Glossary

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a
Adversary Proceeding
A lawsuit arising in or related to a bankruptcy case that is commenced by filing a complaint with the court. A nonexclusive list of adversary proceedings is set forth in Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7001.
Assume
An agreement to continue performing duties under a contract or lease.
Automatic Stay
An injunction that automatically stops lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishments, and all collection activity against the debtor the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed.
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Bankruptcy
A legal procedure for dealing with debt problems of individuals and businesses; specifically, a case filed under one of the chapters of title 11 of the United States Code (the Bankruptcy Code).
Bankruptcy Code
The informal name for title 11 of the United States Code (11 U.S.C. §§ 101-1330), the federal bankruptcy law.
Bankruptcy Court
The bankruptcy judges in regular active service in each district; a unit of the district court.
Bankruptcy Estate
All legal or equitable interests of the debtor in property at the time of the bankruptcy filing. (The estate includes all property in which the debtor has an interest, even if it is owned or held by another person.)
Bankruptcy Judge
A judicial officer of the United States district court who is the court official with decision-making power over federal bankruptcy cases.
Bankruptcy Petition
The document filed by the debtor (in a voluntary case) or by creditors (in an involuntary case) by which opens the bankruptcy case. (There are official forms for bankruptcy petitions.)
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Chapter 7
The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for "liquidation,"(i.e., the sale of a debtor's nonexempt property and the distribution of the proceeds to creditors.)
Chapter 9
The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for reorganization of municipalities (which includes cities and towns, as well as villages, counties, taxing districts, municipal utilities, and school districts).
Chapter 11
The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing (generally) for reorganization, usually involving a corporation or partnership. (A chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. People in business or individuals can also seek relief in chapter 11.)
Chapter 12
The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for adjustment of debts of a "family farmer," or a "family fisherman" as those terms are defined in the Bankruptcy Code.
Chapter 13
The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income. (Chapter 13 allows a debtor to keep property and pay debts over time, usually three to five years.)
Chapter 15
The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code dealing with cases of cross-border insolvency.
Claim
A creditor's assertion of a right to payment from the debtor or the debtor's property.
Confirmation
Bankruptcy judges's approval of a plan of reorganization or liquidation in chapter 11, or payment plan in chapter 12 or 13.
Consumer Debtor
A debtor whose debts are primarily consumer debts.
Consumer Debts
Debts incurred for personal, as opposed to business, needs.
Contested Matter
Those matters, other than objections to claims, that are disputed but are not within the definition of adversary proceeding contained in Rule 7001.
Contingent Claim
A claim that may be owed by the debtor under certain circumstances, e.g., where the debtor is a cosigner on another person's loan and that person fails to pay.
Credit Counseling
Generally refers to two events in individual bankruptcy cases: (1) the "individual or group briefing" from a nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency that individual debtors must attend prior to filing under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code; and (2) the "instructional course in personal financial management" in chapters 7 and 13 that an individual debtor must complete before a discharge is entered. There are exceptions to both requirements for certain categories of debtors, exigent circumstances, or if the U.S. trustee or bankruptcy administrator have determined that there are insufficient approved credit counseling agencies available to provide the necessary counseling.
Creditor
One to whom the debtor owes money or who claims to be owed money by the debtor.
Current Monthly Income
The average monthly income received by the debtor over the six calendar months before commencement of the bankruptcy case, including regular contributions to household expenses from nondebtors and income from the debtor's spouse if the petition is a joint petition, but not including social security income and certain other payments made because the debtor is the victim of certain crimes. 11 U.S.C. § 101(10A).
d
Debtor
A person who has filed a petition for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.
Debtor Education
You must obtain financial management training from an approved agency or provider. Please note that an agency may be approved to provide credit counseling in Oklahoma. Look under Resources to locate approved providers.
Discharge
A release of a debtor from personal liability for certain dischargeable debts set forth in the Bankruptcy Code. (A discharge releases a debtor from personal liability for certain debts known as dischargeable debts and prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any action against the debtor to collect the debts. The discharge also prohibits creditors from communicating with the debtor regarding the debt, including telephone calls, letters, and personal contact.)
