better solution than the alternatives, including: credit counseling, debt consolidation, and/or raiding retirement accounts.
Unlike with credit counseling or debt consolidation companies, when you file for bankruptcy, you can be assured that your best interests will be fought for aggressively by an attorney that understands your situation. Many credit counselors are funded by the very companies you're attempting to negotiate with, and debt consolidators often receive fees based on the payment arrangements they make for you. This is true even for non-profit companies who, while forbidden to have stockholders who receive profits, often pay executive officers high salaries.
In addition, bankruptcy can accomplish many things the alternatives cannot. Filing for bankruptcy can halt the never-ending, embarrassing collection calls to your work and home. It can save your assets, including your house. It can keep your electricity connected. Credit counseling and debt consolidation companies cannot guarantee you any of this. They can't even guarantee you a payment plan, as some companies refuse to work with credit counselors and debt consolidators.
You may believe that borrowing money from your IRA or 401(K) is the only other option. This is a mistake. The money you've set aside for retirement should be used for that purpose only. If you take a hardship loan, you could be subject to large penalties and increased taxes. You certainly won't have as much money in your account upon retirement, and you may be saddled with a repayment loan schedule that depletes the majority of your paycheck. Protect your future; save your retirement money for retirement.
One thing all of these alternatives have in common is the possibility of leaving you in a situation similar to, or worse than, the original one that caused you to seek help. Filing for bankruptcy, however, helps ensure that any repayment plans you enter into will be within your budget, allowing you to protect your future by getting your finances back in order. If you file for Chapter 13, you may only have to repay a fraction of what you owe. And, many people are surprised to find that their credit scores are often improved just twelve months after filing for bankruptcy.
If you're considering either filing for bankruptcy or trying any of the alternatives, you owe it to yourself to meet with a bankruptcy attorney first. An experienced attorney can advise you of both your options and the best choice of action for your particular situation and set of circumstances. Don't delay - if you need help, call a bankruptcy attorney today.