When making the decision to file for bankruptcy, it is important to take all factors into account. If you have any cosigners on your account, you will also need to discuss the decision to file bankruptcy with them. A cosigner creates less of a risk for lenders because they still have someone to go after for the debt, even if you file bankruptcy or default on the loan. The problem arises when the cosigner is unaware that you are filing bankruptcy and gets a nasty surprise to find out that they are liable for the entire debt plus any penalties and interest charges that have built up. This can include anyone from friends to ex-spouses that you could be landing in a whole heap of trouble. Of course, this does depend upon the type of bankruptcy that you file for. A chapter 7 bankruptcy can clear you of all debt, but leave your cosigners high and dry. A chapter 13 bankruptcy can protect the co-signers, but they are still on the hook if you default on your agreements.
There are different kinds of co-signers for loans. In many cases, the co-signers are ex-spouses and when divorce is filed, one spouse files for bankruptcy leaving the other responsible for all of the marital debt. Others who may be co-signers may be parents, siblings or friends. Often the first category is the least cared about, but it is still wise to communicate with anyone who may have co-signed any kind of loan for you so that they have a heads up that they may be liable for this debt. Depending upon their financial situation, they may want to communicate with the loan company to settle the debt before you file, or they may have to file bankruptcy themselves. Either way, it is best to keep them informed.
Sometimes you have no choice but to file for bankruptcy, and that is fine. You just have to remember that your choices are not the choices of others. Communication is the key to keeping things civil between friends and family, especially if they have gone out on a limb for you and cosigned a loan that you would likely not have gotten otherwise. Whenever possible, it is actually best not to co-sign loans, nor to ask others to co-sign for you. It does complicate things in the event of a bankruptcy, and could lead to estrangement to leave someone else on the hook for your debts.