Chapter 7 is designed for debtors who are having financial difficulties and are not able to repay their debts.
If your current monthly income is above the State Median income you will be required to perform a Means Test to determine if you are eligible for this type of bankruptcy relief. If you do not meet the requirements of the Means Test then you may be precluded from filing a Chapter 7 and have the option of converting to Chapter 13 or filing a Chapter 13. Your attorney will calculate the Means Test for you after you share with him your financial information. It is important to let your attorney do this and not try to calculate it yourself.
Under Chapter 7 a Trustee takes possession of all your property. You may claim certain property as exempt under Federal and State laws. Our office will assist you in determining what is exempt. You can only exempt the value of property that is not subject to the liens of your creditors. The Trustee then liquidates the non-exempt property and uses the proceeds to pay off your creditors according to priorities of the Bankruptcy Code.
The purpose of filing a Chapter 7 is to obtain a discharge of your existing debts. If, however, you are found to have committed certain kinds of improper conduct described in the Bankruptcy Code, your discharge may be denied by the Court, and the purpose for which you filed the bankruptcy petition will be defeated.
Even if you receive a discharge, there are some debts that are not discharged under the law. Therefore, you may still be responsible for such debts as certain taxes and student loans, alimony and support payments, criminal restitution, and debts for death or personal injury caused by driving while intoxicated with alcohol or drugs.
Under certain circumstances you may be able to keep property that you have purchased subject to a valid security interest. Some of these options include what is called redemption and the renewal or reaffirmation of an existing pre-bankruptcy debt. Your attorney can explain the options that are available to you.