What does Chapter 7/9/11/12/13/15 mean?
Understand the basics of filing for bankruptcy in the state of Georgia.
Talk with a knowledgeable Georgia bankruptcy attorney about your options today.
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has published a booklet that provides information to bankruptcy filers, creditors and the general public on the various aspects of federal bankruptcy laws. This is a good resource for people who are contemplating bankruptcy as it offers some simple explanations of the different chapters of bankruptcy and answers to frequently asked questions about the process.
You can access and download this 71-page publication here.
However, it’s important to note that this Bankruptcy BASICS guide is no substitute for competent legal advice, and it doesn’t contain a step-by-step guide for filing your bankruptcy claim. If you are considering bankruptcy but unsure what type is right for you and how to go about it, consulting with a professional bankruptcy attorney near you is highly recommended.
Continue reading for additional information and resources regarding bankruptcy law in the U.S.
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Bankruptcy discharge: “It ain’t over until it’s over”
The definition of a bankruptcy discharge is that it frees a debtor from any personal liability for numerous specific types of debts. Basically, by receiving a discharge, a debtor is no longer “on the hook” to pay debts that have been discharged.
How long does it take to get a bankruptcy discharge?
Each “chapter,” or type of bankruptcy, has its own discharge timeline. Typical discharges can be issued following the expiration date set by the court for any creditors to file a complaint, objecting to the discharge.
Usually, the average Chapter 7 bankruptcy case takes about 4 months from the time the debtor files until the bankruptcy court issues the discharge. As a Chapter 7 case is a liquidation scenario, the debtor’s property may be sold off to pay back creditors, and this can occur fairly rapidly.
In Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases (as well as Chapter 11 and 12), the bankruptcy court tends to grant a discharge as soon as it’s feasible, once the debtor completes all plan payments. Since these plans can take between 3 and 5 years to fulfill, it’s not unusual for a court to issue a discharge at the 4-year mark.
Who receives a bankruptcy discharge notice?
Usually, the debtor and any legal counsel the debtor has employed will receive a physical copy of the discharge order. All listed creditors will also receive a copy. The discharge doesn’t necessarily apply to all of the debtor’s debts, and those debts vary under the numerous bankruptcy chapters. There are 19 categories of debt which are exempt from being discharged under Chapter 7, 11 and 12. There are fewer debt categories under Chapter 13 cases.
Can a bankruptcy discharge be revoked?
In addition, the bankruptcy court can revoke a discharge under certain conditions, such as if the trustee or creditor believes the debtor received the discharge fraudulently, or if the debtor came into an asset or property that should have been a part of the bankruptcy estate. These requests to revoke a discharge usually must be filed within 1 year of the discharge. Similar rules accompany cases involving Chapters 11, 12 and 13.
Common types (chapters) of bankruptcy
Chapter 7: Liquidation under the bankruptcy code
Utilizing this section of the bankruptcy code allows for the liquidation, or sale, of a debtor’s non-exempt property. The funds raised from this sale are then distributed to the debtor’s creditors. There are other bankruptcy options besides Chapter 7 that may be better suited to any debtors seeking bankruptcy protection.
Chapter 9: Municipality bankruptcy
This portion of the bankruptcy code is reserved for the reorganization of municipalities, such as cities, towns, villages or counties, school districts, municipal utilities or any “taxing districts.” Municipality bankruptcy protection became law during the Great Depression in 1934.
Chapter 9 case filings are rare, with fewer than 10 per year usually being filed. This filing allows a financially distressed town or city to seek protection from its creditors while negotiating a plan to pay off its debts.
Chapter 11: Reorganize under the bankruptcy code
Chapter 11 bankruptcies are reserved for corporations or partnerships. Using this chapter allows businesses to continue running while developing a plan to pay off its creditors. These types of fillings are sometimes referred to as “reorganization” bankruptcies and can last several years.
Chapter 12: Family farmer/fisherman bankruptcy
This part of the bankruptcy code is intended for family fishermen or family farmers with “regular annual income.” It is intended to allow families in these occupations to put together a plan to repay all or a portion of their debts, usually over 3 years but under some circumstances extended to 5 years.
Chapter 13: Individual debt adjustment
Filing Chapter 13 allows a person with regular income to seek bankruptcy protection while keeping the property, but paying off debts over time—usually over 3 to 5 years. This filing is sometimes called a “wage earner’s plan” and can involve detailed steps to fulfill.
Chapter 15: Ancillary and other cross-border cases
This bankruptcy chapter is a newer option (added in 2005) and it serves to offer mechanisms for dealing with insolvency cases with debtors, claimants, assets and any other interested parties where more than one country is involved. These cross-border cases can be very complex since they deal with bankruptcy laws in various countries. Speaking with an attorney before seeking Chapter 15 bankruptcy is highly recommended.
Important bankruptcy laws
SCRA: The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
The SCRA allows for the protection of military members from the entry of default judgments and gives American courts the ability to “stay” (or stop) bankruptcy proceedings against military debtors. The purpose behind the SCRA is to strengthen national defenses by giving servicemembers a level of protection in civil actions. Soldiers or sailors serving the country are allotted some peace of mind so they can focus on the defense of the USA via this temporary suspension of judicial/administrative proceedings.
SIPA: Securities Investor Protection Act
While the Bankruptcy Protection Code allows for a stockbroker liquidation proceeding, it is more likely that a brokerage firm will go under and become involved in a SIPA proceeding rather than face a bankruptcy liquidation case. When a brokerage fails, its accounts are transferred to various other brokerage firms. In these instances, the SIPA sends investors certificates for the lost stock or a check for the market values of the shares.
Bankruptcy basics glossary
The federal government has a compiled comprehensive list of words and phrases every bankruptee (person filing for bankruptcy) should know.
Click on the button below to access this glossary of important terms.
The U.S. Courts website provides a list of the various forms you might need to file for bankruptcy. While you certainly won’t have to fill out all of the forms, your bankruptcy attorney can advise you on which forms must be downloaded and completed for your situation and chosen type of bankruptcy.
When to consult a Georgia bankruptcy lawyer
If you or a loved one is considering filing for bankruptcy in Georgia, we strongly recommend that the filer starts a dialogue with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney near them. Bankruptcy law has many nuances and details that only an expert can skillfully navigate. The right attorney can catch mistakes, offer alternatives within the law and overall make the experience substantially smoother.
If you are interested in learning more about how to file for bankruptcy in Georgia, let a Gerber & Holder attorney be your guide. We are standing by to offer a helping hand so that you or your loved one can land on your “financial” feet when it’s all said and done.