What happens to my debts once I am declared bankrupt?

If you are in serious debt and are unable to keep up repayments, you may be considering a petition for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy orders are granted only in court, so you will need to consult a solicitor for legal advice prior to making your application to ensure that you are eligible and that bankruptcy is the most appropriate solution to your debt problems.

Becoming bankrupt

Your solicitor can make the application on your behalf, although it is worth knowing that it can cost more than £600 in court fees alone.

If your solicitor is successful and a bankruptcy order is granted, then it will affect you until you are discharged. Bankruptcy orders are usually discharged after 12 months have elapsed.

During this time you are considered an undischarged bankrupt, and will be restricted in what you can and cannot do. Once this period is over, the bankruptcy order will remain on your record for the next six years. 

Your debts

The main effect of a bankruptcy order is that responsibility for the management of your debts passes from you to a trustee appointed by the court. This trustee is known as the Official Receiver. The Official Receiver will realise any assets you own, which can include your family home, car and any business.

They are entitled to sell these assets to raise funds for your creditors. During this time, your creditors cannot contact you, as all communication must go through the Official Receiver. Any court actions against you must be dropped. 

Once all assets are realised, the Official Receiver can apply to have your bankruptcy discharged. This is normally around 12 months after the order was originally made. The effect of discharge is that many outstanding debts are written off.


The exceptions to this are student loans, child support payments and debts to the courts themselves, as these are not capable of being written off. Your solicitor can help you prepare your application, as well as talking you through viable alternatives to bankruptcy. 

Call us for free on 0800 533 5787 or use the web-form to the right to speak to an advisor who can put you in touch with the right solicitor for your needs.

Important information

For [selected AoL] law, solicitors will charge a minimum fee of £250 to provide an initial consultation and written opinion on your case. We have a number of recommended law firms in our network who could provide this service to you at the most competitive price. If you would like to proceed, click ‘Paid advice’ below and one of our advisors will call you on a free-of-charge basis to discuss this further with you.