Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common type of bankruptcy filing, but very few people understand how this process works. If you're considering bankruptcy for debt relief, it's important to understand your options.

About Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is a proceeding under federal law in which the debtor seeks relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.  Chapter 7 is that part (or chapter) of the Bankruptcy Code that deals with liquidation. Sometimes, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy.

A person who files a Chapter 7 case is called a debtor. The debtor must pass a means test to determine if he or she lacks the resources to pay the existing debts. This involves filing a document called Statement of Current Monthly Income and Means Test Calculation that shows the person’s current monthly income and the current monthly expenses that the person is allowed to claim. From this document, a person’s current monthly disposable income is calculated in relation to debt payments. If the means testing fails, the case will be dismissed or the person can choose to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. 

In a Chapter 7 case, the debtor must turn his or her nonexempt property, if any exists. Exemptions are given for a number of assets, including a person's home, vehicle, household furnishings, clothing, and tools of the trade. Each exemption has a dollar value attached, but the exemptions can be doubled when a married couple files together. 

When the non-exempt property is turned over, the trustee then converts the property to cash and pays the debtor’s creditors. Priority is given to:

  • Domestic support obligations
  • Administrative expenses
  • Claims for wages, salaries, and contributions to employee benefit plans
  • Claims for the refund of certain deposits
  • Tax claims

In return, the debtor receives a Chapter 7 discharge of the remaining debt if he or she pays the filing fee, is eligible for the discharge, and obeys the orders and rules of the bankruptcy court.

How Steffens Law Office Can Help

At Steffens Law Office, we understand that financial troubles can happen to anyone. Even if you watch your budget carefully, medical bills and other unexpected expenses can leave you drowning in debt. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn more about how the Nebraska Chapter 7 bankruptcy process can help you get a fresh financial start.