What is bankruptcy?

“Bankruptcy” refers to a national set of laws (the “Bankruptcy Code,” which is codified in Title 11 of the United States Code), designed to help certain individuals and businesses reorganize their financial affairs to achieve a fresh start.  Bankruptcy laws give the debtor protection and benefits that are generally not available outside of bankruptcy.  Most notably, once a bankruptcy case is filed existing creditors typically must stop all collection efforts against the debtor and the debt may be forgiven if the debtor obtains a discharge. The bankruptcy laws require that the debtor make a full disclosure of all assets, liabilities and other financial information, and generally the debtor either (1) surrenders non-exempt assets for liquidation and distribution to creditors or (2) formulates and proceeds under a plan of reorganization and debt repayment that provides creditors with at least as much as they would receive if the debtor’s non-exempt assets were liquidated and distributed to creditors.