There’s no question that deciding whether or not to declare bankruptcy is a difficult, agonizing choice. A bankruptcy will affect your future credit, your relationships and your self-image. But it can also improve your short-term quality of life and possibly keep you from losing your home, car and other essentials. Personal bankruptcy is generally considered the debt management tool of last resort because the results are long-lasting and far-reaching. It’s the financial equivalent of major surgery — not something you should undergo unless it’s absolutely necessary. You need to study the pros and cons carefully before making a decision. Then, if you decide bankruptcy is the way to go, it’s important to do it right. The following pages will help you do just that.