From the February 2000 issue of Startups

There may be no success like failure, but try selling this philosophical silver lining to the creditors breathing down your neck. If you're thinking about pulling the plug on your business without spending too much quality time on the lam, belly up with the best Web Site resource for do-it-yourself bankruptcy filing.

Some people behave as though bankruptcy's no big deal-you take a hit and lose your credit rating for a while. But don't be mistaken: Bankruptcy is both complex and risky. For an in-depth look at bankruptcy in all of its many and varied splendors, visit Legal Resources, a Web site operated by the Johnson Lane Co. Everything and anything about bankruptcy is carefully explained by an attorney.

"Credit-card companies have been lobbying Congress relentlessly, and if they get their way, it'll become substantially more difficult for individuals to wipe out their debts through bankruptcy," explains Robert Afshar, president of Legal Resources. "A substantial portion of the people who now qualify to have their debt completely wiped out in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will be forced to pay back all or a portion of their debt over three to five years in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy."

According to Afshar, visitors can learn when a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a better choice than a Chapter 7; how to stop foreclosures, wage garnishments, liens and seizures; how to identify when there are better options than bankruptcy; and how to know if they'll need an attorney. The site also includes:

  • The three steps for determining what property you can keep when you file for bankruptcy
  • How to keep your car and your house even if you still owe money on them
  • How to keep your credit-card company from closing your account
  • What to expect after you file and how long the process takes
  • Questions the court-appointed trustee will most likely ask you
  • Things to do to help your case before you file
  • How your "disposable" income is determined and why it could cause dismissal of your case

This site explains what to do before and after you file for bankruptcy. Of course, there is a catch: They want you to purchase their do-it-yourself bankruptcy kit ($49.95). Nonetheless, the site is exhaustive on the subject and has a wealth of information for both the curious and the cash-strapped-and it's free.