Bankruptcy Attorney San Jose
Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lawyers San Jose
Millions of Americans are struggling with unmanageable debt. In many cases, this is not due to individuals overextending themselves, but rather being affected by events outside their control, such as the urgent need for medical care, the loss of a job, or a substantial reduction in wages. If you are experiencing this struggle yourself, a very effective method of partially or fully disposing of your debt can be found in bankruptcy. The law firm of Capital Law Offices possesses over 55 years of combined experience in practicing bankruptcy law, and they can assist you in swiftly determining if bankruptcy is the right choice for your particular debt situation. Contact a bankruptcy attorney at the firm for information about the following areas:
Chapter 7 is the preferred method of bankruptcy for the majority of individuals that decide to file. Under this chapter of the bankruptcy code, all non-exempt property belonging to the individual is liquidated, with the proceeds being distributed to the individual's creditors. In many Chapter 7 cases, the person filing has no substantial assets to lose, which makes the debt discharge occur even sooner.
The Chapter 13 process involves the restructuring of debt by way of a payment plan. Rather than attempting to pay many different creditors, an individual will make one lump sum payment each month to a bankruptcy trustee, who will then disburse that payment to the individual's various creditors. Upon completion of the plan, the individual's debts will be considered satisfied, and their bankruptcy proceedings will be complete.
Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13
Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy provide significant benefits to those struggling with debt. However, these benefits differ between the two, as each chapter is intended to serve individuals with specific financial situations. Choosing the correct chapter for you depends on your long and short-term financial goals.
Is Bankruptcy Right for Me?
Bankruptcy is not the correct debt relief choice for everyone. Certain individuals may obtain more effective help by pursuing options such as debt negotiation or debt settlement. If you are seeking some form of debt relief, it is in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable attorney who can help you decide if bankruptcy is the most effective course of action for you.
Alternatives to Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a form of debt relief. There are a variety of debt relief options that serve as alternatives to bankruptcy, including debt settlement, debt consolidation, and debt negotiation. Foreclosure avoidance methods can also serve to relieve one of overwhelming mortgage debt, and these include loan modifications, short sales, and deeds in lieu.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is not mandatory that a person liquidate all of their property and assets in order to repay creditors. There are exemptions to the liquidation process, and these exemptions determine what property one will be able to keep after the bankruptcy proceedings have completed. This may include one's home, car, personal belongings, pension, or other property.
A means test must be completed prior to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The test was instituted as a way to determine valid financial hardship, and prevent abuse of the bankruptcy system. In taking the test, individuals are asked to compare their average monthly income with the mean average income of their state. Those with income levels that exceed the state average will likely not qualify for the process.
Loan modification is a process that can help an individual avoid home foreclosure. It involves a mortgage lender agreeing to modify the terms of a property owner's loan in order to make the monthly payments more affordable. This may be done in several ways, including lowering the interest rate of the loan, or eliminating penalties that have accrued.
Discharging Your Debt
The end goal of filing for bankruptcy is to eradicate one's debt. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 accomplish this in different ways. Discharging one's debt in Chapter 7 involves liquidating assets in order to fund the repayment of creditors. The process typically takes a few months. Discharging one's debt in Chapter 13 involves paying creditors back through a payment plan, and the process can last three to five years.
Debt settlement is used as a way to eliminate a person's burdensome financial liabilities, and it is a viable alternative to bankruptcy. A creditor who settles a debt with an individual is essentially accepting a lump sum payment (or a series of payments) that is less than the full amount owed. This allows a creditor to recover some amount of money without having to resort to costly litigation.
Debt consolidation involves centralizing one's debts into one location in an effort to lower monthly payments and interest rates. This is typically done by acquiring a loan and paying one's debts off with that loan. In doing this, there is now only one monthly payment (the loan) to contend with. A person can also seek the help of an agency to consolidate their debt for them, for a fee.
Debt Consolidation vs. Settlement
Debt consolidation and debt settlement are designed to help a person eliminate substantial debt, but they go about this in different ways. In deciding whether to choose consolidation or settlement for your debt relief needs, you must consider whether or not you are capable of managing monthly bill payments at reduced rates. If you are not, then you may want to attempt to settle your debt with your creditor.
