Sharanya Gururajan is an attorney specializing in bankruptcy law. Gururajan, a graduate of the University of Illinois Law School in 2005, started practicing bankruptcy law just as the Bankruptcy Code underwent major revisions. A Code that was previously more lenient to debtors was tightened up and became more creditor-focused. Additionally, the economic recession ensured that bankruptcy attorneys like Gururajan were busier than ever. Gururajan finds that bankruptcy work requires more than just legal skills, as people facing bankruptcy are often stressed and embarrassed by their situation. She must employ psychology and therapy as well as her legal expertise in working with clients.
There are 4 types of bankruptcy, though consumer-based bankruptcy is governed by 2 types; Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is known as a liquidation plan while Chapter 13 is a repayment plan and takes more time than a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In general, if a debtor wants to save his or her residence and is a wage earner, that debtor will usually seek Chapter 13 bankruptcy and pay back creditors on a 3 to 5-year plan. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy has no repayment plan; the debts are discharged after any assets of the debtor are sold and payment made to the creditors.
There are many individuals involved in a bankruptcy filing including the debtor, creditors, trustee, judge and U.S. Trustee. The debtor starts the bankruptcy by filing a petition. The petition triggers an automatic stay which creditors cannot violate without risk of sanctions. The petition only affects pre-petition debt. The trustee oversees the management of the bankruptcy estate created by the filing of the bankruptcy petition for the benefit of creditors and the trustee has an equitable and legal interest in the estate and can market the debtor’s assets to satisfy creditors. The bankruptcy judge presides over the bankruptcy while the U.S. Trustee makes the determination that a debtor who has filed for bankruptcy passes the means test that qualifies the debtor to proceed with the bankruptcy.
Many people worry about the effect a bankruptcy will have on their credit rating. Gururajan points out that if anyone has not been making payments on their mortgage or credit cards, they should realize that their credit rating has already been affected. Such individuals struggling with debt may benefit from consulting with a bankruptcy attorney to learn if filing a bankruptcy petition is an option for them. A bankruptcy attorney can assess the type of debt an individual has and recommend the best course for the debtor.
Robert Monahan, Esq. is a lawyer in Gurnee, IL with his own practice in personal injury. He has a radio show on Thursday nights at 7 pm, called “Everyday Law,” on WRLR 98.3 FM, where he tries to demystify the law for the ordinary person. “Everyday Law” can be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes or other various podcatchers. His two websites are www.monahanfirm.com and www.gurneepersonalinjuryattorney.com. He also has two Facebook pages – “Robert A. Monahan, Esq.” and “Everyday Law.”