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Chapter 7 bankruptcy basics

Filing for bankruptcy can be an intimidating process, partly because of the stigma attached to it and partly because of the complex legal requirements you have to meet.

Fortunately, there is less stigma surrounding bankruptcy as people start to understand that it is rehabilitative rather than punitive. Once you understand the basics of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the legalities may become less intimidating as well.

Creditor meeting

After you file for bankruptcy, the court will appoint a trustee who is in charge of overseeing the process and reviewing your finances. According to Experian, one of the first things a trustee will do is schedule a meeting at the courthouse that you must attend. This meeting gives creditors the opportunity to ask you questions about your finances.

Exempt property

Chapter 7 is a liquidation bankruptcy, meaning that the trustee may sell some of your assets to pay back some of what you owe to your creditors. However, there is property that your trustee cannot liquidate called exempt property. Exempt property includes things that you need to function in everyday life, such as clothing, furniture, household appliances and possibly your car. It also includes things that you require to make a living.


The bankruptcy process takes approximately four to six months. At the end of that time, the court will discharge most of your debts. Not all debts qualify for discharge, but those that do will no longer be your responsibility. Discharging some debts can also make it easier to pay back those that remain.

Chapter 7 is one of two types of bankruptcy available to individual consumers. The other type is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you do not qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may be eligible for Chapter 7.


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