Dischargeable Debt
A debt for which the Bankruptcy Code allows the debtor's personal liability to be eliminated.
Disclosure Statement
A written document prepared by the chapter 11 debtor or other plan proponent that is designed to provide "adequate information" to creditors to enable them to evaluate the chapter 11 plan of reorganization.
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Equity
The value of a debtor's interest in property that remains after liens and other creditors' interests are considered. (Example: If a house valued at $100,000 is subject to a $50,000 mortgage, there is $50,000 of equity.)
Executory Contract
Generally includes contracts under which both parties to the agreement have duties remaining to be performed. (If a contract is executory, a debtor may assume it or reject it.)
Exemptions
Certain property owned by an individual debtor that the Bankruptcy Code or applicable state law permits the debtor to keep from unsecured creditors. For example, in Oklahoma, the debtor is able to exempt all or a portion of the equity in the debtor's primary residence (homestead exemption), or some or all "tools of the trade" used by the debtor to make a living (i.e., auto tools for an auto mechanic or dental tools for a dentist). The availability and amount of property the debtor may exempt may be viewed on the Exemptions page.
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Insider Creditor (of corporate debtor)
A director, officer, or person in control of the debtor; a partnership in which the debtor is a general partner; a general partner of the debtor; or a relative of a general partner, director, officer, or person in control of the debtor.
Insider Creditor (of individual debtor)
Any relative of the debtor or of a general partner of the debtor; partnership in which the debtor is a general partner; general partner of the debtor; or a corporation of which the debtor is a director, officer, or person in control.
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Joint Administration
A court-approved mechanism under which two or more cases can be administered together. (Assuming no conflicts of interest, these separate businesses or individuals can pool their resources, hire the same professionals, etc.)
Joint Petition
One bankruptcy petition filed by a husband and wife together.
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Lien
The right to take and hold or sell the property of a debtor as security or payment for a debt or duty.
Liquidated Claim
A creditor's claim for a fixed amount of money.
Liquidation
A sale of a debtor's property with the proceeds to be used for the benefit of creditors.
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Means Test
Section 707(b)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code applies a "means test" to determine whether an individual debtor's chapter 7 filing is presumed to be an abuse of the Bankruptcy Code requiring dismissal or conversion of the case (generally to chapter 13). Abuse is presumed if the debtor's aggregate current monthly income (see definition above) over 5 years, net of certain statutorily allowed expenses is more than (i) $10,950, or (ii) 25% of the debtor's nonpriority unsecured debt, as long as that amount is at least $6,575. The debtor may rebut a presumption of abuse only by a showing of special circumstances that justify additional expenses or adjustments of current monthly income.
Meeting of Creditors
The meeting of creditors required by section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code at which the debtor is questioned under oath by creditors, a trustee, examiner, or the U.S. trustee about his/her financial affairs. Also called creditors' meeting.
Motion to List the Automatic Stay
A request by a creditor to allow the creditor to take action against the debtor or the debtor's property that would otherwise be prohibited by the automatic stay.
n
No-Asset Case
A chapter 7 case where there are no assets available to satisfy any portion of the creditors' unsecured claims.
Non Purchase Money Security Interest
Contractual agreements can be Non-Purchase Money Security Interest (NPMSI) loans, where the creditor takes a security interest in items the debtor already owns. Many of these obligations are dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Nondischargeable Debt
A debt that cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy. Examples include a home mortgage, debts for alimony or child support, certain taxes, debts for most government funded or guaranteed educational loans or benefit overpayments, debts arising from death or personal injury caused by driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, and debts for restitution or a criminal fine included in a sentence on the debtor's conviction of a crime. Some debts, such as debts for money or property obtained by false pretenses and debts for fraud or defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity may be declared nondischargeable only if a creditor timely files and prevails in a nondischargeability action.
