Tag: deciding

Can one person file bankruptcy separately

One Spouse Filing Bankruptcy: Everything You Need to Know

One Spouse Filing Bankruptcy

All you need to know about one spouse filing bankruptcy individually or separately

Can one spouse file bankruptcy without the other?

Can one spouse file bankruptcy without the other? In consultations, that’s one question I get asked a lot. When we’re married in California, everything is presumed to be joined and shared. So, can a married person claim a bankruptcy? The answer is, “Yes.” Even though someone is married, they have every right to file bankruptcy without the other spouse. They have their own Social Security number and their own credit history. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

I’m a bankruptcy attorney practicing in Los Angeles County in California, which is a community property state. All of the information here is specific to California. If you are in a different state, even if it’s community property, this information may not apply, and you should find a bankruptcy lawyer near you. Consult with your bankruptcy lawyer or if you’re in the greater Los Angeles county area, contact me for a consultation.

If I file bankruptcy individually without my spouse, do I include their finances?

Yes, in California, a community property state. A debtor needs to disclose all of their assets, and those of the community. 11 USC 541(a)(2). When we get married and say “I do” here, there is a general presumption that every asset or dollar acquired by either person is community property and belongs to both. Calif Family Code 760.

So regardless of whose name is on the paycheck, bank account, or monster truck, the general marital community property presumption says that if it was acquired during the marriage, it belongs to you both (even a personal injury or wrongful death claim). And when one spouse files bankruptcy, he or she must list the income, stuff, and financial data of the other spouse. For this reason, this factor is no advantage for only one to file, as all the info comes in either way.

Do I have to list the debts of my spouse if I file bankruptcy separately?

Family Code Section 910 says, “…the community estate is liable for a debt incurred by either spouse before or during marriage, regardless of which spouse has the management and control of the property and regardless of whether one or both spouses are parties to the debt or to a judgment for the debt.” California FC Section 914(a): “..a married person is personally liable for the following debts incurred by the person’s spouse during marriage: A debt incurred for necessaries of life of the person’s spouse before the date of separation of the spouses.”

Given that, if you are liable for a debt, it is your debt. The bankruptcy petition tells you to list all your debts. Including those of your husband or wife. The bankruptcy trustee will ask if the papers list all of your debts. You must list all debts you are liable for, and that would include those of your spouse in California. Ask your bankruptcy attorney for more on your specific situation.

If my spouse files bankruptcy, will it affect me?

“Will filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy affect my spouse?” This question understandably comes up a lot. Affect is such a broad word. It’s almost certain that the bankruptcy will affect the spouse, though how varies from case to case. It may affect the spouse if it’s a Chapter 13 and the community income — that is both pay checks — are used to fund the debt consolidation. It might affect the spouse emotionally.

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It could affect the spouse that their debts should be included in the bankruptcy even though the spouse isn’t filing, and affect the credit of the spouse, and the accounts are closed even though they’re being paid on time.

If you file bankruptcy and your spouse doesn’t, I won’t need their Social Security number or their signature on anything. While I’m happy to meet them, if they truly don’t want to be involved, they need not attend any consultations or court hearings. However, as their financial information is included because of the community property presumption, it will likely affect the spouse in some way.

Is there a benefit to me if my spouse files bankruptcy and I don’t?

There are pros and cons to weigh and assess when trying to decide if only one or both spouses should file. There are benefits. Yes, because one spouse can file bankruptcy for both, that’s a benefit. If your spouse files bankruptcy and you don’t, there is one obvious benefit to you: you don’t have a bankruptcy on your credit report. Their bankruptcy should be eliminating your eligible debts also as nonfiling spouse, and the effect is to discharge the debts of both spouses, husband and wife, even though only one person filed. It can be a two-for-the-price-of-one transaction.

Will filing bankruptcy hurt the credit of the nonfiling spouse?

Yes. While the married person not filing (fancy term: non-filing spouse) won’t have a bankruptcy on their credit report, their debts should be in the bankruptcy. And when debts are in a bankruptcy, the accounts are typically closed, and reported negatively to Experian, Trans Union and Equifax credit reports. Not “bankruptcy” bad, but still, it should result in derogatory marks on their credit report since the accounts are no longer paid “as agreed.”

My spouse is disabled, unavailable, or isn’t capable of testifying. Can I sign or testify for my spouse in my bankruptcy?

Not without something more. Whoever files bankruptcy has to testify as to the truthfulness of the papers. This is done in two ways: one in signing the papers under penalty of perjury, and a second time at the 341(a) meeting of creditors. If your spouse is physically not available, or mentally or cognitively unable to testify, you cannot testify for them, without some additional permission and evidence.

Can I use a power of attorney to file bankruptcy for someone else?

The ability to use a power of attorney for a bankruptcy can vary by jurisdiction and is subject to local rules and practice. For example, some courts allow Power of Attorney. United States v Spurlin, 664 F. 3d 954, 959 (5th Cir. 2011), but see also locally here In re Foster, 2012 WL 6554718 (9th Cir. BAP 2012), which says a POA cannot be used in lieu of signature on a pro se complaint as it is construed as practicing law without a license.

There’s a possible solution where you get court permission to represent your spouse or someone else. In the Central District of California, this is called a “next friend.” FRBP 1004.1 says a bankruptcy court will recognize a personal representative appointed by another court or the bankruptcy court has authority to appoint a next friend. The standard is that petitioner is unable to litigate his own cause due to mental incapacity and the next friend must have significant relationship with and is truly dedicated to the best interests of the petitioner. Coal. of Clergy, Lawyers, & Professors v Bush, 310 F. 3d 1153 (9th Cir. 2002). There are various types of evidence that may be used to show incapacity. AT&T Mobility v Yeager, 2015 WL 6951291, at 5-6 (E.D. Cal. 2015). This will incur extra work and legal fees, and may not always be necessary.

If one spouse files bankruptcy, does the other spouse get bankruptcy protection?

As usual in law… it depends. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is special in that it has something called a co-debtor stay of Section 1301. Both spouses are liable on the debts of the marriage, regardless who who incurred it or manages the finances. Family Code 910. So, both spouses are typically liable for all debts. This means that if you file bankruptcy and your spouse doesn’t, that they’re still protected by the codebtor stay if only one of you files Chapter 13.

Great, but is there bankruptcy protection if only one spouse files Chapter 7?

Yes, but not for the nonfiling spouse. Chapter 7 bankruptcy only protects the person or people who filed. And spouses in California, while they are liable on debts incurred during the marriage, are not protected by the automatic stay if they don’t sign the petition and schedules and file bankruptcy. However, once the filing spouse gets a discharge, their property cannot be collected against or it’s a discharge violation.

So, most creditors don’t collect against the nonfiling spouse, since their assets are the same assets as the person who filed and got the discharge. But beware: Family Code 914 says that the separate property of the nonfiling spouse can be collected on, if they have any (most don’t).

In most Chapter 7 cases, the creditors don’t collect against the other spouse where one files, but are allowed to, even give them a lawsuit. They just can’t use the judgment from a lawsuit to touch community property assets. As that usually is everything, most collectors don’t bother. But they can.

As you weigh pros and cons, what is the benefit of certainty in Chapter 7 of both parties being absolutely protected from creditor calls and collections worth? If it’s a lot, is it “bankruptcy on your credit report” a lot? Talk with your bankruptcy attorney. There may be other variables in your unique circumstances.

Can a lien be placed on my house for my spouse’s debts?

