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Bankruptcy Glossary


Washington dc bankruptcy attorney bankruptcy glossary Bankruptcy Petition:

Is a document that a bankruptcy attorney or a pro-se debtor files with the bankruptcy court that opens the bankruptcy case.

Automatic Stay:

Once the bankruptcy petition is filed, the Automatic Stay immediately goes into effect. The Automatic Stay is an injunction that immediately stops creditors from collecting or trying to collect on any debts by any means (letters, phone calls, mail).

Creditors’ Meeting:

This is a required proceeding that takes place 20 – 30 days after the bankruptcy petition filing. During this meeting the debtor is questioned under oath by the Trustee, U.S. Trustee, or creditors. A bankruptcy attorney will accompany the debtor to the meeting of creditors’.


The bankruptcy trustee is the person appointed by the government to oversee the administration of the bankruptcy case. The trustee represents the bankruptcy estate. The trustee reviews the bankruptcy petition, conducts the creditors’ meeting, administers the bankruptcy estate, and follows up with the debtor’s attorney if any questions arise.


The bankruptcy discharge is the term used in bankruptcy law to describe the elimination of debts. The bankruptcy court issues an order of discharge at the end of the case to let you know that your debts have been eliminated.


A promulgated misconception about bankruptcy law is that people lose all their property when they file for bankruptcy.  However, bankruptcy laws were drafted in such a way that a person can file for bankruptcy and still protect their property.  The property you can keep from being liquidated is called exempt property. There are federal exemption laws and state specific exemption laws.


Personal Liability:

Bankruptcy in certain instances discharges your personal liability over certain debts. This means that you cannot be personally sued by a creditor for that specific debt (garnishing wages, freezing accounts, etc). However, in the case of a secured debt even if your personal liability is discharged, the secured lien survives the bankruptcy proceeding.

Means Test:

The enactment of BAPCPA made it more difficult for people to qualify for bankruptcy. Most significantly, it imposes a stringent “means test” which persons need to pass in order to qualify for relief under Chapter 7.  The means test consists of determining your current monthly income, then comparing the current monthly income in an annualized basis to the median income of a like-sized family in Maryland, D.C. or the state of residence. If the debtor’s income is less than or equal to the state’s median family income, then the Debtor passes the means test and is eligible to file for Chapter 7. If the debtor’s income is above the median, then your bankruptcy attorney must do further analysis of the debtor’s debts and expenses.

Motion to Lift the Automatic Stay:

This is a document that a creditor files with the court asking for permission to collect on a debt by taking action against the debtor or the debtor’s property that would be prohibited by the automatic stay.

Chapter 7:

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is commonly known as “straight” bankruptcy or “liquidation” bankruptcy.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation proceeding in which a person’s non-exempt assets, if any, are sold by the bankruptcy trustee, the case administrator, and the proceeds distributed to the person’s creditors. People that file a chapter 7 bankruptcy are able to discharge most of their debts in a short period of time.

Chapter 13:

A chapter 13 bankruptcy case is a known as a personal reorganization bankruptcy.  It is a payment plan for those with regular disposable monthly income.  In a chapter 13 bankruptcy case, you file a payment plan with the bankruptcy court, in which you promise to use your disposable monthly income to repay a percentage of your debts over a 3-5 year period.  In a chapter 13 proceeding, unlike a chapter 7, you are able to keep your non-exempt property

For more bankruptcy terms visit this website:

Speak to an experienced Maryland and Washington D.C. Bankruptcy attorney before filing for bankruptcy.  A bankruptcy attorney will advice you if bankruptcy is a good option for you depending on your individual circumstances.


Washington D.C. bankruptcy attorney could give you advice on the effect that filing for bankruptcy will have.  Ready learn more about the bankruptcy process?  Call 202-445-4775 or contact us for a consultation.