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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Law

California Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you are facing unmanageable levels of debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may allow you to eliminate your debt and start over. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is especially applicable for consumer debt, credit card debt, tax debt, debt due to high medical bills, or debt due to any other circumstances.

Chapter 7, sometimes referred to as "straight bankruptcy" or "debt liquidation," is a simple and inexpensive way to free you of debt. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition will stop creditor harassment and discharge most debts, permanently prohibiting creditors from enforcing claims against you.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy LawWe Can Help

At the Oakland, California-based Law Office of Lawrence L. Szabo, our lawyer and staff can guide you through the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process step by step. We will listen to you, answer your questions, keep you fully informed, and do everything necessary to help you recover financially.

We understand the stress you are under and the worries you face, and we offer compassionate and reassuring counsel tailored to your needs. Contact us to set up a free initial consultation with an experienced attorney. We serve clients throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Chapter 7 Is Not for Everyone

Though many people find Chapter 7 bankruptcy very beneficial, it may not be suitable for you if:

  • You own an operating business. You will not be able to continue to sell your inventory or products after you file a Chapter 7 case.
  • You have a large disposable income. The bankruptcy court can dismiss a Chapter 7 case for "substantial abuse" if your income greatly exceeds your reasonable living expenses.
  • You have substantial assets. In Chapter 7, a court-appointed trustee takes legal control of your assets. You are entitled to claim certain assets exempt from the trustee's control. But the amount of assets you can exempt is limited.
  • You have debts that a Chapter 7 can't discharge. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a better alternative.
  • You want to prevent a foreclosure or repossession. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you reinstate delinquent home mortgages and car loans.

Procedure for Chapter 7

When filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are required to file schedules of your assets, liabilities, income and expenditures. You must schedule all of your debts (including debts you intend to pay) and all of your assets. You are required to certify under penalty of perjury that your schedules are complete and truthful.

To help your lawyer prepare your schedules, you should provide the following:

  • Billing statements and/or collection notices from all of your creditors, including car loans and home loans
  • Recent pay statements from your employer
  • Tax returns from the last two years
  • Lawsuits and foreclosure notices
  • Other documents: see our Bankruptcy Checklist for a fuller list.

Your creditors must stop all collection efforts against you and your property after your case is filed. If they do not, they may be subject to sanctions.

The bankruptcy court appoints a trustee to administer your case. The trustee will determine whether you have assets available for distribution to creditors. Bankruptcy law allows individual debtors to protect certain property from the claims of creditors. California debtors are allowed to protect a minimum of $18,350 worth of property.

You must attend a "meeting of creditors", held 30 to 40 days after your case is filed. The trustee conducts the meeting and will ask you questions about your assets, debts, income, and living expenses. Creditors may, but usually do not appear at the meeting of creditors; they rely on the trustee to determine whether you have any available assets.

Discharge of Debts

Almost all individuals who file chapter 7 obtain a "discharge" of their debts. The discharge is a bankruptcy court order which permanently prohibits creditors from enforcing claims against you. However, the bankruptcy court can deny a discharge if you

  • Fail to keep or produce adequate financial records (especially important if you have operated a business)
  • Fail to explain any loss of assets
  • Commit a bankruptcy crime (for example, concealing assets or making a false statement under penalty of perjury)
  • Fail to obey a lawful order of the bankruptcy court (for example, an order to turnover property to the trustee)
  • Fraudulently transfer, conceal or destroy property

Not all types of debts are discharged under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Examples of debts that are generally not discharged are:

  • Certain taxes
  • Unscheduled debts
  • Alimony and support obligations
  • Student loans and other educational debts
  • Government fines
  • Debts arising from death or personal injury caused by the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence
  • Criminal restitution debts
  • Certain debts incurred in the course of a divorce or separation

Debts that are incurred fraudulently or that are the result of an intentional injury may also be excepted from your discharge. Our attorney can advise you which of your debts, if any, might be excepted from your discharge.

Read more on our Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Information Center.

Contact Us

Please contact us any time for a free initial consultation with our experienced lawyer. Our office is wheelchair accessible.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

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LLS | The Law Office of Lawrence L. Szabo

Lawrence L. Szabo
3608 Grand Ave. STE 1
Oakland, California 94610
Phone- 510-922-0565
Fax- 510-834-9220