Debilitating debt and financial hardship can affect every aspect of your life – it can make you less productive at work, bring on stress and anxiety, make it difficult to maintain friendships and relationships and many other things. While filing for bankruptcy carries a negative connotation, it can actually provide some much-needed relief and a new beginning. In the state of California there are different options when filing for bankruptcy, but one of the more popular options, which provides a “fresh start” is Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 in San Francisco essentially wipes out your debts by liquidating your assets and you will work with an appointed trustee who will sell off your belongings and then distribute the proceeds to whoever you owe money to.
When you file for Chapter 7 in San Francisco all of your assets are fair game, but there are certain exemptions for property that you can protect. The exemptions under Chapter 7 basically allow you to retain basic assets that you need for day-to-day life, like your residence, car, computers or other equipment that you need for work. Anything beyond this likely won’t be covered under exemptions.
Deciding to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it is a process you should navigate with the help of an experienced attorney. After you file for Chapter 7 in San Francisco you will feel incredible debt relief, but there are certain debts that can’t be forgiven such as taxes, alimony, child support and student loans. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy you will need to interview and hire a lawyer who can help you determine whether you qualify for bankruptcy, whether you have any non-exempt assets and how to go about the entire process. Here are some questions to ask your attorney during your initial consultation.
- What type of bankruptcy should I file for? Do I meet the qualifications necessary to file for bankruptcy?
Sometimes individuals may need debt relief but don’t meet the requirements necessary to file for bankruptcy. In order to qualify, your debts need total more than your annual income, it would take you more than five years to pay off your debt even with extreme measures, your debt interferes with other aspects of your life and health, you have no disposable income and your monthly income is below the median level in your state.
- Do I have any non-exempt assets?
Every state has a list of assets that are considered protected or “exempt” from being seized by creditors. Your attorney will know this list well and upon review of your assets can let you know which items are not exempt.
- What is your experience as a bankruptcy lawyer? What is your track record with cases that are similar to mine?
You will want to work with a lawyer who has experience handling bankruptcy filings and can keep up with the ever-changing laws. Also ask your attorney what types of bankruptcy cases they have handled in the past – if you have a complicated case you want to make sure that your lawyer has expertise in this area and can help you.
- What will it cost to file for bankruptcy?
There are certain fees associated with filing the paperwork for bankruptcy, find out from your attorney what is and is not included in the attorney’s fees. Your lawyer will tell you about any additional costs like administrative fees and retainer fees. You can also ask to set up a payment plan and make sure you have it in writing with all items that you will be charged for.
- Are there any complications or issues that you can anticipate coming up in court?
You need to be honest and upfront with your attorney about your financial situation, and your lawyer needs to be honest and upfront with you if they foresee any issues coming up throughout the process. They can let you know if you can expect to lose any property, what the effect on your credit will be, etc.
- How long will it take to complete my case?
Your attorney will walk you through each step of the process and how long you can expect it to take. The completion date of your bankruptcy depends on numerous factors, but you can expect it to take at least four months.
If you have any additional questions about Chapter 7 in San Francisco, please contact our team at Gale, Angelo, Johnson & Pruett P.C., at (916) 290–7778, or fill out the form below and we will get in touch with you to schedule an in-person consultation.