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. In the United States, 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 or perjury would then be at the discretion of the judge or U.S. Trustee.
In Chapter 13, debtors retain ownership and possession of all their assets, but must devote some portion of future income to repaying creditors, generally over three to five years. The amount of payment and period of the repayment plan depend upon a variety of factors, including the value of the debtor's property and the amount of a debtor's income and expenses. Under this chapter, the debtor can propose a repayment plan in which to pay creditors over three to five years. If the monthly income is less than the state's median income, the plan is for three years, unless the court finds "just cause" to extend the plan for a longer period. If the debtor's monthly income is greater than the median income for individuals in the debtor's state, the plan must generally be for five years. A plan cannot exceed the five-year limit.
A typical proposal would involve a debtor making monthly payments for a maximum of five years, with the funds distributed to their creditors. Even though most proposals call for payments of less than the full amount of the debt owing, in most cases, the creditors accept the deal—because if they do not, the next alternative may be personal bankruptcy, in which the creditors get even less money. The creditors have 45 days to accept or reject the consumer proposal. Once the proposal is accepted by both the creditors and the Court, the debtor makes the payments to the Proposal Administrator each month (or as otherwise stipulated in their proposal), and the general creditors are prevented from taking any further legal or collection action. If the proposal is rejected, the debtor is returned to his prior insolvent state and may have no alternative but to declare personal bankruptcy.
The most common types of personal bankruptcy for individuals are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7, known as a "straight bankruptcy" involves the discharge of certain debts without repayment. Chapter 13, involves a plan of repayment of debts over a period of years. Whether a person qualifies for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is in part determined by income. As many as 65% of all U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings are Chapter 7 cases.