Richard J. Shurtz, Attorney at Law

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Bankruptcy attorney explains the consequences and the choices

In Washington state and elsewhere, choosing to file bankruptcy is an important decision that weighs heavily on most people. Most persons now looking into bankruptcy once had a sparkling credit record and paid their bills on time consistently for many years. Unfortunately, a streak of bad financial times may follow a serious illness, an accident or a medical disability. It may also be a case of being laid off from a full-time job. Through the turmoil of serious financial problems, the family inevitably uses credit cards to cushion the immediate blow.

Unfortunately, this ignites the conflagration of piling debt upon debt. There are many promotions that the struggling couple or individual may be tempted to try for "debt relief." One should beware of these programs because many of them are scams, or they may simply be ineffectual in bringing about any substantial change in one's debt situation after the expenditure of thousands in an attempt to do so.

Generally, when an individual or married couple have a massive unsecured debt load, based on many credit cards, excessive medical bills or other unsecured personal loans or credit extensions, the only remedy that brings true relief is a consumer bankruptcy. For those with manageable debt loads, an approved debt counseling agency is likely a good choice as these agencies are staffed with trained, ethical counselors. For debt that cannot be paid off by affordable installments in the next several years, bankruptcy provides a true remedy that wipes out the debt quickly and permanently, through a Chapter 7.

The best way to decide whether to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 is to consult with an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney who works daily with the exemptions available in Washington state.  The attorney may also suggest appropriate pre-bankruptcy planning to assure that one's assets are legally protected. There are, however, many issues and questions that may be raised and discussed. Being guided through the process by a trained and experienced professional assures that one will know his or her choices and will enter into the filing with full knowledge of the process and confidence in the outcome.

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