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Objection to Dischargeability
A trustee's or creditor's objection to the debtor being released from personal liability for certain dischargeable debts. Common reasons include allegations that the debt to be discharged was incurred by false pretenses, certain debts incurred within 60 days of the date of filing, or the debt arose because of the debtor's fraud while acting as a fiduciary.
Objection to Exemptions
A trustee's or creditor's objection to the debtor's attempt to claim certain property as exempt from liquidation by the trustee to creditors.
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Party in Interest
A party who has standing to be heard by the court in a matter to be decided in the bankruptcy case. The debtor, the U.S. trustee or bankruptcy administrator, the case trustee and creditors are parties in interest for most matters.
Petition Preparer
A business not authorized to practice law that prepares bankruptcy petitions.
Plan
A debtor's detailed description of how the debtor proposes to pay crediotr's claims over a fixed period of time. A Chapter 13 plan must be proposed at no less than 36 months, and no more than 60 months. Over median debtor's must prorpose a 60 month plan.
Postpetition Transfer
A transfer of the debtor's property made after the commencement of the case.
Prebankruptcy Planning
The arrangement (or rearrangement) of a debtor's property to allow the debtor to take maximum advantage of exemptions. (Prebankruptcy planning typically includes converting nonexempt assets into exempt assets.)
Preference
A debt payment made to a creditor in the 90-day period before a debtor files bankruptcy (or within one year if the creditor was an insider) that gives the creditor more than the creditor would receive in the debtor's chapter 7 case.
Presumed Nondischargeable Debts
Certain luxury purchases and cash advances over $1,000 are presumed non-dischargeable if incurred within 60 days of the bankruptcy filing. The Trustee or Creditor must file an objection to dischargeability to prevent these debts from being discharged.
Presumption of Abuse
A presumption of abuse arises when a debtor has income over the median income for the state in which they reside. If a debtor "fails" the means test, a Chapter 7 filing is presumed to be abusive in the absence of evidence proving otherwise. A debtor for whom the presumption arises may rebut the presumption by offering evidence of special circumstances. For example, victims of natural disasters may show income loss, expense increases, and other adverse effects of the disaster in order to demonstrate special circumstances.
Priority
The Bankruptcy Code's statutory ranking of unsecured claims that determines the order in which unsecured claims will be paid if there is not enough money to pay all unsecured claims in full. For example, under the Bankruptcy Code's priority scheme, money owed to the case trustee or for prepetition alimony, and/or child support must be paid in full before any general unsecured debt (i.e. trade debt or credit card debt) is paid.
Priority Claim
An unsecured claim that is entitled to be paid ahead of other unsecured claims that are not entitled to priority status. Priority refers to the order in which these unsecured claims are to be paid.
Proof of Claim
A written statement and verifying documentation filed by a creditor describing the debt the debtor owes. (There is an official form for this purpose.)
Property of the Estate
All legal or equitable interests of the debtor in property as of the date of commencement of the case.
Purchase Money Security Interest
Contractual agreements can be secured by a Purchase Money Security Interest (PMSI) loan, where the creditor takes a security interest in the items purchased (i.e. vehicle, furniture, electronics); For example, when a consumer purchases an item at a store, and uses in-house financing to purchase an item at that store, a PMSI attaches at the point of sale. This type of security interest is generally not dischargeable. The debtor would need to elect one of the choices listed on the Statement of Intention. Synonyms: PMSI
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Reaffirmation Agreement
An agreement by a chapter 7 debtor to continue paying a dischargeable debt (such as an auto loan) after the bankruptcy, usually for the purpose of keeping collateral (i.e. the car) that would otherwise be subject to repossession.
s
Schedules
Detailed lists filed by the debtor along with (or shortly after filing) the petition showing the debtor's assets, liabilities, and other financial information. (There are official forms a debtor must use.)
Secured Creditor
A creditor holding a claim against the debtor who has the right to take and hold or sell certain property of the debtor in satisfaction of some or all of the claim. They usually hold a security interest in items the Debtor actually has in her posession, such as a debtor's home or car. See also, PMSI.
