Thinking About Bankruptcy? You’re Not Alone
While we are only half way through 2010, the number of personal bankruptcy filings in the US for this year almost reaches the 2009 totals. Atlanta personal bankruptcy filings are certainly no exception here. The article below was published by The New York Times on April 1st 2009.
March 2010 Sees Sharp Increase Personal Bankruptcies
More Americans filed for bankruptcy protection in March than during any month since the federal personal bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005, a new report says, a result of high unemployment and the housing crash.
Federal courts reported over 158,000 bankruptcy filings in March, or 6,900 a day, a rise of 35 percent from February, according to a report to be released on Friday by Automated Access to Court Electronic Records, a data collection company known as Aacer. Filings were up 19 percent over March 2009. The previous record over the last five years was 133,000 in October.
“Even with the restrictive new law, we’re back up over where we were before the law changed,” Mike Bickford, president of Aacer, said in a phone interview Thursday from his headquarters in Oklahoma City. He faulted the stagnant economy, saying a surge in bankruptcies generally follows economic contraction by 6 to 18 months, and he pointed to March as a historically busy month for bankruptcy filings.
Other experts point out that filings invoking Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, a simple and inexpensive option, are rising faster than more complex Chapter 13 reorganization filings, under which consumers repay a portion of their debts so they can keep their homes, suggesting that more homeowners are simply walking away from underwater mortgages.
“Fewer people are trying to save their homes,” Katherine M. Porter, a University of Iowa law professor and bankruptcy expert, said in an interview by phone on Thursday. “They realize their payments are not affordable, and bankruptcy judges do not have the power to adjust the mortgages to make them more affordable.”
Statistics from the United States Trustee Program
The Justice Department office that oversees bankruptcy cases, show that Chapter 7 filings as a percentage of all bankruptcies have increased to about 73 percent in 2009 from about 62 percent in 2006-07. Of the 158,141 bankruptcy filings in March, 118,505, or 75 percent, were Chapter 7s and 38,241 were Chapter 13s, the Aacer report says.
“We think that means fewer and fewer families think they’re really going to save their homes,” Professor Porter said. “They don’t have any equity, so why try to keep up with their home payments?”
The nation’s high unemployment rate is one more reason for people to choose Chapter 7, Professor Porter said. “To file Chapter 13, you need ongoing income, and to the extent we have more people who are unemployed, they can’t use Chapter 13 because they don’t have that income to pay into the plan,” she said.
Finally, Professor Porter said, March is the high season for bankruptcy filings because many people in financial distress get a tax refund check that they can use to pay the $1,500 to $3,500 that a bankruptcy lawyer charges.
“People use their tax refunds to pay their attorney fees,” she said.
Although filing for personal bankruptcy has become relatively common in this economic downturn, that doesn’t mean that it’s not difficult to do correctly. If you’re considering bankruptcy, please feel free to contact The Adkins Firm, your “go to” Georgia bankruptcy attorneys!