One in Eight Americans Have Contemplated Bankruptcy, Says New Survey

May 19, 2011, 05:20 ET from

EAGAN, Minn., May 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly one in eight Americans – 13 percent – have either filed or considered filing for bankruptcy, according to a new survey by (, the most popular legal information website.


The survey found that people between the ages of 35 and 54 are 50 percent more likely to have considered filing for bankruptcy than people ages 18-34 or 55 and older. People of retirement age (65 and older) are the least likely to have considered filing for bankruptcy (7 percent).

More than 1.5 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy last year, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center. That's the highest level since 2005, which saw a wave of bankruptcy filings just ahead of major bankruptcy law reforms.

Personal bankruptcies are often the result of a major life event, such as loss of a job, a medical emergency, home foreclosure and so on. Bankruptcy laws dictate who is eligible to file for personal bankruptcy, which debts can be wiped out, which debts will remain, and what happens to personal property, including homes.

"Bankruptcy can be a long, complicated and emotionally difficult process," said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor at "Even after the bankruptcy is completed, it can affect people's lives for many years afterwards. Bankruptcy can be a useful tool for protecting debtors in some cases, but in other cases may not be the best option. People who are contemplating bankruptcy should consult with financial and legal advisers to discuss the pros and cons of bankruptcy, as well as potential alternatives, such as credit counseling and debt management plans."    

The FindLaw survey was conducted using a telephone survey of a demographically balanced group of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percent.

Additional free information on bankruptcy and debt relief, as well as help in finding a bankruptcy attorney, can be found at the FindLaw Bankruptcy and Debt Center at

Note to editors: Full survey results are available upon request.


Michelle Croteau