The Difference Between Business and Personal Bankruptcy

Drawing The Line: The Difference Between Business and Personal Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a term that sends shudders down anyone’s spine. However, when it comes to understanding the difference between business and personal bankruptcy, many people find themselves lost in the legal jargon and technicalities. This article aims to simplify and explain the complexities surrounding these two types of bankruptcy.

Understanding Bankruptcy

Before diving into the differences, let’s first understand what bankruptcy is. Bankruptcy is a legal process by which one declares that they are unable to pay off their debts. This can apply to both individuals and businesses, paving the way for the difference between personal and business bankruptcy.

Personal Bankruptcy

Personal bankruptcy, also known as consumer bankruptcy, is a process by which individuals can eliminate or repay some or all of their debts under the protection of the federal bankruptcy court. Personal bankruptcy often comes into play when personal financial obligations exceed assets and income.

Business Bankruptcy

On the other hand, business bankruptcy applies to businesses that cannot meet their financial obligations. The primary goal of business bankruptcy is to give the business a chance to reorganize, strategize and come back stronger or to liquidate the business entirely.

The Diverse World of Business Organization

To understand the difference between business and personal bankruptcy, it’s crucial to examine the types of business organizations. Generally, there are three types:


  • Sole Proprietorship;
  • Partnership;
  • Corporation.


Sole Proprietorship and Bankruptcy

In a sole proprietorship, the individual and the business are legally the same entity. If the sole proprietor files for bankruptcy, the business is included as well. The assets of the business vest in the Trustee, subject to Provincial exemptions, and the business debts will be discharged at the end of the process.

Partnership and Bankruptcy

A partnership is a business owned by two or more individuals. In most cases, if a partnership goes bankrupt, the partners are also required to file for bankruptcy since they are jointly responsible for the debts. However, it’s worth noting that there are exceptions to this rule.

Corporation and Bankruptcy

Corporations, on the other hand, are separate legal entities. It means they are distinct from their shareholders and directors, who are generally not liable for the corporation’s debts, except in specific cases. When a corporation files for bankruptcy, it does not necessarily mean that the shareholders also have to file for bankruptcy.

The Role of Shareholders in Bankruptcy

If a shareholder files for bankruptcy, the trustee will usually become the owner of the shares and will try to sell them if they hold any value. This process is separate from the corporation’s bankruptcy process.


In conclusion, the difference between business and personal bankruptcy is primarily based on the type of business organization and the individual’s role in the business. Bankruptcy is a complex process and it’s always advisable to seek professional advice to understand the best course of action based on your unique situation.

Remember, bankruptcy is not the end of the road; it’s a chance to reorganize, strategize, and bounce back stronger.

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