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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Learn why this is the most common type of bankruptcy and what you should know about getting a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 is the most common type of bankruptcy relief. It helps people who simply don’t make enough to make ends meet eliminate their debt while protecting their most important belongings. Learn how Chapter 7 bankruptcy works, the pros and cons of filing bankruptcy, what types of debt can’t be eliminated, and more.

This page is a hub for people looking to erase debts that they can’t afford to pay.

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Chapter 7 Means Test Calculator

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated June 29, 2022

The Chapter 7 means test is the analysis that determines whether a person can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It’s called the bankruptcy means test because, at its most basic level, it looks at whether someone has the means to pay their debts.

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What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy & Should I File?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad, Rohan PavuluriLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated April 1, 2022

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a common legal process to clear your debt, but it’s not right for everyone. Let’s take a look at some bankruptcy basics to help you learn about it and decide whether it's right for you.

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Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 2, 2021

Chapter 7 bankruptcy vs. Chapter 13 bankruptcy: Learn the differences, which type of bankruptcy is better depending on the situation, and the downsides of each.

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How Long Does A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Take?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 21, 2022

Once filed, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically takes about 4 - 6 months to complete. The bankruptcy discharge is granted 3 - 4 months after filing in most cases. 

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What Are the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Income Limits?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated June 27, 2022

Learn about the Chapter 7 bankruptcy income limits including how you may still be eligible for Chapter 7 relief under the bankruptcy means test even if your average income exceeds the median income.

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What Is the 341 Meeting of Creditors?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney John Coble
Updated April 29, 2022

The 341 meeting of creditors is a required meeting between a bankruptcy filer, the bankruptcy trustee, and sometimes creditors. It's an informal hearing held in a meeting room, not a courtroom. No judge is present. The main purpose of the meeting is for the trustee to verify the bankruptcy filer's identity and the information in their bankruptcy forms. Creditors can also attend and ask questions, but this isn't common in Chapter 7 cases.

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What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 7, 2020

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy case that can be filed by individuals, married couples, and businesses. It’s the most common type of bankruptcy and provides the fastest form of debt relief. Continue reading to learn more about how Chapter 7 bankruptcy works and what everyone filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy should know.

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How To File Bankruptcy for Free: A 10-Step Guide

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated April 20, 2022

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a powerful debt relief tool for American consumers and businesses alike. If your case is simple, you may not need a lawyer to file. Here's a 10-Step Guide on how to prepare for and get a fresh start in the form of a bankruptcy discharge.

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What Are the Pros and Cons of Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated December 12, 2021

Filing for bankruptcy offers a powerful way to eliminate debt and get a fresh start. But, as with everything there are downsides to filing bankruptcy, too. Use this article to explore the advantages and drawbacks of Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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What type of debt can I erase in Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 20, 2020

Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out most but not all debts. Learn what type of debt is erased by a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge.

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What To Expect at Your 341 Meeting of Creditors

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated May 4, 2022

In your 341 meeting of creditors, the trustee in your case will verify your identity and the information in your bankruptcy petition. Creditors can also show up to ask questions, but this is rare. In this article and video, we’ll walk you through a typical 341 meeting of creditors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Forms Explained

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 30, 2020

The Chapter 7 forms packet consists of a voluntary petition, schedules, and statements. The term “petition” is often used to describe the set of forms individuals filing for bankruptcy submit to the court. Here's a walk through of all of them.

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What is the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Timeline?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law GradLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated December 1, 2020

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be an intimidating and daunting process. Especially if it's not something you've ever dealt with before, you may not know where to begin or how it ends. Here is an overview of what to expect as you prepare for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy and what happens after your case has been filed with the bankruptcy court. 

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What Can Go Wrong at the Meeting of Creditors?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated May 25, 2022

Not much can truly go wrong at the meeting of creditors. To avoid any potential issues, make sure to bring approved documents to prove your identity and Social Security number, read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet, and review your bankruptcy petition so you can answer any questions the trustee may have about your case. If someone from the U.S. Trustee's office or a creditor's attorney shows up to ask questions, try to stay calm and just answer their questions truthfully.

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I Had My 341 Meeting. Now What?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 30, 2022

The court will grant your bankruptcy discharge 60 - 90 days after the meeting. If the trustee filed a no-asset report, the case will be closed pretty soon after the discharge is entered. Until your case is closed, make sure to keep an eye on any mail from the court or the trustee so you don’t miss anything important.

