Bankruptcy Law - Chapter 7, 11, 13




What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy allows individuals, couples, and businesses that cannot meet their financial obligations to be excused from repaying some or all of their debt. Bankruptcy has been in existence since ancient times. In the United States, the rules and procedures for filing bankruptcy are governed by federal law. States are prohibited from legislating in this area of the law.

Generally speaking, there are two types of bankruptcy. In a liquidation bankruptcy, debtors must surrender their property, which is sold, and the proceeds distributed to creditors. In return, all debts are permanently discharged. In a reorganization bankruptcy, debtors are allowed to keep their property. But the debtors must agree to an installment plan to repay creditors a portion of the amount they owe.

Filing for bankruptcy involves submitting a petition and fee to the bankruptcy court. The fee is close to $300 for most personal bankruptcies. The petition will contain sworn statements by the debtors concerning the amount of money they owe, their income and expenses, as well as a complete list of all of their assets. After filing, a court hearing is held to review the information in the petition.

Chapter 7 bankruptcies are by far the most common. These are liquidation bankruptcies in which the debtors must turn over all “non-exempt” property to a supervising officer known as the bankruptcy trustee. Property is exempt if it falls within specific categories of assets that debtors are allowed to keep, such as a certain amount of clothing, household items, tools for work, and in some instances, vehicles and the family home.

The Chapter 7 trustee will take the debtor’s non-exempt property (if there is any), and sell it. The money will be paid to the debtor’s creditors. This may result in creditors receiving a small fraction of their claims. The balance of the debtor’s loans and obligations are forgiven and can never be collected. Creditors who attempt to collect debts that have been discharged face severe penalties under federal law.

Keep Your Property

The fact that a liquidation bankruptcy wipes out debt completely is obviously attractive to anyone who cannot afford to pay their bills. But what about people who have non-exempt property that they do not want to give up? Chapter 13 is a reorganization bankruptcy. It allows debtors to keep their property by agreeing to make monthly payments toward their debt over the course of three to five years.

Chapter 13 bankruptcies offer a number of benefits besides allowing debtors to keep their property. For example, certain types of secured debt, like a car loan, can be restructured by reducing principal to the market value of the collateral, and lowering payments by extending the repayment period to 60 months. Other obligations, like mortgages, student loans, and tax liabilities can be modified as well. Creditors are given no choice in the matter.

Bankruptcy is not available to everyone. Those who have had their debts discharged in a Chapter 7 within the past eight years cannot re-file. For Chapter 13, the waiting period is six years. Too much disposable income is also a problem. Congress has established a “means test” for this purpose. Debtors who make enough money to repay their creditors will be barred from filing a liquidation bankruptcy, though reorganization may be an option.

Businesses that have become insolvent but want to stay in business may be able to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Like a personal reorganization, Chapter 11 allows businesses to obtain protection from their creditors while they put together a repayment plan. Liabilities can be reduced and restructured to give the business another chance at achieving profitability.

Whether a debtor is considering filing under Chapter 7, 11, or 13, they must comply with a vast number of federal laws and regulations. An error at any step of the process can result in the court refusing to discharge the debtor’s liabilities. When the bankruptcy process ends this way, the consequences are disastrous. With so much at stake, hiring a licensed bankruptcy attorney at the outset is wise investment.

Know Your Rights!

Articles About Bankruptcy Law

  • Defending a Debt Collection Lawsuit
    If a person owes money to a creditor, the creditor or debt collection company may commence a debt collection lawsuit against the debtor. If the creditor secures a judgment, it can then take steps to collect on it through garnishment or attaching a lien on the debtor’s unexempted property. There are often several ways that a debtor can avoid these negative results, including the following:
  • What Happens in a Debt Collection Lawsuit?
    Debt collection companies are often given a specific protocol to follow when collecting debts. Their owners may set out specific rules for these transactions. Additionally, federal and state laws often impose additional requirements regarding the collection of debt.
  • What is the Role of a Bankruptcy Attorney?
    Bankruptcy is a complex procedure that requires you to make a host of critical decisions from before the time you file straight through to the time your debts are discharged and the bankruptcy procedure concludes. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can guide you through the dizzying maze of decisions, paperwork and procedure that marks a bankruptcy filing, whether it is a chapter 7 or chapter 13.
  • New CFPB Rules and the Impact on Hard Money Lending
    Hard-money lending is becoming more popular in the mortgage industry as real estate investors try to find new ways to take advantage of opportunities quickly by accessing this source of liquid capital. In addition, as interest rates rise, hard money lending becomes a way for investors to close deals faster.
  • What Is a Loan Modification Lawyer?
    Loan modifications are most commonly made to mortgages, often because homeowners are having difficulty making mortgage payments. A loan modification lawyer restructures an existing contract to modify the repayment terms of a loan.
  • How to Use a Tax Return after Consolidating Student Loans
    When a person files taxes in which he or she has paid a greater amount of taxes than his or her tax liability requires, he or she can receive a tax return. In some situations, a person may have taken the steps to consolidate student loans and may look for other ways to save. Some possible ways to smartly use these funds include:
  • Can You Recover from Bankruptcy and Foreclosure
    Former homeowners who have been foreclosed on have to go through an entire year of loss after loss. First, they lose their home and have to relocate. Next, they have to figure out how to re-establish credit because they have lost their once good credit rating. Then, as homeowners attempt to put this behind them, they go to the mailbox and receive a 1099. A 1099A or 1099C is issued by the creditor for the abandonment or cancellation of debt.
  • Avoiding Foreclosure and Eviction without an Attorney in California
    Foreclosure is a scary, cumbersome process that often renders homeowners desperate for help, and all too often they call upon unqualified, or unethical, self-proclaimed foreclosure defense attorneys or advocates.
  • What Happens If My Property Is Wrongfully Seized and Sold at Auction?
    In some instances, a party has the right to reclaim property and sell it off at auction. This can be the case in a number of legal actions, including home foreclosures, vehicle repossessions and storage locker auctions. Additionally, this party is often entitled to receive a deficiency judgment for any amount that the former property owner still owes after subtracting the proceeds and costs of the sale.
  • Correcting Inaccuracies in a Credit Report
    Information that is inaccurate or incomplete in your credit file can result in adversely affecting your credit. Possible results include being denied credit, receiving a higher interest rate or receiving less favorable terms. If you encounter information of this nature, you can take steps necessary to correct this information.
  • All Debtor and Creditor Law Articles

United States Bankruptcy Courts

Bankruptcy Law - US

Organizations Regarding Bankruptcy Law

Publications Regarding Bankruptcy Law




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