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| Bankruptcy in the|
|Bankruptcy in the United States|
|Aspects of bankruptcy law|
Chapter 7 of the Title 11 of the United States Code (Bankruptcy Code) governs the process of liquidation under the bankruptcy laws of the United States (in contrast, Chapters 11 and 13 govern the process of reorganization of a debtor in bankruptcy). Chapter 7 is the most common form of bankruptcy in the United States.
Title 11 of the United States Code, also known as the United States Bankruptcy Code, is the source of bankruptcy law in the United States Code.
Liquidation is the process in accounting by which a company is brought to an end in the United Kingdom, Australia, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and United States. The assets and property of the company are redistributed. Liquidation is also sometimes referred to as winding-up or dissolution, although dissolution technically refers to the last stage of liquidation. The process of liquidation also arises when customs, an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties, determines the final computation or ascertainment of the duties or drawback accruing on an entry.
Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all of their debts. In most jurisdictions, bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor.
When a troubled business is unable to pay its creditors, it may file (or be forced by its creditors to file) for bankruptcy in a federal court under Chapter 7. A Chapter 7 filing means that the business ceases operations unless those operations are continued by the Chapter 7 Trustee. A Chapter 7 trustee is appointed almost immediately, with broad powers to examine the business's financial affairs. The Trustee generally liquidates the assets and distributes the proceeds to the creditors.This may or may not mean that all employees will lose their jobs. When a large company enters Chapter 7 bankruptcy, entire divisions of the company may be sold intact to other companies during the liquidation.
Trustee is a legal term which, in its broadest sense, is a synonym for anyone in a position of trust and so can refer to any person who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility to transfer the title of ownership to the person named as the new owner, in a trust instrument, called a beneficiary. A trustee can also refer to a person who is allowed to do certain tasks but not able to gain income, although that is untrue. Although in the strictest sense of the term a trustee is the holder of property on behalf of a beneficiary, the more expansive sense encompasses persons who serve, for example, on the board of trustees of an institution that operates for a charity, for the benefit of the general public, or a person in the local government.
The investors who took the least amount of risk prior to the bankruptcy are generally paid first. For example, secured creditors will have taken less risk, because the credit that they will have extended is usually backed by collateral, such as assets of the debtor company. Secured creditors often know they will get paid first if the company declares bankruptcy.Fully secured creditors, such as collateralized bondholders or mortgage lenders, have a legally enforceable right to the collateral securing their loans or to the equivalent value, a right which generally cannot be defeated by bankruptcy. A creditor is fully secured if the value of the collateral for its loan to the debtor equals or exceeds the amount of the debt. For this reason, however, fully secured creditors are not entitled to participate in any distribution of liquidated assets that the bankruptcy trustee might make.
An investor is a person that allocates capital with the expectation of a future financial return. Types of investments include: equity, debt securities, real estate, currency, commodity, token, derivatives such as put and call options, futures, forwards, etc. This definition makes no distinction between the investors in the primary and secondary markets. That is, someone who provides a business with capital and someone who buys a stock are both investors. An investor who owns a stock is a shareholder.
A secured creditor is a creditor with the benefit of a security interest over some or all of the assets of the debtor.
Securitization is the financial practice of pooling various types of contractual debt such as residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, auto loans or credit card debt obligations and selling their related cash flows to third party investors as securities, which may be described as bonds, pass-through securities, or collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Investors are repaid from the principal and interest cash flows collected from the underlying debt and redistributed through the capital structure of the new financing. Securities backed by mortgage receivables are called mortgage-backed securities (MBS), while those backed by other types of receivables are asset-backed securities (ABS).
In a Chapter 7 case, a corporation or partnership does not receive a bankruptcy discharge. An individual can receive a Chapter 7 discharge (see). Once all assets of the corporate or partnership debtor have been fully administered, the case is closed. The debts of the corporation or partnership theoretically continue to exist until applicable statutory periods of limitations expire.
A partnership is an arrangement where parties, known as business partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. The partners in a partnership may be individuals, businesses, interest-based organizations, schools, governments or combinations. Organizations may partner to increase the likelihood of each achieving their mission and to amplify their reach. A partnership may result in issuing and holding equity or may be only governed by a contract.
