Reliable Answers from a San Diego Bankruptcy Attorney
What is the purpose of filing for bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy laws were passed many years ago by the United States Congress to allow individuals and businesses faced with overwhelming debt to get a fresh start. There are several different types or "Chapters" of bankruptcy that can be used by an individual, a married couple, or a business to either discharge all of their unsecured debt (Chapter 7) or allow them to pay off their existing debts over an extended period of time with no interest (Chapter 13). For more information, you should speak with our San Diego bankruptcy lawyer at San Diego Legal Pros.
How much does it cost?
We have extremely competitive pricing and are confident you will not find better service for a better price anywhere in California. Every case is unique and therefore we try to tailor our fees to match the amount of work involved in each case.
Your case will be handled by a San Diego bankruptcy attorney from start to finish. We don't hand your case off to a paralegal or some other person who doesn't understand the intricacies of bankruptcy law. When you have a question, it gets answered by a bankruptcy attorney. When you call our office, you get to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer. After all, that is what you're paying for, right?
What documents are required to file for bankruptcy?
Click here to see a list of all documents every debtor must gather in preparation for filing for bankruptcy.
What types of debts will not be discharged during bankruptcy?
The discharge granted in a Chapter 7 case generally does not discharge any of the following debt: child support, spousal maintenance, liability for personal injury resulting from DUI, fraud, student loans, and certain taxes. In addition, consumer debt for luxury goods or services incurred within 90 days before filing of the petition, and totaling more than $500 to a single creditor. Also, cash advances obtained within 70 days before filing of the petition, and which total more than $750 from all creditors.
Will anyone know if I filed for bankruptcy?
While California bankruptcy filings are public information, it is unlikely anyone you know will find out you filed.
Do I have to go to court?
No. In most circumstances, there is no "court" hearing; however, you must attend a "creditor's meeting" which is usually held at the Trustee's office in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases. You (both spouses in joint cases) must attend the meeting or your case will be dismissed. This meeting is sometimes referred to as a §341 meeting.
When is the creditor’s meeting?
The court schedules the meeting for about four (4) weeks after the case is filed. The court will mail a notice to you at the address you provide in your petition. The Debt Relief Law Center will also notify you of the date and an attorney will be present to represent you at the meeting.
What should I bring to the creditor’s meeting?
Please show up at least 20 minutes prior to your hearing time to give the attorney time to prepare you and to answer any remaining questions you may have. You should bring a state issued photo ID, your social security card, and the notice sent to you by the court.
What questions will I be asked at the meeting?
The hearing only lasts about five minutes and is relatively informal. While you can be asked about anything relevant to the bankruptcy, in most cases the questions are very limited. For example, you will be asked to verify that the information in the papers which were filed is correct and to advise of any changes. The Trustee may ask about anything in your schedules which he or she does not understand or wants more information about. Some of the common questions asked by the Trustee are:
- Have you listed all of your debts and assets?
- Do you own a home?
- Have you transferred any property?
- Do you have the right to sue anyone for bodily injury?
- Do you expect to inherit money in the near future?
Creditors are not usually present at the §341 meeting, but secured creditors who do attend the meetings will likely want to know where property securing their claims is located.
In a Chapter 13 case, the hearing lasts about 10 minutes. In addition to the questions asked in most Chapter 7 cases, the Trustee will also ask questions to verify that you can afford your Chapter 13 payment and that you are making your best efforts to repay your creditors through your Chapter 13 payment plan.
Who is the Trustee, and what is his / her job?
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the Trustee is the court-appointed official who has two primary roles. First, he or she is responsible for verifying you are eligible for Chapter 7 and that the schedules you signed under oath and filed with the court are accurate.
Second, if the trustee locates any assets that are not protected by state or federal exemptions, he or she is authorized to sell them and distribute the proceeds of that sale to your creditors. In most cases, there are no assets to liquidate, so this is not usually something about which to be concerned.
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, the trustee is the court-appointed official who is responsible for reviewing your proposed repayment plan, making recommendations to the court regarding the feasibility of that plan, and distributing the payments to your creditors under the terms of the plan.
What happens after the §341 hearing?
In a Chapter 7 case, at the conclusion of your hearing, there is very little left you need to do. Occasionally, the bankruptcy trustee will request additional information from you. You are obligated to comply promptly and furnish any requested materials.
Prior to receiving your discharge order, in either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you must complete a Financial Management Course. The course must be given by trained, experienced personnel, and use "learning materials and teaching methodologies designed to assist debtors in understanding personal financial management." It is to be conducted at facilities situated in "reasonably convenient locations," or, by telephone or Internet. In addition, the Financial Management Course is to be given by a non-profit budget and credit counseling agency approved by the United States Trustee.
You may receive correspondence from our office proposing to reaffirm certain secured items, like your house, car, or household goods. Not every lender requires a reaffirmation agreement, but it is very important that you review all correspondence immediately, as once your case has been completed, you may forego your rights to reaffirm certain debts.
Assuming you have met all of the requirements, you will receive a discharge order from the bankruptcy court approximately 60 - 90 days after your hearing. The discharge order is the official court order relieving you of your obligation to pay your bills. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, the discharge order is issued upon your successful completion of the repayment plan. Again, it is very important to save this document, as you will need it to help re-establish credit in the future.
What is a discharge order and why is it important?
The discharge order is the official document relieving you of your pre-bankruptcy obligations. It is evidence of your "fresh start." After your bankruptcy case is completed, you may want to begin re-establishing your credit. When you apply for credit after bankruptcy, the lender may request a copy of the discharge order. Keep your discharge order in a safe and accessible place where you will always know where to find it.
How do I repair my credit after bankruptcy?
Understanding how the bankruptcy process impacts your credit score after bankruptcy is important. Having this information can help the process go a little smoother for you.