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National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy AttorneysLaw Offices of Stan E. Riddle, Attorneys & Lawyers - Bankruptcy & Taxes, Oakland, CA

Q: Why should I spend money and hire an attorney to file for bankruptcy?
A: In most self-filed bankruptcy cases no debt is discharged because the case fails.  While being a tool that can be used by most anyone, Bankruptcy is a complex legal procedure. It has many deadlines the average person is unlikely to be aware of and requirements you may not meet.  Isn’t it worth the peace of mind knowing that a team of professionals knowledgeable in this process are working for your interests?

Q: If I file for bankruptcy will the trustee repossess all my belongings?
A: This is a very unlikely scenario. Within the rules of bankruptcy there are certain “exemptions” that can be used to protect the value of your assets. An experienced Bankruptcy Attorney will be able to advise you should your assets exceed the exemptions available to you.

Q: Will filing for bankruptcy prevent me from ever having a good credit rating?
A: While not without its costs in the near-term, Bankruptcy is not supposed to punish you for the rest of your days by ending your financial standing. Until you are able to rebuild your credit standing you may not receive the best interest rates . There are lenders who will offer you credit.  Many people will receive credit card offers in the mail soon after the discharge of your case. 

Q: If I file for bankruptcy will my friends and family be notified that I have done so?
A: The only circumstance in which they would is if they are a Co-Debtor with you or a Creditor to you.  Even though bankruptcies are public record, only interested parties within the bankruptcy are notified.

Q: Can bankruptcy stop the foreclosure of my home?
A: Yes, depending on your particular circumstances bankruptcy can either forestall or prevent the execution of the foreclosure process.    With a Chapter 7, you can temporarily stall the foreclosure for a limited time.  A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will allow you to enter into a repayment of the past-due amounts over 3 to 5 years.  After fulfilling this plan you will be current with your mortgage ending the foreclosure.

Q: Can bankruptcy discharge State or Federal tax debt?
A: As a general rule, tax debt that is 3 years old can be discharged, so the short answer is Yes and No.   If your tax obligation was incurred in the last 3 years, you will most likely have to repay it.

Q: Can bankruptcy stop a wage garnishment?
Yes, it will stop a garnishment. 

Q: Can bankruptcy stop a collection lawsuit?
Yes, it can stop a pending collection lawsuit.

Q: I’m struggling under a second mortgage, can bankruptcy help with that?
If your home is upside down in value, we may be able to discharge the 2nd mortgage debt, removeing the lien from your property.  A Chapter 13 and Chapter 11bankruptcy is required to do this.

Q: A lien has been placed on my property, can bankruptcy help with this?
Most liens including Collection Liens, 2nd mortgage liens, HOA liens, etc. can be stripped from your property.

Q: Is it possible that I make too much income to file for bankruptcy?
To file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection there is a maximum income limit to qualify.  If you exceed this income requirement, Chapter 13 may be a better choice for you.

Q: Is there such a thing as having too little debt to file for bankruptcy?
A: It is important that you know what the answer to this question for you and your situation.  It is our suggestion that you be carrying at least $15,000 in debt before actively pursuing bankruptcy assistance.  Filing for bankruptcy costs money and has an affect your financial standing through your credit rating. It is important to reflect on these things when considering bankruptcy relief.

Q: Should I burn through any savings and retirement I might have before considering bankruptcy?
A: Please don’t do this Pension and retirement accounts can be protected within bankruptcy by their own set of exemptions. Unless you have tens of thousands of dollars sitting in checking and savings accounts, the contents of these types of accounts should be protectable too. A reputable bankruptcy attorney should provide you with more information on this topic as part of your consultation.

Q: What is the main difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
A: Also known as a “straight” bankruptcy, in a Chapter 7 the Bankruptcy Trustee liquidates any unexempt assets for repayment to your creditors with the remaining unsecured debts discharged at the completion of the case. Chapter 7 can only pause a foreclosure and cannot assist with the repayment of taxes or certain other debts such as arrears on a car loan.  A Chapter 7 can however discharge most if not all of your debts such as credit cards and medical expenses. Please see our expanded description about Chapter 7 Bankruptcy here.

In the past a Chapter 13 bankruptcy has been called a Wage Earner’s Bankruptcy.  One thing that makes a Chapter 13 bankruptcy different from a Chapter 7 is that it includes a 3 or 5 year plan in which to repay certain non-dischargeable debts, such as back taxes or mortgage arrears. Due to this feature, you CAN stop a foreclosure if you meet the requirements for the term of the plan.  It can also remove liens.  A Chapter 13 bankruptcy has all the features of a Chapter 7 with regard to your unsecured debt.  Further information about Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can be found here.

Q: I have a car loan I’d like to continue, is this possible in bankruptcy?
A: If you are able to become current on any past due amounts and stay current in the future payments you should be able to complete this loan.

Q: I am pursuing a Loan Modification, would bankruptcy disqualify me from receiving one?
All Loan Modifications are entered into voluntarily.  It is ultimately the decision of the  bank and the owners of your loan whether your Loan Modification is approved.  Most banks will continue to consider your case even after you file for bankruptcy.

Q: I am on a fixed income, can I qualify for bankruptcy?
A large number of people living on fixed incomes qualify to file for bankruptcy. 

Q: A Trustee Sale date has been set for my home, can bankruptcy stop this sale?
Unless a realistic plan to restructure your repayments can be achieved, you will only be able to postpone the sale. 

Q: Can bankruptcy discharge medical debts?
A: Either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can discharge medical debts.

Q: I’m married but my spouse doesn’t want to file for bankruptcy, can I file individually?
A: Yes, though your spouse will be asked to provide some basic information about their income as part of the household they will remain unaffected by the bankruptcy as long as the debts you are looking to discharge or manage through bankruptcy are yours alone.

The Law Offices of
Stan E. Riddle

Hilltop Commercial Center
3150 Hilltop Mall Road
Richmond, CA 94806
Main: (510) 868-1765
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Hilltop Commercial Center