Bankruptcy Basics

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Bankruptcy Basics provides basic information to debtors, creditors, court personnel, the media, and the general public on different aspects of federal bankruptcy laws. It also provides individuals who may be considering bankruptcy with a basic explanation of the different chapters under which a bankruptcy case may be filed and answers some of the most commonly asked questions about the bankruptcy process.

On April 20, 2005, President Bush signed into law the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). BAPCPA made substantial changes to the Bankruptcy Code. The Bankruptcy Judges Division has made significant revisions to this online version of Bankruptcy Basics to account for BAPCPA’s changes to the Code.

Most BAPCPA changes apply only to cases filed on or after October 17, 2005. Because the Bankruptcy Judges Division anticipates that there will continue to be a demand for the version of Bankruptcy Basics that describes the pre-BAPCPA bankruptcy process (for cases filed prior to October 17), this page contains links to PDF (print friendly) copies of both the pre-BAPCPA version as well as the current online version of Bankruptcy Basics.

Bankruptcy Basics – For Cases Filed on or after October 17, 2005 (pdf)

Finally, Bankruptcy Basics should not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel or a financial expert. Neither the Bankruptcy Judges Division nor the Administrative Office of the United States Courts can provide legal or financial advice. Such advice may be obtained from a competent attorney, accountant, or financial adviser.

April 2006
Third Edition

While the information presented is accurate as of the date of publication, it should not be cited or relied upon as legal authority. It should not be used as a substitute for reference to the United States Bankruptcy Code (title 11, United States Code) and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, both of which may be reviewed at local law libraries, or to local rules of practice adopted by each bankruptcy court. Finally, this publication should not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.