Many creditors and debt collectors utilize illegal practices in their attempts to collect debts, including harassment and verbal abuse. If you have been victimized by unfair collection practices, you can defend yourself against further abuse by contacting an attorney who will work diligently to protect your rights.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) of 1978 was created in order to prevent creditors and debt collectors from engaging in unfair collection practices. If a creditor has violated this act and harassed you while attempting to collect a debt, you may be able to take legal action against them and recover damages.
Freezes on Your Bank Account
There are several options that a creditor can pursue in attempting to collect a debt. One of these options is to obtain legal permission to freeze a debtor's bank account, in order to force repayment of the debt. In freezing the account, a creditor may be able to seize money, or obtain a garnishment of the debtor's wages.
When a person ceases to make payments towards a piece of secured property, the lender can take action by repossessing that property. This happens frequently in cases where a person is no longer able to make monthly car payments. There are defenses against property repossession, including filing for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy court will stop all collection actions aimed at a debtor, including property repossession.
Wage garnishment is a means by which a creditor can collect money that is owed to them by a debtor. It involves taking a portion of each debtor's paycheck until the debt has been satisfied. In most cases, this is a last resort measure for a creditor, and it does require that the creditor obtain a court judgment before proceeding with the garnishment.
Foreclosure is the process of seizing property from a person who is no longer making the required payments towards that property. Mortgage lenders will resort to this practice if enough time has passed without a payment from a borrower. There are a number of legal options that one can use to defend against foreclosure, including a short sale, deed in lieu, or loan modification.
When a person is no longer able to afford their monthly mortgage payments, they may be able to get their lender to agree to a "short sale." This involves the lender selling the property for less than what is owed on the mortgage. While the lender does take a loss, this process allows both parties to avoid the foreclosure process, which can be costly and detrimental to one's credit.
Deed in Lieu
A deed in lieu is an alternative to property foreclosure. It involves a borrower voluntarily giving the deed to a property back to the lender, in exchange for the lender's cancellation of the loan. In doing this, the lender may or may not agree to forgive any deficiency balance that exists as a result of selling the property. Click to learn more about deeds in lieu...
Filing for Bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy is a multi-step process that varies depending on whether a person is filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Generally, it involves filing a bankruptcy petition and relevant paperwork, meeting with a bankruptcy trustee and one's creditors, and either liquidating one's assets (in a Chapter 7 case) or starting on a creditor payment plan (in Chapter 13 cases.)
Benefits to Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy features many benefits. Primary amongst these is securing the discharge of one's debt, but the process also provides relief from creditors and a financial fresh start. A bankruptcy attorney can review your financial circumstances and determine if you will stand to benefit the most by pursuing bankruptcy as a debt relief option.
The Process of Bankruptcy
The bankruptcy process that you experience will depend on which chapter you file for. It may take a few months for your bankruptcy proceedings to come to a close, or a few years. The end result, however, will be that of partially or fully discharging your debt and reclaiming your financial freedom.
Life After Bankruptcy
If one's bankruptcy proceedings are successful, it should result in one's life becoming easier. A person who has completed bankruptcy will be free of most or all debt, and will be able to reestablish a healthy credit score. This will allow the person to eventually obtain full credit and take out loans for vehicles or a home.
The decision to file bankruptcy as an individual, or jointly with one's spouse, should be made based upon a variety of factors, including the type of property owned, how that property is held, and the amount of community debt held between the spouses.
Not all tax debts can be discharged in bankruptcy. However, there are circumstances that allow for the discharge of such debt. If you possess tax debt and are wondering if you can eradicate it through Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, contact an attorney who will be able to determine the debt's eligibility for bankruptcy protection.
In situations where it is not possible to discharge tax debt through bankruptcy, a person may be able to eliminate the debt through tax negotiation. This usually involves obtaining an Offer in Compromise with the IRS, which allows the person to settle the debt for less than what is owed.
What Bankruptcy Can Do For You
If you are considering bankruptcy, or have already decided to file, it is in your best interest to obtain guidance from a skilled attorney. The filing process can be extraordinarily complex, and attempting to move forward on your own may result in mistakes or oversights that prove very costly. An attorney will be aware of these risks, and will help you navigate the proceedings in such a way as to minimize the likelihood of your petition being denied. Contact an attorney from Capital Law Offices today to discuss what options might be best for you.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a FREE initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, please Contact Us online or call at (408)449-6797 today!