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Tennessee leads country in bankruptcy filings per capita

Unexpected life changes can cause considerable financial challenges to most Tennesseans. Unfortunately, too many Tennesseans have struggled with financial problems over the last year, even though the economy has improved significantly since the Great Recession. Many Tennessee residents still struggle just to make ends meet, and some have ended up with overwhelming debt because of job losses, medical bills and other unexpected expenses. Fortunately, bankruptcy is available to help people recover. In fact, Tennesseans have taken to bankruptcy more than the residents of any other state.

According to bankruptcy data gathered by Epiq Systems, in 2014, bankruptcy filings nationwide increased by 1 percent in December from November. More than 62,400 bankruptcies were filed. Researchers note, however, that December had four more filing days than November. Tennessee led the nation with had the most filings per capita at 6.1 cases for every thousand residents. California had the most bankruptcy filings at nearly 100,000.

Overall, 2014 was a roller-coaster ride for bankruptcy filings. March had the most bankruptcy filings at 91,280. The number dipped considerably in October, declining to almost 79,000 filings. In all, more than 910,000 bankruptcies were filed last year, a 12-percent decline from 2013. The declining trend continued after the filings peaked in 2010 following the real estate market collapse in 2008.

As the statistics indicate, bankruptcy is the debt-relief choice for many Tennesseans. Nearly 60 percent filed under Chapter 13 protection; slightly more than 40 percent filed under Chapter 7. Whether residents incurred their debts because of credit cards or medical expenses or some other reason, bankruptcy provides a legal way to discharge debts. Which type or chapter should be used depends on each Tennessee resident's financial situation, so it is best to consult a bankruptcy professional about which one offers the most relief and how to qualify.

Source: DS News, "AACER: Bankruptcy Filings End Up and Down Year With Slight Increase," Brian Honea, Jan. 7, 2014

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Chattanooga, TN 37411

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