This week we are back in the classroom with the second blog in our school for debt relief series, this time to talk about the difference between a bankruptcy and a consumer proposal. These are two very popular forms of debt relief, but before you jump in it is best to fully understand each option. If you feel as though you are drowning in debt and don’t foresee a solution in the future, one of these options may be just what you need.
In Canada, hundreds of people each year choose to deal with their debt through a bankruptcy or consumer proposal. That being said, the two are very different, so we’ve broken things down to help you better understand how these forms of debt relief can help.
Bankruptcy is the legal process that discharges you from most of your debts. This may involve the distribution or selling of some of your assets to pay creditors, but this depends on your own individual situation. The first time you file for bankruptcy, if you do not have any surplus income, you can qualify to be discharged (meaning you have fulfilled your obligations) within 9 months. If there is surplus income, you can be discharged in 21 months. When you file you are required to report to your trustee on a monthly basis, make monthly payments and complete two credit counselling sessions. If, over the course of your bankruptcy, your financial situation changes to the point that surplus income exists, you will be required to pay additional monthly payments until your trustee is satisfied. Once you become discharged, your debts are gone and your obligations are over.
Things you need to know: once you file you can only be discharged by your trustee – it is up to their discretion to decide when obligations have been met. Additionally, attempting to obtain credit after you have filed (and after being discharged) can be significantly impacted. This is because you are now deemed high risk by creditors.
A consumer proposal is also a legal process which discharges you from your debts, but in a different way. In a consumer proposal, your creditors agree upon a repayment amount, usually significantly less than what you owe, and then you make monthly payments for a set number of months. This pays off only unsecured credit (credit cards, lines of credit, personal loans), but not secured debt (mortgage, car loans). Once you have fulfilled your obligations (monthly payments), you are debt free and out of the consumer proposal. That being said, like a bankruptcy, a consumer proposal can impact your ability to secure credit in the future.
Both of these options are valuable if you find yourself struggling with debt. Each option has its pros and cons, and so speaking with a professional debt consultant is the best place to start.
For more information about debt relief and bankruptcy versus a consumer proposal please contact DebtCare Canada at 1-888-890-0888 or visit www.debtcare.ca.