Crew. Gold’s Gym. Neiman Marcus. JCPenney. Pier 1 Imports. Hertz.
These are just a few of the well-known businesses that have been forced to file for bankruptcy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold, and the ensuing economic freefall.
So if these iconic brands got their clocks cleaned by the coronavirus, how bad can things be for the rest of us trying to maneuver through the headwinds of change while our boats are rocking in the waves?
As of Jan. 8, 2021, the economy had recovered just 12.4 million of the 22.2 million jobs that were lost during the pandemic, according to Reuters. According to Forbes, Moody's Analytics estimated that those 22 million jobs won’t fully return until early 2024.
The old saying, "desperate times demand desperate measures" is a little, well, desperate. How about we say, "desperate times demand bold measures?" And as unsettling as it may be, filing for bankruptcy could be the bold measure that you need to take in order to secure your financial future as the global economy remains mired in uncertainty because of the greatest health crisis in generations.
Said another way, we are in the midst of dire economic times. A lot of people are hurting financially and you may need some support to help you weather the storm. Filing for bankruptcy could be a trap door that buys you time and ultimately sets the stage for a financial future that is resilient.
"Bankruptcy is a court-supervised process in which a person receives an opportunity to work with creditors to restructure debt, arrange new, lower payments, and secure a financial start," reads the website for Phillips & Millman. "Choosing whether to seek bankruptcy protection is a difficult and personal decision that varies from case to case — it isn't the proper option for everyone. Selecting the correct bankruptcy procedure also is extremely important."
This is not an undertaking to embark on without the guidance of a legal expert.
"Bankruptcy can be a complex process, and the average person probably isn't equipped to go through it alone," according to Experian.com. "Working with a bankruptcy attorney can help ensure your bankruptcy goes as smoothly as possible and complies with all the applicable rules and regulations governing bankruptcy proceedings."
According to Kiplinger.com, "Bankruptcy is a legal process that can help people like you who can't pay their bills. It allows you to wipe out your debt and get a fresh start. Filing for bankruptcy will also put a halt to foreclosure or legal actions against you, and it stops creditors from calling and demanding payment. This 'breathing space' is one of the most desired benefits of filing bankruptcy."
But bankruptcy is not a magic wand, by any means. According to Experian.com:
"Bankruptcy may help you get relief from your debt, but it's important to understand that declaring bankruptcy has a serious, long-term effect on your credit. Bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for 7-10 years, affecting your ability to open credit card accounts and get approved for loans with favorable rates."
And you're going to have to meet requirements, such as demonstrating that you can't repay your debts; and completing credit counseling. So what's to know about filing for bankruptcy? Plenty. For starters, there's the "discharge."
According to the U.S. Court System, which is operated by the federal government and oversees bankruptcies, "A bankruptcy discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for certain specified types of debts. In other words, the debtor is no longer legally required to pay any debts that are discharged. The discharge is a permanent order prohibiting the creditors of the debtor from taking any form of collection action on discharged debts, including legal action and communications with the debtor, such as telephone calls, letters, and personal contacts.
"Although a debtor is not personally liable for discharged debts, a valid lien (i.e., a charge upon specific property to secure payment of a debt) that has not been avoided (i.e., made unenforceable) in the bankruptcy case will remain after the bankruptcy case. Therefore, a secured creditor may enforce the lien to recover the property secured by the lien."
You may be caught up in the COVID-19 economic freefall. You may be a business owner whose endeavor never got off the ground. Or you could, quite simply, just be way behind on your bills and debts, to the point where you need the help of a reputable lawyer to sort things out. Filing for bankruptcy could offer a solution that, in a very important way, slams the brakes on everything, prevents even more problems from emerging, and lowers the temperature on everything.
"Frank La Perch is Phillips & Millman's bankruptcy attorney and Frank helps clients review their options and choose the course that will result in the best possible outcome," reads the law firm's website. "Our lawyers protect clients from overzealous or abusive creditors and collection agencies, and ensure that our client's rights are respected."