Secured Debt
Debt backed by a mortgage, pledge of collateral, or other lien; debt for which the creditor has the right to pursue specific pledged property upon default. Examples include home mortgages, auto loans and tax liens.
Small Business Case
A special type of chapter 11 case in which there is no creditors' committee (or the creditors' committee is deemed inactive by the court) and in which the debtor is subject to more oversight by the U.S. trustee than other chapter 11 debtors. The Bankruptcy Code contains certain provisions designed to reduce the time a small business debtor is in bankruptcy.
Statement of Financial Affairs
A series of questions the debtor must answer in writing concerning sources of income, transfers of property, lawsuits by creditors, etc. (This is one of the schedules that must be filed with the debtor's bankruptcy.)
Statement of Intention
A declaration made by a chapter 7 debtor concerning plans for dealing with consumer debts that are secured by property of the estate. It specifies how the debtor intends to deal with all of their secured property; they may surrender, reaffirm, or redeem. Debtor's can change their mind about this election during the pendency of their case. This is filed along with the debtor's bankruptcy case.
Substantive Consolidation
Putting the assets and liabilities of two or more related debtors into a single pool to pay creditors. (Courts are reluctant to allow substantive consolidation since the action must not only justify the benefit that one set of creditors receives, but also the harm that other creditors suffer as a result.)
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Transfer
Any mode or means by which a debtor disposes of or parts with his/her property.
Trustee
The representative of the bankruptcy estate who exercises statutory powers, principally for the benefit of the unsecured creditors, under the general supervision of the court and the direct supervision of the U.S. trustee. The trustee is a private individual or corporation appointed in all chapter 7, chapter 12, and chapter 13 cases and some chapter 11 cases. The trustee's responsibilities include reviewing the debtor's petition and schedules and bringing actions against creditors or the debtor to recover property of the bankruptcy estate for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate (creditors). In chapter 7, the trustee liquidates non-exempt property of the estate, and makes distributions to creditors. Trustees in chapter 12 and 13 have similar duties to a chapter 7 trustee and the additional responsibilities of overseeing the debtor's plan, receiving payments from debtors, and disbursing plan payments to creditors.
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U.S. Trustee
An officer of the Justice Department responsible for supervising the administration of bankruptcy cases, estates, and trustees; monitoring plans and disclosure statements; monitoring creditors' committees; monitoring fee applications; and performing other statutory duties.
Undersecured Claim
A debt secured by property that is worth less than the full amount of the debt.
Unliquidated Claim
A claim for which a specific value has not been determined. More specifically, a claim is unliquidated when the value cannot be mathematically calculated, or if it subject to a contingency.
Unscheduled Debt
A debt that should have been listed by the debtor in the schedules filed with the court, but was not. (Depending on the circumstances, an unscheduled debt may or may not be discharged.) (Debtor's should review their schedules closely before filing to assure everything they own and everyone they owe money to, is listed.)
Unsecured Claim
A claim or debt for which a creditor holds no special assurance of payment, such as a credit card; a debt for which credit was extended based solely upon the creditor's assessment of the debtor's future ability to pay.
v
Voluntary Transfer
A transfer of a debtor's property with the debtor's consent.
v
Visa Priority Date
The United States Department of State publishes a monthly visa bulletin which lists cutoff priority dates for different immigration categories and birth countries. Only those intending immigrants with priority dates before the cutoff date are permitted to file their Adjustment of Status (AOS) applications and obtain their green card. The cutoff dates generally move forward over time as old cases are disposed of. However, in certain cases, such as if a large number of old cases work their way through the system at about the same time, the cutoff dates can retrogress (or roll back). Synonyms: Priority Date
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Defendant
An individual (or business) against whom a lawsuit is filed.
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Plainitff
A person or business that files a formal complaint with the Court.
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Sepulcher
A small room or monument, cut in rock or built of stone, in which a dead person is laid or buried.