Clients have many questions during the initial appointment with a bankruptcy attorney. The most common concerns are losing property, and rebuilding credit after the bankruptcy case is over. Occasionally someone will ask a straight-forward question: “Will filing a bankruptcy ruin my life?” This powerful and important question deserves a straight-forward answer:
The bankruptcy laws are widely misunderstood by the average American. The purpose of bankruptcy is to put overwhelming financial difficulties behind and give an honest person a fresh start. Many Americans have taken advantage of a fresh start to improve their lives and have made tremendous contributions to our society. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the power of bankruptcy’s fresh start is to look at some famous examples:
Actor Burt Reynolds filed for bankruptcy in 1996 after his divorce from Loni Anderson. He listed more than $10 million in debt, and his dinner theater in Jupiter, Florida, was foreclosed on and his ranch was sold. Never one to quit, Reynolds continues to act in movies and television. Burt Reynolds was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the 1997 film Boogie Nights and won a Golden Globe Award for the movie.
Named as one of Time Magazine’s "100: The Most Important People of the Century," business titan Henry Ford didn’t always have the Midas touch. By 1901 Ford had unsuccessfully managed his first automobile company into bankruptcy. Two years later he founded Ford Motor Company.
Walt Disney may have had vision, but he needed a second chance to make the Happiest Place on Earth a reality. After his first film company failed, Disney filed bankruptcy in 1923. Five years later Disney introduced the world to Mickey Mouse and the Disney empire was born.
In 1875 a young businessman saw his horseradish company go bankrupt. Undeterred, the young man formed a new company in Pittsburgh, PA with his brother and cousin making ketchup. That company was a success for H.J. Heinz and in 2007 the H.J. Heinz Company had over $10 billion in revenue.
Other famous people who have used the bankruptcy laws to help them recover from financial difficulty include: singer Willie Nelson, talk show host Larry King, actress Kim Basinger, and even billionaire Donald Trump!
Don’t let financial difficulty stand in the way of your dreams! Bankruptcy will not ruin your life; it is a tool to help you build a better future for yourself and your family.