Bankruptcy and the Happiness Equation

Can filing bankruptcy lead to more happiness? It can according to Steve and Shelia.

As a finance writer, I cover all kinds of topics and decided to set my sights on banking. I wanted to learn how it worked, how it left people feeling and if you really needed a lawyer. I had the good luck of talking to a couple who had gone through the process a few years ago and had come out the other side. (I, of course, have changed their names).

When I began my interview I asked Steve if he could sum up his experience. He told me he was happier since having "financial surgery" and now that he was on the other side financially financially reborn.

Shelia, Steve's wife, had a similar take on things. Shelia said she was really nervous and even a bit terrified by the thought of filing bankruptcy but in the end, looking back on all of it now, she said it was one of the best decisions they'd ever made.

"Since our bankruptcy, we have spotless credit. We've bought two cars at low interest and took advantage of current low interest rates to refinance our house and lower our mortgage payments." Steve has a good job with a federal agency that is very security conscious. Letting debts go late would get him in trouble on the job, but filing bankruptcy when he saw he had financial difficulties was not a problem.

Steve told me how he was surfing the Internet trying to figure out his options when he came across a lawyer who posted a lot of client reviews on his website. "If he helped all those people, I figured he could help us."

Steve says he read every word (there were a lot of them) on the lawyer's website. Soon he had information that helped him take his next step … a phone call.

Steve told me this phone call changed his and Shelia's life for the better. He also told me that just by making the call it as like a weight had been lifted; rather than keep circling, which led nowhere, he had taken a step forward.

They shared how after they met with this lawyer their concerns melted away. They began to understand that filing bankruptcy was a tool that most people just did not understand. Instead of a boogie man hiding in the bushes, it was more like a secret friend. They told me that once they'd made that phone call and then an appointment it became clear to them that they were not to blame. They had done nothing wrong. Life and life circumstances had worked against them causing them to end up where they were.

Steve told me that he was actually excited about the chance to start fresh.

I asked them what the court experience was like and if they thought they could have done it without a lawyer.

Steve and Shelia both chuckled a bit and Steve said, "no way, have you seen the paperwork!". While the other lawyers, representing other people were fumbling about for papers and notes, all my stuff was in perfect order. That's when I realized I was really lucky to have a good lawyer. We wanted to be really prepared so we could get straight answers to all our questions. "

This was when Shelia piped in. "Once we realized" she said "that bankruptcy was a solution, a tool that could free us from our financial woes we were absolutely liberated. We were really misinformed about bankruptcy and it's unfortunate more regular people – like Steve and me – do not know how filing bankruptcy can be a godsend. "

I asked Steve and Shelia if they had any words of advice for others who needed a financial makeover. Shelia told me that people should look for a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy; one who'll take the time to sit down and talk to you in person. "Offering a telephone consultation is not enough. I do not want to know about how bankruptcy works for most people. I wanted to know how it will work for me."

Shelia also said to look for a lawyer who works with the credit reporting agencies after it's all said and done so your credit gets squared away sooner than later. Shelia said that their team had done all this (and more) for them.

My Internet research turned up some other factors that matched Steve and Sheila's comments.

Look for a lawyer with a lot of experience. Bankruptcy law was completely re-written in 2005 to be much harder. You need a lawyer who has mastered all the ins and outs.

Look at affiliations. A lawyer who is committed to staying on top of bankruptcy will be a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys or the American Bankruptcy Institute. Or both. And everyone who says they work for the consumer should be a member of the Better Business Bureau.

Check out your lawyer's reputation. A good bankruptcy lawyer should have a lot of satisfied customers. They probably do not want their names used, but they should be willing to post anonymous reviews and testimonials.

When it came time for Steve to give advice he had three simple words "make the call". Steve said again how that one phone call had changed their life for the better. "Andides," said Steve, "who's gonna plea with the Donald! If it works for Donald Trump and his businesses and regular folk like us then it can work for anyone."

While no one ever expects to file bankruptcy I was delelled to learn that it can be a wonderful tool when life or life's circumstances throw us curve ball, and as all things in life it pays to be educated about what you're doing. There's nothing better than getting it straight from the horses mouth, as they say, and I was really fortunate to have Steve and Shelia's insight.

This article is a fictionalized account of an interview and testimony of a couple who filed bankruptcy in Northern Virginia. The names of the actual persons have been changed to protect their privacy.

Source by Liz Wasson

Don Ma

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