Friday, June 5, 2009

Filing Bankruptcy - Dealing With the Stigma

By Gerard Simington

Falling on your face is rarely much fun. Announcing it to others is even less so. Well, bankruptcy is the metaphorical equivalent of falling on your face financially. Traditionally, filing bankruptcy has had a stigma attached to it. Let's take a look at that.

There is a particular commercial on television I happen to love. You might have seen it. It shows a man married to a beautiful wife with two kids. He lives in a nice house. It has a pool. He plays golf and so on. Then they do a close up of him and he says "I'm up to my eyes in debt. Help!"

While the commercial is good for a laugh, it is also incredibly accurate. Keeping up with the Joneses in America means living on the financial edge for most people. When things go bad, as they have recently, many people fall off of that cliff. In such a situation, bankruptcy is often the only choice they have left. If the potential stigma of filing causes you pause, there are a couple of things to consider.

The current economic climate is such that tens of millions of people are in financial distress. With things so bad, is there really still a stigma related to filing bankruptcy? How many people have lost their homes because they couldn't refinance when values dropped like a rock? The vast majority of them ended up in bankruptcy. What about people who lost their jobs? You know where they ended up. If there is still a stigma with filing bankruptcy, it has to be a pretty small one.

Let's assume the stigma of filing bankruptcy still exists. In fact, let's assume it is a horrible stigma - the equivalent of wearing a red B on your chest like in the Scarlett Letter. So what? Ask yourself this question. Who is going to know you filed bankruptcy? Nobody is going to know other than your lawyer, a judge and a few creditors who probably go by the name HSBC credit card company and Capital One credit cards company. Your friends and family are not going to know unless you tell them!

Ah, but won't filing bankruptcy ruin your credit? Yes! If you are considering filing bankruptcy, however, your credit is probably already shot up. You should file bankruptcy if you are insolvent. As a general rule, people in good financial shape don't file bankruptcy.

You have the legal right to file bankruptcy if you so desire. Are there downsides to doing so? Of course. If you are in a heap of financial trouble, however, bankruptcy often is your last best choice. The only way to know if it makes sense for your particular situation is to sit down and talk with a bankruptcy attorney.

Gerard Simington writes for - find New York bankruptcy attorneys and lawyers near you with our free directory.

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