Debt & Bankruptcy

Debt Negotiation

The topics of debt negotiation and debt settlement have become a source of confusion to consumers over the last several years. This is mainly due to the fact that thousands of private companies and non-profit organizations have been established with the stated aim of giving debtors an alternative to bankruptcy. In general, this is a noble effort- as bankruptcy should always be used as a last alternative.

The problem that has arisen in the loosely regulated 'Debt Settlement' and 'Debt Negotiation' industries is that most of these private businesses are unlicensed and are not qualified to practice Law. If a licensed attorney in your state has not provided these services- then you will have no legal representation if your case is elevated and would require the protection of the law. Furthermore, you can get locked into payment contracts with these private companies, and be stuck once again with a new debt- and a new legal contract to pay.

If your problems aren’t solved, and what you really needed was legal action or if you needed to file bankruptcy, then you are faced with starting from scratch with an attorney. A good attorney will present you with every possible angle for handling your debt problems. In many cases, your creditors may be willing to give you better terms on your debts simply because they know you are working with an attorney who could potentially file bankruptcy for you. Our law firm has years of experience in using tough negotiations with creditors, and will work every case to its best achievable outcome.





Bankruptcy Law

Like most American families and small business owners, debt is probably among your top concerns and greatest pressures in life. Families across the country have been struggling to make ends meet. You may have questions about your financial situation.

"Will my family's mounting debts result in bankruptcy?"

"What happens if our house goes into foreclosure?"

"How will my family survive?"

"What is the difference between a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?"

"The laws recently changed, do I still qualify for bankruptcy?"

If these questions sound familiar to you or someone you know, stop your worries. Thousands of Americans just like you have reclaimed their lives through bankruptcy and the debt elimination programs we provide at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Minotti, PC. We provide our clients with all the information they need to make well informed decisions about their financial situation. Make the appointment that can stop the worry and make you and your family feel safe and secure. The appointment is FREE. Complete our Free Case Review Form to get started.Free Case Review

We have given you assurances that an attorney can help you, but you may still be wondering if bankruptcy is a financial tool that can help secure your future. It very well may be, but we won't know until one of our trained bankruptcy attorneys meets with you and gains an in-depth understanding of your unique situation. The Law Offices of Thomas J. Minotti, PC help people in financial trouble understand their options, make choices and take actions to prevent debt problems from spiraling out of control. Our firm has a consistent track record of empowering our clients to make informed decisions that protect the security of their families. We know that our attorneys can help you address your concerns about debt, bankruptcy and foreclosure because our lawyers have already helped thousands of people just like you. Whether you are considering filing a consumer Chapter 7 bankruptcy to eliminate your debt or filing a consumer Chapter 13 bankruptcy to stop a foreclosure sale of your home, The Law Offices of Thomas J. Minotti, PC can help. If you need help with a bankruptcy, a foreclosure, debt resolution, difficult mortgage lending or consumer advocacy law, it is never too early to talk to us. The Law Offices of Thomas J. Minotti can give you the skills and tools to restore your good name and fight back when creditors become abusive. We are so confident that you will appreciate our superior level of service that your first appointment with a bankruptcy attorney is absolutely free. We are a debt relief firm. We help people file bankruptcy petitions to obtain relief under the bankruptcy code.

•Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Often called the "liquidation" or "straight" bankruptcy, chapter 7 is primarily used by individuals who wish to free themselves of debt simply and inexpensively, but may also be used by businesses that wish to liquidate and terminate their business.

•Bankruptcy Chapter 13

An individual with a regular income who is overcome by debts, but believes such debt can be repaid in full or part within a reasonable period of time, may file under chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 13 permits the debtor to file a plan in which the debtor agrees to pay a certain percentage of future income to the Bankruptcy Court for payment to creditors. If the Court approves the plan, the debtor will be under the Court's protection while repaying such debts


Foreclosure is the legal proceeding in which a bank or other secured creditor sells or repossesses a piece of real property due to the owner's default on its promissory note. When the process is complete, it is typically said that "the lender has foreclosed its mortgage or lien."

•Debt Elimination

Debt is generally resolved, or eliminated, with bankruptcy. But some people wish to avoid bankruptcy. If you wish to avoid bankruptcy, contact us to discuss other options. In certain cases we can settle your debt for less than the original amount owed. In other cases, we can reorganize your debt.

Additional Bankruptcy Terms >>>>>>

•Adversary Proceeding

A lawsuit arising in or related to a bankruptcy case that is commenced by filing a complaint with the court. A nonexclusive list of adversary proceedings is set forth in Fed. R. Bankr. P. 7001.

•Automatic Stay

An injunction that automatically stops lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishments, and all collection activity against the debtor the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed.


A legal procedure for dealing with debt problems of individuals and businesses; specifically, a case filed under one of the chapters of title 11 of the United States Code (the Bankruptcy Code).

•Bankruptcy Code

The informal name for title 11 of the United States Code (11 U.S.C. §§ 101-1330), the federal bankruptcy law.

