Bankruptcy can have serious, long term effects on your life. If you become bankrupt, you may have to give up valuable possessions and property.
Your personal finances will have to be investigated, and restrictions will be placed on future investments. If you have a steady income and a satisfactory credit rating, you may want to consider these four options with less serious consequences.
Loan consolidation with banks
You may be able to combine all of your debts into one consolidated loan with either your bank or another financial institution. A consolidation loan is always a good idea because your interest rate will be lower than the interest rate on your credit cards, and you will only have to make one payment on your loan each month instead of making many different monthly payments to each of your credit cards.
Informal arrangement with creditors
You could attempt an informal arrangement with your creditors to pay a lesser amount or make your payments over a longer period of time. Often this is done with the help of credit counseling agencies. You may want to discover how your credit rating will be affected before agreeing to such arrangements. Sometimes creditors may agree to reduce your debt or extend the repayment term, but still report you to the credit bureau.
Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)
A third option is an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). This is a legally binding arrangement between yourself and those you are in debt to. It is Regulated by the Insolvency Act (1986), so you will need the services of a licensed Insolvency Practitioner (IP) to be eligible for an individual voluntary arrangement.
During the set up of your individual voluntary arrangement, your chosen Insolvency Practioner (IP) will draw up legal proposals for you to make an offer in full and final settlement of your debts this could be in the form of a lump sum or regular monthly payments over a period of 5 years.
All interest and charges on your unsecured debts will be frozen. You will be protected from any further action by your creditors. Once the individual voluntary arrangement is successfully completed your debts are effectively written off. The arrangements should be made to the benefit of all those concerned.
The main disadvantage to an IVA is that equity in property may not be completely protected but this is no different from bankruptcy where the Official Receiver retains the right to force a sale up to three years after the bankruptcy.
A fourth option is credit counseling. There are a number of credit counseling services who will help you consolidate your loans. Before enrolling with a credit counseling service, make sure you inquire about their services and fees. Often credit counseling services are useful in helping you to decide whether bankruptcy is the right option for you. There are many options to consider when you are in a situation of financial difficulty. Consult with a trustee in bankruptcy, a lawyer, or an accountant for more information.
These are just four options, but many more exist. Talk with a professional before declaring bankruptcy to make sure you have explored all your options.