Tag: bankruptcy attorney

What You Should Know Before Filing for Bankruptcy

filing for bankruptcy

When debt piles up beyond what you can manage, it can feel like drowning. You receive a constant flood of letters and phone calls from collectors, and the compounding interest takes on a life of its own. For people in this situation, declaring bankruptcy can be an attractive option. It wipes out many, if not all, of your debts and allows you a fresh start. 

However, bankruptcy is not to be taken lightly and is a complicated process. Here is what you should know before filing for bankruptcy.

Two Types of Bankruptcy

The first thing to be aware of before filing for bankruptcy is that there are two primary types of bankruptcy for individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7, also called liquidation bankruptcy, is the more common type. The debtor’s “non-exempt” assets are sold off, and creditors receive the proceeds; after this, the debts are canceled. California, in particular, has generous exemptions regarding the types of property that must be sold, allowing people to keep more of their essential property. However, there is a means test for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, preventing it from being used by high-wage earners.

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt is reorganized, and the debtor must follow a pre-approved repayment plan over three to five years. After completing this plan, the debts are considered satisfied. Chapter 13 is more appropriate for people with a steady income.

Not All Debt Is Canceled by Bankruptcy

People may get the wrong idea that any debt is wiped out by filing for bankruptcy, but that is not the case. Bankruptcy can only eliminate “unsecured” debt, such as credit card debt and medical bills. A debt is secured when it is backed by collateral, as is the case with home and car loans. Creditors of secured debt may still seek to repossess the collateral assets. Also, student loans are not covered by bankruptcy.

Hiding Assets or Going on a Spending Spree Can Get You in Trouble

When people know they will file for bankruptcy, they sometimes convey their assets to others to keep them from being liquidated. They may also go on a big spending spree, thinking the new debt will be canceled, so it’s free money. Both behaviors are considered fraud and can get you in legal trouble. Creditors can also object to recent debt, which will keep you from getting the clean slate you need.

Bankruptcy Is Not Fast or Free

Don’t expect an overnight solution by filing for bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically takes around four to six months to close, while Chapter 13 cases stay open for years. You should also be aware that both types of bankruptcy require hundreds of dollars in filing fees.

Long-Term Consequences

Declaring bankruptcy can provide you with the debt relief you need, but there are lasting consequences. For example, a bankruptcy stays on your credit report for ten years, making it harder to take out a loan or find a place to live.

A Bankruptcy Attorney Can Be a Big Help

It’s important to know what you should expect when filing for bankruptcy.  Hiring a bankruptcy attorney may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but doing so can help you avoid costly mistakes. Filing for bankruptcy is a complicated legal process, and the clerks and judges cannot give you legal advice. A lawyer can also help ensure that you are maximizing the amount of property you are allowed to keep from being sold off, so you’re not starting over from scratch. Schedule an appointment today to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and discuss your options.

What You Need to Know About Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

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If you’ve been injured through someone else’s fault and haven’t been able to recover fair compensation for your injuries, filing a personal injury lawsuit against the other party may be your only option. A lawsuit is a complex and adversarial process for determining the facts of a case and how the law applies to those facts. Here we’ll go over what you need to know about filing a personal injury lawsuit.

However, if you are considering filing a lawsuit, it’s important to consult with at least one attorney first. Because of its complexity, it is easy to make a mistake that can lead to you recover less in damages, have your case dismissed, or even a lawsuit against you.


There’s a strict time period to file a civil lawsuit established by the statute of limitations.  In California, the statute of limitations for most (but not all) personal injury claims is two years. That means a plaintiff must file their lawsuit within two years of the date of their injury. If the time limit is two years and you file a claim after two years and one day, the claim will be dismissed.  However, some claims are on “toll” or on pause. For example, if the plaintiff is in a coma for three years following their injury, the statute of limitations period begins running when they wake up.

