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LEGAL TERMS

MEANS TEST

A formula that uses predefined income and expense categories to determine whether a debtor whose current monthly income is higher than the median family income ... (more...)
A formula that uses predefined income and expense categories to determine whether a debtor whose current monthly income is higher than the median family income for his or her state should be allowed to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP

A business owned and managed by one person (or for tax purposes, a husband and wife). For IRS purposes, a sole proprietor and her business are one tax entity, m... (more...)
A business owned and managed by one person (or for tax purposes, a husband and wife). For IRS purposes, a sole proprietor and her business are one tax entity, meaning that business profits are reported and taxed on the owner's personal tax return. Setting up a sole proprietorship is cheap and easy since no legal formation documents need be filed with any governmental agency (although tax registration and other permit and license requirements may still apply). Once you file a fictitious name statement (assuming you don't use your own name) and obtain any required basic tax permits and business licenses, you'll be in business. The main downside of a sole proprietorship is that its owner is personally liable for all business debts.

HOUSEHOLDER

A person who supports and maintains a household, with or without other people. In bankruptcy law, a householder, housekeeper or head of household can claim a ho... (more...)
A person who supports and maintains a household, with or without other people. In bankruptcy law, a householder, housekeeper or head of household can claim a homestead exemption and possibly other exemptions relating to the maintenance of the household.

CURRENT MONTHLY INCOME

As defined by the new bankruptcy law, a bankruptcy filer's total gross income (whether taxable or not), averaged over the six-month period immediately preceding... (more...)
As defined by the new bankruptcy law, a bankruptcy filer's total gross income (whether taxable or not), averaged over the six-month period immediately preceding the bankruptcy filing. The debtor's current monthly income is used to determine whether the debtor can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, among other things.

CREDIT REPORT

An account of your credit history, prepared by a credit bureau. A credit report will contain both credit history, such as what you owe to whom and whether you m... (more...)
An account of your credit history, prepared by a credit bureau. A credit report will contain both credit history, such as what you owe to whom and whether you make the payments on time, as well as personal history, such as your former addresses, employment record and lawsuits in which you have been involved. An estimated 50% of all credit reports contain errors, such as accounts that don't belong to you, an incorrect account status or information reported that is older than seven years (ten years in the case of a bankruptcy).

CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY

The reorganization bankruptcy for consumers, in which you partially or fully repay your debts. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you keep your property and use your inc... (more...)
The reorganization bankruptcy for consumers, in which you partially or fully repay your debts. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you keep your property and use your income to pay all or a portion of the debts over three to five years. The minimum amount you must pay is roughly equal to the value of your nonexempt property. In addition, you must pledge your disposable net income -- after subtracting reasonable expenses -- for the period during which you are making payments. At the end of the three-to five-year period, the balance of what you owe on most debts is erased.

LIABILITY

(1) The state of being liable--that is, legally responsible for an act or omission. Example:Peri hires Paul to fix a broken pipe in her bathroom, but the new pi... (more...)
(1) The state of being liable--that is, legally responsible for an act or omission. Example:Peri hires Paul to fix a broken pipe in her bathroom, but the new pipe bursts the day after Paul installs it, ruining the bathroom floor. This raises the issue of liability: Who is responsible for the damage? Peri claims that Paul is responsible, and sues him for the cost of hiring another plumber to fix the pipe and replacing the floor. Paul, in turn, claims that the pipe manufacturer is responsible, because they supplied him with faulty materials. Both Peri and Paul must prove their claims in court; if Paul and/or the manufacturer is found liable, one or both will have to pay damages to Peri. (2) Something for which a person is liable. For example, a debt is often called a liability.

MEETING OF CREDITORS

A meeting held with the bankruptcy trustee about a month after you file for bankruptcy. You must attend. The trustee reviews your bankruptcy papers and asks a f... (more...)
A meeting held with the bankruptcy trustee about a month after you file for bankruptcy. You must attend. The trustee reviews your bankruptcy papers and asks a few questions. In a Chapter 7, the meeting of creditors lasts a few minutes and rarely do any creditors show up. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, one or two creditors may attend, especially if they disagree with some provision of your repayment plan.

GENERAL PARTNER

A person who joins with at least one other to own and operate a business for profit -- and who (unlike a corporation's owners), is personally liable for all the... (more...)
A person who joins with at least one other to own and operate a business for profit -- and who (unlike a corporation's owners), is personally liable for all the business's debts and obligations. A general partner's actions can legally bind the entire business. See also partnership, limited partnership.