What is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a system of federal laws and procedures created to give relief to debtors while weighing and protecting the interest of creditors. It provides a safety net to rescue individuals and businesses from overwhelming debt. It also protects creditors by providing a somewhat level playing field among all creditors to settle a debtor’s debts. The Bankruptcy Court will discharge a debtor’s debts once they comply with the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code and surrender all non-exempt property or sufficient future income for distribution among the creditors. Upon discharge of the debts, the debtor receives a “Fresh Start.”
A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy liquidates a debtor’s assets to pay debts owed to creditors. Basically, a debtor’s property will be sold and the proceeds from the sale will be used to pay the creditors. Quite often, debtors will be able to keep most of their property. This is because the property is protected by exemptions or the property doesn’t have much value. Exemptions vary state to state, so it is important you know which exemptions apply to you. Also, not everyone can file bankruptcy under Chapter 7. Certain conditions and requirements must be satisfied. Learn what these are before you file. If all goes well, a debtor should obtain a discharge of their debts in a few months.
A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy requires debtors pay back all or a portion of their debts over a three-or-five year period. To qualify for Chapter 13, debtors must satisfy the following two requirements. First, they must anticipate having enough future income to support payments under a Payment Plan. Second, they must create a Payment Plan that will pay their creditors as much or more than they would have received had the debtors filed under Chapter 7. If the Bankruptcy Court approves the Plan, the debtor must make payments to the Bankruptcy Trustee throughout the payment period. Once all payments have been made, the Bankruptcy Court will discharge any remaining unsecured debt.