Venue and Jurisdiction

It’s not always obvious where a lawsuit should be filed; a plaintiff may have multiple options. They must consider factors related to jurisdiction and venue. Jurisdiction refers to the power of any given court to hear a case. For instance, suppose a plaintiff is a California resident and gets into a car accident in Nevada with a Nevada resident. 

In that case, three separate court systems potentially have jurisdiction over the case: 

  • California state courts
  • Nevada state courts 
  • Federal courts (which have the power to hear cases between residents of different states)

Plaintiffs and defendants may prefer to be in one jurisdiction over another for various reasons, from the rules of procedure to the judges likely to hear the case. Venue is the choice of location within a court system. In the example above, if the plaintiff wants to file their lawsuit in a federal district court, they have a choice between the federal court in Las Vegas or one closer to their home in California.

Bear in mind that the issues of venue and jurisdiction are just about where the proceedings will take place; the question of what laws apply is a separate issue.

Filing the Lawsuit

To officially initiate a lawsuit, a plaintiff must draft a document called a “complaint.” The complaint contains:

  • A statement of facts that supports a cause of action.
  • A demand for judgment for relief.
  • The number of monetary damages sought.

The plaintiff must serve one copy on the defendant and another copy to the courthouse.

They must also file a proof of service of the defendant’s copy with the courthouse. The defendant then has a set amount of time (30 days in California) to respond to the complaint in the form of either a “demurrer” or an “answer.” A demurrer is an objection to the complaint, e.g., that it does not establish subject matter jurisdiction or fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. An answer will likely deny some or all of the facts but does not challenge the complaint itself.

If a demurrer is successful, the judge will dismiss all or parts of the complaint. This dismissal can be with or without prejudice; a dismissal with prejudice means the plaintiff cannot try again.

Before Filing, Speak to an Attorney

Filing a lawsuit means stepping into a world full of complex legal rules that take years to learn. An innocent mistake can cost you your entire case and any hope of recovering damages. If you are even considering filing a lawsuit, consulting with an attorney is your best option. Contact us today to speak to an experienced personal injury claim attorney.

Do I Need a Bankruptcy Attorney?

bankruptcy attorney

Few situations are more stressful than having more debt than you can manage. At those times, declaring bankruptcy might be your best option, but it’s a complicated process. Before you go down that road, you should understand what bankruptcy is and whether or not you need a bankruptcy attorney.

Hiring a bankruptcy attorney might seem 100% counterintuitive—you might say, “I don’t have any money. How am I supposed to pay a lawyer?” While that feeling is understandable, there are a few reasons it’s still a good idea to at least talk to an attorney before making a decision.

Choosing the Right Bankruptcy and Knowing Your Rights

There’s not just one kind of bankruptcy; there are different options that might be better or worse, depending on your situation. The two most common types of bankruptcy for consumers are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. 

Under Chapter 7, also called liquidation, all dischargeable debts will be wiped out at the end of the process, but your assets can be seized and sold off to pay your creditors. 

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is quite different. Called a wage-earners plan, Chapter 13 bankruptcy lets the debtor negotiate a repayment plan. After making the required payments for three to five years, the debts are then discharged, usually without liquidating any assets.

Though bankruptcy is handled exclusively by federal bankruptcy courts, state laws should be considered. Crucially, California bankruptcy laws have generous exemptions that protect many of a

the debtor’s assets from liquidation. If you don’t understand how these exemptions work, you may end up unnecessarily agreeing to sell off assets.

 Proper Filing and Documentation 

Declaring bankruptcy is a fairly complex and document-intensive process. It is easy to file your paperwork incorrectly or forget to include certain documents. Such mistakes can draw things out longer than necessary but also have more serious consequences. There are also filing deadlines that, if missed, can potentially prejudice your case.

It’s possible to navigate the legal and bureaucratic aspects of bankruptcy on your own, but it won’t be a very pleasant experience. An experienced lawyer can greatly cut down the stress of it.

