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Posted by Revive Financial on Jun 21, 2024 10:18:00 AM

If you’re finding it tough to keep up with your debts, you're not alone. Many Aussies face financial difficulties that make it hard to stay afloat. When debts become overwhelming, options like a Part X (10) Personal Insolvency Agreement (PIA) and Bankruptcy can offer a lifeline. But what's the difference, and why might someone choose one over the other?

PIAs and bankruptcy are both formal debt solutions under Australian law, designed to help individuals manage unmanageable debt. Understanding these options is crucial for anyone considering them, as the implications can significantly impact your financial future.

Understanding Personal Insolvency Agreements (PIAs)

A PIA is a formal arrangement between you and your creditors to settle your debts without declaring bankruptcy. PIAs are tailored to your financial situation, allowing you to come to an agreement with your creditors about how to pay off what you owe. This might involve paying a lump sum, making regular payments over time, or selling assets to cover your debts.

Basic Process of Entering into a PIA

Entering into a PIA involves a few key steps. First, you’ll need to appoint a trustee, who will help you prepare a proposal to present to your creditors. The trustee will assess your financial situation and draft a proposal that outlines how you plan to settle your debts. Once your proposal is ready, your creditors will vote on it. If the majority agree, the PIA is accepted, and you’ll follow the terms set out in the agreement.

Understanding Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal process that provides relief for individuals who cannot repay their debts. When you declare bankruptcy, control of your finances and assets is handed over to a trustee, who will manage the process of selling your assets to pay off your debts. Bankruptcy can discharge many types of debt, giving you a fresh start financially, but it also comes with significant long-term consequences.

Basic Process of Declaring Bankruptcy

Declaring bankruptcy begins with lodging a bankruptcy application with the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA). Once your application is accepted, a trustee is appointed to take control of your assets and financial affairs. The trustee will sell your assets and distribute the proceeds to your creditors. You’ll be subject to certain restrictions during your bankruptcy period, which usually lasts three years and one day, but can be extended in some cases.

Key Differences Between PIAs and Bankruptcy

When considering a PIA, flexibility is key. There are no rigid thresholds for debt, assets, or income, making it accessible regardless of your financial woes. Bankruptcy also welcomes anyone unable to meet their debts, but the aftermath can be quite different.

Overview of the Process for Each Option

Entering into a PIA involves appointing a trustee who digs deep into your finances. They craft a proposal that’s fair and manageable, which your creditors will then vote on. If the majority of your creditors (in value of debt) accept, then you're good to go.

Bankruptcy, on the other hand, starts with filing a petition. A trustee takes over, selling off your assets to pay creditors. It's straightforward but leaves little room for negotiation.

Impact on Creditors and Debt Repayment

PIAs are all about negotiation. Creditors might end up with a better deal since they get to vote on the terms. Whereas in bankruptcy, it's all about liquidation, often leaving creditors with less and you with fewer assets.


Reasons to Choose a PIA Over Bankruptcy

Asset Protection - One of the biggest perks of a PIA is retaining your assets. Your home, your car—they can stay with you if the agreement allows. It’s about finding a repayment plan that works for everyone. Bankruptcy usually means waving goodbye to your valuable possessions. Your assets get sold to pay off debts, which can be a major life upheaval.

Control Over the Process - With a PIA, you’re in the driver's seat. You work with your trustee to come up with a plan that you can manage and that your creditors can accept. It’s all about finding a balance. With bankruptcy... not so much. Once you file, the trustee calls the shots, deciding how to handle your assets and debts. Your input is minimal at best.

Reputation and Stigma - Choosing a PIA can seem like a proactive move, showing you’re taking steps to manage your debt responsibly. This can be more favourably viewed by financiers, landlords, and even friends and family compared to the heavy stigma of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can cast a long shadow over your personal and professional life. It’s a public record that may affect job opportunities, housing options, and even insurance for years.

Employment and Professional Licenses – Certain jobs have strict rules about bankruptcy. If you’re in a role that requires high financial integrity—like being a company director or financial advisor—bankruptcy could disqualify you. A PIA offers a way to keep your job and professional licenses intact by allowing you complete the agreement quicker to allow you to get back to those roles you require. It’s less disruptive and helps you maintain your career.

Repayment Terms - PIAs allow for tailored repayment plans that fit your financial situation. You can negotiate terms that might include lump-sum payments, extended payment periods, or even asset retention, making it a more flexible option. Bankruptcy doesn’t offer this flexibility. Your assets are typically sold off and the proceeds distributed among your creditors. There’s little room for negotiating different terms or retaining assets.

Long-Term Impact - Both PIAs and bankruptcy affect your credit rating, but a PIA might be viewed as a less severe option by future lenders. It shows an attempt to repay your debts rather than simply discharging them through bankruptcy. Bankruptcy has a more significant and longer-lasting impact on your credit rating. It stays on your credit file for up to five years (sometimes longer) and can be a major barrier to obtaining future credit, loans, or mortgages.

To help you make the right choice, we recommend speaking with one of our experts. We can help you weigh up whether a personal insolvency agreement is worthwhile and affordable for your situation, as well as advise you on the next steps in either case.

Keen to weigh up the options to manage your debts with a professional? Contact us today.

Topics: Bankruptcy, Personal Insolvency, Personal Debt, Part 10, Part X

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