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The 12-month period ending December 31 2018 saw over 10,000 BC consumers turn to insolvency legislation for debt relief. Over 4,000 of those people filed personal bankruptcy, and debt industry experts are predicting that annual filings will rise over the next two years.

Licensed Insolvency Trustee and Vice-President of Sands & Associates (BC’s largest firm of debt experts focused on helping individuals and small businesses) Blair Mantin says that many people postpone asking for debt help because they don’t understand what filing for bankruptcy really means. The myths surrounding bankruptcy often leads to fear in seeking professional advice, which can turn into long-term stress – what you don’t know can hurt you.

Shedding light on personal bankruptcy and encouraging people to end the stigma and seek help sooner, Blair joined Breakfast Television Vancouver to explain the basics of what filing bankruptcy means, plus some ways bankruptcy does and doesn’t affect you.

Watch the clip here, and read more below:

86% of people polled in the 2018 BC Consumer Debt Study conducted by Sands & Associates said they would have taken action sooner had they had been aware of the details of personal bankruptcy and Consumer Proposals processes.

What Does Filing Bankruptcy Mean?

Bankruptcy is a legal process regulated by the federal government, but in Canada you do not need to hire a lawyer or go to court to file. You can’t file bankruptcy by yourself though, you need to engage the services of a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (previously known as a Trustee in Bankruptcy).

  • Although most people will only contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee if they are considering bankruptcy as a last resort to their financial problems, Licensed Insolvency Trustees also offer an alternative to bankruptcy called a Consumer Proposal (approximately 6,000 British Columbians filed Consumer Proposals last year).

Bankruptcy allows an individual to have virtually all of their debts written-off if they’re no longer able to meet their financial obligations.

  • Contrary to many fears, you are not stripped of all of your assets, nor are you deemed “forever bankrupt” and unable to move on with your life.
    • Most people keep all their assets thanks to provincial laws that shield assets from your creditors.
    • For most people the process will only last for 9 months!
      • During that 9 months you’ll keep a budget of your incoming and outgoing money and get help to rebuild your financial health through one-on-one financial counselling sessions.

Although often postponed (sometimes for years), bankruptcy generally comes as a welcome relief to someone who has been experiencing debt-stress. This is because:

2 Key Ways Bankruptcy Affects You

  1. Your Debts are Forgiven

Bankruptcy means that your debts will be forgiven or written off by creditors – yes, even government debts like taxes and student loans. Filing bankruptcy or making a Consumer Proposal are the only two methods of eliminating virtually all debts in Canada. Truly a financial fresh start!

  • Although there is an administrative cost for filing bankruptcy, this is generally very little compared to the cost of repaying your debt in full (plus interest).
  1. Creditors Can’t Contact You

As soon as your bankruptcy has been finalized a “stay of proceedings” kicks in. This legal freeze requires creditors to stop contacting you for payments, and halts collection action and further interest from accumulating.

Now that you know some of what happens when you declare bankruptcy, let’s clear up some common misconceptions and talk about:

3 Ways Bankruptcy Does NOT Affect You

  1. Changing Employers

Filing a bankruptcy doesn’t restrict you from changing jobs or finding a new career. Bankruptcy is normally a very private process and generally the only time your employer would even know of your filing is if your wages were being seized – this is because your Licensed Insolvency Trustee will notify your employer that the wage garnishment should stop immediately. Otherwise, most employers never learn that an employee has filed for bankruptcy.

  1. Making your Spouse Bankrupt

One person filing bankruptcy does not mean that their spouse must file bankruptcy too, nor does it make your spouse responsible for repaying the debt included in the bankruptcy. Unless your spouse has specifically guaranteed or co-signed your debt, there is no liability automatically triggered just because you are married or living common-law.

  1. Keeping You in Canada

The bankruptcy process does not require you to remain in Canada once it has started. There is nothing in the way of bankruptcy that would prevent you from leaving the country on vacation, or even a permanent relocation. If you move out of country partway through the bankruptcy process you will just finish any remaining bankruptcy requirements from your new residence.

If you’ve been avoiding exploring bankruptcy as a debt solution because of these (or any other) worries be sure to connect with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to clarify your concerns. Having all the facts will allow you to make informed decisions and take charge of your financial future. 

Find a debt solution that works for you – book your confidential free debt consultation with a friendly, non-judgmental debt expert today.