Skip to Main Content

Bankruptcy Law: Additional Resources

The law of bankruptcy in the United States is governed primarily by federal law. Specialized federal bankruptcy courts hear bankruptcy cases and related proceedings.


adversary proceeding: a lawsuit arising in relation to a bankruptcy case, usually involving a disputed debt, that is commenced by filing a complaint with the court. A list of possible adversary proceedings is contained in Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7001.

automatic stay: an injunction that automatically stops lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishments, and collection activities against the debtor when a bankruptcy petition is filed.

creditors meeting (341 meeting): 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 the debtor's financial circumstances.

discharge: the release of a debtor from personal liability for debts that are dischargeable under the Bankruptcy Code.

exempt property: certain property owned by an individual debtor that the Bankruptcy Code or applicable state law permits the debtor to keep from unsecured creditors, such as the debtor's primary residence (homestead exemption) and the debtor's "tools of the trade" used to earn a living. Some states permit the debtor to choose between the exemptions provided by state statute or those in 11 U.S.C. § 522(d). Other states (including New York) have "opted out" of the federal scheme, permitting only the state exemptions to be claimed by the debtor.

general unsecured creditor (GUC): individual or institution that lends money without obtaining specified assets as collateral.

means test: Bankruptcy Code § 707(b)(2) applies a means test to determine whether a chapter 7 filing should be dismissed or converted to a chapter 13 case. The statute makes a rebuttable presumption that a debtor is abusing the bankruptcy process if his aggregate monthly income exceeds $12,850, or 25% of the debtor's unsecured debt.

nondischargeable debt:  a debt that cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy, such as a home mortgage, alimony and child support obligations, certain taxes, government-funded or guaranteed student loans, and judgments of restitution or criminal fines on conviction of a crime.

preferential debt payment: a debt payment made to a creditor within the 90-day period before a bankruptcy petition is filed that gives the creditor more than would be awarded in the bankruptcy proceeding.

priority claim: an unsecured claim that is entitled to be paid ahead of other unsecured claims. The Bankruptcy Code ranks unsecured claims to determine the order of payment to creditors when there is insufficient money to pay all claims in full.

secured creditor: a creditor holding a claim backed by a mortgage, pledge of collateral, or other lien, or a debt for which the creditor has the right to pursue specific pledged property upon default.

schedules: detailed lists of a debtor's assets, liabilities, and other financial information filed in a bankruptcy action.

trustee: the representative of the bankruptcy estate who exercises statutory powers, under the general supervision of the bankruptcy court, which include reviewing the debtor's petition and schedules and bringing actions against creditors or the debtor to recover property of the bankruptcy estate. A U.S. trustee is an officer of the Justice Department responsible for supervising the administration of bankruptcy cases.

unliquidated claim: a claim for which a specific value has not been determined.

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, unscheduled debts may or may not be discharged).

- Bankruptcy Basics (Admin. Office of the U.S. Courts)


The American Bankruptcy Institute provides a broad range of information to bankruptcy practitioners, including: bankruptcy statistics, courts and opinions, legislative news,, UCLA-LoPucki Bankruptcy Research Database, and the ABI National Ethics Task Force Issues Matrix, as well as publications such as the American Bankruptcy Institute Journal (subscription required).

American Bankruptcy Institute Journal - covers the entire range of insolvency issues, featuring timely articles written by some of the most knowledgeable professionals in the field.

ABI Bankruptcy Resources - informaiton for consumers.


Bankruptcy Beat (blog).


U.S. Courts: Caseload Statistics Data Tables - includes U.S. Bankruptcy Courts - Business and Nonbusiness Cases Filed, by Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code (New Generation Research) - commercial website provides information on public-company bankruptcy cases, creditor committee and unsecured creditor lists, professional retention information, and a database of private-company bankruptcy filings. It publishes "A History of Bankruptcy" and "Glossary of Bankruptcy Terms," as well as directories of U.S. Courts and U.S. Bankruptcy Trustees, for free.


National Association of Chapter 13 Trustees (NACTT) is an information and communication resource to advance education, leadership, and continuous improvement in the administration of Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. It offers resources for bankruptcy professionals and a consumer site,

National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees (NABT) - "the voice of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee community."

Bankruptcy (National Consumer Law Center).