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Trustee's Report of No Distribution & What It Means For Your Case

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 29, 2022

The Trustee's Report of No Distribution, or NDR, lets the court and all interested parties know that no money will be paid to creditors.

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Best Do It Yourself Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Software

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated November 10, 2020

Bankruptcy doesn't have to be expensive or confusing. You can use do-it-yourself Chapter 7 bankruptcy software online. Check out Upsolve to get started with our free bankruptcy process.

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Five Essential Tips to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated December 29, 2020

Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not have to be complicated. Follow these 5 essential tips to make sure you have a successful case.

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What are the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Rules?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 23, 2020

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules are not as difficult to understand as you might believe, but there’s quite a few of them. Keep reading to get a basic understanding of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules and ensure a successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

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Filing for Bankruptcy with Electronic Self-Representation (ESR)

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

This article provides an overview of Electronic Self-Representation and how you can use it to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy by yourself without the help of an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, but don't want to go through the process on your own, Upsolve may be able to help!

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How Will Chapter 7 Affect My Employment?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 22, 2020

You cannot be fired simply because you filed for bankruptcy. In fact, employers usually don’t learn about it and it is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on your past filing history.

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Requirements for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 30, 2020

Deciding to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy should involve a review of everything that is required to successfully get a bankruptcy discharge after the bankruptcy filing. What follows is an overview of the requirements to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and the requirements to getting your Chapter 7 discharge.

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How Do I Prepare for Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated September 3, 2020

It may be helpful to take these steps to prepare for filing for bankruptcy, whether you're working with a bankruptcy attorney or filing on your own online.

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What Happens After Filing for Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated October 2, 2021

Knowing what happens after you file bankruptcy can make it seem less intimidating. Read on to learn about filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the meeting of creditors, keeping your car, and why creditors must stop contacting you after filing.

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10 Tips for DIY Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated November 10, 2020

Looking for a way to do a DIY Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? Here’s 10 tips to make sure you DIY Chapter 7 bankruptcy goes off without a hitch.

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Where Can I Find Free Bankruptcy Chapter 7 Forms?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated December 1, 2020

Filing for bankruptcy can seem confusing, and the paperwork itself can be daunting. Find the bankrutpcy forms for free.

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Finding Bankruptcy Paperwork for your Chapter 7 Case

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated December 1, 2020

Filing for bankruptcy can be complicated. This article gives tips on how to find the right paperwork to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Is Filing for Bankruptcy Bad?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney John Coble
Updated May 4, 2022

Bankruptcy has gotten a negative reputation over the years. But there are many benefits to filing for bankruptcy that don't get as much attention as the drawbacks. Depending on your situation, filing bankruptcy can sometimes be the best course of action.

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How Bankruptcy Affects Credit Score

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated September 22, 2021

There are a lot of misconceptions about the ways bankruptcy affects credit score. In this article, we'll dispel some of these myths and provide information on how to improve your credit score after bankruptcy.

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Can I Get a Job, Housing, and Benefits if I File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 2, 2022

Many people worry that filing bankruptcy will have a negative impact on their housing, job, and other important opportunities. The truth is that the vast majority of bankruptcy filers keep their day-to-day lives intact without issue. The law protects you from being fired for filing bankruptcy, and you can still receive public benefits.

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What is bankruptcy fraud?

Written by Attorney Kassandra KuehlLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated December 18, 2020

Bankruptcy fraud is a broad term that describes a variety of actions that filers sometimes take to get an unfair advantage. Depending on what form that fraud takes, it’s considered a crime and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a (non-dischargeable) fine of up to $250,000. This article will explore some common types of bankruptcy fraud.

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Should I File Bankruptcy Before Getting Married?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 9, 2022

If you’re planning to get married and you also need to deal with debt, you’re probably wondering when to file bankruptcy and how it will affect your spouse. There are pros and cons to filing for bankruptcy before marriage as well as filing after marriage. If you want to start your marriage with a clean financial slate and you qualify for Chapter 7, that’s a relatively quick way to achieve that goal. If you already have joint debts with your spouse-to-be, you may want to file after you get married to take advantage of more generous exemptions.

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What is an Emergency Bankruptcy Filing?