No More Dealing with Creditors

The one thing most people want more than anything when they’ve reached the point of considering bankruptcy is to be done with the endless harassment from creditors. Once a person files for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect. This means that, in theory, creditors must cease trying to collect any debt from you.

In reality, some debt collectors will not stop harassing you, especially if they don’t think they’ll get much via bankruptcy. They may continue contacting you, trying to get as much money as possible. If you have an attorney, insist that any further communications go through them. If the creditors persist, your lawyer should be able to stop it.

Talk to a California Bankruptcy Expert

You don’t have to go through bankruptcy alone. Our attorneys know the process inside and out and can eliminate much of the stress in what is already a very difficult time. We also know how to work out a fee arrangement that works for you and helps you put you back on your feet. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What Happens If I Declare Bankruptcy?

What Happens If I Declare Bankruptcy?

It’s unfortunate that many Americans are loaded down with more financial debt than they can afford. There can be many reasons for this, but typically it’s the result of some significant change in financial circumstances. For example, losing a job can leave someone unable to continue making payments at the same level. If you’ve reached that point, you may be asking “what happens if I declare bankruptcy?”

Depending on the type and size of the debt, there may be a variety of options available before you get to that point. For example, a consolidation loan may help if you need to pay off a few thousand dollars in credit card debt. However, bankruptcy may be the best option or even the only option if you have more significant debt.

Types of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal remedy available to someone whose debts have become greater than they can reasonably manage. At its heart, it’s meant to help a debtor get a fresh start while also allowing creditors to recover some of the money they are owed. Though state law often comes into play, bankruptcy cases are handled exclusively in a federal bankruptcy court.

There are several different types of bankruptcy. Some are meant only for certain professions, such as farmers, and others only apply to businesses. Here we’ll discuss the two most common types of bankruptcy for individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Commonly called liquidation, Chapter 7 is the more straightforward type of bankruptcy, though it’s also more extreme in some ways. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a debtor’s assets are transferred to a trustee, who sells these assets to pay off creditors in an agreed-upon order.

It’s important to note that most disputes in a bankruptcy case do not involve the debtor at all but are rather between creditors as they argue over who gets paid first. At the end of the process, the bankruptcy judge discharges the debts (if they are dischargeable), and the debtor is no longer responsible for them.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Called a wage earner’s plan, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is different from Chapter 7 in that it’s not about selling off the debtor’s assets. Instead, the debtor will propose a repayment plan.

The plan allows them to keep their assets and pay off all or part of their debt over three to five years. At the end of this repayment period, the debts covered by the plan are discharged.

What’s An Automatic Stay?

The most immediate benefit for someone who files for bankruptcy is that creditors’ collection activities are paused (an automatic stay). If a person is at risk of eviction, foreclosure, or having their utilities cut off, the automatic stay stops everything in its tracks. It can be a powerful incentive to file for bankruptcy.

What About Bankruptcy Exemptions?

When someone files for bankruptcy, the issue of exemptions becomes critically important. It’s also one of the more complicated aspects of bankruptcy law.

Under Chapter 7, exemptions mean the debtor is entitled to keep some of the proceeds of the sale of certain assets (such as their home). They may even be able to keep the assets from being sold altogether. Under California state law, generous exemptions mean that most bankruptcy cases are settled with no sale of assets.

Exemptions work differently in Chapter 13 cases but are still very important because they’ll help determine what portion of the debt must be repaid.

The Long-Term Consequences of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy may be the best option for completely overwhelmed people who want to start over, but there are major consequences.

One consequence is the possible sale of personal assets to pay creditors. However, as mentioned above, most cases are resolved with little to no sale of assets.

The most significant consequence of declaring bankruptcy is the damage to a person’s credit rating. Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for seven years, and Chapter 7 bankruptcy remains there for ten years. During this time, you can expect to have a significantly reduced credit score. In addition, it’ll make it difficult to find financing for any major purchase. Also, you’ll likely pay a much higher interest rate if you are able to get financed. For this reason, bankruptcy should not be taken lightly.

