Perhaps a one-time event like a serious illness with staggering medical bills has caused you to fall into deep debt. Perhaps you have just been overspending and those debts have caught up with you.

Whatever the circumstances, you know you need to do something, but what? You keep thinking about bankruptcy. Is going for Chapter 7 or 13 the right thing to do?

Thinking it through

In 2016, almost 80,000 people filed for bankruptcy: They faced hard decisions, just as you do. There are long-term consequences to consider. For example, a bankruptcy will remain on your record for the next decade. Furthermore, if you should get into debt in the future, you cannot declare bankruptcy again for years. 

On the other hand, bankruptcy provides relief from the stress of unmanageable bills and creditor calls. Even though the bankruptcy is on your record, you can begin repairing your credit immediately. 

Considering your options

Among those who declared bankruptcy in 2016, 490,365 people filed for Chapter 7, and 296,655 filed for Chapter 13. The former provides for the payment of your debts through the liquidation of your assets. The court appoints a trustee to manage the auctioning of your property and use the proceeds to pay your obligations. The latter option is the less severe of the two: Chapter 13 allows you to keep your property and pay off your debts over time, usually during a period of three to five years.

A guiding hand

Seeking professional guidance about the options you have will help you weigh the pros and cons of a bankruptcy. An attorney experienced with such an action can answer all your questions, such as whether you can discharge tax debts, whether you are eligible for any exemptions and how you can protect certain assets, such as your home or your car. In addition to providing legal counsel, your attorney will ensure that your bankruptcy is done properly from the beginning—but ultimately, the decision as to whether to go forward will be yours alone.