A discharge in United States bankruptcy law, when referring to a debtor's discharge, is a statutory injunction against the commencement or continuation of an action to collect, recover or offset a debt as a personal liability of the debtor. The discharge is one of the primary benefits afforded by relief under the Bankruptcy Code and is essential to the "fresh start" of debtors following bankruptcy that is a central principle under federal bankruptcy law. Discharge is also believed to play an important role in credit markets by encouraging lenders, who may be more sophisticated and have better information than debtors, to monitor debtors and limit risk-taking.
Individuals who reside, have a place of business, or own property in the United States may file for bankruptcy in a federal court under Chapter 7 ("straight bankruptcy", or liquidation).Chapter 7, as with other bankruptcy chapters, is not available to individuals who have had bankruptcy cases dismissed within the prior 180 days under specified circumstances.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the individual is allowed to keep certain exempt property. Most liens, however (such as real estate mortgages and security interests for car loans), survive. The value of property that can be claimed as exempt varies from state to state. Other assets, if any, are sold (liquidated) by the trustee to repay creditors. Many types of unsecured debt are legally discharged by the bankruptcy proceeding, but there are various types of debt that are not discharged in a Chapter 7.Common exceptions to discharge include child support, income taxes less than 3 years old, property taxes, student loans (unless the debtor prevails in a difficult-to-win adversary proceeding brought to determine the dischargeability of the student loan), and fines and restitution imposed by a court for any crimes committed by the debtor. Spousal support is likewise not covered by a bankruptcy filing, nor are property settlements through divorce. Despite their potential non-dischargeability, all debts must be listed on bankruptcy schedules.
Exempt property, under the law of property in many jurisdictions, is property that can neither be passed by will nor claimed by creditors of the deceased in the event that a decedent leaves a surviving spouse or surviving descendants. Typically, exempt property includes a family car, and a certain amount of cash, or the equivalent value in personal property.
A lien is a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation. The owner of the property, who grants the lien, is referred to as the lienee and the person who has the benefit of the lien is referred to as the lienor or lien holder.
In family law and public policy, child support is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship. Child maintenance is paid directly or indirectly by an obligor to an obligee for the care and support of children of a relationship that has been terminated, or in some cases never existed. Often the obligor is a non-custodial parent. The obligee is typically a custodial parent, a caregiver, a guardian, or the state.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on an individual's credit report for 10 years from the date of filing the Chapter 7 petition. This contrasts with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which stays on an individual's credit report for 7 years from the date of filing the Chapter 13 petition. This may make credit less available or may make lending terms less favorable, although high debt can have the same effect. That must be balanced against the removal of actual debt from the filer's record by the bankruptcy, which tends to improve creditworthiness. Consumer credit and creditworthiness is a complex subject, however. Future ability to obtain credit is dependent on multiple factors and difficult to predict.
Another aspect to consider is whether the debtor can avoid a challenge by the United States Trustee to his or her Chapter 7 filing as abusive. One factor in considering whether the U.S. Trustee can prevail in a challenge to the debtor's Chapter 7 filing is whether the debtor can otherwise afford to repay some or all of his debts out of disposable income in the five year time frame provided by Chapter 13. If so, then the U.S. Trustee may succeed in preventing the debtor from receiving a discharge under Chapter 7, effectively forcing the debtor into Chapter 13.
Some bankruptcy practitioners[ who? ] assert that the U.S. Trustee has become more aggressive in recent times in pursuing (what the U.S. Trustee believes to be) abusive Chapter 7 filings. Through these activities the U.S. Trustee has achieved a regulatory system that Congress and most creditor-friendly commentors have consistently espoused, i.e., a formal means test for Chapter 7. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 has clarified this area of concern by making changes to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that include, along with many other reforms, language imposing a means test for Chapter 7 cases.
Creditworthiness and the likelihood of receiving a Chapter 7 discharge are some of the issues to be considered in determining whether to file bankruptcy. The importance of the effects of bankruptcy on creditworthiness is sometimes overemphasized[ by whom? ] because by the time many debtors are ready to file for bankruptcy, their credit score is already ruined. Also, new credit extended post-petition is not covered by the discharge, so creditors may offer new credit to the newly-bankrupt.
