The Aftermath of Bankruptcy: Understanding the Fate of Individual’s Debt

When you declare bankruptcy, it's vital to understand what happens to your debts.

When you declare bankruptcy, it's vital to understand what happens to your debts. Bankruptcy is a legal process that offers relief to individuals who cannot repay their debts in a reasonable time frame. By filing for bankruptcy, you're seeking protection from creditors and a way to eliminate or repay your debts under court supervision.

The impact on your debts varies with the type of bankruptcy you file. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, known as liquidation, may result in the sale of your nonexempt property to pay back creditors before any remaining eligible debts are discharged. On the other hand, Chapter 13 or reorganization bankruptcy, allows you to keep your property and repay your debts over time, usually three to five years, through a court-approved payment plan. Each type of bankruptcy has specific implications on different kinds of debt.

Understanding Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal process where you can declare that you are unable to repay your debts, providing a way for you to obtain debt relief and start anew financially. Selecting the correct form of bankruptcy is critical, as it will affect the way your debts are resolved.

Types of Bankruptcy

  1. Chapter 7 - Liquidation:
  • Your non-exempt assets are sold.
  • Proceeds are distributed to creditors.
  • Eligibility: Must pass a means test.

 2. Chapter 13 - Reorganization:

    • You create a 3-5 year repayment plan.
    • Assets are not liquidated.
    • Eligibility: Secure debt and unsecured debt must be below certain thresholds.

    Bankruptcy Process

    1. Credit Counseling:
    •  Requirement: Must be completed within 180 days before filing.

     2. Filing for Bankruptcy:

    • Documentation: Submit appropriate forms and filing fee.
    • Automatic Stay: This halts most debt collections against you.

     3. Meeting of Creditors:

    • Purpose: Creditors may ask you questions about your finances and property.

     4. Repayment Plan or Liquidation:

    • Chapter 13: Courts approve your repayment plan.
    • Chapter 7: Your assets are evaluated for liquidation.

     5. Discharge:

    • Outcome: Remaining eligible debts are forgiven.
    • Timing: Chapter 7 is typically quicker than Chapter 13.

    Consequences for Debt

    Filing for bankruptcy significantly alters how you'll deal with outstanding debts, potentially absolving certain obligations or restructuring payments.

    Secured vs Unsecured Debt

    When you declare bankruptcy, secured debts—those linked to collateral like your home or car—may be repossessed by lenders if you fail to make payments. On the other hand, unsecured debts like credit card bills and medical expenses typically don't involve collateral, and they might be wiped out, depending on the bankruptcy chapter you file.

    Impact on Credit Score

    Your credit score will take a substantial hit after you file for bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for up to 10 years, while a Chapter 13 notation remains for 7 years. This can affect your ability to acquire loans, with a higher interest rate likely if you are approved for financing.

    Debt Discharge and Obligations

    Not all debts can be discharged through bankruptcy. Obligations such as alimony, child support, and certain taxes will remain. For debts that do qualify, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can lead to a complete discharge, while Chapter 13 typically involves a repayment plan. Consulting with a Tucson bankruptcy lawyer can help you understand which of your debts can be discharged and what obligations you will continue to bear.

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