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LEGAL TERMS

SECURED DEBT

A debt on which a creditor has a lien. The creditor can institute a foreclosure or repossession to take the property identified by the lien, called the collater... (more...)
A debt on which a creditor has a lien. The creditor can institute a foreclosure or repossession to take the property identified by the lien, called the collateral, to satisfy the debt if you default. Compare unsecured debt.

COLLECTION AGENCY

A company hired by a creditor to collect a debt that it is owed. Creditors typically hire a collection agency only after they have made efforts to collect the d... (more...)
A company hired by a creditor to collect a debt that it is owed. Creditors typically hire a collection agency only after they have made efforts to collect the debt themselves, typically through letters (called 'dunning' letters) and telephone calls. Collection agencies are regulated by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Unfortunately, too many collectors ignore this law.

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.

CHAPTER 13 PLAN

A document filed in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in which the debtor shows how all of his or her disposable income will be used over a three- to five-year period to ... (more...)
A document filed in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in which the debtor shows how all of his or her disposable income will be used over a three- to five-year period to pay all mandatory debts -- for example, back child support, taxes, and mortgage arrearages -- as well as some or all unsecured, nonpriority debts, such as medical and credit card bills.

ABUSE

Misuse of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy remedy. This term is typically applied to Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings that should have been filed under Chapter 13, because ... (more...)
Misuse of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy remedy. This term is typically applied to Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings that should have been filed under Chapter 13, because the debtor appears to have enough disposable income to fund a Chapter 13 repayment plan.

CYBERSQUATTING

Buying a domain name that reflects the name of a business or famous person with the intent of selling the name back to the business or celebrity for a profit. T... (more...)
Buying a domain name that reflects the name of a business or famous person with the intent of selling the name back to the business or celebrity for a profit. The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999 authorizes a cybersquatting victim to file a federal lawsuit to regain a domain name or sue for financial compensation. Under the act, registering, selling or using a domain name with the intent to profit from someone else's good name is considered cybersquatting. Victims of cybersquatting can also use the provisions of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy adopted by ICANN, an international tribunal administering domain names. This international policy results in arbitration of the dispute, not litigation.

DOING BUSINESS AS (DBA)

A situation in which a business owner operates a company under a name different from his or her real name. The owner must file a 'fictitious name statement' or ... (more...)
A situation in which a business owner operates a company under a name different from his or her real name. The owner must file a 'fictitious name statement' or similar document with the appropriate agency -- for example, the county clerk. This enables consumers to discover the names of the business owners, which is important if a consumer needs to sue the business.

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.

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.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Jaffe v. Pacelli

... ALDRICH, J. I. INTRODUCTION. In this case, the superior court entered a judgment against a debtor, Zenaida C. Pacelli (Pacelli), that included an award of attorney fees. Years later, Pacelli sought to discharge the debt in bankruptcy court. ... 2. The bankruptcy proceedings. ...

Imperial Merchant Services, Inc. v. Hunt

... section 3287, for a total of $179.41. 385 Hunt filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California (the bankruptcy action). Shortly thereafter, Hunt filed a putative ...

Aceves v. US BANK NA

... deed of trust on her residence. About two years into the loan, she could not afford the monthly payments and filed for bankruptcy under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code (11 USC §§ 701-784). She intended to convert the chapter ...