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When an individual or business can no longer pay their debts, filing for bankruptcy can help them recover. It is also intended to help creditors recover some or all of their money. Bankruptcy law is federal law and thus supersedes any state laws. Bankruptcy is not a state of being. It is a formal legal proceeding that can last from a few months to a few years. Bankruptcy starts when the individual or business files a petition with the bankruptcy court. During bankruptcy, the debtor must make a complete list of all creditors to whom he or she owes money, and these creditors must all be notified. There are multiple types of bankruptcy, depending on the financial state of the individual or company as well as the type of action. In some types of bankruptcy, assets are liquidated to pay off creditors, and any remaining debts are discharged. Other times, the court develops payment plans that fit within a debtor’s realistic financial situation.