WHAT IS CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY?
In Chapter 7, a business or individual debtor obtains a discharge of all debts. A discharge is a court order releasing the debtor from his or her debts. In other words, the debt is wiped out and the debtor no longer owes the creditor any money. A Bankruptcy Trustee [appointed by the court] administers the case and determines if the debtor has assets to pay creditors or if the debtor has no assets to pay creditors.
WHAT YOU GET TO KEEP IN CHAPTER 7
In general, you may keep your home, personal items, household goods, bank accounts, jewelry, and car in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You may also keep your employee pension plans, 401k, and IRA when filing for Chapter 7. An individual debtor may also keep between $50,000.00 and $150,000.00 in equity in that person's home based upon certain circumstances. (For home equity information see California Code of Civil Procedure Section 704.730).
An individual debtor or a business debtor operating as a “sole proprietor” usually does not have assets that the trustee liquidates because they are “exempt” under state law. In California, exemptions of assets are provided by two sets of statutes: California Code of Civil Procedure Section 703.140(a) and Code of Civil Procedure Section 704.010 .
The trustee in charge of your bankruptcy case will sell off your assets which are not exempt. The tabulation of your exemptions obviously should be made prior to bankruptcy filing by an attorney capable of applying the California statutes on exemptions to your assets. This is an integral part of the bankruptcy planning process. Make a mistake in tabulating your California exemptions and you may lose your residence, car, bank accounts, etc.
A Chapter 7 debtor’s discharge will be denied if the debtor
received a Chapter 7 or 11 discharge in a previous case filed within 8
years of the current case. Bankruptcy Code Section 727(a)(8).
NEW BANKRUPTCY LAW
The new bankruptcy law imposes the additional requirement that you
must now obtain a briefing from an approved nonprofit credit counseling
agency within 180 days of your bankruptcy filing. Read more about the New Bankruptcy Law requirements...
Under the new bankruptcy law, there are two levels of qualification.
First, there is the “means test” (based upon gross income). The
individual (and or his/her family) must not have gross income (computed
for the most recent 6-month period) over the median income of the state
of residence as specified in the census data.
If that individual earns more gross annual income than the census
data from the state that he or she lives, then he or she cannot
maintain sufficient current net monthly income (when taking into
account federal and local guidelines for allowable expenses) to pay
creditors a specified amount of money over five years. Read more about the "Means Test"...
As part of the bankruptcy planning process, the Law Offices of Keith F. Carr can compute the appropriate figures and give you a legal opinion as to your compliance with the new bankruptcy law. How are you going to determine your own compliance under bankruptcy law? Do you trust a paralegal to do this for you?