Bankruptcy is a legal process by which an individual, couple or corporation can reduce or eliminate their debts and repay their creditors, depending on the type of bankruptcy. This process is available to both consumers (usually Chapter 7 or Chapter 13) and businesses (usually Chapter 11 or Chapter 7).
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often referred to as a liquidation because individuals may lose some of their property unless the property is all exempt or protected. The law allows you to keep “exempt” property, with any non-exempt property distributed to a chapter 7 trustee to satisfy unsecured creditors. This type of proceeding is recommended for those who have little or no chance to repay their debts in the future.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is usually referred to as a reorganization because people normally get to keep most of their property in exchange for establishing a plan to repay some or all of their debts within three to five years. It is also an option for people whose income disqualifies them from filing for chapter 7. The most significant part of chapter 13 proceeding is that it enables an individual to save valuable property e.g. a home or car, as long as he or she complies with the terms of the confirmed chapter 13 plan.
It is possible for individuals to file for bankruptcy without the help of an attorney. Nevertheless, having the advice of an experienced bankruptcy attorney is highly recommended because filing involves both careful preparation and a thorough understanding of the legal issues involved. I have seen too many pro se debtors make critical mistakes which result in losing their homes and other valuable assets; therefore, it is essential to hire a lawyer who understands the complexities of the bankruptcy code.
Yes, with some exceptions. Filing for bankruptcy will get you out most kinds of debt with a few notable exceptions. These include alimony and child support, certain tax obligations, and student loans plus numerous debts precluded from discharge in section 523 and 1328 of the bankruptcy code.
Yes. Although many people think that they cannot own anything for some time after going through bankruptcy, this is simply not true. In addition to exempt property, an individual is entitled to keep anything he or she acquires after filing. On the other hand, if someone receives life insurance benefits, an inheritance or a property settlement within 180 days after a chapter 7 is filed, you have to notify the chapter 7 trustee who can disburse the proceeds to unsecured creditors unless it is exempt. In a chapter 13 case, you must notify the trustee of any property obtained after filing since it is property of the estate and non-exempt property may have to be paid to unsecured creditors.