An individual’s lifetime is filled with highs and lows. Take for example the life of auto maker Henry Ford. Ford worked for years as an engineer for Thomas Edison’s company, where he experimented with gasoline engines. At age 36 he started his first car company, the Detroit Automobile Company, which went bankrupt two years later. A few years later he formed the Henry Ford Company, but clashed with his partners and was forced out. The Henry Ford Company was renamed Cadillac. Ford then formed a partnership, the "Ford & Malcomson" company, but again ran into financial trouble. Ford reincorporated this company as the Ford Motor Company and, well, you know the rest of the story. At the height of his wealth, Henry Ford was worth almost $200 billion in today’s dollars.
The federal bankruptcy law gives Americans like Henry Ford a second chance. In the 1918 U.S. Supreme Court case of Stellwagen v. Clum the Court stated:
“This purpose of the act has been again and again emphasized by the courts as being of public, as well as private, interest, in that it gives to the honest but unfortunate debtor . . . a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement of preexisting debt.”
Bankruptcy attorneys refer to this second chance opportunity as a "fresh start." It is a financial "do-over" and many Americans have taken advantage of the bankruptcy law to reorganize their finances and go on to a better future, including Mark Twain, Walt Disney, and Donald Trump. Financial distress can happen to anyone – just like Abraham Lincoln and Harry S. Truman who suffered devastating business failures before becoming our 16th and 33rd Presidents.
Bankruptcy is a legal process that allows an individual time to repay or entirely discharge overwhelming debts. It is supervised by a federal bankruptcy judge, and overseen by a trustee appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice. If you have bills you cannot afford to pay, bankruptcy may be the legal remedy you need. Discuss your fresh start options with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.