Written by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated March 10, 2022

An emergency bankruptcy filing is when you file only the minimum required forms to get a bankruptcy case going. It helps you file your case quickly. Emergency filings are helpful if you need to stop serious collection measures like repossession, foreclosure, or wage garnishment. Once you file an emergency bankruptcy case, you need to complete the remaining paperwork within 14 days or you risk having your case dismissed.

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Will my family, who I live with for free, learn about my bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 22, 2020

Probably not. In general, family members are not notified of your bankruptcy unless (1) you owe them money, (2) they are jointly liable for one of your debts, or (3) you have a continuing contract or lease with them.

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If I'm a widow, do I need to list my deceased spouse on my forms?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 22, 2020

If your former spouse earned taxable income in the current year or the two years prior, you will need to list that income on your bankruptcy forms. You do not need to list any income that they earned prior to this time period, and __*you do not need to list them as a member of your household.*__

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What is an "Official Form 309A -- No Proof of Claim?"

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated August 7, 2020

The court sends this document to the creditors you listed on your bankruptcy paperwork when you file. It gives each creditor important information about your case and tells them what they need to do if they have a reasonable objection to your bankruptcy.

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Can the trustee seize money that I received after I filed?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 30, 2020

Whether the trustee can take money you receive after filing your case depends on whether you were entitled to the money at the time your case was filed and how it was listed on your forms, if at all.

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How do I prepare for my hearing?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 29, 2020

Your bankruptcy process will include at least one (the 341 meeting), and likely two (fee waiver) hearings. Here are some of the most common hearing types you might encounter along the way to your fresh start.

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How To Deal With Creditors That Contact You After You File Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Curtis Lee
Updated May 17, 2022

If a debt collector contacts you after you've filed your bankruptcy case, you'll first want to make sure they know about your case. If it's been less than two weeks since you filed, they may not have been informed yet. If they weren't aware, let them know. If they indicate they know you filed bankruptcy but they refuse to stop trying to collect the debt, you can notify the bankruptcy court or speak with an attorney. Creditors aren't allowed to contact you after you file your case because of the automatic stay.

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Should I Update My Forms If I Get a New Job Before Filing?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 8, 2020

Congratulations on your new job! If you haven't filed yet, and you really don't know what your monthly income will be until your first paycheck comes in, you have one of two options for how to handle this.

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I missed my 341 Meeting! What should I do now?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

If you miss your scheduled 341 Meeting it is imperative that you speak with your assigned trustee ASAP and reschedule!

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Does Bankruptcy Clear Judgments?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated March 29, 2022

When a creditor or debt collector gets a judgment against you, it's dischargeable as long as the original debt was dischargeable. The question becomes a bit more complicated if the creditor gets a judgment lien on your property. Here’s how it works.

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3 Steps To Getting a Fee Waiver in Bankruptcy Court (Guide)

Written by Attorney Karra Kingston
Updated April 22, 2022

If you can’t pay the filing fee, you may be able to get the filing fee waived, if you’re eligible, or pay the fee in installments after filing your bankruptcy case, once you’re protected by the automatic stay. Here we discuss the different fee-waiver forms you will need and how to fill them out.

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If I tell the trustee I forgot to list a creditor will she reschedule my 341?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

In most cases, no.  Although you can mention it during the 341 meeting. Trustees are usually concerned with assets that can be distributed to creditors, more than debts.

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3 Things You Should Know About Bankruptcy Course 2

Written by Amy CarstLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 3, 2020

Every individual seeking bankruptcy relief must complete two educational courses: The credit counseling course is completed before the bankruptcy petition is filed with the court. The second course, on the other hand, can’t be completed until after the case has been filed. Without completing both courses, a bankruptcy filer cannot get their bankruptcy discharge. Here are 3 things you should know about the personal financial management course, including how it's different from credit counseling.

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How do I know if my fee is waived?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated November 30, 2020

For the court filing fee, you'll get a notice in the mail that tells you if your fee is waived.

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What To Bring To Your 341 Meeting Of Creditors

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated September 3, 2020

You should bring your ID and social security card.

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When is the trustee meeting, also called my 341 meeting?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 22, 2020

Your trustee meeting will take place between 21 and 40 days after you file for bankruptcy. 

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Where can I find my case number?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated July 22, 2020

You can find your case number on your paperwork that you get back from the court after you file for bankruptcy. 

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Will someone show up in court against me?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

In virtually all Chapter 7 cases that do not involve expensive property, no creditors show up to court against you. It's very, very, very unlikely that anybody will show up in court against you. 

