Do you need to file bankruptcy?
If you're in default on multiple debts or are at risk of losing property to foreclosure, repossession, or garnishment you should talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Do your monthly obligations exceed your monthly income?This is often the primary indicator that something is wrong with someone's overall finances: there's simply more money going out than coming in each month. Sure, from time to time everyone needs to dip into their savings account or put some larger purchases on credit. But if either of these are the norm rather than the exception, there's is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed - and the sooner the better. It's been my experience that most people in this situation didn't set out to have negative cashflow; instead, they experienced some significant change in circumstance such as the loss of a job, underemployment, divorce, or an extended medical issue. If all of this sounds familiar, talk to an attorney about what your options might be. Most bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations and are happy to serve as a sounding board for how you might be able to resolve these debts.
What non-bankruptcy options are available to you? Are they feasible?If someone's credit is in good condition, they may be eligible for a consolidation loan; local credit unions are often an excellent resource for these types of loans. Or if they have equity in their home, now might be a good time to consider a cash-out refinance and use some of those proceeds to pay down or pay off high interest accounts. And, as difficult as it may seem, sometimes we might need to swallow our pride and ask family members for help if they're in a position to do so. But if someone's credit is shot, if they don't have any assets they can leverage, and if their family is unable to unwilling to assist, it's time to schedule a consultation with an attorney who specializes in representing debtors filing for bankruptcy protection.
Are you danger of losing property due to foreclosure, repossession, or garnishment?If so, the metaphorical fire alarm is ringing and you need someone to help you protect your property. Not only can such actions result in the loss of property and wages, but they can bring additional negative impacts to your credit once it comes time to recover and rebuild. A bankruptcy filing can prevent these actions and, in most cases, allow for reasonable repayment over an extended period of time if it makes sense to retain the property. Alternatively, perhaps it's best to stop putting good money after bad and finally move on via a fresh start. The particulars of your situation, including your ability and desire to retain property, is best discussed with an attorney who exclusively represents debtors in bankruptcy proceedings. In my opinion, this is not a conversation to be had with a general practitioner; bankruptcy is such a niche practice that it's best to focus your search on those who do this kind of work all day every day and let them guide you towards a successful resolution.