Debt can get out of control quickly. If you live paycheck to paycheck, lose your job or face other financial hardships and reverses, you may find yourself unable to pay your bills, no matter how hard you try. Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be the answer, but if you are considering that option, you need knowledgeable legal counsel to determine whether it is the right step for you and to guide you through the process. At Gates Law Group, A Professional Corporation, we have been helping California individuals and families get out of debt for the past four decades.
Filing for bankruptcy is not simply a matter of paperwork. With few exceptions, before filing, a creditor must first take a credit counseling course. The purpose of the course is to teach you about alternatives to bankruptcy and help you decide if you need to file. We help debtors by explaining the credit counseling requirement, determining if they must comply and helping them sign up for one.
When you file for bankruptcy, you must fill out lengthy forms with detailed information on all of your debts, creditors, income, assets, expenses and prior property transactions. It is important to be thorough, because you won’t be able to eliminate debts you don’t list or to stop creditors you don’t list from harassing or suing you. To qualify for Chapter 7, you most likely will need to pass a means test, which determines if you have enough disposal income to pay at least some of their debts. If you do, your case may be converted to a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Businesses and individuals whose debt is mostly business-related can file for Chapter 7 without taking the means test. We will determine whether you qualify and will handle the paperwork for you.
Once you have filed, your Chapter 7 bankruptcy will take several months. You will need to provide documents proving the accuracy of your petition and might need to answer questions about them. Your creditors must file claims to preserve their rights, but you will have an opportunity to object to those claims. Some of your property may be sold to pay off some of the debts, but you may exempt some types of property from liquidation.
If we represent you, we will guide you through the Chapter 7 process and deal with the court and your creditors.
The final step is the discharge, which eliminates most or all of your debts. There are two main types of debt— secured and unsecured — which are treated differently in Chapter 7. Secured debts are those backed by collateral that your creditor can seize if you default on payments. These include mortgages, car loans and certain installment-purchase plans. You might not be able to discharge a secured debt without surrendering the collateral. Unsecured debts, such as credit card debt, student loans, medical and utility bills, are generally dischargeable with some exceptions. We thoroughly review our clients’ debts, determining the right method to get the maximum amount discharged.
Gates Law Group, A Professional Corporation represents Californians in Chapter 7 bankruptcies. Please call 559-432-9944 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. We serve clients from our main office in Fresno and locations in Paso Robles and Visalia.