The order of payment to the different classes of creditors mandated by the Bankruptcy Code.

In theory, claims with higher priority are paid in full before other claims receive anything. Junior creditors and shareholders are paid after senior creditors.

Specifically, the usual order is: administrative claims; priority claims; secured claims; unsecured claims; and equity claims.

In the context of Chapter 13, a secured creditor has the right to assurance that the value of it’s secured interest will not be diminished during the bankruptcy proceedings.

This is usually accomplished by the creditor accepting periodic payments during the bankruptcy case and requiring that the collateral be insured against damage.

A debt incurred by the debtor, with court approval, after the bankruptcy filing.

An administrative claim has first priority status.

Examples include Chapter 13 debtor’s attorney fees paid in a Chapter 13 plan, trustee’s attorney fees, necessary costs expended to preserve the bankruptcy estate, and trustees’ expenses.

A lawsuit within the bankruptcy case that is commenced by filing a complaint with the court.

The most common complaints associated with consumer bankruptcies are a Complaint to Determine Dischargeability of a Debt or a Complaint to Revoke Debtor’s Discharge.

Adversary proceedings are commenced by the debtor, the trustee or a creditor.

A creditor’s claim that is approved by the court for payment or other treatment under the plan of reorganization (Chapter 13) or disbursement upon liquidation (Chapter 7).

An expert typically retained by the Chapter 7 trustee to determine the value of the debtor’s assets.

Appraisers are hired in only a small percentage of cases.

Something of value in which the debtor holds an ownership interest.

An agreement between the debtor and a creditor to continue performing duties under a contract or lease.

The moment a new bankruptcy case is filed, the Court automatically enters an order that immediately stops foreclosures, repossessions, lawsuits, garnishments, and all collection activity against the debtor. 

The automatic stay also stops the equitable division of property in a pending divorce case. 

Under BAPCPA, the automatic stay does not stop the establishment or enforcement of child support or alimony, nor does it stop most criminal proceedings.

The power of the bankruptcy court to stop or set aside certain obligations or transactions commenced by a debtor prior to filing bankruptcy. 

It is generally used to reverse a preferential treatment of creditors, which occurs when the debtor gives property or money to a creditor prior to filing a bankruptcy case. 

A debtor can also avoid a judicial or judgment lien that purports to act as an involuntary lien on the homestead property.

A legal process under federal law giving protection to debtors, whether individuals or corporations, who are insolvent.

The informal name for Title 11 of the United States Code §§ 101-1330.

The Federal District Court where cases under the Bankruptcy Code are filed and, if necessary, litigated.

The non-exempt property in which the debtor has an interest, whether in the possession of the debtor or other person, that is subject to the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court.

A judicial officer of the United States district court who presides over federal bankruptcy cases.  

The bankruptcy judge’s rulings are subject to review by U.S. District Courts of Appeal and may be overturned if contrary to established bankruptcy law.

The document filed with the bankruptcy court to initiate a bankruptcy proceeding.  

It contains general information about the debtor(s) and is signed by the debtors and their attorney.

BAPCPA is the acronym for the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Prevention Act of 2005. 

Also known as “The New Bankruptcy Law,” it is a major overhaul of the bankruptcy system by Congress in an attempt to make it more difficult for consumers to erase debt by forcing more of them to file under Chapter 13 (reorganization) rather than Chapter 7 (liquidation). 

The overwhelming consensus among all bankruptcy practitioners, both debtor and creditor, is that BAPCPA is poorly written and, in the final analysis, does not affect the vast majority of consumers’ ability to actually file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

It has, however, increased the work required by attorneys, trustees and court officials, so as a result, bankruptcy attorney fees and court costs are higher after BAPCPA.

The deadline for creditors to file a claim against the debtor.

A bankruptcy categorized by the U.S. courts as primarily involving business debts. 

Under BAPCPA, a debtor with primarily business debts does not have to file a means test nor has to get a certificate of credit counseling. 

Data from the U.S. Administrative Office of the Courts subdivides bankruptcies into business and non-business for statistical purposes.

The Bankruptcy Code is organized into Chapters. 

Chapters 1, 3, and 5 cover matters of general application. 

Chapter 7 concern liquidation (business or non-business);

Chapter 11 concerns business reorganization;

and Chapter 13 concerns personal (i.e. non-business) reorganization.

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for “reorganization” of the business debtor’s financial circumstances.  The debtor usually maintains control of the business in Chapter 11, but the Court can appoint a trustee.  A chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time.  Individuals can also seek relief in chapter 11 if their debts are too great for Chapter 13.

This is also known as a wage-earner plan.  Chapter 13 is typically filed by individuals behind in house and/or car payments.  A debtor can file a Chapter 13 Plan, which is a written proposal for bringing his/her secured debts current over a period of 36 – 60 months.  The debtor keeps and uses his/her property while the bankruptcy case is pending.  If a debtor “fails” the means test under Chapter 7, he/she must file bankruptcy under Chapter 13 and repay a portion of the unsecured debt.

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for “liquidation” of the debtor’s non-exempt assets.  A Chapter 7 debtor can be an individual or business.

A creditor’s assertion of a right to payment from the debtor or the debtor’s property.  Claims are divided into different classes, such as secured, unsecured, and priority.

Each of the different categories of claims against a debtor.

The final approval by the bankruptcy court of a debtor’s plan of reorganization.   In Chapter 11, confirmation takes place after the plan has been approved by creditors.  In Chapter 13, a creditor can file an objection to the proposed plan, which will be heard prior to confirmation.

A debtor whose debts are primarily (ie. greater than 50%) consumer debts.

Debts incurred for personal, as opposed to business, needs.  A personal credit card used in one’s business is considered a business debt.

Those matters, other than objections to claims, that are disputed by the debtor, creditor or trustee, but are not within the definition of adversary proceeding contained in Rule 7001.

A claim (or debt) that may be owed by the debtor under certain circumstances, such as where the debtor is the guarantor of another person’s loan.  A personal guarantor only owes the money if the primary obligor defaults under the terms of the obligation.

The legal process of changing chapters in bankruptcy, such as changing from a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7 or vice-versa.  Although a conversion is typically initiated by the debtor, the trustee can also ask the judge to convert a case against the debtor’s wishes.

Those proceedings inherent in and fundamental to the administration of a bankruptcy case.  Core proceedings are subject to the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court.  Non-core proceedings may be conducted outside the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court.

A bankruptcy Judge’s confirmation of a plan of reorganization over the objections of one or more classes of creditors, if the bankruptcy judge believes it is in the best interest of all parties. Usually, a cramdown refers to splitting a secured creditor’s debt into secured and unsecured portions.  The secured portion is equal to the fair market value of the property, with the remaining balance of the debt treated as unsecured.

A dubious but absolute requirement prior to filing a bankruptcy case by a non-business debtor.  An analysis of financial circumstances from a credit counseling agency approved by the U.S. Trustee’s Office.  Credit Counseling is often referred to as the “ticket into bankruptcy.”  Compare to “debtor education.”

Anyone to whom the debtor owes money or who claims to be owed money by the debtor.

The average monthly income received by the debtor’s household over the six calendar months preceding the month in which the bankruptcy case is filed.  CMI does not including social security income and certain other payments enumerated in 11 U.S.C. § 101.

A person who has filed a petition for relief under the Bankruptcy Code for the purpose of seeking protection from creditors.