Functionally, templates are more or less the computer based equivalent of paper bankruptcy forms. The official Federal bankruptcy forms prescribed in the Federal Bankruptcy Rules come as Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat formatted templates where each bankruptcy form is represented by a Word or Acrobat file. While these forms are electronic in nature and reside on a computer, they do not contain intelligence that would guide the debtor. The debtor still has to fill in each bankruptcy form separately as they would with paper forms and the debtor still has to grapple with the complexity of bankruptcy law.
In bankruptcy software, the debtor interacts with the software through a web page and is shielded from the actual bankruptcy forms and from the intricacies of bankruptcy law. The debtor responds to questions in an interview setting, much like with tax programs such as TurboTax or automated documents made through HotDocs. The debtor enters names and addresses, a list of their creditors and assets and other financial information and the software generates all the court-ready forms and delivers them to the debtor via email or a download link. The accuracy of the forms is nevertheless imperfect, as it is difficult for software to ensure that the debtor understands what has to be disclosed, what the exemptions for their state are, whether they qualify for said exemptions, and whether expenses included on the means test are allowable.
An alternative to do-it-yourself is the bankruptcy petition preparer. This method appeals to those who cannot afford the higher cost of bankruptcy attorneys and at the same time do not want the hassle and uncertainty of self-prepared document templates and software. Bankruptcy petition preparers fill this need. The bankruptcy forms are prepared by trained individuals rather than by debtor themselves. However, having a preparer or paralegal prepare the petition does not guarantee compliance with all applicable laws, or assure that maximum advantage will be taken of exemptions. As with online bankruptcy software, debtors in some cases submit their bankruptcy information through a simple web page interface. Rather than having some software automatically generate the forms, trained paralegals use the information to prepare the document and then deliver them to the debtor. Bankruptcy trustees will check the bankruptcy petition to ensure that the petition was prepared properly, much like the trustee would do if a lawyer had prepared the forms. The BAPCPA provides guidelines for petition preparers to follow to protect the consumer.
A bankruptcy attorney can advise the consumer on when the best time to file is, whether they qualify for a chapter 7 or need to file a chapter 13, ensure that all requirements are fulfilled so that the bankruptcy will go smoothly, and whether the debtor's assets will be safe if they file. With expanded requirements of the BAPCPA bankruptcy act of 2005, filing a personal chapter 7 bankruptcy is complicated. Many attorneys that used to practice bankruptcy in addition to their other fields, have stopped doing so due to the additional requirements, liability and work involved. After the petition is filed, the attorney can provide other services.
On October 17, 2005 the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) went into effect. This legislation was the biggest reform to the bankruptcy laws since 1978. The legislation was enacted after years of lobbying efforts by banks and lending institutions and was intended to prevent abuses of the bankruptcy laws.
The changes to Chapter 7 were extensive.
The most noteworthy change brought by the 2005 BAPCPA amendments occurred within.The amendments effectively subject most debtors who have an income, as calculated by the Code, above the debtor's state census median income to a 60-month disposable income based test. This test is referred to as the "means test". The means test provides for a finding of abuse if the debtor's disposable monthly income is higher than a specified floor amount or portion of their debts. If a presumption of abuse is found under the means test, it may only be rebutted in the case of "special circumstances." Debtors whose income is below the state's median income are not subject to the means test. Under this test, any debtor with more than $182.50 in monthly disposable income, under the formula, would face a presumption of abuse.
Notably, the Code calculated income is based on the prior six months and may be higher or lower than the debtor's actual current income at the time of filing for bankruptcy. This has led some commentators to refer to the bankruptcy code's “current monthly income” as “presumed income.” If the debtor's debt is not primarily consumer debt, then the means test is inapplicable. The inapplicability to non-consumer debt allows business debtors to "abuse" credit without repercussion unless the court finds "cause."
"Special circumstances" does not confer judicial discretion; rather, it gives a debtor an opportunity to adjust income by documenting additional expenses or loss of income in situations caused by a medical condition or being called or order to active military service. However, the assumption of abuse is only rebutted where the additional expenses or adjustments for loss of income are significant enough to change the outcome of the means test. Otherwise, abuse is still presumed despite the "special circumstances."
