Between the time I spend meeting with clients in one or another of my four Indiana bankruptcy law offices, the time I spend in bankruptcy court representing those clients, the time spent teaching courses on bankruptcy, and time it takes to post blogs five times each week, there isn’t always time to respond to individual comments and questions posted to the blog. So, what I’m going to try to do in this blog post is review some important points I made in two earlier blogs (Bankruptcy Comes In Cans and The Cannots In The Bankruptcy Can). That should provide answers to five or six recent comments from online readers, all of which essentially relate to what can be accomplished by filing bankruptcy.
Before “taking it from the top”, I hasten to remind readers that every situation is different. Bankruptcy law itself has a lot of complexity and little nuances, so the list of “cans” is meant as an overview. In legal matters, at least my firm belief is that there’s simply no substitute for seeking expert legal advice, someone who knows “which buttons to push“.
In general, bankruptcy may make it possible to:
a) discharge most debts (meaning eliminate the legal obligation to pay at least some debts)
b) stop or defer foreclosure on a home (or at least buy time to renegotiate mortgage terms)
c) stop wage garnishment
d) stop creditor collection efforts
e) prevent utilities from being turned off (or get them turned back on)
f) prevent repossession of a car (or force the creditor to return one that’s been repossessed)
That’s the “bird’s eye view” of the “cans” of bankruptcy. There are “cannots” as well (again, there are many legal details), debts that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Important general categories of “cannots” include
a) child support and alimony payments
b) student loans (in most cases)
c) criminal fines
d) some taxes
Overall, the idea behind the bankruptcy system is to provide “cans” for people at a time when life is looking like one big series of “can’ts”. The message the bankruptcy legal system is bringing to distressed debtors is “Yes, you CAN have a future!”