A reader asked:
I was declared bankrupt in October 2012 and discharged 1 year after. My question is about savings. Can I save now without any risk of my savings being taken from me? Also my grandmother wants to put a large sum of money in my name but I’m not sure if it would be safe so the last thing I want is for her to lose money, so I’ve been reluctant to do it.
This article looks in detail at what happens when you are discharged from bankruptcy: the practicalities, the implications for savings and gifts (answering the reader’s questions) and the restrictions that end after discharge.
When do you get discharged?
Almost everyone is discharged 12 months after the date they went bankrupt. (Before 2013 you could get an “early discharge”, but this was ended.)
During the year you are bankrupt, you have to co-operate with the Official Receiver (OR) and give information when asked to do so. The OR isn’t going to expect you to have a perfect memory or receipts for everything bought over the last five years
If you don’t co-operate, the OR may ask the court to suspend your discharge, so you won’t be discharged at the end of the 12 months. This is very rare and you will know if this happens, it isn’t done in secret. If your discharge from bankruptcy is suspended, you will be told by the court whether you have to do anything in order to get your discharge.
What happens when you are discharged
You may have had the day ringed in your diary for months, but nothing visibly happens when you are discharged! You don’t get a certificate or even an email from the OR. If you haven’t heard anything from the OR about your discharge being suspended you can safely assume that you have been discharged.
When you are discharged you are released from your debts (except for any which couldn’t form part of your bankruptcy such as student loans.) Your bankruptcy ends, you are no longer bankrupt!
After discharge, you don’t have to tell the OR about assets or money that you receive, unless you were already entitled to these before your discharge, see below. The events you no longer have to tell the OR about include:
- receiving redundancy money (see Redundancy and bankruptcy);
- getting an inheritance (see Inheriting money when bankrupt); and
- a pension lump sum or money you withdrew from a pension (see Bankruptcy and Pensions).
So the reader can safely be given money by her grandmother – it won’t be at risk at all. And she can save as much as wants – she could have saved a small emergency fund before discharge, but in practice few people can afford to save much at that point.
The various restrictions of bankruptcy also end when you are discharged, unless you have a BRO/BRU, see below, so you will be able to:
- borrow more than £500 without telling the lender you are bankrupt (but if a lender asks if you have ever been bankrupt or insolvent, you still have to reply Yes);
- be a company director;
- change the name of your business if you’re self-employed; and
- buy a council house using the ‘right to buy’ scheme.
Any existing assets may still be sold/claimed by the OR
If you have assets that the OR has told you may have to be sold, then this still applies after discharge. Most assets apart from your home that have to be sold are dealt with within the twelve month bankruptcy period.
There’s a 3-year time limit for selling the family home. If your share of the equity (or your “beneficial interest”) is less than £1,000 three years after you went bankrupt, no action will be taken, the interest will return to you and the restriction at Land Registry will be removed.
NB Most people do not lose any personal possessions when they go bankrupt, see Will I lose my lawnmower? and other questions for details.
This also applies where you have had the right to an asset before your discharge. This can include an ongoing court or insurance case where you may later receive a payout, a distribution from a will where the person died before you were discharged and any PPI or similar reclaims.
That last point surprises and disappoints many people. There is no point in you making a complaint about PPI mis-selling after your discharge because the money will go to the OR, not to you. This is because legally you had the right to make a PPI claim at the point you went bankrupt, so that right is an asset which became the property of the OR when you went bankrupt.
BRO/BRUs – restrictions still apply
If the OR has imposed a Bankruptcy Restriction Order (BRO), or you have agreed to a Bankruptcy Restriction Undertaking (BRU) you will still be discharged after twelve months released from your debts, but you will continue to have a series of restrictions on what you can do for the period of your BRO/BRU.
The government says “Any dishonest or blameworthy behaviour could lead to a BRO” – but most people who go bankrupt think they have been blameworthy to some extent, so it’s important to emphasis that not many people get BRO/BRUs.
IPA/IPOs carry on after discharge
If you have an Income Payments Agreement (IPA) or an Income Payments Order (IPO), you have to make monthly payments to the Official Receiver for three years from the point it was set up. During these three year you have to tell the OR about changes to your income and expenses and the IPA/IPO may be adjusted. Being discharged doesn’t change this.
If you don’t have an IPA/IPO when you are discharged – and more then 80% of people don’t – one can’t be set up later and you don’t have to tell the OR about any changes to your income or expenses. (There is a rare exception – if the OR has applied to court for an IPO before your discharge, then it can be set up afterwards.)
Getting confirmation that you have been discharged
You can ask for a letter from the OR’s office saying that you have been discharged – this is free.
Some lenders, especially mortgage lenders, will want to see a Certificate of Discharge. To get this you need to complete form LOC013 and send it with a cheque payable to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’ to the court that made you bankrupt. It costs £70 for three copies of your Certificate of Discharge, and £10 for additional extra copies.
The details of your bankruptcy are kept on the Individual Insolvency Register for three months after discharge. If you check the register after this, your name should no longer appear, unless you have a BRO/BRU.
What happens to your credit record on discharge?
Your credit rating won’t improve immediately you are discharged. It will take some weeks or even a month or two for creditors to mark your debts as settled/partially settled with a zero balance owing and the bankruptcy marker itself will remain on your file for another five years. After a few months you can start the credit repair process, including getting creditors to correct any records which are wrong, see How to repair your credit record after bankruptcy for details.
“What about… ?”
The Insolvency Service helpline can answer general questions, but if you have any questions about your specific case, the best thing to do is to contact your OR’s office.