Bankruptcy Defined

Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people and businesses can obtain fresh starts when they are in such financial difficulty that they cannot repay their debts. When a person files bankruptcy and receives a discharge, the court eliminates all or a portion of that person’s or business’s existing debts under Chapter 7 or stretches out the monthly payments on those debts under the court’s protection and supervision under Chapter 13.

The bankruptcy process can also protect creditors in certain instances. Secured creditors are often in a better position than unsecured creditors because secured creditors hold a lien – an interest in the property of the debtor that backs up their right to payment. Sometimes even general unsecured creditors can obtain some money from a debtor’s estate, and will share equally in whatever payments are made. While the bankruptcy is pending most creditors cannot try to collect their debts from the debtor directly. Nor can they try to collect from the debtor after the conclusion of the case for all discharged debts. However, not all debts are discharged therefore the debtor may still be liable for some debts after the conclusion of the bankruptcy.

Filing for bankruptcy is a very personal and serious decision. Most people file after they have attempted to repay their debts but see no other way out except bankruptcy. Once the person has made the decision, the person or business may declare bankruptcy by filing a petition with U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The person filing for bankruptcy must provide information about his or her assets, liabilities, income, and expenditures as well as credit counseling certificate, tax returns, photo ID and evidence of recent payments from employers.

It is likely in your best interest to have an attorney prepare and file their bankruptcy petitions and other information, although some debtors do represent themselves. However, a debtor who chooses to file the bankruptcy on their own rather than to hire an attorney is held to the same standard as someone who chooses to hire an attorney. Some of the required bankruptcy forms are detailed and some may be difficult to understand. It is important that the forms are filled out completely and accurately. Failure to do so can delay the bankruptcy. If items are still not disclosed or listed at the 341 meeting, it can result in revocation or the discharge or even prison as it is concerned perjury given that the debtor signs the forms under penalty and perjury that they are true and correct.