10 Bankruptcy Terms You Should Know

Written by: leonora  |  Published on: January 18th, 2010  |  Category: Blog

1.      Bankruptcy petition – the bankruptcy documents, approximately 50+ pages, your attorney or you prepare and file with the court. These documents will list your assets, debts, income, expenses and financial history. You will have to sign these documents before they can be filed.

2.      Creditor’s meeting (aka 341(a) examination) – this is the initial (and in Chapter 7 only) meeting you will attend regarding your bankruptcy filing. At this meeting the Trustee will check your driver license and social security, review your documents, swear you in and ask you questions and determine if there are any assets that the trustee can sell for the benefit of creditors. This meeting does not take place in the courthouse. Note, most Chapter 7 debtors never set foot in the courthouse. Also, while creditors do have a right to attend the meeting and briefly question the debtor, they rarely attend such meetings despite the title.

3.      Trustee – in the Central District of California, Bankruptcy Trustees are either attorneys or CPAs that manage the bankruptcy case. They are sort of double agents. They work for the court and advise the court on the case, but mainly they work on behalf of all creditors and help them secure and recover any unprotected assets in the case. Trustees conduct Creditor’s meeting, not judges.

4.      Exemptions – these are laws that say that even if a debtor files for bankruptcy, he/she should be allowed to keep certain things in order to have a fresh start. Exemptions vary by state and different exemptions sets should be used for debtors depending on their individual situation. This is the reason most Chapter 7 debtors get to have all their debts excused, but still keep money in their checking account, still keep their house and car depending on the situation.

5.      Discharge – excuse of debt at conclusion of bankruptcy. The reason people file for bankruptcy. If debt is dischargeable, when case is completed, debt will be excused and you won’t have to repay it. If debt is non-dischargeable, then despite the filing of the bankruptcy case, you will have to find a way to repay this debt.

6.      Automatic Stay – when you file for bankruptcy, bankruptcy law mandates that all collection efforts against you must stop. Phone calls, foreclosures, wage garnishments, etc. Automatic Stay puts a freeze on the collection efforts and punishes those that don’t comply.

7.      Relief from the Automatic Stay – this is when a secured creditor asks the court’s permission to be excused from the Automatic Stay and be allowed to continue their repossession, foreclosure, etc. They need to have valid reason in order to petition the court, such as continued non-payments.

8.      Reaffirmation agreement – this is an agreement you may be asked to review or sign by the creditor. By signing this agreement, you basically put back together a contract to repay this creditor.  You are re-obligating yourself personally on the debt, despite the bankruptcy, which relieves you of the obligation. There are positives and negatives with respect to signing such agreement and you should consult a bankruptcy attorney for legal advice.

9.      Credit counseling/debtor education – under the new law debtors are required to take a course and obtain a certificate prior to filing for bankruptcy. A second course must be completed within 45 days of the creditor’s meeting and certificate filed with the court in order to obtain discharge. If the course is not taken prior to the filing, case will likely be dismissed.

10.  Means test – under the new law, chapter 7 debtors with mostly consumer (non-business) debts, must qualify based on their income, before they can file for chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you are below the median of your state’s income, you are likely to pass the means test without problems. If your income is above the median, further work may be required or you may have to file under a different bankruptcy chapter or explore other options.

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We help people file for bankruptcy, in addition to other legal services. As such, we are designated a debt relief agency by the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.This site is for general informational purposes only. Nothing on this site is legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created until a written agreement is entered into and signed by you and Leonora Gorelik. Law Offices of Leonora Gorelik 3835 Hayvenhurst Ave. Encino, CA 91436