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Excerpts from
Bankruptcy Basics
A Public Information Series of the Bankruptcy Judges Division
Administrative Office of the United States Courts
APRIL 2004
Revised Second Edition

Contents

Introduction

The Discharge in Bankruptcy

Chapter 7. Liquidation Under the Bankruptcy Code

Alternatives to Chapter 7

Background

How Chapter 7 Works

Role of the Case Trustee

Discharge

Chapter 13. Individual Debt Adjustment

Chapter 11. Reorganization Under the Bankruptcy Code

Chapter 12. Family Farmer Bankruptcy

Chapter 9. Municipality Bankruptcy

SIPA. Securities Investor Protection Act

Bankruptcy Terminology


Bankruptcy BASICS

Chapter 7

Liquidation Under the Bankruptcy Code

BACKGROUND

The potential chapter 7 debtor should understand that a straight bankruptcy case does not involve the filing of a plan of repayment as in chapter 13, but rather envisions the bankruptcy trustee's gathering and sale of the debtor's nonexempt assets, from which holders of claims (creditors) will receive distributions in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. Part of the debtor's property may be subject to liens and mortgages that pledge the property to other creditors. In addition, under chapter 7, the individual debtor is permitted to retain certain "exempt" property. The debtor's remaining assets are liquidated by a trustee. Accordingly, potential debtors should realize that the filing of a petition under chapter 7 may result in the loss of property.

In order to qualify for relief under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, the debtor must be an individual, a partnership, or a corporation. 11 U.S.C.
109(b); 101(41).
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 U.S.C. 109(g), 362(d) and (e).

One of the primary purposes of bankruptcy is to discharge certain debts to give an honest individual debtor a "fresh start." The discharge has the effect of extinguishing the debtor's personal liability on dischargeable debts. In a chapter 7 case, however, a discharge is available to individual debtors only, not to partnerships or corporations. 11 U.S.C. 727(a)(1). Although the filing of an individual chapter 7 petition usually results in a discharge of debts, an individual's 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.