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Bankruptcy - A Way to eliminate or Reorganize your debts

Posted on: 08th Apr, 2004 04:10 am
If you're in financial crisis and cannot repay your debts, bankruptcy may be the solution to your debt problems. To learn what bankruptcy is and how it may work for you, check out the bankruptcy information below:

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy helps to eliminate a part of your debts and may offer a payment plan where you pay back your debts with court supervision. When you declare bankruptcy, the court puts an automatic stay on any legal actions (collections, garnishment, foreclosure etc) taken by creditors/lenders due to non-payment of debt.

There are personal and business bankruptcies. The most common types of personal bankruptcies are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

When should you file bankruptcy?

If you're unable to manage your debts and need to eliminate or reorganize them, you should consider declaring bankruptcy. Below are the conditions when you should declare bankruptcy.
  • You're making the minimum payments on your bills.
  • More than one account is in collection.
  • The lender is about to foreclose on your home.
  • You've recently lost your job.
  • You have tried other debt solutions and they haven't worked.

What is a bankruptcy discharge?

A discharge is a court order releasing the debtors from the personal liability to pay off their debts. The discharge order is usually issued 4 months after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy and 3-5 years after filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy (30-60 days after your final payment).

The discharge does not remove any unpaid liens placed on your property before you filed for bankruptcy due to default on a secured debt (a mortgage or car loan). So, the lender can carry out a foreclosure after the automatic stay is lifted. To avoid a foreclosure after your Chapter 7 bankruptcy has been discharged, and keep your home, you should sign a Reaffirmation Agreement (for exempt equity) and continue paying your mortgage.

How to file bankruptcy

Instead of filing bankruptcy on your own, it's better to get help from an attorney who'll guide you through the process. There are 3 steps to filing for bankruptcy. They are:
  • Deciding which chapter you can file for under the Means Test.
  • Enrolling for Credit Counseling.
  • Filing the court documents, including a financial statement.
For more details on how to declare bankruptcy, check out this information on filing for bankruptcy.

What happens after you declare bankruptcy?

Take a look at the bankruptcy information given below and get an idea of what happens after you declare bankruptcy.
  1. Creditors are notified: Within 14 days of declaring bankruptcy, the court notifies your creditors about the filing. The court sends a copy of your bankruptcy petition, including a notice that the automatic stay has been put in place, the name of your trustee, and the date when the 341 creditor meeting has been set.

  2. 341 Meeting with your creditors: Between 20-40 days after filing, the trustee holds a 341 Meeting with your creditors. You are required to attend and answer any questions put to you under oath.

  3. Trustee's role: In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the trustee takes a look at your assets and determines which ones your state law exempts from being sold. Any nonexempt assets are sold off to pay your debts. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, the trustee negotiates with your attorney and creditors to work out a repayment plan you can afford.

  4. Creditors may challenge the discharge: Your creditors have 60 days from the 341 meeting to convince the court you should not be able to discharge their debt.

  5. Financial Management course: Under the 2005 changes to the bankruptcy code, you are required to enroll with a court approved credit counseling service within 180 days before you file for bankruptcy.

Can you keep your home after filing bankruptcy?

You'll be able to keep your home if you've filed Chapter 13. But if you've filed Chapter 7, you may or may not be able to protect the equity in your home from your creditors/lenders. There are Federal and State Homestead exemptions. If your equity is less than the exemption, then you'll be able to keep your home.

Federal and State Exemptions
Some states permit their citizens to use the Federal exemptions, while others do not. Every state court requires an individual filing for bankruptcy in their state to have lived there for at least 2 years or to have lived in that state for the majority of the 180 days before the 2 year period in order to use their exemptions.

If you have more equity in your home than the state homestead exemption allows, then the trustee will sell your home. You will get an amount equal to the exemption, and the rest will go to pay off your debts, including your court costs. If you are still paying on your mortgage, you may reaffirm your mortgage and exclude your home from your bankruptcy estate.

However, if you have sold or transferred property to another person in order to avoid losing that property in bankruptcy, then you may lose part of an exemption or have your bankruptcy petition denied.

