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Most bankruptcies are caused by financial hardship rather than reckless spending, and many are low-income individuals unable to cope with unexpected major expenses such as job loss or medical bills.
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Peaks in bankruptcy filings usually signal an economic downturn; and states with less consumer-friendly laws typically see the most applications. Consumers can consider consolidation options—Management Plans, Consolidation Loans and Settlements—as an option to avoid filing for bankruptcy.
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The number of bankruptcy filings in the United States has increased steadily over the last century, and especially from 1980 to 2005.
Bankruptcy filings reached a record high in 2005, when more than 2 million cases were filed. That year, one in every 55 families filed for bankruptcy.
The vast majority of bankruptcies are now filed by consumers, not businesses. In 1980, businesses accounted for 13 percent of bankruptcies. Today they are about 3 percent.
The number of bankruptcies annually varies widely by state. That’s partly because bankruptcy policies differ from state to state — and some states are more populous than others.
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In 2011, the state with the most bankruptcies was California, with more than 240,000. This made up 17 percent of all bankruptcies in the country. At the other end of the spectrum, Alaska had fewer than 1,000 bankruptcies in the same year.
The five states that filed the most bankruptcy filings in 2011 accounted for a disproportionate 38 percent of annual filings nationwide.
According to a study published in early 2005, 46 percent of bankruptcies were related to significant medical conditions. The main reasons listed in this category include injury or illness, medical expenses not covered by insurance, or losing at least two weeks of work due to illness.
However, economic changes that occurred shortly after the study was completed led to dramatic changes in the reasons given for bankruptcy. Commonly reported reasons for bankruptcy since 2005 include reduced income, job loss, credit, illness/injury, unexpected expenses, and preparing for divorce.
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Over the past few years, researchers have noted major changes in the typical bankruptcy filing. Today, the average applicant is older and married, has a high school education, and earns less than $30,000 a year.
Since the early 1990s, bankruptcy has been used with increasing frequency by older people. Although more senior citizens file for bankruptcy, the percentage of those filing is below 25.
In 2007, those under the age of 25 accounted for less than 2 percent of all filers, down from 11 percent in 1994. these filers now make up about 20 percent of all bankruptcy filers.
Recent studies have shown that 8 percent of those who file for bankruptcy have filed at least once before. These duplicate filings are responsible for 16 percent of all bankruptcies.
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Although the government has enacted policies to prevent abuse of the bankruptcy system, these new policies have had little effect on who files for bankruptcy and when.
About equal numbers of men and women file for bankruptcy, 48 to 52. The gap has been narrowing for the past few years.
Married individuals account for a growing share of bankruptcies – more than 64 percent in 2010. This figure includes married couples filing jointly.
About 20 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy in 2010 had a bachelor’s degree or higher, up from 16 percent four years earlier.
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About 36 percent of students have a high school education, and another 29 percent have a college education.
The authors of a 2011 bankruptcy study suggested that those with some college educations are at the highest risk of filing for bankruptcy because they carry the financial burden of student loans but do not experience the high salaries associated with college degrees.
A 2011 study also found that 60 percent of bankruptcy filers had earnings of less than $30,000 and may have low-cost bankruptcy options. That represents a decline of about 66 percent four years ago.
During the same period, a growing percentage of filers reported making more than $60,000 annually. This demographic indicator increased from 5.5 percent to 9.2 percent.
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Although there is a typical profile of someone in bankruptcy and certain life factors that increase the likelihood of bankruptcy, no one is immune to serious financial problems. If you find yourself struggling financially, consider settlement and consolidation before filing for bankruptcy.
Bill “Free” Fay has lived a meager financial life his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth the site as the original “Random Man”. Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the highly financial world of college and professional sports for major publications including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill is available at [email protected]. If you have too much debt, bankruptcy is an option. Learn whether bankruptcy protection is right for you, the differences between types of bankruptcy, when to file, and what to expect.
Differentiating between the different types of bankruptcy and knowing when it’s appropriate to file for one can be confusing.
In this guide, we’ll cover the two most common types of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and explain what happens when you file bankruptcy, how to do it, and the questions you should ask yourself to determine if bankruptcy is appropriate. You.
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Bankruptcy is a legal process for individuals or companies that cannot pay their outstanding debts. You can go bankrupt in one of two main ways. A more common way is to go into voluntary bankruptcy. The second way is for creditors to ask the court to declare bankruptcy.
If you decide to file bankruptcy yourself, there are several ways to do so. Before proceeding, you may want to consult with an attorney to determine what is best for your situation.
There are other types of bankruptcy filings for small businesses, such as Chapter 11, which are less common and more expensive. This type of bankruptcy is for businesses that owe $2.5 million or more, or businesses owned by LLCs or partnerships. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is similar to Chapter 13, but is usually only for businesses.
The Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 made Chapter 11 less expensive for small businesses and gave them more flexibility to negotiate bankruptcy terms with creditors. But it’s still less common than Chapter 13. If you feel that Chapter 11 bankruptcy is right for your company, you may want to talk to an attorney.
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Filing for bankruptcy automatically ends your creditors’ claims against you. This means that your creditors must stop trying to collect the money you owe them. They will not be able to:
Your case will be assigned to a bankruptcy trustee, an attorney who will oversee your case. The trustee will send notices to your creditors and schedule a hearing.
From there, the procedure depends on whether you are filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 protection of the federal Bankruptcy Code.
Chapter 7 is one of the most common types of bankruptcy. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you:
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There are limited amounts of certain assets such as cash, clothing, household goods and cars that you are allowed to keep, but these exceptions vary depending on the state in which you live.
Once your assets are liquidated and your creditors are paid, your remaining debts are forgiven unless you reaffirm your debt. A debt reaffirmation is when you voluntarily give up the protections of a bankruptcy discharge and agree to take responsibility for the debt. Revalidation is selected to preserve certain assets and avoid cancellation.
Not everyone can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your income is too high, you may be required to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be an option for you if you are unable to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or if you have some money to pay creditors and assets you want to keep. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you:
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Once these stages are completed, the remainder of your debt that is eligible for repayment will be written off.
Chapter 13 is a good option for someone on a fixed income who has some money left over each month to pay off their debt, but needs breathing room and extra time to catch up.
Depending on how you choose to file bankruptcy, your assets and liabilities will be affected in different ways. In chapter 7
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