Bankruptcy is a legal process that allows individuals and businesses to rehabilitate their finances, either through repayment or debt forgiveness. Bankruptcy is also a way for creditors to collect unpaid debts from the debtor's available resources.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, sometimes referred to as "fresh start" bankruptcy or "liquidation" bankruptcy, is complete bankruptcy relief. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a consumer debtor can eliminate all of her qualifying debt upon the sale of her non-exempt assets.
A business debtor that files for Chapter 7 relief does not receive a bankruptcy discharge; it does, however, receive the benefit of an orderly bankruptcy liquidation.
A chapter 7 bankruptcy typically remains on a consumer debtor's credit report for up to 10 years.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires debtors to submit a payment plan to the bankruptcy court for approval. If the payment plan is approved, the debtor may keep her property and re-pay her debt over the course of three to five years. Unpaid balances on qualifying unsecured debts are discharged at the end of the three to five year payment period.
A chapter 13 bankruptcy typically remains on a debtor's credit report for up to 7 years.
Business entities do not qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is most common among business entities that wish to remain in business despite their current debt burden. Chapter 11 provides these debtors with the opportunity to remain in business and negotiate payment plans with their creditors while under the bankruptcy court's protection. The court must approve the payment plan. Unlike a Chapter 13 plan, there is no three to five year limitation on the payment plan's duration.
Individuals who do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief.
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