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How do I find out who my trustee is?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

You find out who your trustee is after you file your bankruptcy paperwork. You'll either learn right away from the court who your trustee is, or you'll get mail a few days later with your trustee's information.  

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I received a letter for a 341 meeting. What is this?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

A 341 meeting is the same as the meeting of the creditors. This is the meeting between you and the trustee who oversees your case. It usually takes place at your local court. 

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I received a letter for a Meeting of Creditors. What is this?

Written by Kristin Turner, Harvard Law Grad
Updated July 22, 2020

Your meeting of creditors is the meeting that takes place at the court between you and your trustee. This is also known as a 341 meeting. 

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Will filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy affect my spouse?

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated October 2, 2021

If you’re filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and your spouse is not, you may be wondering whether they are going to be affected. The short answer is that if your debts are separate, their credit will not be impacted.

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Can I Amend My Bankruptcy Forms After I File?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated July 2, 2022

If you make a mistake or accidentally leave information out of your bankruptcy forms, you can almost always amend them after you file. The trustee in your bankruptcy case may also ask you to file an amendment after meeting with you in your 341 meeting. Be sure to fill out the amended forms carefully with the correct information and follow any local court rules to submit the amended forms. Most amended forms don't require a filing fee.

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What To Do If A Creditor Violates The Automatic Stay

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 3, 2020

The automatic stay goes into effect as soon as your bankruptcy petition has been filed with the court and a case-number assigned to your case. The automatic stay prohibits creditors from trying to collect a debt from you. Creditors and their attorneys know that the bankruptcy court can order them to pay sanctions to the bankruptcy filer if they violate the automatic stay.

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Why Is the Trustee Asking Creditors To File a Proof of Claim?

Written by Attorney Curtis Lee
Updated May 17, 2022

If your bankruptcy trustee is asking your creditors to file a proof of claim, it’s likely because the trustee discovered non-exempt assets in your case. Most Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are no-asset cases. But if you have non-exempt property or assets, the trustee can liquidate or sell them. The funds from the sale are then used to repay your creditors at least part of what you owe. If a creditor wants to recover money through the liquidation process, they have to file paperwork called a proof of claim.

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When Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Better Than Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated June 29, 2022

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy can both provide debt relief, but they have different timelines and eligibility requirements. People who have a lot of unsecured debt and don't make too much income to qualify often choose to file Chapter 7. People who make too much income to qualify for Chapter 7 or who own secured property like a home or car may file Chapter 13 instead.

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How to File Chapter 7 with No Money?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 8, 2022

Even though there are bankruptcy fees in the form of court fees, credit counseling course fees, and attorneys fee, eligible filers can file their Chapter 7 bankruptcy for free.

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Bankruptcy Case Dismissals & How To Avoid Them

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 20, 2020

Many worry that their case won’t be accepted if they file bankruptcy without the help of a bankruptcy lawyer. Even though it’s scary to think that this may happen, it doesn’t really work that way. You are allowed to file bankruptcy without a lawyer. And, as long as you follow the bankruptcy court’s instructions and complete all required steps, the risk of having your case dismissed is actually pretty low.

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I got my Chapter 7 discharge! Now what?

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated October 1, 2021

Monitor your credit report, stick to a budget, live within your means, rebuild your credit and live your life with a fresh start!

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What To Do If Creditors Are Calling After A Bankruptcy Filing

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 30, 2020

Find out what to do if a creditor keeps contacting you even after your bankruptcy has been filed.

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What To Do if the Trustee Says You Owe Money to the Estate

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated August 29, 2022

If you own property that's not protected, or not fully protected, by exemptions, you may owe money to your bankruptcy estate. You can either pay the money into the estate and keep the property or asset, or you can surrender the property, keep the exempted amount, and not have to pay into the estate.

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How To Pass the Chapter 7 Means Test

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated May 25, 2022

To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you need to pass a means test. In the test, you compare your income with the median income of a similar size household in your state. If your income is lower, you pass the test. If it’s higher, you have to move on to the next step in the means test, which takes your expenses and disposable income into account.

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What is a Bankruptcy Discharge?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated July 22, 2020

The bankruptcy discharge is the order from the bankruptcy court that relieves the filer of the obligation to pay their discharged debts. It also prohibits creditors from ever trying to collect on that debt ever again. In other words, the discharge is a filer’s main goal in a bankruptcy, whether that’s a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Let’s take a closer look at how this all works, what debts can’t be discharged, and what this all means for you.

