Bankruptcy Stigmas Put to Rest

Submitted by Jen Jones on Mon, 11/30/2009 - 1:03pm

Bankruptcy Stigmas Put to Rest

The USA Today recently published an article about the changing face of bankruptcy. In other posts, we have noted that we are going through a "middle class recession." Well, the evidence for both concepts continues to pile up, as the number of people who either currently, or before bankruptcy, brought home well over six figures in salary before filing continues to increase.

A woman interviewed in the USA Today was making $275,000 a year before investing savings into a new business just before the recession really tipped. Credit card bills suddenly went from manageable to frightening and as sales slowed, so did her confidence that things were going to get better. Eventually, she filed for court protection from her creditors.

This was not a woman who took advantage of a bank's leniency to run up material goods charges she had no intention of repaying. This was an entrepreneur who didn't see the recession coming, just as surprised as the thousands of highly paid, well-educated financial experts who worked in the heart of Wall Street every day.

A new study recently published proves bankruptcy is ultimately the domain of the middle-class. The study, completed by two Harvard professors and one from Ohio University, states that even before the current downturn, those who have had to file bankruptcy are largely college educated and own homes.

A book to be published based on the report cites that in every month in 2007, 100,000 middle-class families filed bankruptcy. And, those families were financially more troubled than those who filed in 2001.

Washington is just now recognizing the trend, as the head of the TARP program (which administered and manages bailout money), Elizabeth Warren (one of the Harvard professors behind the report) stated. "The bankruptcy filings are a warning about the risks now facing middle-class Americans. No longer can they count on a college education, a good job and home ownership to protect them from financial collapse."Warren also pointed out that time honored strategies for wealth-building are no longer holding up. Home ownership, steady investing and the support of a college degree are not enough to guarantee financial stability.

Now that the real estate market has demonstrated volatility few realized was possible, a once relied-upon nest egg is often crushed under the weight of a falling market. Add in something like a sudden medical emergency--even if insured--and few people would be able to handle the economic burden.

A couple in Long Island, for example, used equity in a home they owned for 29 years to take care of some mounting financial issues. Health problems soon emerged and work hours were cut back. Diane Spano had to have a kidney transplant and soon after lost her job because the drug treatment center where she worked closed. Her husband, with a back problem, was down to minimal hours at a local post office. Soon after taking out a home equity loan to keep them afloat, they realized the additional monthly expense was just too much. They filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to find the help they needed. Both of them were 66-years-old.

We discuss the stigmas of bankruptcy because all too often, we realize that they become primary reasons why people hesitate to file. "What will our friends and family think? Are we failures?" No, your not. And chances are, they're in the same boat. But you're smart enough to not let it sink.

If you are in North Carolina, contact the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt today for a free initial debt consultation. We know every client's situation is unique and we will take the time to carefully address all of your bankruptcy concerns. Call today. +1-919-646-2654.

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