Generally, yes. Because of the Calif Family Code sections above, both spouses (and their assets) are liable for the debts of the other in a marriage. So, if Spouse A got a big credit card debt, there could be a credit card lawsuit resulting in judgment. A judgment lien can then be attached against the asset which Spouse B also owns (typically community property acquired during the marriage in Calif). Filing bankruptcy and getting the automatic stay would stop the lawsuit, and protect that community asset. 11 USC 541(a)(2)(B).

Can they garnish my paycheck for my spouse’s debts?

Again, yes. See above. Both spouses — and their community assets — are liable for debts incurred during the marriage under the California Family Code. A paycheck belongs to both spouses, regardless of whose name is on it. There is also the issue if one innocent spouse can be liable for the fraud of the other. So the general answer is, yes, they can garnish your paycheck for the debts of your spouse, and vice verse.

Summing up

The intersection of bankruptcy law and community property confuses many people, including attorneys in California. There is not always one best answer to the question, “is it better for us both to file bankruptcy jointly together, or just one spouse separately.” Is it possible to file individually? Yes. What’s best for you and your unique circumstances? Contact me or set up a free Zoom consultation with the link at the top of this page and let’s go over it together. Thanks for reading.

bankruptcy dos and don'ts

12 Crucial Tips Before Filing Bankruptcy

12 Crucial Tips to Do (and Avoid) Before Filing Bankruptcy

Los Angeles Bankruptcy lawyer explains what to do and don’t before seeking a fresh start

If you’re thinking about filing bankruptcy, what you do you beforehand has more of a bearing on the success of your case than how well the papers are completed. As a longtime Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney, I must make the best of the circumstances that are presented to me. Sometimes these situations are, shall we say, less than ideal.

What follows, in no particular order, are just some of the things I wish the people I meet with had done, or avoided doing, before we met for the consultation.

Do disclose all your income, asset, and debts

Just before we meet, in the brief questionnaire I send you, disclose to me all the various income streams you have, all the things you own, and all the people and companies you owe. All means all. Tell me about that small online business. Share me with me that 1967 classic car in showroom condition. Inform me about that embarrassing gambling debt. This way, I can give you the best advice. This prevents before us both being surprised when the vast investigative power of the government finds it and brings it to our attention at your 341(a) Meeting of Creditors. Then it’s too late (ask Boris Becker). Tell me now so I can help you strategize and navigate, honestly and ethically.

Dos and Don'ts

Don’t repay loans to your family

Look, we all get it. You don’t want to hurt your loved ones, and bankruptcy will wipe out that debt to your Aunt Gertrude. But taking care of family and not repaying your other debts sure seems a lot like playing favorites. Which it is. And the Bankruptcy Code has a fancy word for that: insider. When you repay the debt owed to a relative in the months before you file bankruptcy, it creates a situation where the Chapter 7 trustee can go after the money and spread it out more fairly.

File all your tax returns

If you’re going to benefit from bankruptcy, you need to show you’ve been satisfying your obligations to the federal government, including reporting your income. It’s understandable that you’ve been falling behind on filing your tax returns each year. Maybe you’re a year behind. Maybe you’re four. It’s easy to get into avoidance, and then you feel guilty, because you know if you submit your 1040s it’ll just say you have even more debt you can’t pay. But file them. All the returns. If you owe, you don’t need to send a check in with the return. But let’s find out what you owe. And this also prevents the very bad situation of the IRS filing a return for you (called a substitute for return or SFR). Just do it, let’s find out what you owe, and craft a strategy.

No spending sprees

This one is simple: don’t run up your credit cards. The fact that you still have thousands of dollars left under your credit limit is irrelevant. Just say no. Avoid large purchases. Stop luxury spending. No cash advances. You don’t get a spending spree. In fact, using your credit cards prior to filing bankruptcy is evidence of fraud, particularly if the credit card files a lawsuit in the bankruptcy. Fraud doesn’t go away with the Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge; it remains your debt after the case is closed. So, don’t use your credit cards before you file bankruptcy.

Read my Ultimate Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Guide.

Don’t give away, sell, or transfer anything to anyone

Fraudulent transfer sounds pretty scary — and it is — and it doesn’t even require fraud or bad intent. Because most bankruptcy cases focus on assets, making an asset go away in the months and years prior to filing bankruptcy gets a lot of scrutiny. The trustee has the power to go after the person you gave or sold the thing to and take it away and sell it for your debts. The sad irony is in many cases, the asset could’ve been protected had it stayed in your name. In short, don’t try to game the system: the system has been around for centuries, most trustees for decades, and they have the investigative power of the government behind them. Tell me about the asset, don’t move anything around before filing, and let’s see if I can use a bankruptcy exemption to protect it.

Stay away from Zelle, Venmo, and cash apps

Here in the 2020s, cash apps like Venmo and Zelle are common. They’re convenient, and make it super easy to transfer money to and from your bank accounts. That’s also the downside: all that money flowing in and out and being exchanged with your friends and relatives at the very least looks like extra income & unnecessary expenses, and at worst, like transfers. And what did we just learn about transfers in the last paragraph? That’s right, they’re bad. You don’t want to explain each and every transfer on your bank statements to your lawyer, and then, to the trustee. You’re better off using your debit card to pay for things, or even a personal check like a primitive cave-dweller.

Think twice about buying a car before you file bankruptcy

A car debt is different from the spending spree tip, in a few ways. It’s just one purchase, though it’s a big one. Also, it’s a secured debt attached to a collateral (the vehicle). And, in bankruptcy, you don’t get a free car, or house. If you want to keep the thing, you need to stay current on the payments. However, some courts or trustees may look at a brand new car payment from a contract entered into on the eve of bankruptcy with a suspicious eye. It lowers the amount you have available to repay your debt. The Supreme Court in Milavetz weighed this very issue (examining 526a4). You’re at a bankruptcy website, so you’re clearly thinking about filing. So, before getting a vehicle loan, you probably should meet with a bankruptcy attorney.

Don’t make the big chunk of money disappear

Few things can complicate a bankruptcy more than a massive sum of cash you had two years ago being completely spent. It could be that pandemic relief PPP or SBA loan. Maybe you cashed out a home refinance, or a 401k or other retirement account. Or perhaps you sold a house and put the proceeds in the bank. Or got a recovery from a car accident. The issue is that you didn’t use this money to repay debt, but instead, funded a luxurious lifestyle and now you want to wipe out debt you chose not to repay. When asked where the cash sum went, the guaranteed answer: “it’s all gone.” The Office of the United States Trustee (OUST) will be very interested where the all-gone money went, and you should be prepared to provide a line-item analysis showing how every dollar was spent, using bank statements as supporting evidence.

Documents: get your ducks in a row

In bankruptcy, you’ll be testifying under oath. However, documents can be used as evidence. So, you should have ready (or be prepared to get ready), a year’s worth of bank statements, a Zillow printout to see if your home is over the median home price, a credit report (they can be obtained for free), at least two years of tax returns, and at least six months of pay stubs for the means test. Sure, we can sit down at your consultation and rip open all your untouched credit card statements you bring to us in a crumpled paper bag in one big cathartic unsealing ceremony. But the more efficient option is to have all these documents downloaded or saved as PDF files.

