By hiring an expert bankruptcy attorney in Fresno, Visalia, or Tulare, you can negotiate the bankruptcy process with ease.   

Every year hundreds of thousands of Americans file bankruptcy, and though it may seem like a common occurrence, navigating the process alone can be terrifying and life changing. While the following information will shed light on what bankruptcy is and how it’s handled in the legal realm, the best way to learn your rights and protect yourself throughout the process is to hire a bankruptcy lawyer in Fresno, Visalia, or Tulare.

What Is Bankruptcy?

Simply put, bankruptcy is the legal means to protect an individual or business from their creditors.  The goal of the bankruptcy is to receive a discharge.  The discharge acts as legal barrier to prevent creditors from pursuing the assets of the person who has completed the bankruptcy legal process.

Bankruptcy puts you on a level playing field with your creditors to allow for a fair, legal, and affordable way to eliminate your debts.

While bankruptcy may be your best option at eliminating your debt problems.  Below we will discuss the several different types of bankruptcy.  Understand that every case is different, and the best way to determine which chapter is right for you is to consult with a bankruptcy attorney in Fresno, Visalia, or Tulare, like Stephen Labiak at Labiak Law.

Types of Bankruptcy:

Chapter 7:

This is the most common form of bankruptcy.  The common name for a chapter 7 bankruptcy is “liquidation.”  When people talk about bankruptcy, what they are referring to is a chapter 7 bankruptcy.

There are two general types of Chapter 7 bankruptcies:  asset and no asset.

  • No Asset Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:  The goal for most debtors is a no asset bankruptcy.  This is achieved by using your bankruptcy expert to use the California Exemptions to maximize the amount of your property that you get to keep.  What a no asset Chapter 7 bankruptcy means is that zero, none, no money of the debtor is used to pay back the creditors of the debtor in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.  The process for a no asset Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically takes 3-4 months from the date of filing.  At the end of this time period, the debtor will receive the discharge, exit the bankruptcy legal proceedings, and no longer be responsible for his/her debts that can be discharged.
  • Asset Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:  this is very similar to a no asset Chapter 7 Bankruptcy except that some money or assets is required from the debtor before the debtor can receive a discharge.  The Debtor will be involved in the same length of court process, 3-4 months on average.  At the end of this time, the debtor receive a discharge.  However, the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case will stay open to allow the Chapter 7 Trustee to administer the estate.  This is to allow the Chapter 7 trustee to pay the creditors from the funds the trustee has collected from the debtor.  The case may stay open for a couple years, but on average is about 9 months to one year for the trustee to administer a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case.  It is important to hire the right bankruptcy lawyer expert to minimize the possibility of ending up in an asset Chapter 7 case.

Chapter 13:

A bankruptcy filed under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code is also referred to as a repayment plan.  The outcome of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is the same as a Chapter 7 bankruptcy:  the debtor receiving a discharge of his/her debts.  In this form of bankruptcy, you and your legal counsel, your bankruptcy expert, come up with a debt repayment plan.  The goal of this repayment plan is to pay back as little as possible while still receiving the discharge at the end of the plan.  This type of bankruptcy is more versatile and powerful when compared to a Chapter 7.  In a Chapter 13, you can eliminate second mortgages, cram down the value of vehicles, spread out tax debt owed to the government, and still even pay nothing to your credit card debts.  The typical plan lasts between 3 and 5 years.  While on its surface, a payment plan of 3 to 5 years might not seem the best idea for bankruptcy when compared to a Chapter 7, your bankruptcy lawyer expert, after analyzing your situation can show you the advantages and disadvantages of using Chapter 13 Bankruptcy or Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.  There is no income limit for filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.  So no matter how much money you make, this option is available to you.

The Other Chapters:

Chapter 11: is basically a big Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for individuals with very large amounts of debts or the only option for corporations that do not want to liquidate.  There are debt limits for a Chapter 13, and if you exceed those as an individual, then a Chapter 11 is an option.  Corporations cannot file Chapter 13, so if a corporation wishes to file bankruptcy and to stay in business, they can opt to file a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.  Chapter 11 filings are rare.

Chapter 12: is a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for fisherman and farmers.  It is designed to account for the uneven income stream of these professions.

Chapter 15: is a bankruptcy that involves property involving multiple countries.  Very rare for this to be used.

Chapter 9: is a bankruptcy for towns, cities, districts, and other forms of government.  So if you are the actual city of Fresno, Clovis, Hanford, Pixley, Tulare, Visalia, Porterville, Madera, Dinuba, Lindsay, Lemoore, McFarland, Selma, Kingsburg, Delhi, or any other town in the California Central Valley, this is the bankruptcy for you.

Which Chapter is Right for Me?

For most individuals in Fresno, Visalia, and Tulare, filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the best option.  No matter your income, no matter your level of debt, no matter how much or how little you own, bankruptcy may be an option to help you solve your debt problem.  The way to make sure you are fully informed, is to consult an expert bankruptcy lawyer.  Labiak Law is the bankruptcy expert to explain the different chapters of bankruptcy and to work with you to make sure your goals are achieved.

With years of experience, our bankruptcy attorneys in Fresno, Visalia, and Tulare will help you navigate the bankruptcy process with ease and efficiency.  Contact us today or stop by one our office locations for more information.  

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