When to File Bankruptcy? How to Know to to Read the Warning Signs

Close up of a person filling petition of bankruptcy form

It’s easy to think “That’ll never be me” when considering things like falling into debt and filing bankruptcy. But when you consider that there were an estimated 1,071,932 bankruptcy filing in the U.S. during 2013, it doesn’t seem so unlikely anymore. In fact, bankruptcies can happen for a number of reasons — from defaulting on your mortgage to credit card debt — in 2013, bankruptcies resulting from unpaid medical bills affected an estimated 2 million people in the United States. Here’re a couple of warning signs that you need to learn how to file bankruptcy:

You Can’t Pay Your Bills or Mortgage
There are many reasons that you might not be able to pay bills — a sudden injury, layoff, or another type of setback could put you way behind when it comes to debt. Worse, the more debt you have, the easier it is to accumulate more. At a certain point, if your income has taken enough of a toll, you may be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is specifically designed for people whose income is insufficient to carry their debt load.

Your Wages are Being Garnished
If you are wondering when to file bankruptcy, a good sign is probably when your wages start getting garnished. Believe it or not, your employer is required, by law, to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck each week until the debt it paid in full if a debt collector obtains a court order for a wage garnishment. Find out how to file bankruptcy to start getting your paychecks in full again.

Debt Collectors Have Come A’Knocking… And A’Sueing
When you fall behind on your debt payments, the original lender can turn it over to a collection agency. If you neglected to pay or address them, they could file a lawsuit to force you to pay. Fighting these kinds of cases in court can be very difficult, and if you lose, you could owe more in lawyer and court fees.

Your Home Might Be Repossessed
One of the unfortunate consequences of not paying your mortgage is that the bank that issued it in the first place may be able to take it back. Sometimes, filing for bankruptcy can help you get caught up on house payments and keep it.

The real answer to the question “when to file bankruptcy” is whenever floundering in debt becomes a non-option. However hopeless a bankruptcy might seem, it actually is an amazing way to wipe the slate clean and start again. Ask a local attorney for help filing bankruptcy. They can give you the directions you need to learn how to file bankruptcy and figure out which type is right for you (chapter 7 vs chapter 11 bankruptcy). A Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically only takes six months to complete, and could be right for you.

Then again, you won’t know until you get help.