Scan documents or use a free phone scanning app

Speaking of which, your bankruptcy lawyer will love you if you can scan documents in PDF format to email to them as attachments. This is not the same thing as taking a picture of each page of your tax return. This also does not mean a screenshot of your bank balance. And, for the love of all things holy, don’t use the cell phone to take a picture of the computer monitor showing the credit report. Instead, either invest in a scanner, or, more affordably, a free PDF scanning app for your Android or Apple device. With these free PDF scanning programs, you can use the camera to capture pages of a document, and then make it a PDF for your bankruptcy attorney. A little bit of effort here will make you your bankruptcy attorney’s favorite client.

Don’t bank where you owe, and avoid Wells Fargo

Don’t have a checking or savings bank account at the same bank where you have a debt. Why? Because you have already or will soon start missing credit card payments to that bank’s credit card. When that happens, they likely have the right or authorization to take your money from the bank account to pay the debt in a bank setoff. You don’t necessarily need to close the account, but just don’t keep money in there you’d be upset about if they took it.

Also, do you know what bankruptcy attorneys talk about when we socialize? Our agreed-upon and utter dislike for Wells Fargo Bank. Why do some of us bankruptcy lawyers hate Wells Fargo with the fire of a thousand suns? Because they’re one of the very few banks that will freeze our clients’ money, even if there’s no WF credit card with them. They don’t take it, only freeze it. But that distinction is unimportant when you need to pay rent or buy food and you can’t get at your own money because Wells Fargo has has a policy which amounts to punishing you for filing bankruptcy. Wells Fargo and bankruptcy don’t mix.

Do meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney

Get a consultation from a skilled bankruptcy lawyer. Most will charge a reduced rate to meet with you, and it’s worth every penny given the hazards you face if you don’t. It’s true you can file your own bankruptcy, and do not need to retain counsel. However, given all the risks and dangers you face, the time spent completing a bankruptcy attorney’s intake questionnaire and then answering their questions while they advise you is worth 1,000 times what you give. They’ll tell you if a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a better option, what you could lose in a 7, or if waiting is best. You’re not under any obligation to hire that lawyer, but when you feel the relief and peace of mind, I’m pretty confident you just might want to. If you’re in the greater Los Angeles area, give me a call or send me a message; I’ll be happy to help.

    California bankruptcy exemptions can save your house.

    New! 2023 California Homestead Exemption Increased by Inflation

    2023 California Homestead Exemption, increased by inflation

    The 2023 California homestead exemption numbers are already available, and different from last year, and even the original range of $300,000 to $600,000. In fact, in 2023, they top out even higher than $600,000, which helps you save more of your home from creditors than the homestead exemption could in 2022. Why? Because of inflation. The new California homestead exemption is tied to the CPI, or consumer price index. And everyone knows things lately aren’t cheap.

    Basics about exemptions

    Chapter 7 bankruptcy is liquidation; the bankruptcy trustee can take your stuff. They don’t take the shirt off your back, but at some point they draw the line regarding what you can keep. These are the bankruptcy exemptions, and each state has its own. The California exemptions include a way to protect home equity.

    There are two sets of California bankruptcy exemptions. California bankruptcy attorneys call these the 703s and 704s. The California homestead exemption is found in the 704s, at California Code of Civil Procedure 704.730. If you choose this way, you lose other things, including the ability to protect a tax refund. Meet with a bankruptcy attorney to find out what’s best for you.

    The Three Homestead Exemptions in California Before 2021

    The California homestead exemption can save your house.
    Talk to a experienced bankruptcy attorney about the California homestead exemption

    In the old days, and by that, I mean prior to 2021, the California homestead exemption was based on the characteristics of the person filing bankruptcy, not the location of the real estate. It was subdivided a few ways. Firstly, there was the bankruptcy exemption that a single homeowner gets. This was in old subsection (a)(1). Most recently, a single person who lived in a house gets to protect $75,000 of home equity under the California exemptions.

    Secondly, there was a higher exemption for a married person’s residence. This was in (a)(2). The California homestead exemption for a married person is $100,000 in the last year of this system.

    Finally, if you can tick one of three boxes, you would get the superduper $175,000 homestead exemption in California’s bankruptcy exemptions. To level-up and qualify for this, you have to either be:

    • 65 years old;
    • have a disability that prevents gainful employment; or,
    • 55 years old, and make below a certain income level that changes from time to time

    This may seem simple, but what exactly is “disabled?” What does “as a result of?” What is the income level, and which time period is measured? Also, a good thing about the $175,000 California homestead exemption is that it would extend to the spouse of the person filing Chapter 7. So if the debtor is, say, 63 years old, but their husband is 67 but really doesn’t want to file bankruptcy, the 63 year old who does file Chapter 7 bankruptcy gets the $175,000 homestead exemption in California anyway.

    In the right circumstances, someone filing consumer bankruptcy can protect a lot more house equity under this third option, which is less than the minimum after the law changed in 2021.

    The new California Homestead Exemption starting in 2021

    Then, in 2021, the California homestead exemption increased dramatically. This provided tremendous relief to California homeowners. What this means to the person contemplating filing bankruptcy is that more of their home equity can be protected. Why? Because they really do take houses in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

    Previously, the amount of home equity which could be protected was inadequate and hardly kept up with the inflated Calif real estate. But then in 2020, COVID-19 struck, and people were suddenly unable to pay their rent and mortgages. Partially in response to the pandemic, the state legislature passed and the governor signed a dramatic increase to the California homestead exemption.

    The result is a system which depends upon the location where the house is, and has nothing to do with marital status or age. And this makes sense, as a homeowner in Ventura County probably has a higher home value than someone who owns a home in Lancaster CA. It’s now tied to the median home price for the previous year.

    So, starting in 2021, homeowners who’ve lived at a home for 4 years or more get a minimum of $300,000 of home equity protection, and a maximum of $600,000 of California homestead exemption, based on what is, or was, mysterious data. What exactly is the county median home price? In Los Angeles and Orange County, a consensus slowly formed about the amount of the Los Angeles County median home price. And it changes each year (more on that below).

    But be warned: if you haven’t lived there that long (and there are other factors which could jeopardize the new massive California homestead exemption), you don’t even get the $300,000 minimum.

    Los Angeles County median home price 2023 and Exemption Inflation Calculator

    You will want to consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney before you risk losing your house.

    2023 California Homestead Exemption: Updated numbers

    The 2023 homestead exemption amount adjusts starting on January 1, 2023. Due to today’s historic inflation, the California homestead exemption in 2023 will be higher than in 2022, which was higher than the the initial range of $300,000 to $600,000.

    Why? CCP 704.730 (b) says: “The amounts specified in this section shall adjust annually for inflation, beginning on January 1, 2022, based on the change in the annual California Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the prior fiscal year, published by the Department of Industrial Relations.” So let’s walk through the progression.

    Warning: there are those who think that the CPI adjustment is applied only to last year’s median, and not last year’s adjusted number. Or put differently, there is disagreement as to whether the CPI adjustments stack up other CPI adjustments, or go only to last year’s median. If the adjustment applies only the most recent year’s median, that will make this year’s homestead exemption lower. Beware!

    In 2021, the top limit for the California homestead was $600,000. Then, in June 2021, the CPI was 297.447, a 4.4% increase from the June the previous year. Applying that factor to the homestead amounts, that would increase both ends of the spectrum to $313,200 and $626,400. As inflation in 2022 is higher yet again, 2023 California homestead exemption will be even more than that.