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Is Filing for Bankruptcy Worth It?

Written by the Upsolve Team
Updated June 8, 2022

Filing bankruptcy gives you immediate protection from your creditors and a financial fresh start by wiping out certain debts like credit card debt, payday loans, and medical debt. If your wages are being garnished or credit card companies and payday lenders are harassing you to collect payments you can't afford to pay, filing bankruptcy may be the best way to get permanent relief. But if most of your debts are non-dischargeable, filing bankruptcy may not be worth it.

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What Happens If I Declare Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 3, 2022

Overview of what to expect after declaring bankruptcy, including types of bankruptcy, the immediate debt relief benefits of filing bankruptcy, and important information about the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.

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Verification of Creditor Matrix Explained

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

Learn about the verification of creditor matrix.

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What Does a Bankruptcy Discharge Do?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated June 30, 2022

A bankruptcy discharge is a court order that wipes out certain debts like credit card debts and medical bills. Once you receive a discharge, you're no longer legally obligated to repay the debts that were discharged. Some debts, like those that are secured by collateral, can only be discharged if you give up the collateral. In Chapter 7 cases, dischargeable debts will be eliminated in a matter of months. In Chapter 13 cases, the filers must complete their 3-5 year payment plan before their dischargeable debts are eliminated.

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Do I Need To Include My Spouse’s Income and Expenses on My Bankruptcy Forms?

Written by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated June 17, 2022

If you and your spouse are filing a joint bankruptcy, you have to include their income and expenses on all of the required bankruptcy forms. If you and your spouse live together, but your spouse isn’t filing bankruptcy with you, you still need to include their income and expenses on Schedules I and J and your Statement of Current Monthly Income.

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How to Fix a Mistake on your Bankruptcy Forms After Filing

Written by Attorney Karra Kingston
Updated December 9, 2021

When you file for bankruptcy and submit your forms you testify under oath that your forms are true and correct. If your bankruptcy forms have inaccuracies and you don’t fix your mistake, the Bankruptcy Court may assume that you’re purposely trying to hide information. Making an amendment to your forms is simple and shows the Court that you made a mistake.

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Filing bankruptcy while self-employed

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 26, 2020

Explore the two most typical ways individuals own businesses, and how it impacts your options when it comes to getting lasting debt relief through a personal Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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What Is the Presumption of Abuse in Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Curtis Lee
Updated June 1, 2022

You need to meet certain eligibility requirements to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your income is higher than the median income for a similar-sized household in your state, this flags the bankruptcy court of a "presumption of abuse." This doesn't mean you can't file Chapter 7 or that you've abused the system. It does mean you must do more calculations as part of the means test to prove that you don't make enough money to repay your debts and that you aren't taking advantage of the bankruptcy process.

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How To Update A Creditor’s Address After Filing

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 6, 2020

If a creditor’s address is incorrect on the creditor matrix, the court’s notices to the creditor will be returned as undeliverable. Follow these steps to make sure this is corrected.

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Can I file bankruptcy with my deceased spouse?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

No, you can't file bankruptcy jointly with your late spouse. But, you can (and should) make sure that all of their debts are listed on your schedules so any payment obligation you may have to the creditors can be discharged in as part of your case.

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My children receive social security benefits. Do I include this as income in my bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

There are two locations in your bankruptcy forms where income has to be disclosed, the means test and your Schedule I. This article explores whether and when you should include social security benefits your child receives as part of your household income in your bankruptcy forms.

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Discharge vs. Dismissal: What's the Difference?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated September 19, 2022

When filing bankruptcy for the first time, many people get confused about the different terms lawyers and courts use. Two words that frequently confuse first-time filers are “dismissed” and “discharged.” This article explains each term, what the differences are, and when lawyers and the court are most likely to use them when referring to your case.

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Is It Legal To File a Second Bankruptcy Case?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated April 6, 2022

You can file bankruptcy as many times as you need to, but you usually have to wait between filings. The waiting period depends on several factors, including whether the initial bankruptcy case was dismissed or discharged, what chapter you filed in the first case, and what chapter you plan to file in your second bankruptcy case.

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What Does "The Automatic Stay Has Been Lifted" Mean?

Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice
Updated June 23, 2022

The automatic stay is one of the main benefits of filing for bankruptcy. It provides the filer with immediate protection from their creditors, which means all collection calls have to stop, garnishments have to stop, and foreclosures can’t go forward. If the automatic stay is lifted, that means the bankruptcy filer loses all those protections.

