Does Bankruptcy Prevent Utility Shutoff?
When your financial situation is overwhelming, it can happen that you fall behind on your regular bills, like utility payments. Being threatened with having your power cut off is really disturbing, and it may prompt you to think about the different ways you can deal with your money troubles. One thing that undoubtedly comes to mind is bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a way of eliminating unsecured debt, and back utility bills fall into that category. If you are overdue on utility bills and are in danger of a shutoff, filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy creates a bankruptcy stay that prohibits this shutoff for gas and electric. There are specific steps you need to take, though, in order for the power to remain on.
How It Works
As soon as you file a petition to begin the bankruptcy process, your utilities cannot be shut off for 20 days. It’s best if you complete all the bankruptcy paperwork at the same time that you submit the petition, but if you can’t, then be sure to do it within 14 days. That 20 day utility shutoff prevention period gives you almost 3 weeks of breathing room, and the professionals at Burr Law will be there to help you strategize your next moves.
What Happens With Your Utilities
The utility company (WE Energies) will send you a deposit letter approximately 20 days after filing the bankruptcy petition. You are required to pay this deposit. This is really important! If you do not pay it, then the utility company will shut you off. You need to pay the deposit and pay your gas and electric bill on time and in full for the next twelve months. These are the bills for the monthly usage, not the past due amounts. At the end of that 12 month period, the utility company will refund your deposit with interest.
Past Due Amounts Eliminated
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months and at the end of it, all your unsecured debts will be discharged. That means that any past due amounts you owe to your utility company will be completely discharged (along with credit card debt, medical debt, and other unsecured debts). So bankruptcy will definitely prevent your utilities from being cut off for 20 days, and it can provide you a way to get rid of the debt you owe entirely.
Should You File or Not
Filing for bankruptcy is a big decision and if your primary concern is your utility bills, it is likely that a less radical solution can be found. When you have mounting medical debt, credit card debt, and other obligations along with your utility bills, then bankruptcy may be your best option. You can always consult with the professionals at Burr Law to clarify your situation.
If you are worried about your utilities being shut off, or feeling overwhelmed with financial difficulties, contact the professionals at Burr Law. You don’t need to struggle through it alone. We’re here to help.