    Now, in 2023, we do the same thing all over again. With such high inflation recently at 8.27%, the 2023 California homestead exemption will be a little over $675,000. To be more precise, the 2023 inflation-adjusted range of the California homestead exemption is $339,189 and $678,378. To see how these numbers are reached, check out our own custom calculator for county median home price to reach the homestead exemption after adjusting for inflation. This will be helpful for the many counties whose median home price is between these two numbers.

    2023 California homestead exemption chart los-angeles-bankruptcy-net
    2023 California homestead exemption chart

    Fun fact: Do you have to actually live at the home to get the exemption? For how long? Find out more here.

    Be careful in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It’s not always the best type of bankruptcies.

    Read my 12 crucial tips before filing bankruptcy.

    Don’t go it alone

    You really should consult to a qualified Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer, as you get what you pay for, and it’s not worth risking your home. If you don’t do this right, you’re literally gambling with your house.

    Schedule a Zoom consult with me, and let’s talk.

    bankruptcy attorney

    3 Reasons You Need a Bankruptcy Attorney

    3 Reasons Why You Need a Bankruptcy Attorney

    Technically, you don’t need a bankruptcy attorney. But going through this process without one is crazy, and the few pennies saved can cost you your bank account, car, or house. To help explain, here are five reasons why you should retain a Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer. (Specifically, one who’s been voted best bankruptcy attorney four times and chosen by L.A. bankruptcy lawyers to be President twice).

    1. Bankruptcy lawyers can give legal advice

    Trust a licensed lawyer.

    Sure, you can have a paralegal prepare your documents. But that’s all they can do. They cannot practice law, and cannot even tell you whether you should do a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13. Only a lawyer (and preferably a bankruptcy attorney) can give legal advice. Sometimes, legal document assistants give advice, and they’re violating California law.

    Only a bankruptcy attorney who has passed the California Bar can give you legal advice. There are lots of people who didn’t pass the bar who claim to know as much as a lawyer. But legally, without a bar license, they’re only allowed to type the information you give them. You are completing the papers yourself, and they just take what you say and type it up. They may offer to do more, but now they’re veering into practice of law territory. And if they’re wrong, you have no one to complain to. They’re not accountable for their mistakes and innocent consumer debtors get burned.

    A bankruptcy attorney, not a dabbler.

    Once you’ve decided to retain an attorney for your debt solution, you don’t want just any lawyer. You will want a legal professional skilled and experienced in this very specialized field of law. Not just anyone, but a bankruptcy attorney.

    Just because a counsel files bankruptcy cases doesn’t make them a bankruptcy lawyer any more than riding in an airplane a dozen times makes you a pilot. There are lots of attorney dabblers out there who will file bankruptcy cases. They’ll also take car accident cases, divorce and custody matters, and then help you plan your will and living trust. But they lack the experience and insight to stay focused on the changes (and danger spots) of this narrow field of law.

    At Los Angeles Bankruptcy, I only file bankruptcy cases, and have stayed focused as a laser beam on this field for two decades. When the law changed in 2005, a lot of bankruptcy lawyers fled the field or diversified taking on dog bite cases or whatever because things became slow. I kept doing only bankruptcy. When the housing crisis and Great Recession came in 2009, I got busy, and saw a flood of new dabblers trying to make a buck off the disaster.

    When the economy recovered in the years after 2014, bankruptcy filings went down, but I remained specialized on just bankruptcy. Now that COVID and lockdowns wrecked havoc with the economy in 2021, the future is uncertain. But what is certain is that I continue to practice bankruptcy cases, and only bankruptcy cases. I’ve helped thousands of people and discharged over $50,000,000 in credit card debt. This dedication is what makes a bankruptcy attorney, and is what you want. There are just a handful of us in Los Angeles. I’m one of them, and would like to help you, too.

    2. It’s affordable with a payment plan

    Affordable payment plan

    A good Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer has an affordable payment plan. This is how we’ve been able to stay in business for two decades, helping people who don’t have a lot of money. When you consider that you’re going to discharge tens of thousands of dollars of debt, paying a skilled professional a fraction of that is smart insurance.

    You are able to file bankruptcy on your own to try to save a few bucks. But at what long-term cost? “It’s just forms!” Many people who try to do all their own forms end up having their cases dismissed, and maybe have to wait 6 months or more to file again, even if they want an attorney to help them. In the meantime, all their bills and debts and creditors can call again at home and at work or even sue or foreclose.

    Protecting your assets

    And even if the bankruptcy case you file yourself doesn’t get dismissed, you have to worry about whether the bankruptcy trustee can take some of your stuff. You can try to research yourself exemptions and whether you can use a wildcard and homestead, but it can be confusing. And again, a paralegal can’t help you with bankruptcy exemptions because that’s practicing law without a license.

    A skilled bankruptcy lawyer can advise you before you even file your case what risk you may have. Then, in preparing to file, can take steps to minimize any exposure or risk you’ll lose things by properly filling out exemptions.

    And while you might think, “how hard can this be?” There’s still a lot of confusion among bankruptcy attorneys about the California homestead exemption, the L.A. County median home sale price, and gotchas on how to lose the homestead exemption. There are tons of ins and outs, nooks and crannies, and one wrong step and you lose your house. Trust a professional with your valuables. Otherwise, you’re literally betting your house.

    3. We’re respected by peers and appreciated by clients

    So you’ve reviewed bankruptcy FAQ, learned about the types of bankruptcies, know you need to file bankruptcy and now decided to retain a bankruptcy lawyer. But now you just need to find someone that can trust. A lawyer who specializes in consumer debt to help you with something that will shape your financial life for years to come.

    Respected by other bankruptcy lawyers

    We are humbled to have been chosen by some of the best Los Angeles bankruptcy attorneys to be President of the cdcbaa, the largest association of consumer debt lawyers in Southern California. Then after guiding the organization through the COVID chaos, Hale Andrew Antico was elected President for a second term in 2021, and continues to serve on its board of directors. Mr. Antico doesn’t just attend continuing legal education webinars, he hosts and moderates the panels attended by other bankruptcy lawyers.

    Prior to leading cdcbaa, Mr. Antico was selected by his peers and bankruptcy judges and trustees to be President of the Southern California Bankruptcy Inn of Court. This is an organization of bankruptcy judges, bankruptcy trustees, and of course debt lawyers. The Inn of Court’s focus is on elevating the practice of law with presentations while also building relationships between the different groups of members above

    Appreciated by clients

    Hale Antico was honored to be voted best bankruptcy lawyer in local newspapers not once or twice, but four times. This shows a level of trust and appreciation by clients who know the level of service we provide.

    Further, we are blessed to receive so many 5-star reviews on Yelp and Google. This is important when trying to find an attorney not only skilled and experienced in this nuanced specialty, but with the care and compassion for what can be an emotional decision and process.

    Summing Up

    In short, you want not just an attorney, but a bankruptcy lawyer to help you with a confusing maze-like procedure. You’re also going to want someone with an affordable payment plan, who is able to protect your assets so you don’t lose things in the bankruptcy. And finally, you want someone who is respected by other Los Angeles bankruptcy attorneys, and appreciated by the thousands of clients he’s helped for twenty years.

    The choice is simple: Hale Andrew Antico of Los Angeles Bankruptcy .net. I’d be honored to have the opportunity to help you.

    Contact us

    For most people, it really pays to contact a lawyer who knows this area. You get what you pay for. Don’t delay: set up a consultation with an affordable bankruptcy lawyer and let us help you now.

