Bankruptcy filings surged Friday as financially troubled consumers tried to beat the advent of a new bankruptcy law that goes into effect Oct. 17.The new law requires consumers to obtain credit counseling, and those with incomes above the state's median have to enter Chapter 13 and agree to a repayment plans with creditors. These changes are expected to make it harder and more expensive to seek bankruptcy protection. Most filers with substantial equity in their homes will continue to file under Chapter 13, and others that don't will file under Chapter 7, according to attorney Jason Gold with the Washington law firm of Wiley, Rein & Fielding. Although there may be people who can't quality for Chapter 7 because of the income test, "the new law really won't change things in the long run," Mr. Gold said. He acknowledged that this is a minority view. The American Bankers Association said the new law closes several abusive loopholes and requires higher-income debtors to repay some of what they owe. "Americans facing financial hardship will find that the new bankruptcy system is open for business and ready to help them get back on their feet," ABA president and chief executive Edward Yingling said.

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