“Avoid Bankruptcy at All Costs!”

Written by Charleston Bankruptcy Lawyer, Russell A. DeMott

Bankruptcy is a tool that helps you deal with debt.  Debt won’t go away by wishing it away.  In fact, it just grows and becomes more and more unmanageable.

There are a lot of ways to describe debt.  We call it debt, an obligation, or use a big word like liability.  I prefer more graphic terms like “ball and chain.”

You’re moving through life and you just seem to be weighed down.  You can’t get ahead.  You feel weighed down.  You’re dragging the ball and chain of debt.  It’s your burden.

The big question is this: How do you get rid of it?  For many people, they can pay it off over a reasonable amount of time.  For others, though, that’s just not possible.

Bankruptcy is a Tool, Not a Dirty Word

There’s a stigma to bankruptcy.  It signifies failure for some.  But it’s really just a legal tool.  Bankruptcy doesn’t cause financial problems; it solves them.  What’s interesting to me is that some creditors seem to think bankruptcy caused the person’s financial problems and made it so that the debtor couldn’t repay the creditor.  The reality is that most creditors who get their debts discharged weren’t getting paid anyway.  Bankruptcy just says, “it’s over” in a legal, formal way and officially wipes out the debt.  But it doesn’t cause financial problems any more than a body shop causes car wrecks.

“Avoid Bankruptcy at All Costs”

I read this today and wondered how anyone could write anything so, well, idiotic.  “At all costs”?  To be sure, no one wants to file bankruptcy.  It’s not like winning a gold metal at the Olympics or anything you’d set as a goal in life.

But you need to pay close attention to the costs of not filing bankruptcy.  I’ve had clients suffer heart attacks from financial stress–one client had two prior to realizing that bankruptcy was his only realistic option.

I’ve also seen marriages destroyed by financial stress.  Is your marriage really just a “cost” you’ll pay to avoid bankruptcy? Is making MasterCard happy really more important than your relationship with your husband or wife?  Is it really more important than taking care of your children?

Don’t Get Me Wrong

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t “sell” bankruptcy.  I regularly advise clients to avoid bankruptcy–when that advice is appropriate.  I’m all for avoiding bankruptcy when it can be avoided.  That means when you can put together a reasonable repayment plan to get out of debt in less than a few decades.  But I don’t believe in financial suicide missions.  And you shouldn’t either.

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

The main thing in life is your health, your spouse, your children, and your sanity.  All those things are far more important than your 750 credit score–which, by the way, just might have gotten you in the mess you’re in.

Sure, avoid bankruptcy if that makes sense, but never avoid it at all costs!

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Russell A. DeMott is a bankruptcy lawyer practicing in the Charleston, South Carolina area. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1993. While in law school, Russ served as a law clerk to Robert F. (“Bob”) Anderson in Columbia. Bob Anderson is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee and, according to Bob, has taught Russ everything he knows.

During his clerkship with Bob Anderson, Russ also worked with fellow SC Bankruptcy Blog member Däna Wilkinson who now practices in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Russ still considers Däna a good friend and mentor. Unbeknownst to Bob Anderson, Russ also learned a lot about bankruptcy law from Däna.

Russ also served as a staff editor and the research editor for The South Carolina Law Review during law school.

For the first two years after law school, Russ clerked for the Honorable Harry A. Beach, circuit court judge in Allegan, Michigan. Russ says of Judge Beach: “Judge Beach was the epitome of an outstanding judge. He had both knowledge and wisdom. He treated lawyers and litigants with respect and always tried to be fair to both sides. It was an honor to have started my career as his law clerk. Judge Beach is now retired, and he is deeply missed on the bench. One attorney friend of mine actually cried during her last hearing before Judge Beach. And I’m sure many others have shed tears since his retirement. ”

For the next ten years, Russ practiced in Michigan in the areas of bankruptcy law, family law, criminal defense, and general litigation. As the years went on, Russ practiced more and more bankruptcy law as he gained an outstanding reputation in that area.

In 2005 Russ moved back to South Carolina to settle in the Summerville area. Russ’s wife grew up in Hanahan, South Carolina and most of his wife's family live in the Charleston area. "That can be both good and bad at the same time," Russ says. He officially declined to comment further about his relationship with his in-laws.

Russ has three daughters, three female cats, and a female dog. He is outnumbered. As Russ puts it, “to borrow a line from Jeff Foxworthy, I’m 'swimming in the estrogen ocean.'”

Russ enjoys the challenge of helping clients with their financial struggles. “I view my bankruptcy practice as a way to level the playing field between ordinary citizens—the voters—and Corporate America—the vote buyers. I’m unapologetically on the side of the little guy.”

Russ helps clients file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as well as out-of-court solutions like negotiating with creditors.

Contact Information:
Russell DeMott, Charleston Area Bankruptcy Lawyer
DeMott Law Firm, P.A.
103 Grandview Drive, Suite B
Summerville, South Carolina 29483
(843) 695-0830
(843) 408-4443 (facsimile)
[email protected]

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