Clerks at the nation's bankruptcy courts processed a record 205,129 personal bankruptcy filings last week, and a private consulting firm estimates that a backlog of unprocessed filings could push the total to 300,000.

Hundreds of thousands of people have clogged the courts in recent weeks trying to beat an Oct. 17 deadline, when more stringent laws took effect.

Lundquist Consulting company, which compiles bankruptcy statistics, said that filings doubled from the previous week's record of 102,863 filings. Lundquist expects about 300,000 filings this week because of the weekend filings and a backlog at the courts.

The stricter legislation was signed into law this spring, after years of intensive lobbying by banks, credit card companies and retailers, and will tighten the ability of consumers to dissolve their debts. A flexible means test to assess individuals' ability to repay their debts is now in effect. The formula takes into account whether the filer earns more than the state median income and can repay at least $100 a month of their unsecured debt over five years. Legitimate expenses such as food, shelter, clothing, medical care, transportation, attorneys' fees and charitable contributions are taken into account in the analysis.

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