      Guide to pick the Best Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney

      Ultimate Guide to Find the Best Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney

      Ultimate Guide to Find the Best Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney

      When you find yourself with debt and trapped, you might find yourself wondering “who is the best bankruptcy attorney near me.” There probably is no one “best bankruptcy attorney” but there are some criteria you can evaluate. Then, maybe you can find who might be the best bankruptcy lawyer for you.

      best bankruptcy attorney lawyer

      You’re shopping for a bankruptcy lawyer, and while you’d like him or her to be the “best bankruptcy lawyer in Los Angeles” (or “best bankruptcy lawyer near me” wherever you happen to be), what you really want is someone experienced, skilled, and qualified.

      Their lawyer websites can tell you a lot about the person you’re evaluating. Look around them, explore. Read. This is what they put out there to public as their resume, their billboard. They’re expecting you to judge them by their attorney websites. And after that, if one really appeals to you, ask them questions in person.

      Between their websites and in-person interviews, try to find out how they stack up with the following factors.

      Best Bankruptcy Attorney should know…. bankruptcy

      Firstly, when you’re looking for someone that’s the best at something, insist on someone who does it, and only it. So, for your possible bankruptcy filing, insist on a bankruptcy lawyer. And that means someone that does only bankruptcies. You don’t want someone who dabbles.

      The saying “jack of all trades, master of none” applies here. Bankruptcy is a very specific specialty. There are lots of nuances, and twists and turns. You don’t want a part-timer here. Expect someone who makes their living in this, who is immersed in it.

      Some giveaways would be the following. Look at the lawyer web site. Does the lawyer do only bankruptcy cases? Or do they also do dogbites and divorces. Does the website include helpful descriptions that go into detail about Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13? Or does it say the lawyer specializes in civil litigation, which means, pretty much, everything.

      Is the website URL bankruptcy-specific, or just a law firm name or person’s name? And when you talk to them, ask the question “what percent of your practice the last five years is dedicated to bankruptcy law?” Anything under 75% and you may have a dabbler. Run away!

      You should expect the “best bankruptcy attorney” to at least focus on, you know, bankruptcy. And not just when the economy tanks or inflation and interest rates are high.

      Their Clients Say So

      There are two ways to get a feel for client satisfaction and overall skill and excellence. What clients say about the bankruptcy lawyer as a group, and as individuals.

      The bankruptcy attorney has won awards.
      best bankruptcy attorney award
      Best Bankruptcy Attorney 2017

      When searching for the best bankruptcy lawyer, one of the criteria should be they’ve won awards saying they are. Newspapers and magazines regularly ask readers to vote for the “best.” There are lots of attorneys out there. Why not choose the one who’s been voted Best Bankruptcy Attorney. Better yet, choose a bankruptcy lawyer who’s won the award four times! We’ve been honored as Best Bankruptcy Attorney by the largest newspaper in Santa Clarita. Prior to that, we won the honor three times in a row by a different publication. And in 2018, we were nominated as best attorney in a city with over 300,000 people. Not best bankruptcy lawyer, best lawyer, overall, period.

      The best bankruptcy lawyer has great Yelp and Avvo reviews

      The best bankruptcy attorney should also have happy clients who were pleased with the experience. No one is thrilled about bankruptcy. People generally hate lawyers. People aren’t proud to boast publicly they filed bankruptcy and loved it. So it probably means something special when a lawyer has a 5-star average on Avvo and Yelp.

      The Best Bankruptcy Lawyer should be… a Lawyer

      Secondly, it goes without saying, but I’ll say it: you’re doing a once-in-a-lifetime professional service. Insist that the person performing it is licensed by your state bar. Don’t cut corners here by saving a few bucks with a bankruptcy paralegal. It can cost you a lot more in the long run if you lose your house, file the wrong chapter, or the case ends up getting dismissed.

      There are even lawyer websites that brag about how awesome the paralegal is. You’re not looking for the best unlicensed petition preparer. You’re looking for the best bankruptcy attorney. If the website is touting a paralegal and not the, you know, bankruptcy lawyer, this is a clue this may not be the best bankruptcy lawyer.

      Also, beware of paralegals who say they know as much as a lawyer. While this may be true, only an attorney can give legal advice. Even telling you which chapter to file under is legal advice, and the unauthorized practice of law. Do you want a shady unlicensed law practitioner doing your one-and-only bankruptcy? Probably not the best bankruptcy attorney if they’re not a lawyer.

      One Price Does Not Fit All

      Thirdly, when looking for the best bankruptcy lawyer, you want quality, not to be shoved through a mill. The “best” anything isn’t going to be the lowest price who makes it up on volume. Don’t google “cheap bankruptcy lawyers in Los Angeles” and expect to find quality. McDonald’s is good, but maybe it’s not the best burger. A bankruptcy lawyer ad for $x99 for anyone and everyone is maybe not the best. Who would bid the same price for something that takes very little work and something that would take a lot?

      If someone asked you to rake their yard, would you charge everyone the same price? Or would you maybe want to know a few things about their yard, like if it’s tiny with a pine tree or a huge orchard with maple trees? Bankruptcy law is a tad bit more complicated than raking leaves. There are more than a few things a good bankruptcy lawyer should ask to be in the running for “best bankruptcy lawyer.”

      An accurate price means getting to know you

      Expect the bankruptcy attorney to want to spend time with you. To get to know you, and your situation. Then, only after he or she understands everything in fairly good detail, they should give you a price. Anyone advertising all comers for the same dirt cheap price is either going to give you a higher price once they got you. Or they’ll treat you like a commodity at the lawyer factory. Either way, maybe not the best bankruptcy attorney. You are not a commodity. Don’t expect a price on the phone, let the bankruptcy lawyer get to know you, and don’t expect to be treated like a burger at a fast-food restaurant. You’re not one-size-fits-all. You’re unique. Expect to be treated that way. You don’t want “cheap bankruptcy lawyers in Los Angeles” but the best one.

      Getting to Know you Means Taking Time

      Fourthly, the best bankruptcy attorney should ask questions. As we read above, every situation is different. The bid for an easy job should be different than the one for a hard job. But to know that, any service provider — but especially a bankruptcy attorney — should take the time to ask questions. They need to spend time learning about your assets, your debts, how recently you incurred them, your income, your budget, changes to your income in the past months, gifts and insider payments. And we didn’t even talk about lawsuits, tax refunds, payments you’ve made to friends and family yet. To get to know you means asking questions.

      Complete the Intake Questionnaire

      Bankruptcy attorneys are famous for having oppressive intake questionnaires that are as heavy as a phone book. You know what, complete it anyway. You’re doing yourself a favor. This is because you should be getting 30 or 60 minutes you’ll be consulting with a bankruptcy lawyer. You don’t want to waste that time with them asking “what is your year make model of your car, and what is the loan and balance and did you intend to keep it.” That and your answer just ate up 5 minutes.

      Expect your valuable time spent with them explaining bankruptcy, pros and cons, going over other options, etc. You win by investing the time on the intake papers. We’ve narrowed ours down to 8 pages, unless you want to do it online. I’d rather use our time sharing information and helping you understand things than asking a million questions.

      You don’t deserve rushing, but explanations and answers

      Explaining things also takes time. Even with the most completed intake form (and if you actually do complete it, you’re my new favorite client), I can explain all your options, pros and cons, bankruptcy both chapters, the means test, and how the process works in no fewer than twenty minutes if I talk fast. And I can talk fast if we’re watching the clock. But truth is I’d rather not rush and explaining everything can easily take 30 minutes, often an hour. I guarantee people leave our consultations with peace of mind, with relief, hope and a good night’s sleep.

