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Future still a worry as personal bankruptcy filings fall in 2011

Tennessee has had one of the highest personal bankruptcy rates in the country, and that trend did not change in 2011. According to a Columbia law professor who analyzed the 2011 national bankruptcy rate, Tennessee has the 4th most personal bankruptcy filings in the U.S. behind only Nevada, Georgia and Utah.

Some good news did accompany the professor's research, as the national personal bankruptcy filings dropped 12% last year when compared to 2010, making this drop the first year-to-year decline since 2006. The analysis estimates that one in every 175 Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2011, about 1.35 million people.

But the professor also cautioned people from looking too deeply at the numbers. He warned that his analysis does not guarantee anything for the new year. "Based on an increase in filings in November and December, and seasonal adjustment, there is some reason to think filings in 2012 might start edging up again," he said.

Regionally, the statistics in the professor's study show that the Southwest had more filings than almost any other region. Shelby County had the highest filing rate for an urban county in the U.S., while DeKalb County in Georgia ranked 3rd among urban counties.

As we have all seen since the housing crisis, the economy continues to struggle. Budgets have become tighter and people have had to cut back to make ends meet. Because of this, personal bankruptcy rates have seen a natural rise.

Many Tennessee residents are facing the reality of bankruptcy as we begin 2012. Financial insecurity is never a comfortable feeling and even with these declining bankruptcy numbers, many people will file for bankruptcy in the coming year. When you are confronted with this difficult financial decision, seek proper legal representation. A reputable bankruptcy lawyer will stick with you through the filing process and help answer any questions you have about the benefits and consequences of filing.

Source: Columbia Law School, "Personal Bankruptcy Filings Down 12 Percent in 2011, Says Law Professor," Jan. 5, 2012

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