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What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy vs Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy vs Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy can be very intimidating for anyone involved in the process. The actual steps involved with filing and obtaining bankruptcy vary from state to state. The type of bankruptcy you file will depend on how much debt you have and your ability to pay off any of the remaining debt. The two most common types of bankruptcy today are known as Chapter 7 and Chapter 11. The names come from the chapters in the law books where they are located. Even though your attorney will go over which type of bankruptcy will work best for you or your business, it is still important to understand the differences.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Also known as liquidation bankruptcy, Chapter 7 is designed for individuals or corporations that cannot make payments to their creditors due to their expenses far outweighing their income. This is determined by a means test. Normally, if you earn less than the median income for a family of your size within your state of residence you will qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy laws require that all creditors stop collection efforts as soon as you file and also prevents them from filing new lawsuits against you in the future. Under Chapter 7, certain property is exempt from your creditors' claims, meaning you get to keep it. Some of the exempt property includes:
  • Your place of residence
  • Social security, veterans benefits and disability
  • Tools and books required for your profession
  • Health aids that have been prescribed by a doctor
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 11 allows for reorganization and has no limits on the amount of debt or income the individual or business has. For this reason, Chapter 11 is popular with large corporations that wish to restructure their debt so they can more easily make their payments to creditors. Under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the debtor gets to keep all of their assets and continue to operate their business under court-appointed supervision to help benefit their creditors. Because of the flexibility of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it is also more expensive for the debtor and is often less successful.

In short, if you have a lot of creditors that rely on your monthly payments, as well as the income to realign your payment structure the courts may agree to Chapter 11 bankruptcy. For most individuals, however, Chapter 7 offers a clean slate that will make it easier to rebuild your credit rating in the future.

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