Bankruptcy: Is Your Pride Holding You Back From Getting Help?

25 May Bankruptcy: Is Your Pride Holding You Back From Getting Help?

Bankruptcy is a terribly hard thing for most people to consider. So is surgery. Oddly many people are more likely to go ahead with a necessary surgery — an invasion of their body — than they are to go see a bankruptcy lawyer.

The irony is that the bankruptcy option may be easier, and certainly less physically painful, than surgery. And sometimes you might recovery from it faster.

  • The first misconception to overcome: Bankruptcy is about failure. Bankruptcy for people is about renewal, not failure. Business ventures fail and are liquidated in bankruptcy. But people go into it for a fresh start. They may have fallen upon difficult times and have been unable to pay debts back. That’s the cause but the point of the process is to get you back on your feet.
  • The second misconception: Bankruptcy is a punishment. Even though they’ve done nothing wrong, folks expect that their creditors, the trustee, and the judge will line up to torture them like they just joined a college fraternity. In reality, it’s more like a loan closing where everyone is verifying the information you provide so that they can get you on your way to your fresh start. It’s a team effort — if you do your part, the system will do its part to get you through safe and sound.
  • The third misconception: You’re the only one. Let’s do some basic math. In almost every year going back about 20 years, more than a million cases were filed. A fair number of those were joint (husband & wife) cases. Some households will have had to file multiple times but think about it…You already know people who filed bankruptcy. They’re not bragging about it — no one brags about knowing me professionally! — but they’re doing just fine.

Today, right now, thousands — possibly millions — of folks just like you are doing something foolish to avoid calling someone just like me, a bankruptcy lawyer. They might be about to cash out their 401(k) or IRA account — even though I can save it for you. They might be hiring a debt settlement company to negotiate ridiculously unlikely deals with creditors who will sue before the end-game is played. They might even be going back to our friend from the last decade — the cash-out mortgage, using their home like a piggy-bank. (Notice all those foreclosed homes around lately?)

And today, right now, millions of Americans believe that they are doing just fine financially, mostly because they’re keeping up on the minimum payment on all their debt. For the moment. Even though they aren’t saving for their children’s college fund, their own retirement, or even their next car purchase.

It takes courage to talk to a surgeon if you have a health problem. But deep down you know it really is not going to get better, right? If your debts are now keeping you from important things — like your kids’ education, replacing your car, or being able to retire — or even critical things — like your health care — then why haven’t you already called a bankruptcy lawyer? And if your answer is that you’re afraid or you’re too proud to “ever do that” then think again. Fear and pride are hard to eat sometimes. It might just be time to find out what you don’t know.

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I have been a bankruptcy attorney since 1989. Our firm represents consumers filing bankruptcy almost exclusively, although I have represented bankruptcy trustees as well as creditors. For 2017-2018 I am also serving on the American Bankruptcy Institute's Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy. If you live in Eastern Missouri, visit our website, send an e-mail or give us a call (314) 781-3400. Our website:
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