“Will my lights be shut off if I include utility bills in my bankruptcy? Will I still have running water? Will I still be able to cook my own dinner? … Seriously, how many ways will I be punished because of this?!”
Please don’t worry. No one is going to get “angry” with you and try to punish you by shutting off your electricity, your water, or your gas. In fact, it would be against the law to do so in most cases.
Many families are struggling right now, especially because of the economic downturn as a result of the coronavirus.
Bankruptcy is not a punishment.
That’s just one of many stigmas out there intended to scare people away from filing for bankruptcy when truly that could be the solution they need to get their life back on track.
Think of it like this: You’re not helping anyone if you’re suffering – not yourself, not your family, and, most notably for the sake of this conversation, not the overall economy. Bankruptcy is meant to free you of your burdens so that you can continue to contribute to society from a financial, personal, and social standpoint.
If you’re wondering if you can include utility bills in your bankruptcy, yes you can, in most cases. In fact, that’s actually a way to prevent shutoffs rather than spur them on.
Including Utility Bills in Bankruptcy Filings
Utility companies, like DTE Energy and Consumer’s Energy, often offer payment programs for those struggling to make monthly payments. Despite payment plan options, however, homeowners may continue to struggle, especially because credit card bills, mortgage payments, car loans, and many other bills are due as well.
Fortunately, you can include utility bills in your bankruptcy typically. Doing so actually prevents the utility company from trying to collect on the debt, and it keeps them from discontinuing your service. In other words, this bankruptcy filing is seen as your attempt to get back on your feet and make a better life for yourself – not as you overlooking your debts.
Exceptions to the Rules
As with any legal proceeding, there may be exceptions, such as when you choose to relinquish ownership of your house in your bankruptcy.
There are also differences depending on which type of bankruptcy you file.
- In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, utility bill debts are typically wiped out if you include them in your filing.
- In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may have to repay them over time according to your payment plan.
After the discharge, you will have to pay for new utility bills, and that’s good! The whole premise behind bankruptcy is for you to be able to regain or improve your lifestyle, albeit with a clean slate.
Call our Downriver law firm, located in Brownstown Township, if you want to know more about your bankruptcy options.
And by the way, if you’re considering filing for bankruptcy during this coronavirus pandemic, you can do so online through our website. We’ll set up a free video consultation to see if filing for bankruptcy is right for you, and then we’ll let you know the next steps from there.
Please let us know if you have any questions. We know the coronavirus health concerns, stay-at-home order, and financial difficulties combined can be financially and mentally devastating, but we’ll be here to help you through it.