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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.

DISCHARGEABLE DEBTS

Debts that can be erased by going through bankruptcy. Most debts incurred prior to declaring bankruptcy are dischargeable, including back rent, credit card bill... (more...)
Debts that can be erased by going through bankruptcy. Most debts incurred prior to declaring bankruptcy are dischargeable, including back rent, credit card bills and medical bills. Compare nondischargeable debts.

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.

NONDISCHARGEABLE DEBTS

Debts that cannot be erased by filing for bankruptcy. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, these debts will remain when your case is over. If you file for Chap... (more...)
Debts that cannot be erased by filing for bankruptcy. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, these debts will remain when your case is over. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the nondischargeable debts will have to be paid in full during your plan or you will have a balance at the end of your case. Examples of nondischargeable debts include alimony and child support, most income tax debts, many student loans and debts for personal injury or death caused by drunk driving. Compare dischargeable debts.

TOXIC TORT

A personal injury caused by exposure to a toxic substance, such as asbestos or hazardous waste. Victims can sue for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and su... (more...)
A personal injury caused by exposure to a toxic substance, such as asbestos or hazardous waste. Victims can sue for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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.

BANKRUPTCY

A legal proceeding that relieves you of the responsibility of paying your debts or provides you with protection while attempting to repay your debts. There are ... (more...)
A legal proceeding that relieves you of the responsibility of paying your debts or provides you with protection while attempting to repay your debts. There are two types of bankruptcies -- liquidation, in which your debts are wiped out (discharged) and reorganization, in which you provide the court with a plan for how you intend to repay your debts. For both consumers and business, liquidation bankruptcy is called Chapter 7. For consumers, reorganization bankruptcy is called Chapter 13. Reorganization bankruptcy for consumers with an extraordinary amount of debt and for businesses is called Chapter 11. Reorganization bankruptcy for family farmers is called Chapter 12.

CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICE (CCCS)

A national non-profit agency that, at no cost, helps debtors plan budgets and repay their debts. One major criticism of CCCS is that each office is primarily fu... (more...)
A national non-profit agency that, at no cost, helps debtors plan budgets and repay their debts. One major criticism of CCCS is that each office is primarily funded by voluntary donations from the creditors that receive payments from debtors repaying their debts through that office. Despite this criticism, most CCCS counselors provide clients with thorough and neutral advice.

FDCPA

See Fair Debt Collections & Practices Act.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Rogers v. Rogers

... In addition to these few assets, the parties accumulated various debts during the marriage. Besides the loan on the Mountaineer, the parties had credit card debt totaling approximately $5000. The parties also owed $23,707.21 on the Wife's student loan. ...

Cunningham v. MBNA AMERICA BANK, NA

... 5th DCA 2004). Such a reading of the counterclaim demonstrates that Mr. Cunningham's claims for violations of the FDCPA and the FCCPA, and for abuse of process, attack MBNA's alleged misuse of the arbitration process to secure payment of a credit card debt. ...

Morgan v. Wilkins

... any person who offers or extends credit creating a debt or to whom a debt is owed, but does not include any person to the extent they receive an assignment or transfer of a debt in default solely for the purpose of facilitating collection of such debt for another. (Emphasis added). ...