Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding the concept of bankruptcy in the United States. People sometimes think bankruptcy is an absolute last resort that one finds themselves in, and that, once you file for bankruptcy, your financial future is over and you will never get on your feet again. But the truth is many wealthy and influential individuals (including millionaires and billionaires) have taken advantage of our federal and state bankruptcy laws over the years to do exactly what those laws were meant to do: provide businesses and individuals like yourself with a fresh start, free from debt, so that they can reorganize and once again become profitable, contributing members of our economy and society.
At Access Law Group, we help individuals and businesses navigate the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process in order to have their debts discharged so that they can start over and have a second chance to achieve economic success.
Chapter 7: What it Means in California
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are able to completely discharge your debts, except for certain types of non-dischargeable debts. Dischargeable debt in a Chapter 7 filing includes debt owed on a mortgage, credit card debt, car loans, most judgments in civil cases, and basically any kind of debt related to consumer purchases. The type of debt you cannot discharge in bankruptcy includes alimony and child support, most types of student loans, criminal penalties, claims related to DUIs, and recent income tax debt.
But aside from the list of non-dischargeable debt, filing for Chapter 7 can wipe away your debt in full. The trade-off is that you will surrender the assets you or your business do currently have, which will be liquidated to pay your creditors. You are, however, able to keep certain property as exemptions from the process, including limited allowances for:
- Homestead (house, condo, RV, etc.)
- A Vehicle
- Retirement Benefits and Pensions
Our Chapter 7 attorneys will guide you through exactly what types of debts you can discharge and the exemptions to which you are entitled.
The Chapter 7 Process in California
The process by which you can discharge your debts in a Chapter 7 action are easier than you might expect, but there is a list of tasks that will have to be accomplished to make it final:
- Credit Counseling: Based on federal law, you will need to complete credit counseling within six months of filing for Chapter 7.
- Means Test: You will need to show that your income is within the federal “means test” to prove that you are eligible to file for Chapter 7.
- Preparing Your Filing: A Chapter 7 filing requires you to assemble financial information related to income, assets, and recent transactions.
- Filing: Once assembled, you will file your Chapter 7 documents with the bankruptcy court.
- Appointment of Trustee: The court will appoint a trustee who will oversee your case.
- 341 Meeting: The trustee will call a meeting of your creditors (who are not required to attend) regarding your filing.
- Finalization: If approved, the court will discharge your debts, and your assets (if any) will be liquidated.
Step-by-Step Guidance in Your Chapter 7 Action
The Chapter 7 process may seem daunting, but at the Access Law Group, we have helped many businesses and individuals just like you get out from under crushing debt and start a whole new life, free from the past. Even if you're unsure if a Chapter 7 filing is right for you, our attorneys are happy to walk you through any questions you have in order to get you back on the road to financial freedom. For information on how our attorneys can help with Debt Management, see here.