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When financial pressures mount, the anxiety you feel can quickly escalate — especially if you're worried about losing your home. You think bankruptcy may be your only solution, but you hate the idea of giving up the home you've loved, tended and lived in for years.

Take heart. As long as you can afford the payments, there's a fair possibility that you will be able to keep your home. Here are some of the factors that will ultimately determine what happens:

  • The value of your home: If you have a lot of equity in your home, that could be considered assets that can be used to pay off your debts — although exemptions sometimes apply.
  • The type of bankruptcy you file: Chapter 13 bankruptcies are more flexible and let you reorganize your debt, while Chapter 7 bankruptcies do not. If you file Chapter 13, you may be able to keep your home even when it has a bit of equity.
  • How far behind you are on the mortgage payments: Your house is considered a secured debt, so bankruptcy won't stop foreclosure forever. It can, however, allow you time to negotiate a new agreement with your bank to make up any missed payments and keep your home.

Money troubles often happen due to unexpected circumstances, and there's no shame in this situation. You have to be proactive and look ahead.


Life's circumstances sometimes aren't the best. When your money is impacted by things out of your control, you might feel helpless. You know that your bills need to be paid, but you don't have a way to make that happen. Your focus then becomes making sure that you're doing your best to take care of necessities. Other bills, such as credit cards and medical accounts, might go untouched.

For some people, the situation becomes too much to handle, and they know they need to do something. Filing for bankruptcy is one option that they have in these cases. Consumers will typically either file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. The primary difference between these two is that the Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates nonexempt assets and doesn't require the person to make any payments. A Chapter 13 liquidates some assets, but the person has to make payments to the bankruptcy trustee on a set schedule.

One benefit that both bankruptcy types offer is the automatic stay. Once you file, creditors can't contact you to demand payment. This puts a stop to phone calls and collection letters, so you can have peace of mind while you're getting your finances back in order.


When it's time to update your will and your estate plan, take a moment to update your beneficiary designations, as well. This is something that people often forget, and it can prove very costly.

For instance, your life insurance company asked you to pick a beneficiary when you bought the policy. You probably picked a child or your spouse. That's what most people do.

Say that you chose your spouse, wanting to support them even if you passed away. However, you and your spouse have since gotten a divorce. You updated your estate plan to leave items to your children and cut out your ex. However, if you don't update that beneficiary designation, the life insurance payment could still go to your ex — and not your kids.


You're a young Illinois couple, in perfect health and having a baby. You're focused on fixing up the nursery, buying the safest car seat on the market and picking a name. But there's one more thing all expectant or new parents must add to their to-do list: Choose a guardian in case the unthinkable ever happens.

Many young people probably haven't thought about creating an estate plan but having a baby makes it an essential. If the parents unexpectedly pass away without naming a guardian, courts will decide who should raise your child.

That should be a parent's choice.


Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most aggressive and fastest kind of bankruptcy available to individuals and married couples. It also gets called liquidation bankruptcy, as the courts can order the liquidation of assets as a means of repaying creditors during Chapter 7 proceedings.

Typically, those who successfully file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can receive a discharge after the courts review their request, all without any requirement to repay their creditors. As a result, there are very strict limitations on who can file for Chapter 7 protection. In order to prevent abuse of this form of bankruptcy, it is necessary for individuals to pass a state-based means test prior to filing.

How does Illinois' means test work?

The basic premise of a means test involves comparing the individual's adjusted income to the state median income for their household size. The individual filing can make certain adjustments or reductions to their overall income for certain expenses, meaning that those who are quite close to or just over the income limit may still be able to pass the means test.

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