Definition of bankruptcy
bankruptcy (plural bankruptcies)
- A legally declared or recognized condition of insolvency of a person or organization.
- (noun) pre-packaged bankruptcy
- (verb) to file for bankruptcy, to go bankrupt
- (noun) depression, economic downturn, financial crisis, insolvency, recession
- (noun) (figuratively) moral bankruptcy
- (adjective) bankrupt, insolvent
- (adjective) (slang) broke, bust, belly up
- (adjective) (figuratively) morally bankrupt
- (verb) (slang) go broke, go bust, go belly up
Bankruptcy is a legally declared inability or impairment of ability of an individual or organization to pay its creditors. Creditors may file a bankruptcy petition against a debtor ("involuntary bankruptcy") in an effort to recoup a portion of what they are owed or initiate a restructuring. In the majority of cases, however, bankruptcy is initiated by the debtor (a "voluntary bankruptcy" that is filed by the insolvent individual or organization).
Modern insolvency legislation and debt restructuring practices
The principal focus of modern insolvency legislation and business debt restructuring practices no longer rests on the elimination of insolvent entities but on the remodeling of the financial and organizational structure of debtors experiencing financial distress so as to permit the rehabilitation and continuation of their business.
Bankruptcy fraud is a crime. While difficult to generalize across jurisdictions, common criminal acts under bankruptcy statutes typically involve concealment of assets, concealment or destruction of documents, conflicts of interest, fraudulent claims, false statements or declarations, and fee fixing or redistribution arrangements. Falsifications on bankruptcy forms often constitute perjury. Multiple filings are not in and of themselves criminal, but they may violate provisions of bankruptcy law. In the U.S., bankruptcy fraud statutes are particularly focused on the mental state of particular actions.
Bankruptcy fraud should be distinguished from strategic bankruptcy, which is not a criminal act, but may work against the filer.
All assets must be disclosed in bankruptcy schedules whether or not the debtor believes the asset has a net value. This is because once a bankruptcy petition is filed, it is for the creditors, not the debtor to decide whether a particular asset has value. The future ramifications of omitting assets from schedules can be quite serious for the offending debtor. A closed bankruptcy may be reopened by motion of a creditor or the U.S. trustee if a debtor attempts to later assert ownership of such an "unscheduled asset" after being discharged of all debt in the bankruptcy. The trustee may then seize the asset and liquidate it for the benefit of the (formerly discharged) creditors. Whether or not a concealment of such an asset should also be considered for prosecution as fraud and/or perjury would then be at the discretion of the judge and/or U.S. Trustee.
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