Chapter 7, entitled Liquidation, contemplates an orderly, court-supervised procedure by which a trustee takes over the assets of the debtor's estate, reduces them to cash,
and makes distributions to creditors, subject to the debtor's right to retain certain exempt property and the rights of secured creditors. Because there is usually little or no nonexempt property in
most chapter 7 cases, there may not be an actual liquidation of the debtor's assets. These cases are called "no-asset cases." A creditor holding an unsecured claim will get a distribution from the
bankruptcy estate only if the case is an asset case and the creditor files a proof of claim with the bankruptcy court.
In most chapter 7 cases, if the debtor is an individual, he or she receives a discharge that releases him or her from personal liability for certain dischargeable debts. The debtor normally receives a discharge just a few months after the petition is filed. Amendments to the Bankruptcy Code enacted in to the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 require the application of a "means test" to determine whether individual consumer debtors qualify for relief under chapter 7. If such a debtor's income is in excess of certain thresholds, the debtor may not be eligible for chapter 7 relief.
To qualify for relief under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, the debtor may be an individual, a partnership, or a corporation or other business entity. 11 United States Code, Sub-Section- 101(41),
109(b). Subject to the means test described above for individual debtors, relief is available under chapter 7 irrespective of the amount of the debtor's debts or whether the debtor is solvent or
insolvent. An individual cannot file under chapter 7 or any other chapter, however, if during the preceding 180 days a prior bankruptcy petition was dismissed due to the debtor's willful failure to
appear before the court or comply with orders of the court, or the debtor voluntarily dismissed the previous case after creditors sought relief from the bankruptcy court to recover property upon
which they hold liens. 11 United States Code, Sub-Section- 109(g), 362(d) and (e). In addition, no individual may be a debtor under chapter 7 or any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code unless he or she has, within 180 days before
filing, received credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency either in an individual or group briefing. 11 United States Code, Sub-Section- 109, 111. There are exceptions in emergency situations or where the
U.S. trustee (or bankruptcy administrator) has determined that there are insufficient approved agencies to provide the required counseling. If a debt management plan is developed during required
credit counseling, it must be filed with the court. One of the primary purposes of bankruptcy is to discharge certain debts to give an honest individual debtor a "fresh start." The debtor has no
liability for discharged debts. In a chapter 7 case, however, a discharge is only available to individual debtors, not to partnerships or corporations. 11 United States Code, Sub-Section- 727(a)(1). Although an individual
chapter 7 case usually results in a discharge of debts, the right to a discharge is not absolute, and some types of debts are not discharged. Moreover, a bankruptcy discharge does not extinguish a
lien on property.
The "current monthly income" received by the debtor is a defined term in the Bankruptcy Code and means the average monthly income received over the six calendar months before commencement of the bankruptcy case, including regular contributions to household expenses from non debtors and including income from the debtor's spouse if the petition is a joint petition, but not including social security income or certain payments made because the debtor is the victim of certain crimes. 11 United States Code, Sub-Section- 101(10A).
To determine whether a presumption of abuse arises, all individual debtors with primarily consumer debts who file a chapter 7 case must complete Official Bankruptcy Form B22A, entitled "Statement of Current Monthly Income and Means Test Calculation - For Use in Chapter 7." (The Official Forms may be purchased at legal stationery stores or downloaded from the internet at www.uscourts.gov/bkforms/index.html. They are not available from the court.)
An involuntary chapter 7 case may be commenced under certain circumstances by a petition filed by creditors holding claims against the debtor. 11 United States Code, Sub-Section- 303.
Each debtor in a joint case (both husband and wife) can claim exemptions under the federal bankruptcy laws. 11 United States Code, Sub-Section- 522(m).
In Alabama and North Carolina, bankruptcy administrators perform similar functions that U.S. trustees perform in the remaining 48 states. These duties include supervising the administration of cases and trustees in cases under chapters 7, 11, 12, and 13 of the Bankruptcy Code and establishing a panel of private trustees to serve as trustees in chapter 7 cases. The bankruptcy administrator program is administered by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, while the U.S. trustee program is administered by the Department of Justice. For purposes of this publication, references to U.S. trustees are also applicable to bankruptcy administrators.
A fee is charged for converting, on request of the debtor, a case under chapter 7 to a case under chapter eleven. The fee charged is the difference between the filing fee for a chapter 7 and the filing fee for a chapter eleven. 28 United States Code, Sub-Section- 1930(a). Currently, the difference is $755. Id. There is no fee for converting from chapter 7 to chapter 13. Unsecured debts generally may be defined as those for which the extension of credit was based purely upon an evaluation by the creditor of the debtor's ability to pay, as opposed to secured debts, for which the extension of credit was based upon to the debtor's ability to pay and the creditor's right to seize collateral on default.
1) Learn How Chapter Seven Works
2) Find out about The Role Of The Case Trustee
3) Learn about Chapter Seven Discharge
4) Know the Alternatives To Chapter Seven Bankruptcy
Learn the different Types Of Bankruptcy Cases
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