I often have clients come in to see me to discuss the possibility of filing bankruptcy, sickened by their financial situation. Sometimes they cry. Often times they tell me they feel like a terrible person for having gotten in whatever dire financial straits they are in. They tell me they feel guilty, that they just don’t think it’s right to file bankruptcy. They want to pay their debts. They want to be a responsible citizen. Sometimes they feel so badly about it that they end up never filing at all. They walk out of my office and their debt continues to grow, and every night they go to bed worried about it, obsessing over it. They might spend the rest of their lives running from it and stressing about it. They live everyday knowing that might be the day they get served with a lawsuit and worry about getting their paychecks garnished, or their checking accounts garnished.
I feel poorly for every person I meet who is in the situation where they even have to consider bankruptcy. I wish no one ever had to file bankruptcy. I wish no one ever suffered. The simple fact is, however, that sometimes bankruptcy is the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s the only thing to do, and you don’t have to be ashamed by it.
Life happens. Along the way bad things happen to good people. Maybe you aren’t fortunate enough to be able to afford health insurance and you get sick. You go to the hospital and it costs $50,000.00. Maybe you’ve been married for 25 years. You’ve stayed at home during the day, raising the children, taking care of the house while your spouse goes to work. You’ve relied on that spouse for decades. Together you’ve accumulated debt. Then one day your spouse decides to leave. He or she files for divorce due to no fault of your own. They leave you with nothing but the debt you’ve accumulated over the years. They leave you with no income. Suddenly you have to make a living on your own and start from scratch. Creditors start coming after you for debt you got while married. Suddenly you find yourself unable to pay for utilities or rent. What are you going to do?
In each of these examples you’re in debt. In neither of these examples is the debt a result of irresponsibility. It’s a result of life. It’s a result of living. Are you going to spend the rest of your life worrying about it and stressing over it, or do you want to put the past behind you and start over? Believe me, you may feel guilty for filing bankruptcy, but there’s no reason to. There’s a reason we have bankruptcy laws in this country. They exist to help the responsible, yet unfortunate debtor. They are there to help you get a fresh start in life. It’s better for everyone involved. You get to move on with your life, and the creditors have finality. They write off the debt and move on. It’s either that or you spend the rest of your life agonizing over the debt, which in many cases is going to make your life shorter and make you much less happy when it’s all said and done.
Don’t be afraid to file bankruptcy. There shouldn’t be a stigma attached to it. It’s there to make your life better. Take advantage of that opportunity.