What debts are not discharged?

There are certain debts which cannot be discharged by filing for bankruptcy. These include:
  • Student loans
  • Back taxes
  • Fraudulent debts
  • Alimony
  • Child support
  • Large purchases
  • Government penalty

Pros and cons of declaring bankruptcy

Filing bankruptcy gives you a fresh financial start and helps to eliminate or restructure your debts so you can manage your finances well. However, when you file Chapter 7, it hurts your credit score. But Chapter 13 has a positive effect on your score as you can repay all or part of your debts. Thus, bankruptcy isn't always bad. What's important is to understand how bankruptcy works and which Chapter would suit you the best.

Related Articles

Related Forum Discussions
Can I file for bankruptcy so that i can be removed/ not be liable from a mortgage loan?? The mortgage is 3 years old. I do not pay anything on the home nor do i live there i was just a cosigner.

thank you.
Posted on: 15th Sep, 2011 05:45 pm
Hi Denise!

Welcome to forums!

You can include your mortgage in your bankruptcy filing in order to get a discharge from it. Once you receive a discharge, you won't be personally liable for the mortgage payments.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 15th Sep, 2011 10:51 pm
What is fraudulent debts?
Posted on: 13th Oct, 2011 10:37 am
Hi ritchie!

Welcome to forums!

The debts that you have incurred due to some fraudulent dealings or debts that you've incurred because somebody scammed you can be termed as fraudulent debts.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 13th Oct, 2011 10:10 pm
I do not want my house. it is worth not even half of what i paid for it now. How long can I stay in the house after my bankruptcy is finalized in court. My mother is on the mortgage loan. she recently died three months ago
Posted on: 27th Nov, 2011 01:37 pm
Hi dauchz!

Welcome to forums!

As your mother's name is still on the mortgage, you're not responsible for mortgage payments. The lenders will normally start the foreclosure process after the payments have been delinquent for 3 months. So, you may stay in the property for at least 3 months.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 28th Nov, 2011 09:19 pm
My wife and I are thinking of filing chp 13. my concern is that what I settle on may be so high that I cannot afford my new rent and kids private schooling. Is there a chance that could happen?
Posted on: 22nd Mar, 2012 08:40 pm
Hi nathan,

The payment plan will be decided in a meeting where you will be present along with your creditors and the bankruptcy trustee. The payment plan will be formulated based upon your financial situation. If you find that the payment plan is too high for you to pay, you can negotiate with them and try to get an affordable payment plan.

Posted on: 23rd Mar, 2012 11:39 pm
i have not paid my wells fargo mortgage in 7 months in il. home is worth approx $100k and i owe $162k. i could probably take every penny i have and breakeven but don't think i want to do that since my credit is already shot.
owe $12k on a home equity loan. do i continue to pay the $200 month on this.
do i continue to pay the home equity loan?
how much longer do i have? i just received a letter from the attorney, telling me i have 30 days to respond.
do i get a real estate agent to help me find a home?
has anyone been through this and will i find a home?
Posted on: 24th Apr, 2012 12:49 pm
Hi Nathan,

Your query has been replied to in the given page:

Take a look at it. I hope it will help you.


Posted on: 26th Apr, 2012 03:39 am
what are the chances of obtaining a very minimal mortgage 1.5 years out of bankruptcy? ( chapter 7)
Posted on: 15th Jun, 2012 06:17 am
what are the chances of obtaining a very minimal mortgage 1.5 years out of bankruptcy? ( chapter 7)
Posted on: 15th Jun, 2012 06:17 am
Posted on: 15th Jun, 2012 10:51 pm
no reaffirmation was signed for mortgage. mortgage was later modified. new mortgage amount not reported to credit bureau. can this be corrected to show new mortgage payment after modification? :?
Posted on: 25th Jul, 2012 11:21 am

Welcome to forums!

If there was no reaffirmation agreement, then you won't be able to get a loan modification. It is strange that you have received that. As there was no reaffirmation, the lender is not obliged to report the same to the credit bureaus.

Feel free to ask if you've further queries.

Posted on: 26th Jul, 2012 12:58 am
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