      If an intake session only takes ten minutes, maybe this isn’t the best bankruptcy lawyer. A bankruptcy lawyer guaranteeing you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy but didn’t ask about your income? Chances are they’re not the best bankruptcy attorney. When they’re rushing you off the phone because they have 45 other ten-minute calls to get through today, maybe you found a bankruptcy mill, and you deserve better.

      They’ve helped lots of people

      Fifthly, to be the best bankruptcy attorney, they should have experience. With experience, a bankruptcy lawyer would see all kinds of situations and challenges over time. You don’t want to be your lawyer’s guinea pig.

      Yes, we were all new once. All attorneys need someone to trust them as their first client. Maybe that person will be the best bankruptcy lawyer after they’ve helped a thousand or two people. A new attorney, though, almost by definition, isn’t the best… yet.

      Ask the attorney how many Chapter 7 cases they’ve done. The answer should have four-digits. If not, they may be a smart person. They may be a good attorney. They may even be a good bankruptcy attorney. But is this person the “best bankruptcy lawyer near me?” Probably not.

      Don’t settle for less than a thousand total Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, and at least a hundred Chapter 13 cases when considering the best bankruptcy attorney.

      The Best Bankruptcy Lawyer Maybe Doesn’t Have 9 Offices

      Look at the law firm’s website. How many offices does it have? If your bankruptcy attorney has multiple offices, it’s a sign that maybe it’s too big to give individual service and attention. Your personal bankruptcy deserves personal service. A law firm in 7 locations is likely a high-volume enterprise.

      Where one person does intake. Another person does the signing. A third person will be at your 341(a) Meeting of Creditors. Which one is your bankruptcy attorney? They all are, and none of them is. The massive law firm is. And you deserve better. A law firm small enough to have one or maybe two attorneys in one office, maybe two. Where your attorney is your attorney, and they know you, your situation, your circumstances.

      They Should Be There For You

      And most importantly, demand that the same person you bonded with at the consultation and signing will be there for you when you’re giving your sworn testimony… not busy chasing down the next client with the next rushed ten-minute phone call.

      The Best Bankruptcy Lawyer Should Explain Things Well

      So far, we’ve established that someone who is the best bankruptcy should do only bankruptcy, and not be a dabbler. That they should be big enough to have done lots of cases, but small enough that they’re going to take time with you. That they should get to know you before giving a price. And take the time to get to know you, and explain things.

      But none of that is any good if they can’t explain things well, in a way that makes sense to you. So, the best bankruptcy attorney should be able to explain things to you in a way that you understand. Bankruptcy is a mysterious field of the law, not well understood by many. You want a bankruptcy lawyer who can explain things to you in a way that connects with you, in simple terms with analogies. I wrote this website for that very purpose.

      READ MORE: See how I put bankruptcy information in simple terms

      With Feeling

      Bankruptcy is also a very gut-wrenching and emotional decision.

      You want a bankruptcy attorney who listens to you, your feelings, and can empathize with you. Some attorneys judge people, making them feel like criminals. Their personalities are cold and unfeeling. Others put their heart and soul into helping people. When you interview your potential bankruptcy lawyer, can you feel their compassion and caring? If so, you may have found maybe not the “best bankruptcy attorney,” but the best bankruptcy attorney for you.

      Involved in the Legal Community

      Can we agree that for someone to be the best bankruptcy lawyer that they’re involved in the legal community? Not just staying on top of their continuing legal education credits; we all must do that. Volunteering to improve the profession. Serving on boards of directors. Volunteering their time to serve other lawyers in professional organizations. Providing feedback and time working with judges and trustees on committees. Ask your potential bankruptcy attorney about what organizations they aren’t just members of, but serve in as an officer or some other capacity. It’s certainly possible to be a good bankruptcy attorney without that. However, volunteering time to improve the bankruptcy profession may be a sign of someone who is better, maybe best.

      Go With Success

      Finally, the best bankruptcy attorney should be experienced, but should have accomplishments under his or her belt. One accomplishment is having neighbors in their community vote them, literally, “best bankruptcy attorney.” But if a lawyer were fortunate to have that happen, that’s probably a good indication they’re the best bankruptcy attorney. And Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney Hale Antico has been blessed to have been voted Best Bankruptcy Attorney four times, the most recent in 2017.

      Further, how does the bankruptcy lawyer compare against their peers? Are there actual statistics that measure lawyers in cold hard numbers? It turns out, there are. A bankruptcy judge in the district in which Los Angeles sits ran the numbers on successful Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. The judge found the following:

      Consumer bankruptcy filers under Chapter 13 in his division without an attorney succeeded 0% of the time.

      Folks who filed Ch 13 bankruptcy petitions in the entire Central District of California (where Los Angeles is)with an attorney succeeded in only 3% of cases.

      Nationally, the success rate of Chapter 13s is better, but still 33%.

      But Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney Hale Antico filed Chapter 13 case during the most recent busy period in which 59% were successful. That’s double national average, and twenty times the average in the Los Angeles area. Cold hard numbers can tell you how an attorney compares to their peers, and if they’re better, or the best bankruptcy lawyer.

      The Best Bankruptcy Attorney Near Me

      Summing up, when researching bankruptcy lawyers, find someone who does only bankruptcy, but doesn’t do so many of them that they’re part of a bankruptcy mill. Someone who is a bankruptcy lawyer, but also a bankruptcy lawyer. Stay away from fixed prices: you’re a person seeking a legal professional, not a carpet cleaner. Someone not part of a lawyer factory with tons of locations. Someone who gives personalized attention, and will be at your hearing. They can explain things in ways that connect with you. They take the time to learn your situation and explain things at the consultation. And where they have a track record of success.

      Thanks for reading. Use this as a guide when you read lawyers’ websites and interview people to be your bankruptcy attorney. And while I don’t presume that I’m the best bankruptcy lawyer, I’m hopeful that perhaps I’m the best bankruptcy attorney… for you.

        Rebuilding credit after bankruptcy

        Credit After Bankruptcy | How to Rebuild

        Credit After Bankruptcy

        “Will I be able to establish credit after bankruptcy?” The short answer is, “Yes!” Often much higher than it is now. The slightly longer answer is: it helps to understand how they calculate credit scores, and the relationship between bankruptcy and credit.

        Credit Scores, or What We Guess is in the FICO score secret sauce

        No one knows for sure how they compute FICO scores. It’s kind of like the secret formula for Coca-Cola or the Colonel’s secret herbs and spices. However, some educated guesses include the following factors, assigned mysterious weights:

        • available credit
        • percentage of available credit used or maxed out
        • recent performance – are you current lately
        • payment history overall
        • length of credit history
        • new accounts

        So it’s possible that you were outstanding and current for years (history), but if you’ve been wobbly the last 12 months (recent), your score goes down. Plus your credit utilization gets higher as you get more and more maxed out and approach your credit limit.

        Now look at the flip side of that coin: A bankruptcy this year would hurt the score (recent negative mark). However, what you do next year and the year after help put the bankruptcy in the rear-view mirror and are more recent. So bankruptcy and credit are intertwined, yes, but paying on time the credit after bankruptcy will have a greater impact on the future than the bankruptcy itself.

        The Credit Report Hit

        Yes, your credit report will contain a bankruptcy, and that will be bad. And it will be reported for ten years after filing. The good news is, that is shorter after a Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge.

