Many people in Pennsylvania struggle to pay their bills. They may lose hope that they'll ever be able to cover their debt. One option they may turn to is bankruptcy.
There's no magic formula for deciding when bankruptcy is the right choice. It's an option you might consider if you:
- Are paying only minimum amounts on your bills
- Can't budget yourself out of debt within five years
- Are getting notices that your mortgage or loans are being foreclosed
- Have had a severe financial setback, such as losing your job or a major client, a divorce or a costly illness
Bankruptcy does not get rid of all debts. You're still responsible for:
- Child support
- Most recent back taxes
- Most student loans
- Recent large purchases of more than $550 for luxury goods bought within 90 days of filing
- Fines or penalties of government agencies
- Fraudulent debts
- Cash advances of $825 within 70 days of filing
As a Pennsylvania consumer, you can file for bankruptcy in Pennsylvania under either:
- Chapter 7 (Straight Bankruptcy) to wipe out all debts except those listed and get an immediate fresh start or
- Chapter 13 (Wage Earner Bankruptcy) to set up a repayment plan to pay back your debts over several years' time.
Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act
On April 20, 2005, the President signed into law the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which limits individual access to US bankruptcy courts. Some of the changes, which were effective October 17, 2005, included:
- New bans on Chapter 7
- Increased Chapter 13 payments
- New presumptions against debtors with increased penalties
- The reduction of judicial discretion to balance competing interests
What Can I Keep?
"Exempt" property is property that you are allowed to keep. What property is exempt in your particular case will be determined upon a review of your property interests in relation to the exemptions available under applicable federal and state laws. The items and amounts in this section may change in the future. Updated information can be found in the state code.