In a Chapter 7 case, you file several forms with the bankruptcy court listing income and expenses, assets, debts and property transactions. There is a filing fee, which may be waived for people who receive public assistance or live below the poverty level. A court-appointed person, known as a trustee, is assigned to oversee the case.
Approximately one month after filing, you attend a “meeting of creditors” where the trustee reviews your forms and may ask questions of both you and your attorney. Three to six months later, you receive a notice from the court that “all debts that qualified for discharge were discharged.” This is what as known as a discharge.
Chapter 13 cases are a little different. You file similar forms in addition to a proposed repayment plan, in which you describe how you intend to repay your debts over the next three, or in some cases five years. As in a Chapter 7 a trustee is assigned to oversee the case. You attend the same type of meeting of creditors. If your plan is approved, and you make all the payments called for under your plan, you will usually receive a discharge at the end of your repayment term.
Non dis-chargeable Debts
The are certain debts that are non-dischargeable in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy plans. If you file for Chapter 7, these debts will remain owed by you when your case is over. If you file for Chapter 13, these debts may have to be paid during your plan.
Some types of non-dischargeable debts include:
- Debts you forget to list in your bankruptcy papers, unless the creditor learns of your bankruptcy case (It is very important in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases to make sure and list ALL of your debts.)
- Child support and alimony
- Debts for personal injury or death caused by intoxicated driving
- Most student loans, unless it would be an undue hardship for you to repay
- Fines and penalties imposed for violating the law, such as traffic tickets and criminal restitution, and
- Recent income tax debts and all other tax debts
In addition, the following debts may be declared non-dischargeable by a bankruptcy judge in Chapter 7 if the creditor challenges your request to discharge them.
These debts may be discharged in Chapter 13. You can include them in your plan, and at the end of your case, the balance is wiped out:
- Debts incurred on the basis of fraud, such as lying on a credit application
- Debts from willful or malicious injury to another person or another person’s property
- Debts from embezzlement, larceny or breach of trust, and