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How does Chapter 13 bankruptcy work?

Posted on in Bankruptcy

There are many unexpected events that occur throughout people's lives in Illinois. Some of these unexpected events can be pleasant surprises and benefit people. This is not always true though. Some of the unexpected events can create hardships for people. It could be a car breaking down or appliances breaking down. People may be involved in an accident and suffered injuries or developed an illness or disease. They may have close family members suffer sever injuries and illnesses that require extra care or many other types of unexpected events.

The unexpected events that cause hardships also tend to be costly financially as well. It cost money to repair or replace things that break down. When people suffer injuries or illnesses people may incur medical bills which can add up quickly. If they lose a job, they lose income. When people incur these extra expenses, it can cause them to fall behind on monthly obligations and people may need to turn to credit cards to keep up and before they know it they may be overwhelmed with debt.

Basics of Chapter 13 bankruptcy

It may not seem like people may ever be able to rid themselves of the debt, but people do have options. One of those options is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This option is mainly for people who want to keep their property after the divorce and also have the ability to make payments towards their debt. Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, people do not need to liquidate assets.


Filing for bankruptcy can be overwhelming, particularly when an Illinois resident does not understand the process. They may hear terms related to bankruptcy and experience confusion when they attempt to understand what it all means. Readers should understand that the information contained in this post does not provide any legal advice and the best answers that they can get to their bankruptcy questions may come from bankruptcy attorneys.

However, one important concept that readers can learn about before filing for bankruptcy is liquidation. This post will only touch on the topic and further inquiry is encouraged for those who are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Selling off property to satisfy creditors

Chapter 7 bankruptcy's liquidation provisions are premised off the idea that those who use Chapter 7 bankruptcy do not have disposable income to use to pay off their debts. Unlike Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which reorganizes an individual's income so that they may pay down their debts, Chapter 7 bankruptcy presumes that a debtor has no extra money with which to use to reduce their outstanding financial obligations.


The year 2020 was a tough economic time for many in Geneva, especially if they were furloughed or lost their jobs. This financial predicament was only escalated when they acquired a significant amount of medical debt that they have no means of paying back. They are not alone. According to U.S. Census Bureau data many families have problems with medical debt.

What is considered medical debt?

In 2017, 19% of households in the U.S. had some type of medical debt. Medical debt was defined as costs people could not pay up front or when they were treated. Of households carrying medical debt in 2017, the median amount of medical debt was $2,000. When households had significant medical debt, they may not have been able to afford the essentials such as food, utilities or their rent or mortgage. Moreover, medical debt forced some families to forgo necessary medical care because they could not afford it. Some people even filed for bankruptcy due to unmanageable medical debt.

Health insurance may not cover all costs

While having health insurance helps pay for medical costs, even those with health insurance could still incur medical debt. While only 16.2% of households in which all family members were insured for the entire year had medical debt, 30.8% of households where all family members were not fully insured had medical debt. The median amount of medical debt for households with full insurance was $2,000. The median amount of medical debt for households without full insurance was $3,000. As this shows, even families who have health insurance struggle with medical debt.


Many people in Illinois probably think of bankruptcy options as a “last resort” when it comes to financial problems. And, some will even think that there is “shame” involved in considering bankruptcy options. In many cases, these concerns may come from a lack of knowledge when it comes to the basics about the bankruptcy process, particularly Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy basics

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is, perhaps, the most common form of bankruptcy that individuals and families pursue. It is commonly known as “liquidation” bankruptcy. At its most basic, this form of bankruptcy allows an individual to list assets alongside debts, have the assets sold off by a bankruptcy trustee and then have the proceeds from those sales applied toward outstanding debt. In the end, any debt remaining is discharged and the filer has a “clean slate.”

Of course, there is more to it than that. For example, not all of your assets will be included in the bankruptcy case. Some assets are “exempt” from the bankruptcy process. And, another perk is that as soon as you file your bankruptcy case an “automatic stay” is implemented, which means that creditors can no longer harass you about your debt or missed payments.


When residents of the western Chicago suburbs are considering estate planning, the last thing on their minds might be the filing of a bankruptcy

However, depending on a person's circumstances, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be in their best interests as they move into their retirement years.

Claims do not necessarily die with a person

Debts do not always automatically go away when a person dies. The creditor has an option to file a claim against the person's estate. A valid claim will get paid first, meaning the person's loved ones get what is left over.

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