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What to do if your income increases after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 22, 2020

The first thing you should do is give yourself a high five. Whether you found a new job or got a raise in your old job, getting paid more this week than last week is always a good thing! If you’re a few months into your case, then you don’t have to do anything. If it changed shortly after your case was filed, wait for the creditors’ meeting and let the trustee know during the meeting that your income has changed. Depending on how much it changed, they may say don’t worry about it or request that you file updated forms. 

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Objection to Discharge

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 17, 2020

Although it doesn’t happen in most consumer cases, creditors have the ability to object to having their debt discharged. Some debts are not dischargeable by default. Others become non-dischargeable once a creditor objects and the court finds that cause exists to exclude a certain debt from being discharged. This article will explore why an unsecured creditor - like a credit card company or bank - would object to a discharge and how the process works.

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Disability and Bankruptcy

Written by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated March 7, 2022

If you receive disability benefits, they could affect your bankruptcy in two ways. First, they can impact your monthly income calculation on some of your bankruptcy paperwork. Second, if you have disability benefits in a bank account when you file, you may need to use exemptions to protect and keep these funds. This article covers when and how to report disability benefits as income, and how to deal with any lump-sum disability payments you have on hand when you file a bankruptcy case.

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What should I do if I don't perfectly remember my expenses?

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 13, 2022

Do your best to estimate them and don't get too sidetracked by trying to be perfect. It can be tough to know exactly how much you’re spending on certain expenses. This is especially true if you have been cutting back on your regular living expenses while trying to stay afloat. This article explains some ways you can use to calculate your expenses for your bankruptcy forms.

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How To Check The Status Of Your Fee Waiver Application

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 10, 2021

Anyone who earns less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines is eligible to apply for a fee waiver. But, that doesn’t automatically mean they will receive one. The judge decides whether to grant a fee waiver based on the information contained in the fee waiver application.

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How Will Filing Bankruptcy Affect My Children?

Written by Attorney John Coble
Updated July 22, 2020

If you’re a parent, your children are the most important parts of your life. You don’t want to do anything that could harm their futures. If you’re considering bankruptcy, you may be worried about the impact this will have on your children. The good news is that for those who need to file bankruptcy, the positive impact on your family will far outweigh any inconveniences. This guide examines the issues that could impact your minor children.

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Can I file bankruptcy without my spouse?

Written by Attorney Eva BaceviceLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 23, 2022

If you’re married, you can file bankruptcy with or without your spouse. Filing individually doesn’t mean your spouse won’t be impacted. Before you choose to file individually or jointly, you’ll want to consider many factors, including what debts and assets you have together, whether you co-mingle your finances, and if there’s a prenuptial agreement.

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What to do if you have to get something notarized for your bankruptcy case

Written by the Upsolve Team
Updated July 22, 2020

While it’s not common in bankruptcy cases, there are occasions when a filer may be required to submit a document with a notarized signature. When a signature is notarized, the notary public has confirmed the identity of the person signing the document and made sure that the person is signing the document voluntarily. 

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Chapter 7 Document Checklist

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated November 11, 2020

Filing bankruptcy is a very document intensive process. In this article, we’ll look at what documents you’ll need to gather to ensure your case proceeds smoothly and without unnecessary complications.

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Is the Money I Make From Self-Employment Considered Business Income, and How Will This Affect My Bankruptcy?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney John Coble
Updated October 12, 2022

If you're self-employed (as a sole proprietor, gig worker, or independent contractor) and you're struggling with business or personal debt, you can file personal bankruptcy like Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. If you have a separate business entity like an LLC or corporation, you also have the option to put your business into bankruptcy.

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How To Calculate Your Income for Your Bankruptcy Forms if You’re Self-Employed

Written by the Upsolve Team
Updated September 30, 2022

If you're self-employed, you probably don't get regular paycheck stubs. This can make it trickier to figure out your income, which you'll need to do to file for bankruptcy. You'll also want to know your business expenses, so you can calculate your net income. This article explains how to calculate your income if you're a sole proprietor, gig worker, or independent contractor.

