Bankruptcy

The most common reaction we see among people when they hear the word “bankruptcy” is fear. Fear that all they’ve worked for will be lost. Fear that they won’t recover from the event. The fear of never having credit again. But as Franklin Roosevelt said, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

First some simple terms need defining. If you file bankruptcy you are a Debtor. The people you owe money to are your Creditors. In most every case the person appointed to administer and supervise your case is the Trustee. Each chapter of Bankruptcy has different trustees with different powers and duties. We can help you understand exactly what they can and cannot do in your case. For more information on the different trustees, see our Resources page. 

The most favorable outcome to any bankruptcy case is to receive a discharge. A discharge is an order of the Bankruptcy Court that prevents the collection of any debt that remains unpaid after your bankruptcy case is fully administered. It is the best news in a case and happens in the vast majority of the cases filed.

Every bankruptcy case is different. Our attorneys help you know what you can keep and what can be reasonably expected to be lost and what your prospects are in regard to receiving a discharge. A bankruptcy attorney will work with you to figure out which type of bankruptcy you qualify for, and the best approach to each type.

Discussing Chapter 7…

Chapter 7 is the liquidation type of bankruptcy in which assets are sold to pay creditors. In the vast majority of cases assets will be entirely exempt. An exemption is an asset that may be kept in a bankruptcy, like a car or a home or your retirement account. Most people pass through bankruptcy retaining all of their assets. If your car or your house are not paid for yet then you may agree to continue to pay the debt associated with that asset so you can keep it and one day own it. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is available for individuals, married couples, and businesses and corporations.

Discussing Chapter 13…

In some cases if your household income is more than the average income for a household of your size in Arkansas then your eligibility for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy may be limited. In that event you can still receive relief from your debts by filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy which is a court approved payment plan to creditors for a period of time not less than 36 months nor more than 60 months. Your payments are based on your income. If at the end of your case not all debts are paid in full the part unpaid will be discharged. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is available only to individuals or married couples. 

Discussing Chapter 12…

Family farmers and commercial fishermen have their own chapter of bankruptcy, Chapter 12 Reorganization. It is really the most powerful part of bankruptcy law. Perhaps because of its limited eligibility it has the greatest power to change the relationship between your creditors and you.

Discussing Chapter 11…

The other common chapter of bankruptcy is Chapter 11 Reorganization. Chapter 11 Reorganization is most commonly used to reorganize the debt and business affairs of corporations but it is available for individuals as well.

Our main goal in your case is to first educate you. We will help you understand what has happened to you, what you can do about it, and what the reasonably anticipated outcome will be in a bankruptcy filing. We have an intensive case intake process and we provide ample support to you as you gather up the many documents that we need to prepare your case.

Other Terms Commonly Used in Bankruptcy

Automatic Stay

An injunction that automatically stops lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishments, and all collection activity against the debtor the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed.

Bankruptcy Estate

All legal or equitable interests of the debtor in property at the time of the bankruptcy filing. (The estate includes all property in which the debtor has an interest, even if it is owned or held by another person.)

Bankruptcy “Petition”

The document filed by the debtor (in a voluntary case) or by creditors (in an involuntary case) by which opens the bankruptcy case. (There are official forms for bankruptcy petitions.)

Claim

A creditor's assertion of a right to payment from the debtor or the debtor's property.

Credit Counseling

Generally refers to two events in individual bankruptcy cases: (1) the "individual or group briefing" from a nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency that individual debtors must attend prior to filing under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code; and (2) the "instructional course in personal financial management" in chapters 7 and 13 that an individual debtor must complete before a discharge is entered. There are exceptions to both requirements for certain categories of debtors, exigent circumstances, or if the U.S. trustee or bankruptcy administrator have determined that there are insufficient approved credit counseling agencies available to provide the necessary counseling.

Schedules

Detailed lists filed by the debtor along with (or shortly after filing) the petition showing the debtor's assets, liabilities, and other financial information. (There are official forms a debtor must use.)