Understand your options with the help of a Ventura County debt solutions lawyer
Law Office of Michael H. Raichelson has helped the people of Ventura County, Oxnard and all of California relieve crushing financial debt and stress through Chapter 7 bankruptcy for nearly 20 years. Filing for bankruptcy can be a major step towards giving you a fresh start and it is not something to be taken lightly. For your convenience, we have provided the following answers to some frequently asked questions regarding Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
I thought only businesses or deadbeats file for bankruptcy. Should I really go through with this?
Bankruptcy laws are written into the Constitution and have provided countless people with a chance for a fresh start — from Donald Trump and Walt Disney to any number of everyday people who have encountered financial trouble and deserve a break. Yet, there are many misconceptions and other myths regarding personal bankruptcy ― the most common being that it is proof of failure and cause for embarrassment. On the contrary, it is a sign that you are ready to take action and fix the kind of financial problems that only get worse if they are ignored. If you are wondering how to file for bankruptcy, our Oxnard & Woodland Hills bankruptcy attorneys can guide you through every step of the process.
Many people in Northridge and Encino who have conducted careful financial planning find themselves with expenses that far exceed their income. A sudden illness resulting in overwhelming medical bills, divorce, unemployment and unexpected lawsuits are just some of the reasons people file for personal bankruptcy. These are all common occurrences and often are beyond the control of the individual. If you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have the capability to finally eliminate or manage your debts.
What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a legal process that allows a debtor to eliminate most unsecured debts. It is known as “clean slate” or “liquidation” bankruptcy, because any non-exempt assets held by the debtor can be liquidated, or sold, by a bankruptcy trustee in order to pay off creditors. A good number of debtors have no non-exempt assets to liquidate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and in this event, the unsecured debts are discharged completely. Not all debts are dischargeable under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and you should consult with an experienced Oxnard & Woodland Hills bankruptcy attorney to take stock of your assets, property and debts before filing. If you have over a certain amount of monthly income, you may not qualify for Chapter 7 and may be better served filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as a “wage earner's plan.”
What kinds of debt can I eliminate in Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
When attempts at debt consolidation have failed to alleviate your debt situation, you may think you are out of options. Fortunately, the types of debt that drive many people to filing for bankruptcy are dischargeable under Chapter 7. Examples include:
- Credit cards
- Medical bills
- Personal loans
- Business debts
- Certain judgments
- Leases and guaranties
I owe a significant amount of money on taxes. Can those be eliminated?
Most tax debts more than three years old can be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There are other requirements, which include having filed the tax returns two years prior to the Chapter 7 filing and having the taxes assessed 240 days prior. You also must have filed your tax returns truthfully. If you have met those standards, you can discharge tax debt under Chapter 7.
What debts cannot be eliminated under Chapter 7?
Public policy dictates which debts are not dischargeable under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Even if your Chapter 7 filing is successful, you must still pay these debts, although some other forms of debt relief may be available. They include:
- Child support and alimony
- Government-issued student loans
- Debts from fraud or malicious conduct
- Criminal fines and restitution
I am tired of creditors constantly calling me and sending me letters. Will filing for bankruptcy stop this?
If you are concerned about the actions creditors and collection agencies are taking to collect on their debts, you should speak to an experienced Woodland Hills & Oxnard bankruptcy attorney immediately. Certain forms of creditor harassment may be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a federal law that prevents certain actions taken by collection agencies. If they are found to have violated the FDCPA, you may be entitled to money damages, attorney's fees and court costs.
Otherwise, the moment you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an “automatic stay” goes into effect. The automatic stay legally prohibits creditors from taking any action against you without first securing permission from the bankruptcy court. This includes foreclosure, repossession and wage garnishment. They cannot call you, nor can they contact neighbors, coworkers or family members. It even stops the collection efforts of the IRS. Creditors who attempt to circumvent the automatic stay may be subject to serious penalties.
I Still Have Questions. Can You Help Me?
If you live in Sherman Oaks, Encino, Northridge, Van Nuys or anywhere else in Ventura or Los Angeles County, are facing substantial financial difficulties and considering filing for personal bankruptcy, do not hesitate to call the Law Office of Michael H. Raichelson at 818-444-7770 or contact us online for a free consultation.