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Why File Bankruptcy?

There are many reasons to file for bankruptcy protection and obtain a fresh start. The most common problem is unmanageable debt. You should not have to struggle to pay your mortgage or rent, car payment and other monthly expenses each month. Bankruptcy can help. The Law Offices of Lin & Wood will sit down with you during a Free Consultation and discuss how the bankruptcy laws can help your situation. Depending upon your income, expenses and assets, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you keep your home.

How long will bankruptcy take?

The time to complete each bankruptcy case varies depending on when attorney fees are paid in full and when your bankruptcy attorney receives the documents necessary to prepare a complete and accurate petition. In a Chapter 7 all attorney fees must be paid in full before the bankruptcy filing. In a Chapter 13, the upfront portion of the attorney fees must be paid in full before the bankruptcy filing. Some clients pay their attorney fees in a single month while other clients pay their attorney fees over multiple months.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Once your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is filed the entire process takes approximately 90 – 120 days to receive a Discharge of your Unsecured Debts. See Chapter 7 Timeline for each step to file Chapter 7.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Once your Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition is filed, the Chapter 13 plan should be confirmed by the bankruptcy court in approximately 90 – 120 days from the date the bankruptcy petition is filed. You must continue to make your monthly Chapter 13 plan payment for the term of the plan. See Chapter 13 Timeline for each step to file Chapter 13.

What about my stuff?

All of the property you own at the time of the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, and your right to receive property in the future, become the property of the bankruptcy estate. This means that the bankruptcy trustee may take control of this property and liquidate it to satisfy your creditors. The good news is that in almost all bankruptcy cases your stuff is protected by exemptions. Part of the information discussed during your free bankruptcy consultation with our best Redwood City bankruptcy lawyer is the stuff you own and the value of these items.

Most of your stuff is exempt and you will be able to keep that property. California has two schedules of exempt property. The set of exemptions you should use depends on the nature and value of your property.

Life After Bankruptcy

What happens after I file a bankruptcy petition?

The bankruptcy court will mail to each of your creditors a “Notice of Commencement of Case,” informing them that you have filed the petition and advising them of the date of the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors.

About three to five weeks after filing the bankruptcy petition, you will be required to attend a hearing presided over by a bankruptcy trustee. Your bankruptcy attorney will appear at the hearing with you. This hearing is called the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors. The trustee is not a judge, but an individual appointed by the United States Trustee to oversee bankruptcy cases.

At the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors the trustee will ask you questions under oath regarding the content of your bankruptcy papers, your assets, debt and other aspects of your financial situation.

In an ordinary Chapter 7 bankruptcy the Bankruptcy Court will automatically grant an Order of Discharge 60 days after the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors.

What is the “Automatic Stay?”

At the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed, your creditors are automatically prohibited from taking any action to collect the debt owed them.

There are some exceptions; a bankruptcy petition does not stay the commencement or continuation of a criminal action, an action to collect spousal support, or an action to enforce a government’s police or regulatory power.

If my creditors ignore the automatic stay, what can be done?

Make sure the creditor is aware that you filed bankruptcy and ask it to stop collection efforts. If the creditor does not respond, you may seek a court order enjoining the creditor from further action or file a complaint against the creditor for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

If you are an individual and are injured by your creditor’s willful failure to comply with the automatic stay, the law allows you to recover actual damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, and, in some circumstances, punitive damages.

Will the fact that I filed bankruptcy appear on credit reports?

The bankruptcy will be listed in credit reports for a period of up to 10 years.

After bankruptcy, can I obtain new credit?

Yes. The decision of whether to extend you credit belongs to each particular lender or credit card company. Normally you will receive credit card applications soon after having your debt discharged. However, the interest rates offered will most likely be high.

How can I re-establish credit after bankruptcy?

You may be able to obtain a secured credit card, where the credit limit is based upon the amount of security given, or obtain credit using a co-signer not long after your case is discharged. You may also apply for gas cards, which usually have low balances and can be paid in full each month.

How long does it take to rebuild credit?

Generally it will take about two years to substantially rebuild your credit. In 18-24 months after a bankruptcy, you may be able to qualify for a mortgage, subject to the economic situation at the time. Several years ago, during the height of the real estate boom, people were able to purchase a house within two years after filing bankruptcy.

In an ordinary Chapter 7 proceeding the Bankruptcy court will grant an Order of Discharge 60 days after your Meeting of Creditors if there are no objections from any