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Monday, February 2, 2009

What are the bankruptcy law changes?

By Josh Ramos

Despite the negative consequences of filing for bankruptcy, many Americans are able to find a fresh start when they decide file. However, many people have been told by well meaning friends or advisers that bankruptcy is no longer available in most situations.

Despite what you may have been told, bankruptcy is still available. Most people who would have qualified previously will still be eligible under the new bankruptcy law.

Much of the confusion comes as a result of the new bankruptcy reform which was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2005.

However, this doesn't mean that you can no longer declare bankruptcy. There are some additional hurdles to go through, but it probably is still an option for you. The main provision of the new bankruptcy law has to do with something called the means test. Basically, you have to prove that you really are not able to pay for your debts with your current income.

If your annual income is lower than the median income for your state, then you don't even have to worry about this so called bankruptcy means test. That's because if your income is very low, it's not hard to believe you when you say that you're broke. If your income is higher than the median, you will have to go through a more rigorous process to prove that you need to declare bankruptcy.

If you do have to go through the means test, that means that you'll have to go to greater lengths to document your income (as well as your expenses). You must be very careful in putting together these documents, because any errors can create a world of hassle for you down the road.

It may seem like a painstaking process, but your lawyer should be there to help you through the process. In case you're wondering about trying to declare bankruptcy on your own, let me save you the trouble. Don't even think about going it alone. The new bankruptcy reform makes things much more complicated even for lawyers, let alone lay people.

Of course, it helps to be as informed as possible before going to visit any lawyer. Reading more articles like this one will help you make a more informed choice and will help your visit with a lawyer go more smoothly. This can even end up being less work for the lawyer, which means a lower cost for you.

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