Bankruptcy allows individuals or businesses (debtors) who owe others (creditors) more money than they’re able to pay to either work out a plan to repay the money over time or completely eliminate (discharge) most of the bills.
Compile a list of past and present debts as well as a schedule, or list, or assets and liabilities. You’ll also need a statement of financial affairs to file with the bankruptcy court in addition to your filing fee.
Although bankruptcy eliminates some debt, it doesn’t eliminate all types of debt. For the most part, you can get rid of credit card debt and medical debt through Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. But you may not be able to eliminate other types of debt, including child support, alimony, most tax debts, student loans, and secured debts.
Secured debt is a claim that’s secured by some type of property, either by an agreement or involuntarily with a court judgment or taxes. Creditors can generally claim the property (and take it to pay off the debt ) in the event of bankruptcy. Unsecured debt is not tied to any type of property, and the creditor can’t claim it if you file for bankruptcy. A mortgage is a secured debt on you property.
Consumers typically file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, where repayment is made to creditors, or Chapter 7 where the debts are dismissed. Each chapter of bankruptcy spells out:
The type depends on your circumstances and if you have assets available to repay all or part of the your debts. Bankruptcy laws can be tricky and involved, so determining if, when and which type of bankruptcy you need should be made with careful thought or the input of a bankruptcy lawyer.
For more information, compare chapter 7 and Chapter 13 here.
Most of your property is likely to be protected from sale because of special exemptions. Review the exemptions. If you have valuable property that you want to keep that is not covered by the exemptions, you will probably not be able to keep it unless you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and pay for it under the plan.
During the time the debtor is working out a plan or the trustee is gathering and preparing the assets to sell, creditors are required by law to stop all collection efforts against you. As soon as the bankruptcy petition is stamped “Relief Ordered” upon filing, you’re immediately protected from your creditors. This is called an automatic stay. After that time, if a creditor attempts to collect a debt, immediately notify the creditor in writing that you have filed bankruptcy, and provide them with either the case name number and filing date or a copy of the petition that shows it was filed. If the creditor still continues to collect, you may be entitled to take legal action against it.
All info taken from Nolo.com and bankruptcy.lawyers.com