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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:
One-Stop Guide to Chapter 7 Resources on LegalConsumer.com


Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Law & Updates

for Nolo's

Chapter 13 bankruptcyHow to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

17th Edition, 2011

Welcome, readers of How to File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Throughout the book, you are referred to www.legalconsumer.com/bankrutpcy/CH7 to find updates and resources regarding issues that are still being debated in the courts.

Use the highlited links on this page to go directly to relevant resources on LegalConsumer.com. Links labeled "Case Law >>" take you to a database of cases that have been logged into our research database. We're still flling up the database, but it's a good place to start if you're interested in the topic. We also link to relevant articles and blog posts where possible. Suggestions are welcome.

Table of Contents

1. Should You File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

  • Bankruptcy in America: The Big Picture
  • An Overview of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
  • Who Can File for Chapter 7
  • Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Make Economic Sense?
  • Alternatives to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

2. The Automatic Stay

  • Actions Prohibited by the Stay
  • When the Stay Doesn't Apply
  • Evictions

3. Your Property and Bankruptcy

  • Property in Your Bankruptcy Estate
  • Property That Isn't in Your Bankruptcy Estate
  • Property You Can Keep (The Exemption System)
  • Selling Nonexempt Property Before You File

4. Your House

  • How Bankruptcy Affects a Typical Homeowner
  • If You're Behind on Your Mortgage Payments
  • Will You Lose Your Home?
  • Ways to Keep Your House
  • Debts

5. Secured Debts

  • How Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Affects Secured Debts
  • Ways to Deal With Secured Debts in Bankruptcy
  • Choosing the Best Options
  • Step-by-Step Instructions

6. Complete and File Your Bankruptcy Paperwork

  • Gather the Necessary Documents
  • Get Some Information From the Court
  • For Married Filers
  • Required Forms and Documents
  • Form 1— Voluntary Petition
  • Form 6— Schedules
  • Form 7— Statement of Financial Affairs
  • Form 8—Chapter 7 Individual Debtor's Statement of Intention
  • Form 21—Statement of Social Security Number
  • Form 22A—Statement of Current Monthly Income and Means-Test Calculation
  • Form 201—Notice to Consumer Debtors Under § 342(b) of the Bankruptcy Code
  • Mailing Matrix
  • How to File Your Papers
  • After You File

7. Handling Your Case in Court

  • Routine Bankruptcy Procedures
  • Amending Your Bankruptcy Papers
  • Filing a Change of Address
  • Special Problems

8. Life After Bankruptcy

  • Newly Acquired or Discovered Property
  • Newly Discovered Creditors
  • Postbankruptcy Attempts to Collect Debts
  • Attempts to Collect Clearly Discharged Debts
  • Attempts to Revoke Your Discharge
  • Postbankruptcy Discrimination
  • Rebuilding Credit

9. Which Debts Are Discharged

  • Debts That Will Be Discharged in Bankruptcy
  • Disputes Over Dischargeability

10. Help Beyond the Book

  • Debt Relief Agencies
  • Bankruptcy Petition Preparers
  • Bankruptcy Lawyers
  • Legal Research



  • State and Federal Exemption Charts
  • Doubling
  • Residency Requirements for Claiming State Exemptions
  • Retirement Accounts
  • Individual State and Federal Exemption Charts
  • Worksheets and Charts
  • Tear-Out Forms



Sidebar: What is Exempt Property?

A. Can You Pass the Means Test (Chapter 7 FORM 22A)?

FORM 22A - Chapter 7 Means Test Form

(Form 22C - Chapter 13 Means Test Form Line Numbers in Parenthesis)

FORM 22A - Part I: Military & Non-Consumer Debtors

  • What is "primarily"?
  • What is "consumer debt"?
    • Student loans?
    • Mortgages?
    • Taxes?
    • Personal Injury Liiability?

