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LEGAL TERMS

UNSECURED DEBT

A debt that is not tied to any item of property. A creditor doesn't have the right to grab property to satisfy the debt if you default. The creditor's only reme... (more...)
A debt that is not tied to any item of property. A creditor doesn't have the right to grab property to satisfy the debt if you default. The creditor's only remedy is to sue you and get a judgment. Compare secured debt.

PREFERENCE

A payment made by a debtor to a creditor within a defined period prior to filing for bankruptcy -- within three months for arms-length creditors (regular commer... (more...)
A payment made by a debtor to a creditor within a defined period prior to filing for bankruptcy -- within three months for arms-length creditors (regular commercial creditors) and within one year for insider creditors (friends, family members, and business associates). Because a preference gives the creditor who received the payment an edge over other creditors in the bankruptcy case, the trustee can recover the preference (the amount of the payment) and distribute it among all of the creditors.

REPOSSESSION

A creditor's taking property that has been pledged as collateral for a loan. Lenders will most often repossess cars when the owner has missed loan payments and ... (more...)
A creditor's taking property that has been pledged as collateral for a loan. Lenders will most often repossess cars when the owner has missed loan payments and has not attempted to work with the lender to resolve the problem. A repossessor can't use force to get at your car, but he can legally hot-wire it and even drive it out of your unlocked garage.

AUTOMATIC STAY

An injunction automatically issued by the bankruptcy court when a debtor files for bankruptcy. The automatic stay prohibits most creditor collection activities,... (more...)
An injunction automatically issued by the bankruptcy court when a debtor files for bankruptcy. The automatic stay prohibits most creditor collection activities, such as filing or continuing lawsuits, making written requests for payment, or notifying credit reporting bureaus of an unpaid debt.

DISPOSABLE INCOME

The difference between a debtor's current monthly income and allowable expenses. This is the amount that the new bankruptcy law deems available to pay into a Ch... (more...)
The difference between a debtor's current monthly income and allowable expenses. This is the amount that the new bankruptcy law deems available to pay into a Chapter 13 plan.

NONEXEMPT PROPERTY

The property you risk losing to your creditors when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or when a creditor sues you and wins a judgment. Nonexempt property typicall... (more...)
The property you risk losing to your creditors when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or when a creditor sues you and wins a judgment. Nonexempt property typically includes valuable clothing (furs) and electronic equipment, an expensive car that's been paid off and most of the equity in your house. Compare exempt property.

401(K) PLAN

A deferred compensation savings program in which employees invest part of their wages, sometimes along with employer contributions, to save on taxes. No income ... (more...)
A deferred compensation savings program in which employees invest part of their wages, sometimes along with employer contributions, to save on taxes. No income taxes on the amount invested and any earnings are due until the employee withdraws money from the fund.

BANKRUPTCY TRUSTEE

A person appointed by the court to oversee the case of a person or business that has filed for bankruptcy. In a consumer Chapter 7 case, the trustee's role is t... (more...)
A person appointed by the court to oversee the case of a person or business that has filed for bankruptcy. In a consumer Chapter 7 case, the trustee's role is to gather the debtor's nonexempt property, liquidate it and distribute it proportionally to her creditors. In a Chapter 13 case, the trustee's role is to receive the debtor's monthly payments and distribute them proportionally to her creditors.

LIMITED LIABILITY

The maximum amount a business owner can lose if the business is subject to debts, claims or other liabilities. An owner of a limited liability company (LLC) or ... (more...)
The maximum amount a business owner can lose if the business is subject to debts, claims or other liabilities. An owner of a limited liability company (LLC) or a person who invests in a corporation (a shareholder) generally stands to lose only the amount of money invested in the business. This means that if the business folds, creditors cannot seize or sell an owner's home, car, or other personal assets.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Komarova v. National Credit Acceptance, Inc.

... This lawsuit arises from the efforts of defendant National Credit Acceptance, Inc., to collect a consumer debt from plaintiff Anastasiya Komarova that she did not owe. ... The plaintiffs there, like plaintiff here, were pursued for payment of a credit card debt they did not owe. ...

Dey v. Continental Central Credit

... K. Dey appeals a judgment of dismissal entered after the court sustained without leave to amend the demurrer of Continental Central Credit (Continental) and ... et seq.) Dey contends he stated a cause of action based on a fee defendants charged him to collect a debt he owed a ...

Liceaga v. Debt Recovery Solutions, LLC

... Despite her pleas to the agency that she was a victim of identity theft and had no Sprint account, they appear to have disbelieved her and ultimately reported her "default" to several credit reporting agencies, without advising that the debt was contested, thus harming her credit ...