If you ask a non-bankruptcy professional to describe the process and effect of filing bankruptcy, most people would describe something like Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
A petition filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court under Chapter 7 allows an eligible individual to wipe out most debts in as little as three months after filing. The bankruptcy discharge is extremely broad and only makes exceptions for certain debts such as student loans, child support, alimony, and priority taxes.
In exchange for the discharge, an individual debtor must give up any non-exempt assets for liquidation and distribution of the proceeds to creditors. Naturally, if you are considering filing bankruptcy, you may be concerned about losing real estate or personal property. Most individuals, however, are able to pass through bankruptcy while protecting all of their assets. Most cases filed by individuals under Chapter 7 are so-called no-asset cases, i.e. there are no assets available for liquidation beyond those that are exempt under various state and federal laws.
If you are struggling with debt, I encourage you to schedule a free consultation to discuss your bankruptcy options. The filing of a bankruptcy petition automatically stops most collection efforts such as a lawsuit or garnishment of wages. Chapter 7 should be viewed as a potentially constructive financial tool to provide the honest, but unfortunate debtor with a fresh start.