Whether you’re on the road to bankruptcy, or thinking about declaring your business in a state of bankruptcy, this process isn’t as clear-cut and simple as you might initially think.
In Canada, it is largely due to the fact that it is a federal government affair and requires a fair amount of paperwork and legal proceedings. This can take a huge amount of time and money out of your life. Fortunately, the bankruptcy system has been designed to keep the cost of bankruptcy as low for you as possible.
However, you should know that you’ll also lose all your possessions and all your money unless, of course, your possessions are assets – then they’re exempt (as long as they are in your particular province).
Let’s quickly delve beyond the surface of bankruptcy and discern what it’s all about.
Usually, the process of bankruptcy includes fees, such as administrative costs, government-fees (for the bothersome task of filing all the paperwork), mailing costs, court fees, etc. This, as you can imagine, takes a lot of money out of your account(s).
The average cost of bankruptcy (usually – as it varies between provinces) is between $1,500-1,900. The differences in cost is wide because, largely, the fee is set by your Insolvency Trustee. The trustee’s charge is a reflection of the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB).1 Keep in mind that the trustee’s charge is a reduced fee. This fee is based on what number your chosen trustee charges to file your bankruptcy paperwork.
You need to pay due diligence when it comes to picking an attorney to represent you in bankruptcy court. This is because there are some reports of attorneys collecting their fees and “dumping” the filing process and proceedings on another attorney’s shoulders. This is why it’s necessary to perform thorough background checks on attorneys and lawyers. Luckily, looking for reviews and testimonials and public ratings about such attorneys are easy to find, thanks to the internet.
However, if bankruptcy costs are more than you can pay, it’ll be to your satisfaction to contact a licensed Insolvency Trustee.2
A trustee is a licensed official (by the federal government) who works with specific insolvency issues.3 Many trustees are chartered accountants.
Bankruptcy lawyers, on the other hand, are solicitors who are experts when it comes to insolvency law.
Unless a bankruptcy filing has several discrepancies, lawyers are not generally required in most cases.
Since bankruptcy is governed by federal law, the process is similar from state to state and it’s a process that will keep you busy.
Be careful when filing for bankruptcy. Your credit score can take a serious beating, since bankruptcy lowers your score by as much as 250 points, which, as you know is not peanuts.4
It’s a great way to erase your debt, however. Bankruptcy gives you a fresh start, a chance to wipe the slate clean, and a way to rebuild your credit score. If your bills haven’t defaulted (and your debts are through the roof), there’s a possibility your credit score is high enough to pass you through a mortgage refinance. This could potentially qualify you for a lower interest rate.
Since lower interest rates reduce monthly house payments, this means more freed-up cash in your budget so you can pay off any outstanding debts.
Don’t worry, if you’ve invested in 401k, IRA, or ERISA accounts, they’ll (in all probability) remain unaffected by the bankruptcy.
That means you do not take any money from these accounts to pay bills. Even if you’re pressed against the wall and these look like great last resorts, do not. The reason for this is simple: you’ll be hit with staggering penalties and taxes. These can never be discharged and will forever remain on your credit score. This makes it extremely hard to attain home loans in the future, which is why you should NOT take bankruptcy lightly. That is why you should check your credit report 60 days after you bankruptcy case closes. That way, you can check if there are any errors. It’s critical to stay on top of the report after bankruptcy, as there may be some mistakes.
After filing for bankruptcy, check your mail every single day. The court should send you legal paperwork that needs your signature by a certain date. Missing this paperwork means your case loses momentum and you’ll be stuck in this state for an even longer period. Once these documents arrive in your mail, review them carefully. And review them again to make sure you haven’t missed anything crucial.
And once you’ve set up an appointment or discussion with your attorney, update him/her on any relevant information that’s happening in your life because the more your attorney knows, the more successful your case will turn out. Your life and income (even your family’s life)
You don’t need to go bankrupt just because you’re unable to pay your debts or are insolvent. Declaring bankruptcy seems like a smart thing to do when tides are low, but the reality of the situation is this:
Sometimes bankruptcy is not a good option.5
It honestly depends on your situation. Let’s say a huge number of your debt is because those debts aren’t dischargeable. It would be inadvisable to file for bankruptcy. This is because non-dischargeable debts, such as child support, fines and penalties, student loans, etc. will remain on your record. Bankruptcy means that only debts that are dischargeable will be erased from your record.
Even so, it’s more important to know if you even need to file for bankruptcy. This is because a large amount of cases come down to credit or debt counseling. Knowing how to expertly handle your debt and credit scores/cards increases the likelihood that you won’t have to file for bankruptcy in the end.
Now you know more about bankruptcy and how to make wiser decisions. If, however, it’s too late and filing for bankruptcy is an absolute must, it is essential for your sanity and happiness that you remain cool, calm, and collected as you go through this process.
Featured photo credit: palmistryextraordinaire via palmistryextraordinaire.com
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