END THE WORRYING AND GET A FRESH START
ELIMINATE your dischargeable debt FOREVER-- if you qualify for this type of bankruptcy chapter you will truly have a clean slate to work off of. In this type of bankruptcy we must be able to show the court that you have no way of paying back your debt. Prior to 2005, this was easier to do because the Congress had not yet implemented the MEANS TEST. The Means Test looks at your income from the last 6 months.
If you are under the median for your state, then a FRESH START is right around the corner. If you are over the median income, do not worry; we can still find a solution to your problems (and can attempt what we refer to as an aggressive Chapter 7 before exploring a Chapter 13).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Can I file bankruptcy on my own?
Yes. The laws of the United States give you the right to represent yourself in any legal proceeding, and this is no different in bankruptcy. This does not mean that you will gain the results you seek. Think of performing surgery on yourself. You may have the right to do so, but you're better off seeing a doctor instead. The same applies when dealing with the law. A typcial bankruptcy petition consists of more than 50 pages, not including all the required document submissions. Only a trained professional will be able to properly guide you through the steps and preparations of a bankruptcy.
2. How long will it take to file my case once I pay my fees?
Once fees are paid in full and you have taken your 1st mandatory online course and provided all required documentation, we can have your case processed and ready to file within 5-15 days (sometimes less). These times are lightening fast compared to many of the larger firms. Our goal is to always get your case into the court as soon as possible.
If you are faced with a financial emergency, such as a foreclosure or wage garnishment, we can file your case to stop these events or their recurrence on the same day you hire us. We do not charge additional fees simply because you have an emergency.
3. Can bankruptcy stop the sale of my house?
Yes. Filing a bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 can stop a foreclosure sale if the filing occurs at minimum one day prior to the sale date. In a Chapter 7, it can provide you an opportunity to reorganize and plan your next move but it will not save your house from eventual foreclosure.
4. Can I keep my car in a Chapter 7?
Yes. If your car is paid-in-full and exempted under applicable state or federal laws, the court will not take it. In California, exemptions under C.C.C.P. 703 allow approximately $27,000 in car and cash protection (applying the "wildcard" on top of the vehicle exemption).
If you are making payments on a car, you can still keep it after filing for bankruptcy if you continue to pay for it and enter a reaffirmation/assumption agreement (basically stating that you will fulfill the terms of the original loan or lease)
5. Can I keep my house in a Chapter 7?
Yes. If your house is free and clear or there is equity in the home, state or federal exemption laws can only protect a certain amount in what's called a homestead. In California, the current homestead amounts found in C.C.C.P. 704 are:
Single - $75,000 in protected equity
Family unit - $100,000 " "
Debtor is 65 or older - $175,000 " "
Debtor is 55 and cannot work - $175,000 " "
Debtor is disabled - $175,000 " "
If there is no equity in your house, you can keep it through a Chapter 7 if you do one thing only: make your monthly mortgage payments.
6. Will the court make me sell my property to pay off my creditors?
Only if you have more property than can be protected under applicable exemption limits. California offers very generous exemption limits, including a "wildcard" that can protect up to $23,000 in cash and other property not otherwise protected under other sections of the Code of Civil Procedure. Most of the time, debtors in bankruptcy keep everything they want to keep and get rid of all those things they want gone-their debts.
If you have more property than you can legally keep, another option is to file a Chapter 13. This will allow you to keep your property if you can prove to the court that you can pay back the amount of unprotected equity in that property.
Example: Debtor has $100,000 in land (not a home). California will only protect $23,000 of it. Debtor will lose land in Chapter 7 or can keep land in Chapter 13 if Debtor can pay back approximately $70,000 (taking out 8% broker's fees for selling land and trustee fees) over the course of a Chapter 13 plan (over 60 months = approximately $1,166/month)
7. How long will it take to receive my discharge?
A Chapter 7 discharge usually comes 2-6 months after the meeting of creditors (which occurs 30 days after filing). A Chapter 13 discharge usually comes 3-5 years after filing.
8. If I have filed a chapter 7 or 13, how long do I have to wait to file again?
Between Chapter 7s - must wait 8 years between filings to receive discharge.
From Chapter 7 to 13 - must wait 4 years between filings to receive discharge
Between 13 to 13 - must wait 2 years between filings to receive discharge
From 13 to 7 - must wait 6 years between filings to receive discharge.
9. What kinds of questions will they ask me at the meeting of creditors (341 meeting)?
Typically at a Chapter 7 hearing, the questions asked by the trustee are:
1) Have you ever filed bankruptcy before?
2) Did you read the green pamphlet (provided at the court)
3) Did you read your bankruptcy petition, understand it and sign it?
4) Are all your assets and debts included on the petition?
5) Have you paid back any family members in the last year?
6) Have you transferred or sold any property in the last 2-4 years?
In a Chapter 13, the questions are more detailed and pertain more to the proposed payment plan and whether all procedures (such as post-filing payments) have been made.
10. Once I have retained an attorney, will the creditors stop calling?
Most of the time. The smart creditors that confirm legal representation will stop calling for a reasonable period of time until the case is filed. The unreasonable creditors will continue to call until the case is filed and sometimes even after the case is filed (against Title 11 of the U.S. Code). For automatic stay violations, creditors can be sanctioned. Usually, however, a creditor will leave a debtor alone until the case is filed if an attorney is involved. It is always important to maintain the focus on filing the bankruptcy, not just hiring the attorney.