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Former Oakland Raiders star Warren Sapp files for Chapter 7

Warren Sapp, the former Oakland Raider and Tampa Bay Buccaneer who terrorized quarterbacks throughout the NFL for 13 years, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on March 30. Sapp's filing identified $6.45 million in assets, the more notable of which include a lion skin rug worth $1,200 and 240 pairs of Michael Jordan shoes worth approximately $6,500. He also reported a monthly income of $115,881.

According to court documents, Sapp owes approximately $6.7 million, which includes unpaid child support and alimony. The filing also shows that he no longer possesses his 2002 Super Bowl ring, which he earned as a member of the Buccaneers.

A onetime contestant on TV's "Dancing with the Stars," Sapp continues to work for the NFL Network. His contract ends there in August, and it is unknown whether he will be retained. In any case, this recent decision to go forward with bankruptcy will give the former football star the elbow room he needs to get his finances in order.

Readers in the Escondido area may know that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is generally for the liquidation of the filer's assets, except for those possessions which are exempt. Unlike Chapter 13 bankruptcy, there is no plan of repayment of the filer's creditors. The process under Chapter 7 involves a marshaling of the filer's assets by the bankruptcy trustee, who then sells those assets in order to pay off the creditors in accordance with federal law.

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy process is probably the most misunderstood, as many people believe that such a filing involves repossession of property and the embarrassment repossession evokes. However, the process is often quiet and does not deprive a person of all possessions. In this way, Warren Sapp's very public and substantial filing is unrepresentative of most experiences with Chapter 7.

While bankruptcy court websites are usually available for public viewing, a sympathetic advocate will ensure that standards of strict confidentiality are upheld in order to limit public attention. Additionally, in most circumstances, many personal possessions are exempt from the bankruptcy estate.

Once a Chapter 7 discharge is realized, the individual's creditors are prevented from taking any collection efforts against the filer. And although it can be complicated, the process of Chapter 7 can be the best option for many people seeking a fresh financial start.

Source: USA Today, "Warren Sapp files for bankruptcy in Florida," April 7, 2012

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