When someone has more debt than he or she can handle there may be only a couple of options — continue struggling and falling behind, or file for bankruptcy. But a lot of people in Alabama put off filing for bankruptcy because they are scared of how it might affect their future. One of the most common fears about Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that someone will lose everything that he or she owns. While it is true that filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may mean losing certain property, it is not nearly as much as some people think.

It is important to understand the difference between exempt and non-exempt property. Non-exempt property is everything that is sold to satisfy creditors and consists of what some might call the “extras” in life. Second vehicles and expensive musical instruments are usually not exempt. There is an exception for musical instruments, though. If the person filing for bankruptcy is a professional musician, he or she can keep the instruments.

Exempt property is everything that a person is allowed to keep. In general, if something is considered a necessity for modern life, it is exempt. So while someone might have to sell a second vehicle, he or she will most likely be able to keep a primary vehicle. He or she can also hang on to most clothes, household appliances and reasonable home furnishings. Public benefits like Social Security and unemployment are also considered exempt.

Living with too much debt is a significant burden that not only wears on people financially, but emotionally as well. Because of this, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often good for both financial and emotional well-being. But being unfamiliar with the process can make it seem scarier than it is. Speaking with an experienced Alabama attorney may help those who are uncertain about moving forward decide what is best for their unique situations.