>>Is bankruptcy right for you?
Hello, I am Cecelia Morris, the Chief Judge
of the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District
of New York. You are probably
watching this video because you are
in financial stress and are wondering if filing
for bankruptcy will help you. Bankruptcy is for the honest
but unfortunate person. It can help you
if you pay close attention, file the proper paperwork,
and come to court when required. It takes care and diligence.
But for an individual, the results of receiving
a discharge in bankruptcy are remarkable.
Many debts can be forgiven. Most people who turn
to bankruptcy have juggled their debt for so long
they’re emotionally exhausted by the time they’re ready to
take that big step and file. Rationally, you may know
that you need the financial help that bankruptcy
filing can provide. But emotionally,
taking that step is difficult. It feels like a failure.
It is not. It is a recognition
that for whatever reason, your debt burden is too much. You are not alone.
You may not realize it, but you likely know
numerous other people who have filed
bankruptcy too. Approximately a million people
file for bankruptcy every year. Most of these people
are often embarrassed to tell their friends
and family that they have filed
for bankruptcy, but there is no need
to be embarrassed. Almost every major religion
provide for debt forgiveness, and our bankruptcy laws
have historical roots in those debt forgiveness
passages from religious text. The drafters of
the United States Constitution intended a country where
its citizens could seek relief instead of criminal penalties
for unpaid debts and where families were offered
a permanent way out of debt. That is why bankruptcy is often
referred to as the fresh start. Bankruptcy was so important
to our forefathers that they provided for the
creation of the bankruptcy laws in Article 1
of the Constitution. If you find yourself
deep in debt and are desperately trying
to avoid bankruptcy, it might be time
for a change in thinking. Not only does bankruptcy
provide relief from debt, it provides relief
from chronic stress that can lead to poor health. Constantly worrying about bills
and your financial future is far more toxic
than a negative line on your credit report.
It is rarely, if ever discussed, but filing for bankruptcy could
actually improve your health, reduce marital strain,
and prolong your life. Asking for help can be hard, but the bankruptcy court
in you area has staff that
can help direct you. While court employees
are prohibited by law from offering legal advice, they can direct you
to forms and instructions. They cannot be your lawyers and cannot give you
legal advice. But if you are watching
this video, you have found
our court’s website, and there you can find
links to organizations who provide legal services
and free or reduced legal assistance
to those who qualify. Be sure to take full advantage
of these services. That being said,
to get the full effect and not miss the opportunity,
it is important to pay attention and to get your
financial documents in order. Bankruptcy is fast moving
and document intensive. So before you file,
open all your bills. Don’t throw them away. Gather your financial documents
and identifying information such as your Social Security
card or individual taxpayer
identification number. Be sure you attend
all the court required meetings. Within a short time
after filing, you will be directed to attend
a first meeting of creditors. Don’t miss it.
Pay attention to the individual assigned to oversee your case,
the trustee. The trustee is not your lawyer,
but they are there to make sure the case is
properly administered. Be sure to come
to court when asked. Ignoring court directives
can hurt your financial future. I hope this video helped you get
over your initial fear of filing and gives you a starting place
for filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is
a wonderful opportunity to help solve
your financial challenges.