Without a doubt, Chapter 7 is the most widely known and popular bankruptcy chapter.  Everyone has heard of Chapter 7 and the ability to get rid of your debt within a 3 to 4 month period.  In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must disclose all of your debt and all of your assets to the bankruptcy court.  You must also disclose any financial transactions such as a transfer of real property, transfer of a car, gifts of money, or repayment of a debt to relatives or friends within the past several years before filing bankruptcy.  The bankruptcy court appoints a trustee to each Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.  The role of the trustee is to review the bankruptcy petition and look for any assets that you may have available for the benefit of your creditors.  A common misconception is that the bankruptcy court can’t take your car because you need it to go to work.  That bankruptcy myth is 100% wrong.  The bankruptcy court can only look at the bankruptcy code and act according to the law.  If you only have one car and you can’t afford to lose it, you may want to look at filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7 so that you can keep your car.

If a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is done correctly, it should only take about 3 to 4 months from the day you file the case, to the day you receive your bankruptcy Order of Discharge.  “Discharge” is a legal term in bankruptcy which means “cancellation.”  So the Order of Discharge is an order canceling your debts.  Receiving the Order of Discharge is your ultimate goal when you file a bankruptcy case.

When filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, you will need to file forms that give the court and bankruptcy trustee a complete picture of your finances going back a few years.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms will ask for information such as:

  • a description of all your personal property such as furniture, electronics, jewelry, tools, firearms, and anything else that you own of value.  You will also have to list any real estate that you may own or be on the title of.  Florida is a “title state” so if you co-signed on a mortgage for your child and you don’t really “own” the property, Florida will consider you an owner because you are on the title.  You will also have to list the value of all the aforementioned.
  • a complete list of all your creditors, leases, contracts, and anyone that you owe money to.  If you have any lawsuits against you in the past year, you must also list those.
  • if you sold or transferred anything of value within the years before you filed bankruptcy
  • if you repaid a loan or gave money to friends or family within the years before you filed the bankruptcy
  • disclosure of your monthly income and expenses
  • a summary of assets and liabilities including any business that you may own and equipment that the business owns

This is just a small overview of some of the information that you will have to provide when you file a Ft. Lauderdale Chapter 7 bankruptcy.   Chapter 7 bankruptcy can appear to be simple and just a matter of filling out forms but don’t be fooled.  many people have lost their cars or other possessions that they did not want to lose by doing it themselves and not understanding the bankruptcy laws.