Bankruptcy is a legal process that provides relief to individuals or businesses who are unable to pay their debts. While it can offer a fresh start, it’s essential to understand the impact it can have on various aspects of your life. During the bankruptcy process, a registered Trustee or Official Trustee is appointed to manage your assets and creditors.
Two Types of Bankruptcy:
There are two ways bankruptcy can come about:
- Voluntary bankruptcy: if you become insolvent, you can voluntarily file for bankruptcy by filing a debtor’s petition with the Australian Financial Security.
- Involuntary bankruptcy: if you owe a creditor more than $10,000, this creditor may apply to the Courts to make you bankrupt. This method is generally used if the creditors thing it is their best option to recover the debt owed.
How Long Does Bankruptcy Last?
Bankruptcy typically lasts for 3 years and 1 day, in accordance with the Bankruptcy Act 1966, however this may be extended to 5 or 8 years at the request of your appointed Trustee.
What Debts Are Covered in Bankruptcy?
There are two types of creditors:
Unsecured creditors: This is a creditor which doesn’t have a hold over any possessions, assets or property purchased with the credit they provided. The creditor has no security over the debt, and therefore does not have the right to repossess any goods or assets owned by you.
Secured Creditors: Secured Creditors are secured by a mortgage, or lien or charge over your assets until the debt is paid off. These include things such as mortgages, car loans, hire purchase agreements or secured business loans. These creditors take preference over unsecured creditors, and essentially jump the queue over unsecured creditors.
The Financial Impact of Bankruptcy
One of the most immediate effects of bankruptcy is on your finances. While it can eliminate most of your debts, it’s not without its consequences.
Bankruptcy can lead to the loss of your assets. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file, you may have to surrender certain assets to repay your creditors. This could include your home, car, or other valuable possessions.
It can significantly impact your credit score. A bankruptcy filing can stay on your credit report for up to ten years, making it more challenging to secure loans or credit in the future.
Bankruptcy and Your Credit Score
Bankruptcy can cause a severe drop in your credit score. The exact impact will depend on several factors, including the type of bankruptcy and your credit score before filing.
It’s important to note that while bankruptcy can hurt your credit score, it also provides an opportunity to rebuild. By making timely payments and managing your finances responsibly post-bankruptcy, you can gradually improve your credit score over time.
Disqualification from acting as a Director of a company during the Bankruptcy Period
If you are serving as Director of a company when you declare bankruptcy, you will be disqualified during the period. Your shares in a company will pass to the appointed Trustee, who then has the choice to either sell the shares or liquidate the company. Once the Bankruptcy period has ended, you can then become a director of a company again.
The Emotional Impact of Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy can also have a significant emotional impact. The process can be stressful and overwhelming, leading to feelings of guilt, shame, or failure.
However, it’s important to remember that bankruptcy is a tool designed to help individuals and businesses overcome financial difficulties. It’s not a reflection of your worth or abilities.
Seeking support from a mental health professional or a support group can be beneficial during this challenging time. They can provide strategies to cope with the emotional stress associated with bankruptcy.
The Social Impact of Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy can also affect your social relationships. It can lead to strained relationships with family and friends, especially if they are also your creditors.
Furthermore, bankruptcy can impact your professional life. Some employers may view bankruptcy negatively, which could affect your job prospects. However, it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against you solely based on your bankruptcy.
It’s crucial to communicate openly with your loved ones about your situation. Honesty can help alleviate misunderstandings and foster support during this challenging time.
Bankruptcy and Future Financial Opportunities
While bankruptcy can make it more difficult to secure loans or credit, it’s not impossible. Many lenders offer “second chance” or “fresh start” programs designed for individuals who have filed for bankruptcy.
However, it’s essential to approach these opportunities with caution. High interest rates and fees often accompany these programs. It’s crucial to understand the terms and conditions before agreeing to any financial agreement.
Bankruptcy can also affect your ability to secure housing. Some landlords may be hesitant to rent to someone who has filed for bankruptcy. However, with time and a demonstrated commitment to financial responsibility, these opportunities can become more accessible.
At the end of the Bankruptcy period, the bankrupt individual will be ‘discharged’.
Bankruptcy is a complex process with far-reaching effects. It can impact your finances, emotions, social relationships, and future opportunities. However, it’s also a tool that can provide relief from overwhelming debt and a chance to start fresh.
Understanding the effects of bankruptcy can help you make an informed decision about whether it’s the right choice for you. It’s always recommended to seek advice from a legal professional to help you understand your options and the potential consequences. Contact our commercial team today to see how we can assist you.