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Number of bankruptcy filings down, but many still in trouble

According to a report from the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), the number of Americans filing for bankruptcy fell by 14 percent in 2012 to 1.19 million, from 1.38 million in 2011. This was the lowest number since the economic recession hit in 2008, and the ABI expects the number to drop further in 2013.

The report was based on information collected by Epiq Systems Inc, which found that there were 1.13 million noncommercial bankruptcy filings in 2012, and 57,788 commercial filings, which was a 22-percent drop from last year.

The executive director of the ABI said the number of bankruptcy filings is likely to continue to decline as many U.S. households begin to cut back their debt and as interest rates continue to stay low. However, another reason for this is that Congress changed bankruptcy laws in 2005, making it harder to file.

Even with the economic recession and housing crisis, the number of bankruptcies has been relatively low since the laws were changed. In the 10 years leading up to the law reform, there were an average of 1.50 million filings per year. Over the past four years, the average number of filings was 1.39 million annually.

However, there are still millions of people in Florida and the rest of the country who are overwhelmed with debt. For many of these people, bankruptcy may still be a viable option. Because of the law change, it's more important than ever to have a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer on your side who can help guide you through the process.

Source: Reuters, "U.S. bankruptcy filings drop 14 pct in 2012," Jan. 4, 2012

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