Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a common procedure for individuals seeking debt relief.  It is a legal process that allows individuals relief from overwhelming debt based on a meeting a set criteria.  Factors such as current income, amount of debt and the standings of their financial situation.  Debt situations can arise and burden individuals for a number of reasons; large medical bills, overextended credit and many other reasons.

When an individual decides that their debt has become overwhelming and declares bankruptcy they can expect the entire process to take about three to six months.  An individual may file bankruptcy once every eight years.

In order to file bankruptcy an individual must qualify and meet a standard of bankruptcy requirements. When individuals want to file for bankruptcy they must pass a means test first.  Individuals with income less than the state median for the state in which you live for a family the comparable size as yours qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Another means test is if you find yourself with an income greater than the median for the state but unable to pay one hundred dollars towards your debt for the next five years.  You will not qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcies if you make more than the median income for the state in which you are filing bankruptcy for a family the same size as yours and you have the financial means to pay one hundred dollars towards your debt for the next five years.  This is a good guideline to follow when looking into chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Otherwise you can look into chapter 13 bankruptcy.

During a chapter 7 bankruptcy assets are liquidated and sold to alleviate some of the debt you are responsible for to your creditors.  It is important to know that not all property has to be included in a chapter 7 bankruptcy some is exempt.  One of these exceptions is the homestead exception.  The homestead exception applies if there isn’t any equity in your home.  Under this circumstance you may keep the home and your current mortgage.  However, the payments on the home must be brought up to date before the bankruptcy hearing.

Another exception is a vehicle exception.  If the value on your vehicle is less than the remaining loan amount plus the allowed exception individuals may keep your vehicle.  Otherwise if the value is more than that amount you may be able to work out a deal with the bankruptcy trustee to actually buy the equity in the car yourself instead of someone else.

The final exception is a retirement exemption.   During a chapter 7 bankruptcy your retirement assets are not allowed to be counted towards your bankruptcy estate.  This protects pensions, 401k, IRA and Roth IRA accounts.

When filing chapter 7 bankruptcies there are certain debts that are unforgivable.  Typically trustees will not forgive debt associated with child support, federal and state taxes, HOA fees or debt accrued through student loans.  Even without these loans and debts being forgiven it is possible to catch up on them when individuals have been forgiven in other areas of debt.  Another reason debt would not be forgiven is if it was accrued during criminal activity or if injury or death was caused during the use of drugs and alcohol.  Any debt left off or neglected to be associated with the original filing of chapter 7 bankruptcy is also not forgivable.