First, understand that filing bankruptcy should be a last resort if you have borrowed money and have absolutely no way or repaying it. Filing for bankruptcy will have a negative effect on your credit history for 10 years or longer and may also adversely impacts your quality of life.
If you do declare bankruptcy, here are some things to expect. First, you will need to be prepared to explain to a bankruptcy judge or trustee how you got yourself into such a financial pickle. You will be asked some very tough questions and need to be ready with good answers. It will not be an easy or fun task.
The only credit cards you will probably be allowed to keep are those that were completely paid off before you declared bankruptcy. You will most likely lose all others.
Once you file for bankruptcy, you will have trouble getting a mortgage, a loan, new credit cards, life insurance and even some jobs. This is because there are employers who are skittish about hiring people who have filed for bankruptcy as they feel it demonstrates a lack of restraint or self-discipline.
Some of your debts will not be discharged. This includes child support, student loans and back taxes. So if you think filing for bankruptcy will relieve you of that $12,000 you owe Uncle Sam, think again.
Keep in mind that a bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for at least 10 years. This means that if you’re 35, you’ll be 45 before you can apply for a credit card, a mortgage, a loan or a job without the potential lender or employer seeing that you were once bankrupt.
The good news
Despite what you may have been told, it is possible to get a loan after filing for bankruptcy. It is called a bankruptcy loan and its purpose is to help you get back on your feet and reestablish your finances.
A bankruptcy loan is usually available only after your creditors have been paid and your bankruptcy dismissed. If you filed a Chapter 13 (reorganization) bankruptcy, your creditors must be paid in full before you apply for a large loan. And if you filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must wait at least two years after the bankruptcy to apply.
The best way is to prove to potential creditors that you are no longer a bad risk is by paying all your bills on time, and showing that you can now handle a credit card. Once you have a track record for paying your bills on time, and have successfully maintained a credit card, you can ask your creditors for reference letters to prove to potential lenders that you have become credit worthy.
You should also know that there are lenders out there who will offer you a loan while you are still in bankruptcy as a way of paying off your creditors. Don’t be lured into this. It usually just paves the way for further disaster as you are simply adding debt to debt. As a wise man once said, you just can’t borrow your way out of debt.
Going through bankruptcy can be a painful and embarrassing experience. Be sure you consider all possible alternatives before filing. You might find that bankruptcy is easy to get into but very, very difficult to get out of.
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Douglas Hanna has lived in the Denver area for nearly 35 years and is an expert on both Denver and Colorado. He is also the author of more than 120 articles on Denver and Internet marketing.