Another major change to the law enacted by BAPCPA deals with eligibility. §109(h) provides that a debtor will no longer be eligible to file under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 unless within 180 days prior to filing the debtor received an “individual or group briefing” from a nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency approved by the United States trustee or bankruptcy administratorThe new legislation also requires that all individual debtors in either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 complete an “instructional course concerning personal financial management.” If a Chapter 7 debtor does not complete the course, this constitutes grounds for denial of discharge pursuant to new §727(a)(11). The financial management program is experimental and the effectiveness of the program is to be studied for 18 months. Theoretically, if the educational courses prove to be ineffective, the requirement may disappear.
BAPCPA attempted to eliminate the perceived “forum shopping” by changing the rules on claiming exemptions. Under BAPCPA, a debtor who has moved from one state to another within two years of filing (730 days) the bankruptcy case must use exemptions from the place of the debtor's domicile for the majority of the 180-day period preceding the two years (730 days) before the filing §522(b)(3).If the new residency requirement would render the debtor ineligible for any exemption, then the debtor can choose the federal exemptions.
BAPCPA also “capped” the amount of a homestead exemption that a debtor can claim in bankruptcy, despite state exemption statutes. Also, there is a “cap” placed upon the homestead exemption in situations where the debtor, within 1215 days (about 3 years and 4 months) preceding the bankruptcy case added value to a homestead. The provision provides that “any value in excess of $125,000” added to a homestead can not be exempted. The only exception is if the value was transferred from another homestead within the same state or if the homestead is the principal residence of a family farmer (§522(p)).This “cap” would apply in situations where a debtor has purchased a new homestead in a different state, or where the debtor has increased the value to his or her homestead (presumably through a remodeling or addition).
Some types of liens may be avoided through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. However, BAPCPA limited the ability of debtors to avoid liens through bankruptcy. The definition of “household goods” was changed limiting “electronic equipment” to one radio, one television, one VCR, and one personal computer with related equipment. The definition now excludes works of art not created by the debtor or a relative of the debtor, jewelry worth more than $500 (except wedding rings), and motor vehicles (§522(f)(1)(B)).Prior to BAPCPA, the definition of household goods was broader so that more items could have been included, including more than one television, VCR, radio, etc.
Chapter 11 is a chapter of Title 11, the United States Bankruptcy Code, which permits reorganization under the bankruptcy laws of the United States. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is available to every business, whether organized as a corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship, and to individuals, although it is most prominently used by corporate entities. In contrast, Chapter 7 governs the process of a liquidation bankruptcy, though liquidation can be done under Chapter 11 also; while Chapter 13 provides a reorganization process for the majority of private individuals.
Title 11 of the United States Code sets forth the statutes governing the various types of relief for bankruptcy in the United States. Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code provides an individual the opportunity to propose a plan of reorganization to reorganize their financial affairs while under the bankruptcy court's protection. The purpose of chapter 13 is to enable an individual with a regular source of income to propose a chapter 13 plan that provides for their various classes of creditors. Under chapter 13, the Bankruptcy Court has the power to approve a chapter 13 plan without the approval of creditors as long as it meets the statutory requirements under chapter 13. Chapter 13 plans are usually three to five years in length and may not exceed five years. Chapter 13 is in contrast to the purpose of Chapter 7, which does not provide for a plan of reorganization, but provides for the discharge of certain debt and the liquidation of non-exempt property. A Chapter 13 plan may be looked at as a form of debt consolidation, but a Chapter 13 allows a person to achieve much more than simply consolidating his or her unsecured debt such as credit cards and personal loans. A chapter 13 plan may provide for the three general categories of debt: priority claims, secured claims, priority unsecured claims, and general unsecured claims. Chapter 13 plans are often used to cure arrearages on a mortgage, avoid "underwater" junior mortgages or other liens, pay back taxes over time, or partially repay general unsecured debt. In recent years, some bankruptcy courts have allowed Chapter 13 to be used as a platform to expedite a mortgage modification application.
Personal bankruptcy law allows, in certain jurisdictions, an individual to be declared bankrupt. Virtually every country with a modern legal system features some form of debt relief for individuals. Personal bankruptcy is distinguished from corporate bankruptcy.
A means test is a determination of whether an individual or family is eligible for government assistance, based upon whether the individual or family possesses the means to do without that help.
In the United States, bankruptcy is governed by federal law, commonly referred to as the "Bankruptcy Code" ("Code"). The United States Constitution authorizes Congress to enact "uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States". Congress has exercised this authority several times since 1801, including through adoption of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, as amended, codified in Title 11 of the United States Code and the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA).
