Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (under Title 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code) is commonly referred to as liquidation or debt discharge bankruptcy. Both consumers and businesses can file for Chapter 7. Generally, this is the fastest way to receive a bankruptcy discharge and can be concluded in a matter of months with the assistance of a skilled Ft. Lauderdale bankruptcy lawyer. As its nicknames indicate, you may have to surrender most of your non-exempt assets and you will no longer be responsible for most of your financial obligations at the completion of your case. Your non-exempt assets will become the property of the bankruptcy estate. Exemptions vary by state.
A Chapter 7 trustee will be appointed to oversee the estate and to liquidate (sell) the assets in order to pay your unsecured debts. All the unsecured debts that the liquidation value of your non-exempt assets cannot cover will be discharged. You can negotiate agreements with your current creditors if you wish to keep any non-exempt property that you owe money in. Whether this is ever advisable is an issue to be discussed with your attorney.
Once your Chapter 7 case is filed, the automatic stay will prohibit all your creditors’ efforts collection against you (with the exception of domestic support cases).
Time wise, you cannot obtain a discharge in a Chapter 7 case if:
- You were granted a discharge in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 case that was commenced within 8 years before the date of the new bankruptcy petition.
- You were granted a discharge in a Chapter 12 or 13 case that was commenced within 6 years before the date of the new bankruptcy petition unless payments under the plan in the prior case totaled:
- 100% of the allowed unsecured claims; or
- 70% of the unsecured claims and the plan was proposed in good faith and was the debtor’s best effort
The federal government passed new bankruptcy reform legislation in October 2005. However, don’t be discouraged! Most studies indicate that the new law affects less than 15% of individuals who could have filed previously. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your debts and considering filing bankruptcy, it is highly probable that you fall into the category of the 85 percent of people who are still eligible to file.