The first thing that you want to do is take the "means test
," to determine whether you can file Chapter 7
(liquidation) bankruptcy, or whether a Chapter 13
(or some other Chapter may be required). See this link.
Once you determine whether or not you can file Chapter 7, the next question is whether or not you have some asset that you wish to preserve that would be lost in a Chapter 7, but would be maintained in, for example, a Chapter 13 -- where you would make payments for 3 or 5 years against your debt, and then the remainder would be discharged at the end of the payment plan. A Chapter 13 is only viable if you have stable income -- otherwise you cannot qualify for the plan.
The other bankruptcy Chapters for individual petitioners are usually inapplicable or too expensive (I'm assuming you are not a farmer and that you also do not own a business with significant assets that you wish you retain).
After determining the Chapter of bankruptcy, you must decide whether or not you want to try to "do-it-yourself," or hire a lawyer. The lawyer will probably run you about $2,500 -- however, you will have the satisfaction of an advisor who knows how to file and obtain the best possible outcome.
If you decide to DYI the bankruptcy, then you will need a guide, such as this publication.
There are two other issues: (1) you must obtain debt counseling from a certified organization, and (2) you must determine the applicable bankruptcy exemptions for your jurisdiction (for NY, see this link
All of this is covered in the guide I mentioned above. And, a bankruptcy lawyer will know this information and provide you with the most advantageous path.
That's the thumbnail sketch. Once your bankruptcy is discharged, your credit card debt
and health care bills will disappear forever -- and you can start fresh.
Hope this helps.
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