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA), is a legislative act that made several significant changes to the United States Bankruptcy Code. Referred to colloquially as the "New Bankruptcy Law", the Act of Congress attempts to, among other things, make it more difficult for some consumers to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7; some of these consumers may instead utilize Chapter 13. Voting record of S. 256.
A fraudulent conveyance, or fraudulent transfer, is an attempt to avoid debt by transferring money to another person or company. It is generally a civil, not a criminal matter, meaning that one cannot go to jail for it, but in some jurisdictions there is potential for criminal prosecution. It is generally treated as a civil cause of action that arises in debtor/creditor relations, particularly with reference to insolvent debtors. The cause of action is typically brought by creditors or by bankruptcy trustees.
Consumer bankruptcy in Canada is governed by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act ("BIA"). The legislation is complemented by regulations, as well as directives from the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy that provide guidelines to trustees in bankruptcy on various aspects of the BIA.
Bankruptcy in the United Kingdom is divided into separate local regimes for England and Wales, for Northern Ireland, and for Scotland. There is also a UK insolvency law which applies across the United Kingdom, since bankruptcy refers only to insolvency of individuals and partnerships. Other procedures, for example administration and liquidation, apply to insolvent companies. However, the term 'bankruptcy' is often used when referring to insolvent companies in the general media.
In England and Wales, an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is a formal alternative for individuals wishing to avoid bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay their creditors. In most cases personal bankruptcy is initiated by the bankrupt individual. Bankruptcy is a legal process that discharges most debts, but has the disadvantage of making it more difficult for an individual to borrow in the future. To avoid the negative impacts of personal bankruptcy, individuals in debt have a number of bankruptcy alternatives.
In United States bankruptcy law, an automatic stay is an automatic injunction that halts actions by creditors, with certain exceptions, to collect debts from a debtor who has declared bankruptcy. Under section 362 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, the stay begins at the moment the bankruptcy petition is filed. Secured creditors may, however, petition the bankruptcy court for relief from the automatic stay upon a showing of cause.
A debt buyer is a company, sometimes a collection agency, a private debt collection law firm, or a private investor that purchases delinquent or charged-off debts from a creditor or lender for a percentage of the face value of the debt based on the potential collectibility of the accounts. The debt buyer can then collect on its own, utilize the services of a third-party collection agency, repackage and resell portions of the purchased portfolio or any combination of these options.
Toibb v. Radloff, 501 U.S. 157 (1991), was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that individuals are eligible to file for relief under the reorganization provisions of chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, even if they are not engaged in a business. The case overturned the lower courts ruling which restricted individuals to chapter 7.
Ransom v. FIA Card Services, N. A., 562 U.S. 61 (2011), is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the means test in Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The means test had been adopted by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, and Ransom is one of several cases in which the Supreme Court addressed provisions of that act.
Rousey v. Jacoway, 544 U.S. 320 (2005), was a bankruptcy case decided by the United States Supreme Court in which the Court held that Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) qualify for certain exemptions under Title 11 of the United States Code.
Law v. Siegel, 571 U.S. ___ (2014), is a ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States that describes the extent of the powers of bankruptcy courts in dealing with the bad faith of debtors.
Bankruptcy in Florida is made under title 11 of the United States Code, which is referred to as the Bankruptcy Code. Although bankruptcy is a federal procedure, in certain regards, it looks to state law, such as to exemptions and to define property rights. The Bankruptcy Code provides that each state has the choice whether to "opt in" and use the federal exemptions or to "opt out" and to apply the state law exemptions. Florida is an "opt out" state in regard to exemptions. Bankruptcy in the United States is provided for under federal law as provided in the United States Constitution. Under the federal constitution, there are no state bankruptcy courts. The bankruptcy laws are primarily contained in 11 U.S.C. 101, et seq. The Bankruptcy Code underwent a substantial amendment in 2005 with the "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005", often referred to as "BAPCPA". The Bankruptcy Code provides for a set of federal bankruptcy exemptions, but each states is allowed is choose whether it will "opt in" or "opt out" of the federal exemptions. In the event that a state opts out of the federal exemptions, the exemptions are provided for the particular exemption laws of the state with the application with certain federal exemptions.
United States Bankruptcy Code; 2016 Edition. ISBN 9781942842033.