        It is largely a myth that a scarlet “B” on your credit report will prevent you from ever getting credit again. This myth is largely perpetuated by credit card companies. Yes, the same companies that helped lure you into credit card debt by constantly drumming into your head that it was good to spend money and buy things; extend to you a higher credit limit; tell you that you are “pre-approved”; give you checks for thousands of dollars to turn into cash immediately; and that you can transfer balances to them with a low introductory interest rate. The lie is that bankruptcy means that you won’t get credit again.

        Bankruptcy and Credit: They Want You Back

        The truth is just the opposite. We live in a capitalist society. There are too many companies in business to make a profit. And yes, you can help them make that profit. This win-win situation is how you re-establish credit after bankruptcy.

        The Gouge

        Firstly, realize that you can help them make a profit. With a bankruptcy on your credit report — even a new one — one thing happens immediately that makes you more attractive to a prospective lender: you suddenly have no debt. With no debt, you are all of a sudden in a position to repay the next debt you get. The same cannot be said if you have a mountain of debt before bankruptcy.

        You’ve Used Your ‘Get out of Jail Free Card’

        Secondly, after a bankruptcy, you are a lower risk, since you cannot file bankruptcy immediately again. Typically, you need to wait eight years after filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to file another one. The lenders know this, and know that if they lend to you after a bankruptcy, that you will be around for at least five or six years. This is time that they will make their profit. And again, this is what they are in business to do.

        credit after bankruptcy
        You can only file Chapter 7 bankruptcy every eight years.

        How, though? How do you help them make a profit? It’s all in the mix, part of the process of your re-establishing credit with your new fresh start.

        For starters, acknowledge that you will be paying extra money to get a new start with your credit. This is ok, though. Remember, they are taking a risk on you. All they know about you is that you just wiped away a bunch of debt from companies just like them. They’re a little skittish, so for comfort, you will pay for the privilege of starting over. This will show up in the form of: monthly charges, application fees, and, of course, higher interest rates.

        Accept Some (Not All) Offers

        Additionally, accept some offers. Not too many. Just a few. Yes, there will indeed be offers. You’ll be surprised to find that you will get offered credit cards not long after your bankruptcy discharge. Higher interest rates and maybe even a security (ie: your own cash which you’ll be charging against) may be part of the bargain, but this is how the process starts. You’re a blank slate on paper. All they know about you is that you just wiped the slate clean. Let them have their reassurances (but reasonably, of course).

        (Surprisingly, it will be easier to buy a car within the first year after you file BK, and you can qualify for a mortgage after bankruptcy one year after the discharge — two years after, you will be eligible for a mortgage at the lowest and best interest rates. If you doubt this, call a few mortgage brokers and ask them.)

        Use Credit After Bankruptcy Responsibly

        After that, use these credit cards, but in moderation. Use them not because you have to, but because they are credit-rebuilding tools. Just a few purchases a month, and certainly not anywhere near your new (lower) credit limit. You’re using them. They’re using you.

        Pay Them On Time

        Lastly, make your monthly payments. Here is the kicker, though: don’t pay them off each month. Normally, sound financial advice would tell you to do just the opposite, and that is true for managing your finances and keeping spending under control. You’re not doing that. You are rebuilding your credit. Remember, these companies are gambling on you because they get to charge you more interest rates. So, give them their interest rates.

        Let them Profit Off You, But Just for a While

        Give them their profit. How? By going in a spend-and-pay cycle. Pay your credit cards off in full every two months. One month of interest charges to carry over, and the next month back down to a zero balance. This is the dirty secret of how you rebuild credit. Paying it off in full every month doesn’t help Providian or whoever took a chance on you. Give them their reward, and you’ll see your credit limit start increasing. And naturally, you will keep your spending in control. Use your new credit card not because you have to, but because you want to. It’s merely a credit-rebuilding tool, nothing more.

        You’ve seen how companies are in the business of making money, and you can help them make money and benefit personally at the same time. You can establish and rebuild your credit after bankruptcy discharge. There is a way to spend and pay with the new credit card that helps them and helps you. Most importantly, it should be obvious by now that there is credit after bankruptcy. While bankruptcy is not for everyone, it may give you the fresh start you need. Fear of not having credit in the years ahead should not be a reason that stops you from doing what will help you and your family get the peace of mind you deserve.

        READ MORE: LendingTree Study Shows People Improve their Credit After Bankruptcy

        Contact us now to set up a consultation!

        should i file bankruptcy

        Should I File Bankruptcy?

        Should I File Bankruptcy?

        Whether to File Bankruptcy – Do Not Feel Guilty

        You didn’t choose this path, but here you are. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. We have plans and they sometimes don’t work out. You never thought you’d be asking yourself, “Should I file bankruptcy?” No one does. But you’ve tried other options and they’re not working. So now you’re searching, researching, hoping. And that’s what bankruptcy is about: new life, relief, starting over, hope.

        It’s Not Your Fault

        Events are swirling around you, the ocean we all swim in has turmoil all around us.

        • Gas prices are higher.
        • Dangers from recession
        • Inflation is at record levels
        • Housing prices are dropping
        • Stockholders and 401k owners hurt by recent stock market “corrections”
        • Global COVID pandemic affecting jobs, businesses, and pay
        • Uncertainty about war and trade.
        • The credit crunchis in full swing.

        All of this is not your fault.

        Life Happens

        On top of this, we all have individual surprises. Some can be good, but many can be disastrous financially. Every person that reaches out to me had something unexpected happen in their life. Something they didn’t plan for. No way to see it coming. It can be any number of things:

        • Pay Cut
        • Medical Emergency or Sickness
        • Law Suit
        • Divorce
        • A Failed Business
        • Job Loss
        • Accident

        Just one of these things is enough to put people behind. This Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney has seen situations where 3 of these happened to the same person at once. No one can plan for this. You didn’t plan for it.

        But it happened. If you’re lucky, you had savings before the disaster. But then you drain the savings, maybe even empty your retirement, as you hope things turn around tomorrow, next week, next month. But life doesn’t turn the corner. And along with your savings getting emptied, your hope gets drained with it.

        Things are swirling out of control, you feel powerless, caught in an ocean, bobbing with the tide, trying to keep your head above water.

        Swallowing your pride, you ask, should I file bankruptcy?

        Credit Cards Are Not Blameless

        The big credit cards are not innocent victims here, for a couple of reasons.

        Firstly, since you were a tiny tike, the marketing companies have been trying to get you to buy into neighbor Jones’ dream. Be like Barbie. Get whatever you wanted. Go for it. If you didn’t have the cash, “charge it.” Older generations saved for things. Now, we’re just told to get what we want. Delayed gratification is for suckers.

        Secondly, we’re bombarded by messages from the credit card companies. We have famous celebrities asking us, “What’s in our wallet?” Do you think Samuel L Jackson is helping the credit cards for free? Of course not. Because Capital One knows we will trust a Jedi Knight urging us to carry a logo and charge to it.

        We have clients who were making over $100,000 last year and live in homes worth over half-million dollars. Then again, we have an 18 year old who started out in life with $35,000.00 in debt (thanks a lot, Master Card, Visa and Amex) due to “free” credit cards. Who gives an 18 year old a $5,000.00 credit line? The irresponsible credit card companies.

