Bankruptcy is the legal proceeding involving a person or business that is unable to repay outstanding debts. The bankruptcy process begins with a petition filed by the debtor, which is most common, or on behalf of creditors, which is less common. All of the debtor's assets are measured and evaluated, and the assets may be used to repay a portion of outstanding debt.
It can be hard to admit you need help getting out of debt, or that you can't do it alone. But that's why our government has bankruptcy laws to protect not only the creditors, but you! If you have a nerve-racking debt-load, it may be time to face financial facts. Perhaps you've been trying to ignore the ringing phone and the pile of unpaid bills that won't go away.
Tax refunds you are entitled to receive are considered property in bankruptcy just like money in your bank account. You must disclose any anticipated tax refunds as an asset on your bankruptcy schedules. This means that if you want to keep your refund, you must be able to exempt it. If you can exempt your tax refund in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can keep it.
While bankruptcy cases are always filed in United States Bankruptcy Court (an adjunct to the U.S. District Courts), bankruptcy cases, particularly with respect to the validity of claims and exemptions, are often dependent upon State law. A Bankruptcy Exemption defines the property a debtor may retain and preserve through bankruptcy. Certain real and personal property can be exempted on "Schedule C" of a debtor's bankruptcy forms, and effectively be taken outside the debtor's bankruptcy estate. Bankruptcy exemptions are available only to individuals filing bankruptcy.
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In Canada, bankruptcy always means liquidation. There is no way for a company to emerge from bankruptcy after restructuring, as is the case in the United States with a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Canada does, however, have laws that allow for businesses to restructure and emerge later with a smaller debtload and a more positive financial future. While not technically a form of bankruptcy, businesses with $5M or more in debt may make use of the Companies Creditors' Arrangement Act to halt all debt recovery efforts against the company while they formulate a plan to restructure.
A trustee in bankruptcy must be either an Official Receiver (a civil servant) or a licensed insolvency practitioner. Current law in England and Wales derives in large part from the Insolvency Act 1986. Following the introduction of the Enterprise Act 2002, a UK bankruptcy now normally last no longer than 12 months, and may be less if the Official Receiver files in court a certificate that investigations are complete. It was expected that the UK Government's liberalization of the UK bankruptcy regime would increase the number of bankruptcy cases; initially, cases increased, as the Insolvency Service statistics appear to bear out. Since 2009, the introduction of the Debt Relief Order has resulted in a dramatic fall in bankruptcies, the latest estimates for year 2014/15 being significantly less than 30,000 cases.
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