Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Is there a difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Declaring bankruptcy is an upsetting time for anyone. You never want to be placed in this position. In the US, there are two major types of bankruptcy you might file for if your personal debts have grown out of control: chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy. A lot of people confuse these two types, and when you are facing serious financial debt, it can be very difficult to know which route to take.

Here are the major differences between chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcies, so you’re aware of your options if you face insurmountable debt.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Explained


Chapter 7 bankruptcy is where you admit to the court you have no chance of paying off your debts, and the court discharges your debts. You’ll be completely free from debt, but the catch is your belongings and property can be distributed to creditors to pay off your debts. There are items exempt from this, but in extreme situations where you owe large amounts of money, you could lose everything.

This is the end of the line for most people. The bankruptcy mark will remain on your record for a number of years, making it almost nearly impossible to take out credit.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Explained


Chapter 13 bankruptcy isn’t bankruptcy in the conventional sense. While you agree you can’t pay off your debts, you don’t necessarily discharge the debts. Instead, you broker a deal in the courts between you and your creditors where you’ll create a repayment plan. Usually, you’ll have your wages garnished every month until the debt is repaid. The difference is you aren’t putting your belongings at risk unless you specify that in the terms of repayment. In some cases, you might have some of your debt discharged.

Like chapter 7 bankruptcy, the mark of a chapter 13 bankruptcy remains on your credit score for several years, making it difficult to take out new lines of credit.

What Can They Take?


In chapter 13 bankruptcy they can’t take a thing. This isn’t where you admit you have to make a fresh start. It’s simply admitting you need legal intervention to help you pay off your debts. You can agree to sell something, like a car or furniture, to make the deal better for yourself, but it isn’t always necessary.

In the case of a chapter 7 bankruptcy, they can take anything of sufficient value. A bank could seize property, but in many states your primary residence is protected. Despite the equity, it’s likely the bankruptcy could still force a sale of your home so the creditors can recover their money.

You can lose your vehicle unless the court deems it essential to your livelihood. You can also keep trade tools for your work, but this only applies to a certain value. Anything above this value can be sold.

Your furniture and personal belongings are normally exempt from being sold off to collect a debt. Expensive jewelry and large items like plasma televisions and high-tech computers can be sold if they’re worth enough.

If you’re filing for either type of bankruptcy, it’s strongly recommended you employ a bankruptcy lawyer to help with the process. Through professional legal guidance, you can get you a more favorable deal and potentially help you retain many of your possessions.

About the Author:
Ashley Parker has worked with many bankruptcy lawyers and financial advisors over the years. She regularly educates people on the differences between chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcies. As one of many chapter 7 attorneys, she recommends her clients try to opt for chapter 13, if at all possible.


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