Bankruptcy is the legal proceeding involving a person or business that is unable to repay outstanding debts. The bankruptcy process begins with a petition filed by the debtor, which is most common, or on behalf of creditors, which is less common. All of the debtor's assets are measured and evaluated, and the assets may be used to repay a portion of outstanding debt.
Median income is set by the US Trustee and determined based on household size. In Florida, as of May 1, 2018 median income is as follows: Household of 1 -- $48,000; Household of 2 -- $58,960; Household of 3 -- $65,278; Household of 4 -- $76,953; Household of 5 -- $85,353; Household of 6 -- $93,753; Household of 7 -- $102,153; Household of 8 -- $110,553; Household of 9 -- $118,953; Household of 10 -- $127,353. Source: https://www.justice.gov/ust/means-testing

Before a consumer may obtain bankruptcy relief under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, the debtor is to undertake credit counselling with approved counseling agencies prior to filing a bankruptcy petition and to undertake education in personal financial management from approved agencies prior to being granted a discharge of debts under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Some studies of the operation of the credit counseling requirement suggest that it provides little benefit to debtors who receive the counseling because the only realistic option for many is to seek relief under the Bankruptcy Code.[45]
A trustee in bankruptcy must be either an Official Receiver (a civil servant) or a licensed insolvency practitioner. Current law in England and Wales derives in large part from the Insolvency Act 1986. Following the introduction of the Enterprise Act 2002, a UK bankruptcy now normally last no longer than 12 months, and may be less if the Official Receiver files in court a certificate that investigations are complete. It was expected that the UK Government's liberalization of the UK bankruptcy regime would increase the number of bankruptcy cases; initially, cases increased, as the Insolvency Service statistics appear to bear out. Since 2009, the introduction of the Debt Relief Order has resulted in a dramatic fall in bankruptcies, the latest estimates for year 2014/15 being significantly less than 30,000 cases.
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, bankruptcy is limited to individuals; other forms of insolvency proceedings (such as liquidation and administration) are applied to companies. In the United States, bankruptcy is applied more broadly to formal insolvency proceedings. In some countries, such as in Finland bankruptcy is limited only to companies and individuals who are insolvent are condemned to de facto indentured servitude or minimum social benefits until their debts are paid in full, with accrued interest except when the court decides to show rare clemency by accepting a debtors application for debt restructuring, in which case an individual may have the amount of remaining debt reduced or be released from the debt.[citation needed][15] In France, the cognate French word banqueroute is used solely for cases of fraudulent bankruptcy, whereas the term faillite (cognate of "failure") is used for bankruptcy in accordance with the law.[16]

Some examples of this are when a Korean state bankrupted Imperial China causing its destruction, or more specifically, when Chang'an's (Sui Dynasty) war with Pyongyang (Goguryeo) in 614 A.D. ended in the former's disintegration within 4 years, although the latter also seemingly entered into decline and fell some 56 years later.[59] Another example is when the United States, with heavy financial backing from its allies (creditors), bankrupted the Soviet Union which led to the latter's demise.[60]
There are two alternative systems that can be used to "exempt" property from a bankruptcy estate, federal exemptions[38] (available in some states but not all), and state exemptions (which vary widely between states). For example, Maryland and Virginia, which are adjoining states, have different personal exemption amounts that cannot be seized for payment of debts. This amount is the first $6,000 in property or cash in Maryland,[39] but normally only the first $5,000 in Virginia.[40] State law therefore plays a major role in many bankruptcy cases, such that there may be significant differences in the outcome of a bankruptcy case depending upon the state in which it is filed.
While bankruptcy cases are always filed in United States Bankruptcy Court (an adjunct to the U.S. District Courts), bankruptcy cases, particularly with respect to the validity of claims and exemptions, are often dependent upon State law.[35] A Bankruptcy Exemption defines the property a debtor may retain and preserve through bankruptcy. Certain real and personal property can be exempted on "Schedule C"[36] of a debtor's bankruptcy forms, and effectively be taken outside the debtor's bankruptcy estate. Bankruptcy exemptions are available only to individuals filing bankruptcy.[37]
Relief under Chapter 13 is available only to individuals with regular income whose debts do not exceed prescribed limits.[55] If the debtor is an individual or a sole proprietor, the debtor is allowed to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to repay all or part of the debts. Secured creditors may be entitled to greater payment than unsecured creditors.[53]
But first, use the book to find out whether you qualify for Chapter 7 -- and whether or not it's the best way to deal with your debts. It's important to learn what bankruptcy cannot do. You don't want to go to all the trouble of filing bankruptcy only to find out that the it won't help solve your particular problem or kind of debt. The book clearly explains what doesn't bankruptc yan and cannot do.
The third proceeding is the schuldsanering. This proceeding is designed for individuals only and is the result of a court ruling. The judge appoints a monitor. The monitor is an independent third party who monitors the individual's ongoing business and decides about financial matters during the period of the schuldsanering. The individual can travel out of the country freely after the judge's decision on the case.
After the bankruptcy is annulled or the bankrupt has been automatically discharged, the bankrupt's credit report status is shown as "discharged bankrupt" for some years. The maximum number of years this information can be held is subject to the retention limits under the Privacy Act. How long such information is on a credit report may be shorter, depending on the issuing company, but the report must cease to record that information based on the criteria in the Privacy Act.
When the debtor completes payments pursuant to the terms of the plan, the court formally grant the debtor a discharge of the debts provided for in the plan.[54] However, if the debtor fails to make the agreed upon payments or fails to seek or gain court approval of a modified plan, a bankruptcy court will normally dismiss the case on the motion of the trustee.[57] After a dismissal, creditors may resume pursuit of state law remedies to recover the unpaid debt.
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Chapter 13 means the court approves a plan for you to repay some or all of your debts over three to five years. You get to keep your assets (stuff you own) and you’re given time to bring your mortgage up to date. You agree to a monthly payment plan and must follow a strict budget monitored by the court. This kind of bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven years.
All bankruptcy cases in the United States are handled through federal courts. Any decisions over federal bankruptcy cases are made by a bankruptcy judge, including whether a debtor is eligible to file or whether he should be discharged of his debts. Administration over bankruptcy cases is often handled by a trustee, an officer appointed by the United States Trustee Program of the Department of Justice, to represent the debtor's estate in the proceeding. There is usually very little direct contact between the debtor and the judge unless there is some objection made in the case by a creditor.

A good way to approach the decision of whether to hire a lawyer is to buy (and read) Nolo's book How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It will give you a good idea of what issues may arise when you file, and flags specific situations when a lawyer's help is called for. It will also give you a good idea of whether the filing process seems to complicated for you.


Please note that we cannot guarantee the results or outcome of your particular procedure. For instance, the government may reject a trademark application for legal reasons beyond the scope of LegalZoom's service. In some cases, a government backlog can lead to long delays before your process is complete. Similarly, LegalZoom does not guarantee the results or outcomes of the services rendered by our legal plan attorneys or attorney-assisted products. Problems like these are beyond our control and are not covered by this guarantee.

The most common types of personal bankruptcy for individuals are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7, known as a "straight bankruptcy" involves the discharge of certain debts without repayment. Chapter 13, involves a plan of repayment of debts over a period of years. Whether a person qualifies for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is in part determined by income.[43][44] As many as 65% of all U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings are Chapter 7 cases.
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