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

  • Bankruptcy – Is It Good for You?
    With the last decade’s recession causing a huge spike in the number of people who fall under the qualification of bankruptcy, a lot have given serious thought on filing for bankruptcy. As an example, two counties in Baltimore, Maryland are in the top 100 counties with the highest bankruptcy rates in the country. Given these numbers, you might want to evaluate your situation and if you feel you qualify as well, you might want to get with your nearest Baltimore bankruptcy attorney.
  • What Does the Foreclosure Process Entail?
    The foreclosure process is initiated when someone that has a mortgage or other loan on a house cannot pay the amount due. After so much of this, the lending agency starts the procedure to seize the property and auction it to attempt to obtain the funds that are needed.
  • Federal Law and Consumer Credit Scores
    With the exception of your Social Security number, no other number has more of an impact on your life than the impact made by your credit score. Credit scores influence lender decisions on whether to offer you credit cards and loans for big ticket items, such as a home and automobile. Even employers use credit scores as one factor in determining the qualifications of a job applicant.
  • Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers Tackle Bankruptcy Fraud Allegations
    Bankruptcy occurs on the federal level. If someone violates the federal laws related to bankruptcy, he or she may face serious penalties. It is important to understand what constitutes fraud in the bankruptcy context in order to avoid the possibility of being charged with a crime of this nature.
  • Can I Get a Lien on Someone’s House Who Owes Me Money?
    Sometimes if a person owes, he or she may not pay this debt. His or her creditor, whether an individual or a business, may decide to look for ways to ensure repayment of funds. One option may be to place a lien against the debtor’s real property.
  • What is the Purpose of UCC Financing Statements?
    Uniform Commercial Code is a form of filing in regards to liens. These are connected to financial lenders who have an interest in an asset. This means that if someone were to enter an agreement where collateral is needed, the UCC lien may be filed against the assets that the borrower pledges in order to secure any loan monies.
  • Expert Witness on Illegal Debt Collection Practices
    When someone owes money to a debtor, this account is often referred to a debt collector. Debt collectors must follow federal law and state law when attempting to collect this debt. If the debt collector does not follow applicable laws, it may be liable for violations.
  • Can a U.S. Creditor Reach My Foreign Inheritance Deposited in a Foreign Bank?
    Keeping creditors from snatching money from just any bank account is important for many. There are many states that have authorized protections from one branch of the United States bank with access to the corresponding institution in another country.
  • Can I Get an Injunction for the Garnishment of My Wages?
    Wage garnishments occur with frequency when certain conditions transpire where the individual must pay a company or organization. If a person has debts or been overpaid by a business or association, he or she must pay the amounts or other penalties or consequences may be issued.
  • Misrepresented Wraparound Lien Upon Sale, What Are My Options?
    Real estate laws are often difficult to understand because they change constantly. The state the property resides in has laws that affect what changes apply to the deal or project. This means that if a real estate lawyer is hired, he or she must be versed in the modifications to the law and have up to date knowledge of what this means to the case.
  • 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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