•Bankruptcy Court

The bankruptcy judges in regular active service in each district; a unit of the district court.

•Bankruptcy Estate

All legal or equitable interests of the debtor in property at the time of the bankruptcy filing. (The estate includes all property in which the debtor has an interest, even if it is owned or held by another person.)

•Bankruptcy Judge

A judicial officer of the United States district court who is the court official with decision-making power over federal bankruptcy cases.

•Bankruptcy Petition

The document filed by the debtor (in a voluntary case) or by creditors (in an involuntary case) by which opens the bankruptcy case. (There are official forms for bankruptcy petitions.)

•Chapter 7

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for "liquidation,"(i.e., the sale of a debtor's nonexempt property and the distribution of the proceeds to creditors.)

•Chapter 9

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for reorganization of municipalities (which includes cities and towns, as well as villages, counties, taxing districts, municipal utilities, and school districts).

•Chapter 11

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing (generally) for reorganization, usually involving a corporation or partnership. (A chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. People in business or individuals can also seek relief in chapter 11.)

•Chapter 12

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for adjustment of debts of a "family farmer," or a "family fisherman" as those terms are defined in the Bankruptcy Code.

•Chapter 13

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income. (Chapter 13 allows a debtor to keep property and pay debts over time, usually three to five years.)

•Chapter 15

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code dealing with cases of cross-border insolvency.


A creditor's assertion of a right to payment from the debtor or the debtor's property.


Bankruptcy judge’s approval of a plan of reorganization or liquidation in chapter 11, or payment plan in chapter 12 or 13.

•Consumer Debtor

A debtor whose debts are primarily consumer debts.

•Consumer Debts

Debts incurred for personal, as opposed to business, needs.


One to whom the debtor owes money or who claims to be owed money by the debtor.

•Current Monthly Income

The average monthly income received by the debtor over the six calendar months before commencement of the bankruptcy case, including regular contributions to household expenses from nondebtors and income from the debtor's spouse if the petition is a joint petition, but not including social security income and certain other payments made because the debtor is the victim of certain crimes. 11 U.S.C. § 101(10A).


A person who has filed a petition for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.


An individual (or business) against whom a lawsuit is filed.


A release of a debtor from personal liability for certain dischargeable debts set forth in the Bankruptcy Code. (A discharge releases a debtor from personal liability for certain debts known as dischargeable debts and prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any action against the debtor to collect the debts. The discharge also prohibits creditors from communicating with the debtor regarding the debt, including telephone calls, letters, and personal contact.)

•Dischargeable Debt

A debt for which the Bankruptcy Code allows the debtor's personal liability to be eliminated.


The value of a debtor's interest in property that remains after liens and other creditors' interests are considered. (Example: If a house valued at $100,000 is subject to a $80,000 mortgage, there is $20,000 of equity.)

•Executory Contract or Lease

Generally includes contracts or leases under which both parties to the agreement have duties remaining to be performed. (If a contract or lease is executory, a debtor may assume it or reject it.)

•Exemptions, 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. For example, in some states the debtor may be able to exempt all or a portion of the equity in the debtor's primary residence (homestead exemption), or some or all "tools of the trade" used by the debtor to make a living (i.e., auto tools for an auto mechanic or dental tools for a dentist). The availability and amount of property the debtor may exempt depends on the state the debtor lives in.

•Fraudulent Transfer

A transfer of a debtor's property made with intent to defraud or for which the debtor receives less than the transferred property's value.

•Fresh Start

The characterization of a debtor's status after bankruptcy, i.e., free of most debts. (Giving debtors a fresh start is one purpose of the Bankruptcy Code.) Get Started

•Insider (of individual debtor)

Any relative of the debtor or of a general partner of the debtor; partnership in which the debtor is a general partner; general partner of the debtor; or a corporation of which the debtor is a director, officer, or person in control.

•Insider (of corporate debtor)

A director, officer, or person in control of the debtor; a partnership in which the debtor is a general partner; a general partner of the debtor; or a relative of a general partner, director, officer, or person in control of the debtor.

•Joint Petition

One bankruptcy petition filed by a husband and wife together.


The right to take and hold or sell the property of a debtor as security or payment for a debt or duty.


A sale of a debtor's property with the proceeds to be used for the benefit of creditors.

•Liquidated Claim

A creditor's claim for a fixed amount of money.

•Means Test

Section 707(b)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code applies a "means test" to determine whether an individual debtor's chapter 7 filing is presumed to be an abuse of the Bankruptcy Code requiring dismissal or conversion of the case (generally to chapter 13). Abuse is presumed if the debtor's aggregate current monthly income (see definition above) over 5 years, net of certain statutorily allowed expenses is more than (i) $10,000, or (ii) 25% of the debtor's nonpriority unsecured debt, as long as that amount is at least $6,000. The debtor may rebut a presumption of abuse only by a showing of special circumstances that justify additional expenses or adjustments of current monthly income.