FORM 22A - Part II: Calculation of Monthly Income for § 707(b)(7) Exclusion / FORM 22C - Part I: Report of Income

Line 4/Line 3: Business Income

Line 12/Line 11: Total Income

Six Month Period: What Income Counts?


FORM 22A - Part III: (Application of the § 707(b)(7) Exclusion) - Median Income


Line 14/Line 16: Household Size

Line 15/17:


Part IV: Calculation of Current Monthly Income for § 707(b)(2)



Line 20B/25B: Housing and Rental Expenses

Line 21B/26B: Health Care Allowance

Line 23/27: Vehicle Ownership Expense


Line 35: Expense for care of family member


Line 40: Expense for educational expenses of a family member




Line 42: Deductions for Debt Payments





Chapter 5
Can You Propose a Plan the Judge Will Approve?


IF your Current Monthly Income is Less Than your State's Median Income

IF your Current Monthly Income is More Than your State's Median Income

Understanding Property Exemptions



KEY to Acronyms
Used In Case Law Topic Headings

CMI = "current monthly income" (what Part I of form 22C calculation produces -- determines plan length)
PDI = "projected disposable income" (used for plan confirmation under the code -- law pre-dates BAPCPA & form 22C)
CDI = "current disposable income" (result produced by form 22C calculation)

Welcome, users of Nolo's

How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
LegalConsumer.com helps you find local information and services to help you file for bankruptcy.

If you don't own the book, you can still use this site and the free means test calculator.

Don't own a copy?

Learn more...

Albin Renauer, the operator of LegalConsumer.com and the Means Test Calculator, is also a coauthor of Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy provides clear, user-friendly information and all the forms you need to get through the entire bankruptcy process. The book and the local resources you'll find on LegalConsumer.com are a perfect combination. The book is designed to work with LegalConsumer.com's means test calculator and lists of exemption laws, which determine what property you'd get to keep in bankruptcy.

The book covers the entire process, and gives you the line-by-line instructions you need to fill out the required Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms. Meanwhile, this website gives you access to the latest local court information and county standards for the means test calculations that you must do to file a sucessful bankruptcy petition.

But first, use the book to find out whether you qualify for Chapter 7 -- and whether or not it's the best way to deal with your debts. It's important to learn what bankruptcy cannot do. You don't want to go to all the trouble of filing bankruptcy only to find out that the it won't help solve your particular problem or kind of debt. The book clearly explains what doesn't bankruptc yan and cannot do.

If you do decide Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the right option, you'll learn how you can use it to:

  • cancel as much debt as possible
  • stop wage garnishments and attachments
  • keep the maximum amount of property using exemption laws
  • deal with secured debts and liens on your property
  • keep your home and car, if possible.

If you think you want to file for bankruptcy but aren't sure you can afford to hire an attorney, How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will help you learn what it takes to complete your bankruptcy petition on your own and complete the bankruptcy process.

You'll also learn how to rebuild your credit rating after bankruptcy.

How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy doe s not cover business bankruptcies, farm reorganizations (Chapter 12) or individual repayment plans (Chapter 13). For Chapter 13 bankruptcy, see Nolo's  Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Keep Your Property & Repay Debts Over Time.

"Clear instructions on when and how to fill out the necessary forms."

"Exceptionally clear…"
-The New York Times

"A do-it-yourself bankruptcy book for people who can’t afford expensive lawyers."

Press Reviews

"Exceptionally clear."
The New York Times
"How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy advises on everything from how to file court papers to how to respond to threats from creditors.... A do-it-yourself bankruptcy book for people who can’t afford expensive lawyers."
"An in-depth guide to filing under Chapter 7, including state-by-state and federal exemptions as well as forms for do-it-yourself filers."
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine
"Can help you decide if bankruptcy is the right option for you."
Detroit News
"A valuable, easy-to-understand workbook."
Los Angeles Times
"Includes clear instructions on when and how to fill out all the necessary forms, which assets you may legally keep, even advice on whether your case is complicated enough to make it worth your while to hire a lawyer."
"The best [bankruptcy books] I know are published by Nolo."
Harry S. Gross, host of
“Speaking of Your Money”
"Covers all the recent changes to the bankruptcy law, and shows you how to get through the entire process with the least damage."
Accounting Today

Customer Review

"I bit the bullet, and purchased Nolo's How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. I represented myself in court and I was granted a discharge of all debts five months later."
Danielle A.,
Richmond, VA
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy lets you cut down debts and keep valuable assets.