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What Happens After the 341 Meeting of Creditors?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney John Coble
Updated May 4, 2022

Completing your meeting of creditors is a milestone in the bankruptcy process. But you still need to finish your financial management course and submit your certificate of completion to the court (if you haven't already). You also have to wait for some court-required deadlines to pass and comply with any information requests from your trustee. Though it won't apply to every filer, if you have an installment payment plan for the court filing fee or you're entering into a reaffirmation agreement with a creditor, you'll need to follow up on those as well.

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What Your Bank Statements Tell the Bankruptcy Trustee

Written by Attorney Karra Kingston
Updated December 6, 2021

Even though it is not a formal requirement under the Bankruptcy Code, most Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees ask filers to provide them with a copy of their bank account statement before the 341 meeting. Many ask for the statement that covers the filing date while some request several months of bank statements. Why are the trustees requesting this information?  It’s not to see how much you spent on take-out last month or to judge you for buying your lunch at the QuickTrip by your work every day. Instead, they’re looking for information that may not be anywhere else on your bankruptcy forms. Let’s find out what that might be! 

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Will filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy help you? Consider this...

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated July 30, 2020

Filing bankruptcy allows you to eliminate your debts - credit cards, car loans, bank loans, medical bills etc. While eliminating these payments will inevitably help your household budget, it won’t change the here and now. You’ll still be responsible for rent, utilities, insurance, groceries and really all other living expenses. Remember, filing bankruptcy does not change your income. If you made $0/mo. before filing your case, you’ll still be making $0/mo. afterwards.

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What Is My Bankruptcy Discharge Date?

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated February 22, 2022

The ultimate goal of bankruptcy is to get a discharge order, which wipes out debts like credit cards and medical bills. Along with your bankruptcy case number, keep your discharge date handy in case you’re contacted about a debt that was discharged.

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My Bankruptcy Was Dismissed. What Happens Now?

Written by Attorney Kassandra Kuehl
Updated September 13, 2022

Your bankruptcy case may be dismissed if you don't complete all your obligations as a bankruptcy filer under the Bankruptcy Code. This includes filing all your forms correctly and completely, doing your required credit counseling and debt management courses, and going to the 341 meeting with your trustee. If you file Chapter 13, you also need to stick with your approved repayment plan. If you don't do all this, you risk having your case dismissed.

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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Basics: Why & When is Property Liquidated?

Written by Attorney Kassandra Kuehl
Updated August 11, 2020

A bankruptcy liquidation is the process by which a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee sells the filer’s assets to repay unsecured debts, such as credit cards, child support, or tax debt, as part of a bankruptcy filing. Let’s take a closer look at when a Chapter 7 case takes the form of a true “liquidation” bankruptcy.

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Debt Collection After a Bankruptcy Discharge

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated May 9, 2022

A bankruptcy discharge order is a court order that stops creditors from ever being able to collect on dischargeable debts. Despite this powerful court order, some collection agencies or creditors try to collect on discharged debts, which is illegal. It’s important to know which debts creditors can still contact you about after bankruptcy and how to stop debt collectors that violate the discharge order.

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Should I Tell Creditors I’m Going To File Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated April 6, 2022

Some people believe telling their creditors they plan to file bankruptcy will stop collection efforts or help them settle their debt. This often isn’t the case though. Telling your creditors about a pending bankruptcy filing can have negative consequences like repossession or ramped-up collection efforts. Read this article to learn more about the pros and cons of telling your creditors that you plan to file bankruptcy.

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Is It A Good Idea To Delay Filing Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated June 24, 2022

In a bankruptcy case, you'll list your income, debt, and property. If you've recently experienced changes to any of these, you may want to delay your filing to avoid negative consequences. Changes could include continuing to accumulate debt, a change in income, selling a piece of property, or getting an inheritance. Only you can decide the best time to file bankruptcy, but if you've experienced any of these or other events listed in this article, you may want to consider waiting to file so you can get the most out of your bankruptcy discharge.

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Do I have to pay the $338 filing fee?

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts
Updated December 9, 2020

You generally have to pay the fee if you earn above 150% of the poverty line for your state, and you generally don't have to pay the fee if you earn below 150% of the poverty line.

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What Is a Bankruptcy Audit?

Written by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated November 16, 2022

The majority of bankruptcy filers provide the most accurate financial information they can to the court and bankruptcy trustee. But incorrect information can still find its way to the bankruptcy proceeding. Most of the time, these mistakes are accidental, but sometimes they’re deliberate. To help find these mistakes, the U.S. Trustee Program hires outside auditing companies to conduct a detailed review of select bankruptcy petitions.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.