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

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    There are various complications that may arise when attempting to acquire or secure home equity in a sale or purchase based on the actions of the buyer or seller. When this occurs, it is important to understand what occurred, how to proceed and if a lawyer’s assistance is necessary to seek a resolution for the problem.
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    Filing bankruptcy is rarely someone's first choice. However, when you accumulate more debt than you can hope to pay on your own, bankruptcy may be your best option. Filing bankruptcy during the holidays can be somewhat complicated. Below are some tips for holiday bankruptcy filers to help you make the best decisions.
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    When attempting to lease or purchase a vehicle, many individuals travel to local car dealerships, and it is then that some negative behavior may occur that affects the person adversely. If the dealership runs a credit check, it is possible that this activity could harm the person seeking a vehicle when attempting to secure a loan.
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    Preparing for bankruptcy is often difficult, but the person affected must ensure he or she qualifies based on certain criteria such as the bankruptcy mean test. This is used to determine if the person has low enough income to file Chapter 7 when bankruptcy is the only way out of financial ruin and needed to resolve these matters.
  • Debt Collection in Texas
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  • Filing for Bankruptcy with Student Loans
    When a former student is unable to pay for the debts he or she has accrued, it is then time to think about bankruptcy. However, with student loans mixed into these proceedings, the individual that has accrued debts must ensure he or she is covered either by having them removed with the bankruptcy or through possible payments with the loans.
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    When a creditor has initiated a claim against a person that owes money to the financial institution, it is possible to take certain actions that may negatively impact the borrower. However, only so much may be accomplished without a judgment or settlement pursued through the courtroom and with a judge before these processes complete.
  • Foreclosure Defenses for Homeowners
    When someone has defaulted on a loan for their property, the lender may take steps to foreclose on the property and to sell it at auction to the highest bidder. However, there may be certain defenses that the homeowner can raise to defend against foreclosure. It is important that he or she understands the process of foreclosure and these possible arguments.
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