Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code is used to liquidate the estate of individuals and corporations. It provides for the orderly distribution of non-exempt assets to creditors in an equitable manner and in the proper priorities as defined by law.
That answers everything, right? Well, no, probably not.
For most people who file, Chapter 7 is a method of eliminating debt while protecting assets that fall under their state’s exemptions. For many, Chapter 7 is an almost immediate fresh start. Most debts are eliminated, most assets protected, and most importantly, the creditor harassment stops.
But, I said most debts are eliminated, and not all. Too true. Part of the bankruptcy code stops some types of debts from being discharged. You’ve probably heard of some of these: student loans, child support, alimony, and taxes. There are others as well, including debt incurred by fraud or false pretenses, liability for a willful or malicious injury, fines and penalties payable to the government. Most people don’t owe these types of debts, which is good.
I also said “most assets,” as well. Each state was given the power to decide for the people who live there what they should be able to keep to have a fresh start, but not so much that it’s a windfall. Maryland exemptions are actually improving. Maryland finally adopted a homestead equity exemption a few years ago, allowing more homeowners to protect what equity the current economy allows them to have. Prior to this adoption only married Marylanders who owned their homes as Tenants by the Entirety (TxE) and were not co-signed on any debts could protect the equity in their homes. Combined with a fairly generous personal property and wild card exemption, the fresh start in Maryland isn’t too bad.
If you want to know more about Chapter 7 in Maryland, or to review your specific circumstances to see if Chapter 7 is right for you, please call us today or click through our contact form. We’d love to hear from you.
We are the Grafton Firm; we are Baltimore bankruptcy lawyers serving all of Maryland.
Steps to a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Maryland:
- Meet with the Maryland Bankruptcy Attorneys at the Grafton Firm to discuss your qualifications for bankruptcy and learn what debts are eligible for discharge under the Bankruptcy Code
- The Grafton Firm will draft a Bankruptcy Petition for you to review
- When ready, we will file the Petition on your behalf
- An “automatic stay” is imposed meaning that from this point forward your creditors can no longer contact you for money except under very limited circumstances
- A Trustee will be appointed from the Bankruptcy Court. His/her role is to read the petition and ask you questions under oath about your property, debts, and other financial issues. The Grafton Firm will represent you at this meeting with the Trustee. The Trustee will take possession of any non-exempt property you may have and will use that to settle any debts possible; the remaining eligible debts will be discharged.
- Approximately 60 days after meeting with the Trustee, your bankruptcy is completed and all eligible debts will have been paid or discharged.