For any number of reasons, you may find yourself struggling with debt. Like others in Oregon who are facing significant financial issues, you may have considered chapter 7 bankruptcy as a debt relief option. Filing for bankruptcy, however, is a serious decision with potentially lasting implications. Therefore, it is important for you to understand how chapter 7 bankruptcy works before taking action.

Like other bankruptcy filings, your chapter 7 case begins with you filing a petition with the court and paying the associated fees. Include with your filing should be schedules of your expenses and income, assets and liabilities, financial affairs and other information. Once your petition is filed, it will automatically stay most of your creditors’ debt collection efforts.

After your petition is filed, a trustee will be assigned to your case. The trustee will hold a meeting of your creditors within 21 to 40 days after your filing. According to the U.S. Courts, you will be asked questions by the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors while under oath at this meeting. Then, the trustee will report back to the court within 10 days whether or not your case is likely an abuse of the means test.

The commencement of your case creates an estate that encompasses all of your property. The bankruptcy trustee assigned to your case will liquidate the non-exempt assets in your estate. The proceeds obtained through this process will be applied toward some, or all, of your debts. Generally, the trustee will file a no asset report if all of your assets are subject to liens or exempt.

Once your non-exempt assets are liquidated, your eligible debts will be discharged. Through this action, you are released from your personal liability for those debts.

This post has provided an overview of how chapter 7 bankruptcy cases work. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the circumstances of each case may be unique. Therefore, you should consider this as general information and not take it as legal advice.