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Filing for bankruptcy can be an overwhelming decision. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, it is one more than 1.6 million Americans made in 2010 alone.

It is important to remember — despite popular opinion — that filing for bankruptcy is not innately bad. Also, it does not mean the filer was financially irresponsible. Often, an unexpected event, such as a company shutdown or injury, can leave a person with insurmountable debt.

Whether you file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, which involves the liquidation of assets, or chapter 13 bankruptcy, which involves a payment plan that restructures debt, this decision may be a step toward financial stability. However, you should be ready for the challenges that come with bankruptcy; these may include living without a credit card and following a strict budget.

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To say “every American has debt” is not so far from the truth. According to some reports, American consumers owe $11.63 trillion in debt as of Sept. 2014. That is more than half of the country's national debt.

Although debt is not inherently evil, it has reached unbearable levels for many Americans. For some, proper budgeting and prioritization of purchases can help; for others, however, bankruptcy might be worth considering.

How does one determine if bankruptcy is a smart option? The first step in answering this question is examining personal finances and debt. Then, it is wise to speak to a bankruptcy attorney to learn the intricacies of the law and how they relate to your case.

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The bankruptcy filing rate is at its lowest point in seven years for most everywhere in the country, except for the Land of Lincoln and a few other states.

November 2014 filings were down 16 percent, when compared to November 2013. Much of the decrease was due to a much lower commercial bankruptcy filing volume. These new filings were down 27 percent. One observer pointed to a combination of high filing costs, low consumer spending and low interest rates as being primarily responsible for the decline.

Illinois, however, had the fifth-highest per capita bankruptcy filing rate in the country. Its 4.72 filings per 1,000 people was eclipsed only by Tennessee (6.22), Alabama (5.34), Georgia (5.30) and Utah (4.93).

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A recent article published by the Association of American Retired Persons Bulletin (AARP) exposes a new crisis in our country. It appears that seniors are under siege due to delinquent property bills and haunted by credit collection agencies ready to either secure the debt or take control of the home through a tax lien foreclosure.

The article profiles Melvin Phillips, a security guard and retired Army captain thought he was current on his property tax obligation, but according to the article Elm Capital, LLC (Jericho, N.Y.), Phillips was facing foreclosure over a $8,000 tax lien levied against his home. He thought he would be able to establish a payment plan in court but Elm Capital was prepared to take his house by foreclosing on Philips and his property if he could not produce $15,000 immediately. Through assistance offered by the AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE), Captain Phillips was able to reach an agreement with Elm Capital and save his home.

This appears to be a growing crisis, as supported by data compiled by the National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group. The center estimates U.S. property tax delinquencies may total $15 billion and it has labeled this foreclosure movement as “the other foreclosure crisis”.

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You fought the good fight, but it was not enough. Due to financial hardship your family home has gone into foreclosure status and you are now facing eviction in your home state of Illinois. Not only are you reeling from the emotional pain associated with losing your home but you are also regretting not contacting an experienced foreclosure attorney at the onset of your financial difficulties. Now you are left wondering what happens next.

For those currently in foreclosure, without any recourse, subject to Illinois Civil Procedure Law (735 ILCS 5), take comfort that you will not be immediately forced to vacate your home, but if you choose to dig in your heels as a last ditch effort, the bank or the new homeowners are permitted to pursue eviction action against you as follows:

Self-Help Eviction

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