•Motion to Lift the Automatic Stay

A request by a creditor to allow the creditor to take action against the debtor or the debtor's property that would otherwise be prohibited by the automatic stay. Get Started

•No-Asset Case

A chapter 7 case where there are no assets available to satisfy any portion of the creditors' unsecured claims.

•Nondischargeable Debt

A debt that cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy. Examples include a home mortgage, debts for alimony or child support, certain taxes, debts for most government funded or guaranteed educational loans or benefit overpayments, debts arising from death or personal injury caused by driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, and debts for restitution or a criminal fine included in a sentence on the debtor's conviction of a crime. Some debts, such as debts for money or property obtained by false pretenses and debts for fraud or defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity may be declared nondischargeable only if a creditor timely files and prevails in a nondischargeability action.

•Objection to Dischargeability

A trustee's or creditor's objection to the debtor being released from personal liability for certain dischargeable debts. Common reasons include allegations that the debt to be discharged was incurred by false pretenses or that debt arose because of the debtor's fraud while acting as a fiduciary.

•Objection to Exemptions

A trustee's or creditor's objection to the debtor's attempt to claim certain property as exempt from liquidation by the trustee to creditors.

•Petition Preparer

A business not authorized to practice law that prepares bankruptcy petitions.


A debtor's detailed description of how the debtor proposes to pay creditors' claims over a fixed period of time.

•Postpetition Transfer

A transfer of the debtor's property made after the commencement of the case.

•Prebankruptcy Planning

The arrangement (or rearrangement) of a debtor's property to allow the debtor to take maximum advantage of exemptions. (Prebankruptcy planning typically includes converting nonexempt assets into exempt assets.) Get Started

•Preference or Preferential Debt Payment

A debt payment made to a creditor in the 90-day period before a debtor files bankruptcy (or within one year if the creditor was an insider) that gives the creditor more than the creditor would receive in the debtor's chapter 7 case.

•Priority Claim

An unsecured claim that is entitled to be paid ahead of other unsecured claims that are not entitled to priority status. Priority refers to the order in which these unsecured claims are to be paid.

•Proof of Claim

A written statement and verifying documentation filed by a creditor that describes the reason the debtor owes the creditor money. (There is an official form for this purpose.)

•Property of the Estate

All legal or equitable interests of the debtor in property as of the commencement of the case.

•Reaffirmation Agreement

An agreement by a chapter 7 debtor to continue paying a dischargeable debt (such as an auto loan) after the bankruptcy, usually for the purpose of keeping collateral (i.e. the car) that would otherwise be subject to repossession.


Detailed lists filed by the debtor along with (or shortly after filing) the petition showing the debtor's assets, liabilities, and other financial information. (There are official forms a debtor must use.)

•Secured Creditor

A creditor holding a claim against the debtor who has the right to take and hold or sell certain property of the debtor in satisfaction of some or all of the claim. Get Started

•Secured Debt

Debt backed by a mortgage, pledge of collateral, or other lien; debt for which the creditor has the right to pursue specific pledged property upon default. Examples include home mortgages, auto loans and tax liens.

•Statement of Financial Affairs

A series of questions the debtor must answer in writing concerning sources of income, transfers of property, lawsuits by creditors, etc. (There is an official form a debtor must use.)

•Statement of Intention

A declaration made by a chapter 7 debtor concerning plans for dealing with consumer debts that are secured by property of the estate.

•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 his/her financial affairs. Also called meeting of creditors


Any mode or means by which a debtor disposes of or parts with his/her property.


The representative of the bankruptcy estate who exercises statutory powers, principally for the benefit of the unsecured creditors, under the general supervision of the court and the direct supervision of the U.S. trustee or bankruptcy administrator. The trustee is a private individual or corporation appointed in all chapter 7, chapter 12, and chapter 13 cases and some chapter 11 cases. The trustee's responsibilities include reviewing the debtor's petition and schedules and bringing actions against creditors or the debtor to recover property of the bankruptcy estate. In chapter 7, the trustee liquidates property of the estate, and makes distributions to creditors. Trustees in chapter 12 and 13 have similar duties to a chapter 7 trustee and the additional responsibilities of overseeing the debtor's plan, receiving payments from debtors, and disbursing plan payments to creditors. Get Started

•U.S. Trustee

An officer of the Justice Department responsible for supervising the administration of bankruptcy cases, estates, and trustees; monitoring plans and disclosure statements; monitoring creditors' committees; monitoring fee applications; and performing other statutory duties.

•Undersecured Claim

A debt secured by property that is worth less than the full amount of the debt.

•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, an unscheduled debt may or may not be discharged.)

•Unsecured Claim

A claim or debt for which a creditor holds no special assurance of payment, such as a mortgage or lien; a debt for which credit was extended based solely upon the creditor's assessment of the debtor's future ability to pay.

•Voluntary Transfer

A transfer of a debtor's property with the debtor's consent.


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