Rethinking Bankruptcy–from the Wall Street Journal

I answer many, many questions from people who call me about whether filing bankruptcy is “the right thing to do.”

The long and short of this discussion is that most people feel terrible about the fact that they cannot pay back the debts they’ve incurred. People agonize over the thought and fear that their family and friends will judge them, their pastor will judge them, their mother will judge them—you get the idea. They hate having to call me. They hate having to admit that they are in a situation that they can’t get out of without help.

I understand and empathize with their situation. It is in our nature as humans and social creatures to want to keep the promises we make.

If you’re wrestling with these thoughts, please check out this article from the July 24, 2009 WSJ titled Rethinking Bankruptcy.

Best quote: “It is, in a sense, surprising that so many Americans should still feel ashamed of bankruptcy when those in a far more comfortable situation feel no such chagrin. Corporate bankruptcies are an accepted part of doing business from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. Executives who collect $30 million from a bank in the years before it collapses are not expected to give it back.”

The article is decidedly not an endorsement bankruptcy. But it makes the point that I make to folks everyday. Bankruptcy is there for a reason. It’s 100% legal under our Constitution and laws of our state, and it’s what you’re supposed to do if you find that you can’t pay your debts.

Believe me the laws are not written to give you a free-out. The price of filing and getting your fresh start is high. And not everyone can be helped by filing.

If you’re struggling, what is important is that you figure out what your options are. Is filing bankruptcy going to give you the fresh start you need?

I don’t know. You need to call me (or another bankruptcy attorney) who will take the time to analyze your situation and help you decide.