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In early 2005, a bill overhauling the U.S. Bankruptcy System passed the Senate, is expected to pass in the House in April, and will likely be signed by the President soon thereafter. The new law is expected to go into effect six-months following President Bush’s signature. Under the new law, if an individual’s income exceeds the state’s median income, then, with a few exceptions, they would be required to file a Chapter 13, an arrangement in which the individual is required to repay debts over time. Under today’s rules, the great majority of bankruptcy filings by individuals are Chapter 7 proceedings, which allows debtors to eliminate most of their unsecured debt (such as credit card debt). In addition, the new bankruptcy law would require individuals who file for bankruptcy to go through credit counseling; the fees to file a bankruptcy proceeding would also increase.

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