Nationwide and in Washington state, there is a new crisis -- in the need for debt relief -- that appears to be mushrooming out of control. Tens of thousands of elderly Americans are finding that the promises of a secure retirement have disappeared into a puff of invisible air. As a result, the number of people over retirement age filing bankruptcy has increased substantially and continues to grow.
Many residents of Washington state, like people throughout the country, are struggling with how to pay down their debt load when they don't make enough money. They didn't set out to get in that kind of a predicament but usually an unforeseen setback occurred. It may have been a medical disability, extraordinary medical expenses, unemployment or a similar unforeseen mishap. Now that the problem has built up and real difficulties of survival are being confronted, there are several steps to take, including in some instances consideration of a bankruptcy to reorder one's debt status.
Debt consolidation in the state of Washington involves taking on new debt to pay off old debt. This may entail taking an equity line of credit on one's home to pay off existing credit card or other unsecured debt. Using balance transfer credit cards to pay off old debt is also a form of debt consolidation. This form of debt relief may work out for some people by lowering the interest rate and simplifying one's monthly payments.
What causes a person or married couple to consider the bankruptcy option in Washington for debt relief? Unexpected layoffs, job loss, medical expenses, divorce and disability are just some of the causes that put innocent, good-intentioned people in the position of considering bankruptcy. The strange thing is that many persons dismiss the idea because they believe some of the misconceptions widely disseminated about bankruptcy.
For many Washington consumers, debt is an inescapable part of life. Recent studies indicate that people are currently taking on more debt than ever, and it's not all for big purchases, like homes. Credit card debt and student loans in particular are especially troubling for people who are trying to rise above their ever-growing debt.
Many people in Washington state and elsewhere throughout the country are inclined to want to put off a bankruptcy filing as long as possible. The perceived stigma of bankruptcy still perpetuates a feeling that filing for relief marks an end to a valiant fight to survive financially. However, a 2018 law review study has found that consumers can suffer considerable personal and financial damage by waiting too long.
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.
One important issue that is always discussed in the first meeting with a consumer bankruptcy attorney in Washington is whether to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Several other critical issues must be evaluated at the same time, including whether the individual or married couple are qualified under the means test to file a Chapter 7. Generally, one who makes too much money to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will still likely be qualified to file a Chapter 13.
In Washington as elsewhere, two broad categories of bankruptcy filings that are most often used are those for businesses or for consumers. Chapters 7 and 13 are used most often for consumer filings whereas businesses commonly make use of Chapter 7 and Chapter 11. The dichotomy is sometimes described as the difference between a business filing and a personal bankruptcy.
Washington consumer bankruptcy attorneys are the most knowledgeable professionals to consult when one is struggling with overwhelming consumer debt. With experience in handling many common and not-so-common debt problems over the years, they are well-equipped to explain to an individual or married couple their various options. They will explain whether they qualify for relief, how the bankruptcy system works, and other debt relief measures that may be pursued. Obtaining a consultation with an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney is easy to do, and the meeting is usually offered as a free service.