Bankruptcy is the legal process in which a judge and court trustee examine a person or business’ assets and liabilities who are insolvent and decide whether to discharge their debts, which makes them no longer legally required to pay them. There are certain debts that might not be discharged in bankruptcy, such as tax liens, student loans, back child support, and debts obtained through fraud.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges debts while Chapter 13 reorganizes them, meaning that with Chapter 13, people make ongoing payments for several years according to a plan. Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers do not make ongoing debt payments. Businesses cannot file under Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is for people with limited incomes and people who do not pass the means test cannot file this type of bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 does not liquidate assets like Chapter 7 does so you can keep all your property with a Chapter 13 filing. If you file for Chapter 7, some of your property may be exempt and will not be taken. Exempt property may include a portion of equity in your home, pensions, motor vehicles (up to a certain value), tools for your profession, reasonably necessary clothing, furnishings and household goods, household appliances and jewelry.
You may be eligible for more than one type of bankruptcy. In this case, you can select the form that is best suited to your situation. Which type of bankruptcy you should file will depend on a variety of factors, including what type of debt you have, what type of relief you need, if you are interested in keeping certain property and what exemptions you qualify for. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer like Sam Calvert can discuss your options and make a recommendation based on your particular situation.
It is important that you disclose all of your assets to your bankruptcy lawyer and in your bankruptcy petition. Failing to disclose assets can result in serious consequences, including a dismissal of your case, a refusal to discharge debt, liquidation of the asset and charges of bankruptcy fraud.