        The Credit Card / Debt Trap

        Thirdly, credit card companies have been enticing — pleading — for you to charge up at 23% (some 28.99%) for years. How many “account balance” transfer offers have your received? How many new extensions of credit card debt have you gotten? Here’s the trap: after you have established a decent payment history with a credit card company,they increase your credit limit. “Congratulations,” they say. Now that you have more credit, go out and spend it. Here are some additional checks that are as good as money. Spend away. They willkeep upping that credit limituntil you can barely make the minimum payment. When this happens (and it happens to a lot more people than you think), they own you.

        If you pay only the minimum payment on your Mastercard or Visa,you’ll be paying the minimum payments on that debt for 35 yearsor more. Is it any wonder people are stuck in this minimum payment trap? This is their game. It’s rigged against you. That you and millions of Americans struggle to pay minimum payments each month is not an accident.

        Don’t feel any shame. It’s time to take back control.

        Yes, but Should I File Bankruptcy?

        A lot of people ask should I file bankruptcy. Maybe. It’s an option. It may not feel like it, but you have choices at your feet. Granted, none of them is perfect. Each has its own drawbacks. But each also has it advantages.

        My goal is to help people. And the best way to help people is to empower them, inform them, let them know their choices. One of these choices is a bankruptcy. It’s certainly not your only option. My heart is to teach you about it, then we can discuss it. That’s why I’ve taken the time to write all the bankruptcy information on this lawyer website.

        Then, when we talk, I don’t try to “sell” or push this or any option. We’ll do this if and only if we both think this is what’s best for you. But it’s only worthwhile to me if it’s something that will truly benefit you. I don’t know that until I see the circumstances, we talk, and we’ve met.

        No website can answer “should I file bankruptcy” and even a lawyer can’t without knowing all about your unique situation. But after we’ve spoken, after I’ve explained your options, if you ask me then should I file bankruptcy, I’ll tell you my honest opinion about whether it would be best for you.

        Should I File Bankruptcy?
        Should I File Bankruptcy? Take back control from credit card debt

        The Thing Credit Card Companies Fear

        The only thing thecredit card companies fearis the United States Bankruptcy Code and a bankruptcy attorney. That is why, in 2005, credit cards lobbied Congress to the tune of over $100,000,000 in so-called bankruptcy reform to get the bankruptcy laws changed to protect the credit card companies from you. They made it harder to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7, forcing more people to repay debt. If you are considering bankruptcy, the bankruptcy lawyers at Los Angeles Bankruptcy offer a helpful consultation to help you come to terms with your financial future. We understand.

        Take control, and feel no shame.

        You cannot control the economy, you cannot control pie-in-the-sky investors, and you cannot control voodoo accountants at multinational corporations or subprime loans or anything going on in Washington DC or Wall Street. But you can take control of your own financial situation back by contacting a bankruptcy lawyer.

        A Fresh Start

        Bankruptcy is about starting over and getting a fresh start. If you file bankruptcy, will get back in control of your financial future. Do not feel any shame for considering bankruptcy. In today’s economy, many people, from all walks of life, are in your situation.

        Credit Card Debt Management and Consolidation Services

        With Debt Consolidation Companies You Lose Control

        Credit card counseling and debt management services – it doesn’t work, in our experience. Numerous clients have come to us after using a debt management company like CCC and their ilk. Recognize “nonprofit” organizations like CCCS arefunded by the credit card companies– are they on your side? No. Further, some counseling services require you to give them your paycheck. They take their fee, pay the credit card companies a payment, and then give you a monthly stipend. Don’t do this.Take control.

        Learn more of the frustrating side about consumer credit counseling services.

        Take Control of your Financial Future

        Don’t lose control of your financial future to debt consolidation companies. Did you know this: firstly, if you breach your contract with a debt management or consolidation company (aka credit counseling), you lose all the benefits you have gained – penalties and interest all gets put back. Secondly, the CCCS or DebtFreedomCryingEagle company doesn’t protect your credit but report negatively against your credit report as Debt Consolidation Service or Credit Management… anegative entrythat tells creditors that you are a bad credit risk. Finally, and most importantly, debt managementdoes not stop credit card lawsuits.

        Consumer bankruptcy and personal bankruptcy attorneys and lawyers are about empowering you. Don’t let someone else control you.

        Consumer Bankruptcy

        Consumer bankruptcy comes in two flavors: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. There’s a big article I wrote if you follow the links below, but here I’ll just give a quick summary.

        Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

        Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is where you can’t pay your debts because you don’t have cash flow. It’s relatively quick. However, you can lose things if you have valuable assets. If you qualify here, you force the creditors to get nothing more. You’ve paid them enough! File bankruptcy, and you will likely keep your home and your car (if current) under the current state of the law (these are called California bankruptcy exemptions). But you’ll want to have a skilled bankruptcy attorney to help so youdon’t lose anything. Read more aboutChapter 7 Bankruptcy, with regard to liquidation.

        Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

        Chapter 13 Wage Earner Bankruptcy is all about forcing creditors to take payments based upon whatever you can afford, pending a bankruptcy trustee’s and bankruptcy judge’s approval. Filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13forces creditors to settleup for dimes on the dollar. Chapter 13 Consumer Bankruptcy applies when your income exceeds your monthly expense to some extent such that you are able repay some portion of the debt back. Once again, recognize a Chapter 13 Consumer Bankruptcy puts youback in control. Learn and read more aboutChapter 13 Bankruptcy.

        Do I need a Bankruptcy Lawyer to File Bankruptcy?

        Of course, you arefreetofile bankruptcyon your own. That is your right. Beware the lure of thinking that because you can do your own taxes, you can do your own bankruptcy forms. Thereare many legal decisions to make just in the listing of your assets. Which value do I list? (The amount paid? Current value? Garage sale?) Do I need to list every CD and DVD I own? And this doesn’t even get into the topic of bankruptcy exemptions and protecting your assets. Let alone the complicatedMeans Test for Chapter 7! Making a wrong move could cost you possession of your goods and property. It really does pay to hire a bankruptcy lawyer.

        Getting Credit After Bankruptcy

        Will I get credit offers after my BK ?Youwillgetcredit after bankruptcy. This is anew beginning, and a fresh start. Some clients have been very concerned about the state of their credit after filing bankruptcy. It is a fact: a bankruptcy entry will appear on your credit report for 10 years following the discharge. This does not mean that you will not get a credit card, buy a home, or car for 10 years.

        Far from it; remember: creditors want you to borrow. Shortly after your bankruptcy discharge, we can almost promise that you will receive a credit card offer to help you get back on your feet (possibly from Providian). The fact is, you no longer have the majority of your debt; you have an ability to repay (income is freed up), and you can’t declare bankruptcy (Chapter 7) again for eight years. Further, the probability of a consumer declaring bankruptcy a second time in their lifetime is low (it does happen, but after most people do it once, they change their habits).

        Mortgage After Bankruptcy

        Can I Buy A House or Car After I File Bankruptcy?Yes! Youcanbuy a house after bankruptcy. A home loan is up to the discretion of the lender, obviously. However, many of them want your business. They may charge you a higher interest rate or points on your loan, but it certainlyis possible to get a loanfor a house after bankruptcy. How long? Figure on waiting two years: the bankruptcy will still be there on your record, but it will be a diminished factor which they consider. We work with mortgage lenders we can direct you to which will help you into your next home. So yes, you can and will get a mortgage after you file bankruptcy. You will get a fresh start.

        Read more about Credit After Bankruptcy

        The Caring Bankruptcy Attorneys Here Understand

        Los Angeles Bankruptcy offers ahelpful bankruptcy consultation. We are here to help youtake back controlof your financial future.