Bankruptcy Attorneys in Southern California

Hiring an attorney when you’re overwhelmed by debt may seem counterintuitive. But having expert legal advice can make a major difference in how the process plays out. A lawyer can help you determine what type of bankruptcy is appropriate for your circumstances and how to protect your assets.

For a consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys, contact us today.

Types of Bankruptcy Our Attorneys Can Help With

Attorney with scales, piggy bank, gavel, and house model

The novel coronavirus has shut down businesses of all sizes, many of which have also filed for bankruptcy. Even large companies such as Hertz, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew were no exceptions. One of the latest casualties is pizza chain California Pizza Kitchen, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to this New York Times article,

“More than 6,800 companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, and this year will almost certainly have more. The flood of petitions from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression could swamp the system, making it harder to save the companies that can be rescued, bankruptcy experts said.

Most good-size companies that go into bankruptcy try to restructure themselves, working out payment agreements for their debts so they can stay open. But if a plan can’t be worked out — or isn’t successful — they can be liquidated instead. Equipment and property are sold off to pay debts, and the company disappears.”

Interestingly, while the pandemic hit California hard, Chapter 11 filings are in flux. Bloomberg Law notes that

“confirmed coronavirus cases and Chapter 11 numbers rise and fall in their own rhythms. In fact, Chapter 11 cases steadily dropped in California from March (43) to April (30) to May (27) as confirmed cases increased from 8,221 to 41,897 to 61,821. The two only increased contemporaneously in June 2020.”

While big companies make the news when it comes to bankruptcy, the impact these filings have on the workers are not as reported. You may be an employee whose company is immediately facing bankruptcy. Perhaps you or someone you know is about to file for individual bankruptcy after debt consolidation is no longer a viable option.

If 2020 has taught us something, it’s that events like a pandemic can trigger such great economic uncertainty that puts even the most prepared at risk. Often, even major expenses such as health care bills, job loss and other financial loss can result in bankruptcy. But regardless of the reason, there are ways to recover from financial stress. Our bankruptcy attorneys can help find a solution that fits your needs so you can start over with your finances.

Types of Bankruptcy

Get the legal assistance you need and get your financial fresh start. Find out which type of bankruptcy you qualify for and how our bankruptcy lawyers can assist.

Chapter 7

This type is also called the straight or liquidation bankruptcy. A court will appoint a trustee who will then own your assets to sell and distribute the funds to your creditors. Under current bankruptcy laws, you must pass a means test before filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your current monthly income is below the Southern California adjusted median income, then you automatically qualify. Our lawyers have helped many people file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy after other attorneys told them that they did not qualify. 

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may help you get out of debt by completing a repayment plan over a 3- to 5-year period. Chapter 13 is often the best option for those who cannot pass the Chapter 7 means test or those seeking to protect assets that would be placed at risk by Chapter 7. We explain your options for loan modifications versus bankruptcy and the prospects of reaffirming secured debts. 

Chapter 11

This type is a reorganization bankruptcy and is available to individuals and businesses. In contrast to Chapter 7, the debtor remains in control of business operations under chapter 11 and doesn’t sell off all of its assets. The process involved with Chapter 11 personal or business bankruptcy is far more complicated than either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy. In fact, you or your business will have to be involved in the process for several years in most cases. We can help you through all of these steps and explain each option available to you.

Chapter 15

The main goal of Chapter 15 is to provide cooperation between a foreign debtor, foreign courts and the U.S. Bankruptcy courts. A foreign debtor who had assets in a number of countries would file Chapter 15. Our attorneys have experience assisting foreign debtors with their complicated debt problems. 

Our Bankruptcy Attorneys Can Help

Our boutique law firm offers comprehensive legal services and years of proven experience to help you recover from debt. We also recognize that each case is unique. This is why we deliver creative solutions and fee structures tailored to each client’s needs. Financial relief is possible and we’ll help you navigate the legal process from start to finish. Contact us for a consultation today.