Commencement of a bankruptcy case creates an “estate.” It is against this estate to which the debtor’s creditors must look. The estate consists of all property interests of the debtor at the time of case commencement, subject to certain exclusions and exemptions. In the case of a married person in a community property state, the estate may include certain community property interests of the debtor’s spouse even if the spouse has not filed bankruptcy. The estate may also include other items, including but not limited to property acquired by will or inheritance within 180 days after case commencement.
For federal income tax purposes, the bankruptcy estate of an individual in a Chapter 7 or 11 case is a separate taxable entity from the debtor. The bankruptcy estate of a corporation, partnership, or other collective entity, or the estate of an individual in Chapters 12 or 13, is not a separate taxable entity from the debtor.