When it comes to the new bankruptcy law, I have two rules. First, hire an attorney for bankruptcy, no matter which Chapter -- 7, 11, or 13. The Law Offices of Keith F. Carr handles all three. My second rule is see the first rule.

It seems to me that having an attorney like the Law Offices of Keith F. Carr to file your personal or business bankruptcy is more important than ever given the New Bankruptcy Law. First, you need an attorney to calculate your asset "exemptions." In Chapter 7, 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. But the tabulation of exemptions is not the only reason under the new bankruptcy law. Of fundamental importance, and the second reason for having an attorney file your personal or business bankruptcy, is the qualification for the bankruptcy in the first place. Do you qualify for Chapter 7? Or should you file for Chapter 11 or 13.

The new bankruptcy law has new requirements on the subject that an attorney can readily help the debtor with. There are generally two levels of qualification. First, there is the gross income test. 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.

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? Do you trust a paralegal to do this for you or wouldn't you like to have an attorney with over 20 years of experience in bankruptcy law determine your compliance under the new bankruptcy law? Think about it!

Another reason to have an attorney is that that attorney will be present and represent you at your 341 hearing, otherwise called the "Meeting of Creditors." During the hearing you are questioned about the paperwork that you submitted to the court regarding your assets and liabilities. Would you rather be alone?