As it relates to individuals considering bankruptcy the two most frequently used types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 provides for the liquidation of assets to satisfy debts owed. All nonexempt assets are gathered by a trustee and sold to pay off debts. Certain assets may be exempted from liquidation depending on federal or state laws. The individual filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will need to include a schedule of exempt property with their bankruptcy petition. Most Chapter 7 bankruptcies involve a situation where all the property of the individual is exempt or there are no assets. In that scenario, the trustee makes a report to the court that there are "no assets" for liquidation and no distribution is made to creditors.
Chapter 13 allows an individual to keep their property and provides a three to five year time frame to make payments. This plan is available to individuals with regular income to support the payments. The length of the term for repayment is based on the income of the individual with the longer term being reserved for individuals earning less or demonstrating other "cause" for extension. The benefit of Chapter 13 is the individual is able to retain their property, and potentially have a longer period for repayment and lower monthly payments over the term. Payments are made to a trustee and then the trustee is responsible for distribution to creditors. Both types of bankruptcy generally result in a stay meaning attempts at debt collection stop. Bankruptcy will affect your credit and will be reflected on your credit report for seven to ten years however it may be the best route to a fresh financial start if truly plagued with debt.