Going bankrupt

Please note that from April 06 2016, all bankruptcy applications must be made online. see bankruptcy online.

Is there any preparation for going bankrupt?

If you are going bankrupt then there are steps that you can take to make the process more comfortable for yourself. I have detailed some pointers and considerations in a guide. Go to the preparing bankruptcy guide for more information.

How will going bankrupt help you?

Going bankrupt will help you wipe the debts that you are unable to repay. People often associate a fresh start with bankruptcy, this is not strictly true. It is a fresh start subject to the consequences that come with bankruptcy. It is important to realise this.

By going bankrupt you will be able to wipe the majority of your debts. You also gain an element of legal protection as the majority of your creditors will not be able to proceed with any enforcement action against you without permission from the court. Please note the word majority here. It is important to realise that not all debts can be wiped through bankruptcy. Similarly, some of your creditors can still take steps to recover their debts.

Who can go bankrupt and what will happen?

A common misconception is that companies go bankrupt. That is not true. In the UK bankruptcy only applies to individuals. Any individual can go bankrupt but you will need to meet the grounds for being able to petition. Luckily there is only one, which is that you are unable to repay your debts. You must owe more than £750.

When you go bankrupt you will be subject to the bankruptcy restrictions and you will also suffer from other implications. You will also be investigated by the Official Receiver unless it is deemed unnecessary, though it is rare not to be. All of your assets that are not exempt from the bankruptcy estate will come under the control of the trustee. They may have to be sold.

What restrictions will apply once I go bankrupt?

From the date that you go bankrupt you will be subject to bankruptcy restrictions which mean you cannot:

  • Get £500 or more of credit either alone or jointly with any other person without informing the lender of your bankruptcy
  • Carry on business (directly or indirectly) in a different name from that in which you were made bankrupt, without telling all those with whom you do business the name in which you were made bankrupt
  • Be concerned (directly or indirectly) in promoting, forming or managing a limited company, or acting as a company director, without the court's permission, whether formally appointed as a director or not

It is an offence to breach the bankruptcy restrictions.

These restrictions are most likely to affect you if you run a business or intend on running a business after bankruptcy.

It is important to remember that there will be an investigation into your affairs. If you meet the grounds for a bankruptcy restrictions order then these restrictions will be prolonged for a period of two to fifteen years. See the bankruptcy restrictions order page for more information.

What are the costs of going bankrupt?

It is unfortunate that going bankrupt costs, you cannot do it for free. Having said that it is arguably cheaper for you than other debt solutions. In recent times the bankruptcy fees have increased and if you are married then you will need to present two separate petitions and pay separate fees. See the filing bankruptcy page for more information.

How long will you be bankrupt?

As you are probably aware, going bankrupt is only the start. Officially your bankruptcy will last until your discharge, which in most cases will occur automatically on the first anniversary of your bankruptcy. It is at this point the debts are wiped. The Official Receiver or trustee may apply to the court for the suspension of your discharge if you have not fulfilled any of the obligations and duties placed upon you. You will then remain bankrupt until you have met specific conditions or until a specified point in time.

Although you are discharged a duty to co-operate with the trustee and the Official Receiver will still exist. Your assets can also be dealt with after your bankruptcy has been discharged.

What duties & obligations do you have?

When you go bankrupt certain duties and obligations are placed upon you by law. This includes things such as delivering up an inventory of your estate, disclosing income increases during your bankruptcy and providing business accounts for the previous three years.

If you fail comply with any of these duties then you may have your discharge suspended or be in contempt of court and liable to be punished accordingly.

How to go bankrupt

To go bankrupt you need to:

  • Get as much information on bankruptcy as possible (use this website)
  • Get advice
  • Complete the required forms (petition and statement of affairs) (see the forms page)
  • File the forms at court and pay the fees

Before taking the plunge it will help you to:

  • Establish at which court you will need to go bankrupt in England or Wales. It will help you to make an appointment in advance as you may have to wait.
  • Make sure you have completed the forms correctly, have them checked and the consequences explained.
  • Make sure that you disclose everything
  • Think about the impact of going bankrupt on your bank account, remember you will still have bills to pay.
  • Establish whether your family or friends are likely to be affected.
  • You should most certainly seek advice, don't make the mistake of not doing so.

It is also worth mentioning that you cannot go bankrupt for free. Further to this you cannot go bankrupt online, only the forms can be completed.

The list goes on, please remember that information and advice are key.

Where can I get help with going bankrupt?

Always go to someone that specialises in bankruptcy and has experience with alternatives to bankruptcy also. You need to make sure that bankruptcy is definitely your best option. You also need to make sure that you are fully informed of how bankruptcy will affect you and your family both now and in the future, particularly if there is a chance that you could encounter any problems.

For more information about the disadvantages of bankruptcy please go to the consequences of bankruptcy page.

If you would like to read more about me then please go to the about me page.