Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
If you do not have a sufficiently high or steady income to enable you to pay your debts, you may need a straight liquidation bankruptcy under Chapter 7. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides you the opportunity to liquidate most, if not all, of your debts without making any payments on those debts. It also prevents further collection efforts by your creditors. Thus, Chapter 7 provides you with a means to take affirmative action so that you can start living your life again.
Do I qualify to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
In order to qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you will need to either make less than median income for a household of your size, or show that you do not have disposable income to pay your unsecured creditors. The latter is more complicated than simply taking your income and deducting what you spend each month. There are limitations on what is an allowable deduction, so it is best to leave this determination to a qualified attorney.
What will Chapter 7 Bankruptcy do for me?
Some of the many benefits that can be achieved from a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy are as follows:
You can stop a finance company from repossessing, giving you time to catch up on your payments.
You can temporarily stop foreclosure proceedings against your property, giving you time catch up on your payments or negotiate a loan modification.
With very few exceptions, you can bankrupt all of your unsecured creditors. These include credit cards, personal loans, civil judgments and loan deficiencies resulting from a repossession or foreclosure.
You can end further obligations to creditors whose services you have not fully received, such as from health clubs, dance studios, correspondence courses, leases, etc.
For debts incurred before you filed your bankruptcy petition, no one can bother you, sue you, garnish your wages, or repossess property without court approval.
How does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy work?
If you decide to have us create and file your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, we will begin by pulling your credit report and develop a strategy and timeline for filing your case. If it is necessary for you to delay filing for any reason, we will provide you with tools to stop the creditor phone calls. Once you are ready to file, we will prepare your bankruptcy petition. This detailed paperwork includes descriptions of what you owe, what you own, your current income and expenses, a statement concerning your financial affairs and a statement of intent regarding whether you want to hold onto property you used as collateral. These must be prepared on forms that have been approved by the court.
Much, if not all, of your property will be exempt from the claims of your creditors. Be sure to consult carefully with your attorney. You must disclose to your attorney all of your assets, because if it is not exempted on your bankruptcy petition, it is not protected.
Once the case is filed, the bankruptcy court will file an automatic stay order, barring any of your creditors from taking any further collections or legal action against you without the permission of the court. The Court will also set a date, time and place for a hearing that is called the Section 341 (a) ‘meeting of creditors.’ You must attend this meeting with your attorney and answer questions under oath by the trustee and any creditors who appear. The questions asked at the meeting are about your financial affairs, including your property, past earnings, and the schedules you have filed. If no one objects to your discharge, you will receive your discharge from the debts about 45 days after the meeting of creditors.
Perhaps more than anything, the greatest benefit a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can bestow is peace of mind. Once the Petition is filed, the collections calls and bills cease. Any lawsuit, foreclosure, or garnishment pending against you is stopped in its tracks. After the discharge is entered, you have a real fresh start: zero balances on all your credit cards, medical bills, and personal loans.
How do I get started?
Considering the complexity of Chapter 7, you want to find someone who specializes in bankruptcy. Because bankruptcy law is based largely on state law and exemptions, you want to find a lawyer that specializes in your state.
In contrast to many large volume bankruptcy firms found across the Internet and yellow pages, when you call the Bankruptcy Law Center of Northern California, you will not reach a call center. You will be able to reach an attorney directly. You will most likely reach the attorney who will be putting your plan together, representing you at your confirmation hearing, or dealing with your creditors.
At the Bankruptcy Law Center of Northern California, we realize that many of our clients need help finding all their creditors. To that end, we obtain credit reports for our clients at cost. Finally, while we welcome the opportunity to meet face to face with all our clients, we know that for many of them, free time is a luxury they have long since learned to live without. Understanding this, we’ve set up systems to accommodate the needs of clients who cannot get to our offices.
More than anything, we look forward to helping you get a fresh start so that you can start living your life again.