5 On Your Side

Consider these points before filing bankruptcy

Posted July 29, 2020 4:07 p.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2020 6:26 p.m. EDT

— Layoffs, slow business, maybe even a health crisis – financial problems can add up quickly.

Personal bankruptcy is a last resort when financial ruin hits.

While bankruptcy filings haven't peaked yet, some experts believe they will in the next few months.

5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte shares what bankruptcy attorney Ciara Rogers says to consider before filing.

"It's more than just filling out the forms to file bankruptcy. There really is strategy included in the process," Rogers said. "Is bankruptcy the right option for you. Is this the time that you should file? Should you wait for some other events to happen before you file?"

Bankruptcy is complicated. While one can file without an attorney, experts say it's best to consult one, and make the most of that meeting.

"Having a good idea of what you owe, whether it be to credit cards or medical bills or on your mortgage or on your car, that's always helpful so that you can get good advice based on your personal situation," said Rogers.

She says, also know what your goals are, offering questions to ask yourself. "Do you want to keep the car? Do you want to surrender of the car? Do you want to keep the house? Do you want to surrender the house? Is this a good time for you," said Rogers.

If you file, it will impact your credit rating for years, including loans you receive for things such as a car or mortgage, and how much you pay in interest on those loans.

The bankruptcy process also involves help with financial management to help people get back and stay on track.

One takeaway: Don't wait to reach out to creditors and companies. Reach out about a payment plan before things get too difficult to manage.

Bankruptcy is a big decision with lasting impacts, but for some it may be what's needed after struggles with the pandemic.

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