What are the differences between debt relief & bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is not necessarily the villain of a debt recovery story. At times, it can be the right solution that gives a consumer a chance to start over. However, like all debt relief options, there are pros and cons. Comparing bankruptcy to these other options can help you assess the best solution for your situation.

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy laws give those who have more debt than they can repay protection from creditors and a chance to eliminate their debts. Depending on the type of bankruptcy filed, you can discharge unsecured debts entirely or enter an organized repayment plan. There are several types of bankruptcies, but Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are the most common forms that consumers can file. Chapter 11 is an option for those with a large and complicated cases. You can learn more about the pros and cons of bankruptcy here.

If you’re not convinced that bankruptcy is the right option for you, you may want to consider debt settlement, debt management or debt consolidation.

A look at debt settlement

Debt settlement allows you to negotiate with creditors to pay off debt on delinquent, unsecured credit accounts and personal loans over a specified time (or all at once) for an amount less than you owe. Negotiating a debt settlement usually happens when you’re several months past due on your payments. You’ll need to tolerate collection agency calls and the potential for lawsuits. but debt settlement can be a good and fairly quick option for people who have the money to pay creditors through a payment plan that lasts no more than a couple of years. If your finances are too tight, or your income isn’t reliable, this may not be a good option. Review the pros and cons of debt settlement in this article.

What is a debt management plan?

A debt management plan (DMP) is a sponsored repayment plan managed by a credit counseling agency that negotiates reduced interest rates on your unsecured debts and creates a pay-off plan. The DMP requires that you make fixed monthly payments for up to five years. These payments go directly to the agency and they distribute them to each of your creditors for the accounts enrolled in the DMP. Your monthly payment also includes a fee for the agency’s services, which is nominal and capped by state laws.

When you know that you’ll have consistent income over the next five years and the monthly required payments fit within your budget, this plan may work for you. It’s wise to have a savings account so that if an emergency arises, you’ll still make your monthly DMP payment. If you’ve not yet fallen delinquent on your accounts, or have perhaps only missed a payment or two, this is an option to consider in order to protect your credit. But, if you miss just one payment, you’re out of the program and all negotiated terms are nullified. Learn more about a DMP in this article.

A look at debt consolidation

Debt consolidation usually means taking out a large loan from a creditor to cover the balance of all your existing loans and credit cards. The loan could be a personal loan from a bank, a peer-to-peer loan or, in some cases, a home equity loan. Sometimes it can be accomplished through a balance transfer. The goal is to get favorable terms that include a much lower interest rate than you’re paying on your multiple accounts; giving you the chance to reduce what you owe and pay off debt in a reasonable time. If you’ve not yet fallen behind on your accounts, this approach can help protect your credit score. If, however, you have challenges reigning in spendthrift behaviors, you may find yourself continuing to use your paid-off accounts and getting deeper into debt. To consider the pros and cons, read this article.

BankruptcyDebt SettlementDebt ManagementDebt Consolidation
Negative Impact to Credit
YesYesNoNot if consolidate before delinquency
AffordableChapter 7 is most affordableYes, if negotiated wellYes – fees are cappedYes, if consolidation loan has good terms
Quick ResolutionChapter 7 is fastest optionIdeally complete in 2 yearsWithin a few yearsDepends on terms
Potential for LawsuitNoYesNoNot if consolidate before delinquency
Payments managed by 3rd PartyYes for Chapter 13 and 11NoYesNo
Risk of FailureNearly 70% failure for Chapter 13Fairly low risk with guidance from an expert, and when your monthly cash flow is consistent.Yes because plan does not allow for missing even one paymentIf spending behaviors continue, this option can lead to more debt

Assessing your options

At Resolve, we offer a free financial management platform that shows you a side-by-side comparison of the potential options for your specific circumstances. You also can access free guidance from our debt relief experts. If you then choose to work with one of our network partners, we would inform you of the fee for their service.  

While we currently do not offer partnerships with bankruptcy attorneys, we can connect you with licensed professionals in your state that offer a no-cost initial consult. We can also help you understand what bankruptcy would mean for your financial circumstances.Your first step is to complete your profile here. We’re also happy to speak with you to discuss your situation further. Just send us a message.

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