What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Chapter Seven, also known as 'straight' bankruptcy, is a legal process whereby an individual's property is sold by a bankruptcy trustee, and the money from the sale is distributed among creditors to pay off debts. The remaining debts are discharged. Chapter Seven was designed to help people who've gotten into financial trouble because of difficult circumstances-- such as job loss or medical expenses-- get a fresh start. You may be employed, self-employed, or unemployed when filing Chapter Seven, and you don't have to be insolvent. Filing Chapter Seven puts into effect something called an 'automatic stay,' which immediately stops creditors from trying to collect what you owe them. There's no limit on the total amount of debt you may owe in order to qualify for Chapter Seven relief. You're allowed to keep certain 'exempt' property during the bankruptcy proceedings. Exempt property, according to the law, is that which is necessary for the support of you and your dependents. Chapter Seven requires you to file extensive information about your financial status with the court, which then appoints a trustee to oversee your case. After your non-exempt property is sold and your creditors have been paid by the trustee, you're discharged from the unpaid balance of most debts, except those specified by law. There are long-term consequences to filing Chapter Seven, including a listing on your consumer credit record for ten years. To find out more about Chapter Seven, contact an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy.

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