If you're considering Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which lets you wipe out some of your debt and pay back the rest over time, use this plain-English guide to decide whether or not it's right for you.

Nolo's Chapter 13 Bankruptcy breaks down the Chapter 13 process and provides clear explanations of the law. First, you can:

  • consider nonbankruptcy alternatives for solving your debt problems
  • decide which is better for you -- Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
  • determine whether you qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Then, delve deeper into Chapter 13 and find out:

  • how filing bankruptcy stops creditors instantly (the "automatic stay")
  • how Chapter 13 can help you avoid foreclosure
  • whether you can reduce your car loan balance, or the balance on other secured debts
  • whether you can get rid of second mortgages or home equity debt

If you think Chapter 13 bankruptcy could work for you, you'll be ready to:

  • determine (with the book's forms and step-by-step instructions) whether you have enough income to come up with a repayment plan that the court will approve
  • calculate the amount of your monthly plan payment
  • find and work effectively with an excellent lawyer, and
  • rebuild your credit after bankruptcy.

This newest edition includes new information on hiring and working with a lawyer, recent court rulings that interpret the federal bankruptcy laws. You'll also find the atest bankruptcy exemption laws in your state, which determine what copy you can keep, and recent IRS standard expense amounts, which affect Chapter 13 plan payments.

For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, see Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. If you own your own business and are considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy, see Nolo's Bankruptcy for Small Business Owners.

"An excellent book that can guide you through the process."

"This is the best book going if you choose to file alone or if you want background on the Chapter 13 process."
-Attorney Gary Klein, Coauthor of Consumer Bankruptcy Law and Practice

"An excellent resource …"
-Consumers Digest

Press Reviews

"In Nolo’s usual thorough fashion, here is a guide to an alternative to the typical Chapter 7 Bankruptcy."
Orange County Register
"An excellent book that can guide you through the [Chapter 13] process."
Forbes Magazine
"Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will save you a fortune in attorney fees and confusion."
The Midwest Book Review
"This is the best book going if you choose to file alone or if you want background on the Chapter 13 process."
Attorney Gary Klein,
co-author of Consumer Bankruptcy Law and Practice
"An excellent resource..."
Consumers Digest
"Contains many tear-out forms, federal and state exemptions charts, and the most recent legal documents and instructions on how to fill them out. "
Reference & Research Book News


The New Bankruptcy

The New Bankruptcy

If you're feeling overwhelmed by debt, you may be considering bankruptcy. But is filing bankruptcy the right solution for you and your family? Find out with this plain-English book.

The New Bankruptcy provides the strategies, clear-cut answers, and information and you need to figure out whether bankruptcy can help solve your debt problems. Find out:

  • the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy
  • whether or not you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy
  • how Chapter 13 repayment plans work
  • which debts are wiped out
  • how bankruptcy affects homeowners
  • whether you'll be able to keep cars and other assets
  • how bankruptcy affects your credit score
  • other ways to handle your debt problems

The latest edition of The New Bankruptcy includes updated lists of assets you can keep (exemptions) when you file bankruptcy, plus the latest rules handed down by the Supreme Court as it interprets the federal bankruptcy law. You'll also get worksheets to help you determine whether you can file for bankruptcy, helpful checklists, and easy-to-understand information for all 50 states.

"Authoritative, comprehensive and packed with helpful advice and useful information, including state-specific details."
-Eric Tyson, Author of Personal Finance For Dummies

"…it's important to know whether [bankruptcy] remains a viable option, and this book will offer both explanations and reassurances…"
-Accounting Today