Q: Can I file another Chapter 7 bankruptcy if I have filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past?
A: Yes, but you cannot file until at least eight years after the filing of your last Chapter 7. If eight years has not passed, you may have other good options, such as a Chapter 13 or a Debt Settlement.
Q: Can I keep my house?
A: California has very generous laws when it comes to allowing debtors to protect their assets. Unless you have a significant amount of equity in your home, you can generally keep your home as long as you continue to make your mortgage payments. When you meet with an attorney at Williams Law Group, we will discuss the specific exemptions that apply to your situation as there are several different homestead exemptions in California. In addition, we are happy to discuss alternatives with respect to your home, including foreclosures, short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure.
Q: Can I keep my car?
A: Generally, you can keep your car if you want. If you still owe money on the car, you will need to continue to pay the loan if you want to keep the car. If you want to surrender the car, you can stop making the payments on the car once you discuss it with your attorney. If your car is paid off, you can generally protect that equity depending on how much equity you have in the car. Often, it is advisable to reaffirm the car loan to ensure that the car cannot be repossessed if payments are current. A reaffirmation agreement re-obligates you to the original contract. Therefore, before signing a reaffirmation agreement, you should make sure that you can comfortably afford the payments. One benefit to reaffirming a car loan is that the lender will typically continue to report payments to the credit bureaus, therefore making it easier to reestablish credit.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Williams Law Group charges a reasonable fee that varies depending on the complexity of the case. We offer a free in-office or telephone consultation. During our consultation, we will explore your options and discuss the fees associated with each option. For those who cannot afford to pay our fee up front, we offer payment plans.
Q: Will it hurt my credit score?
A: A bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, but you are generally able to re-build you credit much sooner than that. In fact, many of our clients receive credit card offers within days of receiving the discharge. Also, based on today’s lending standards, it is possible to qualify for a mortgage within 18 months of the bankruptcy discharge. It is impossible to predict exactly how a bankruptcy may impact your credit score, but it is important to note that a bankruptcy is often what is needed to allow you to rebuild your credit.
Q: I feel really badly about doing this? Can’t I just wait to see if things get better?
A: Absolutely! However, it’s really important to be realistic and create a plan. We can definitely help you come up with a plan to help eliminate your debt. Financial problems can’t be solved by hoping so call us and we’ll review all possibilities.
Q: Will creditors stop harassing me?
A: Yes! You may begin referring all creditor calls to our office as soon as you get us on board. In addition, the filing of a Chapter 7 case imposes an automatic stay that stops all creditor actions against a debtor. This means that while the stay is in effect, creditors must cease any lawsuits, wage garnishments, foreclosures, etc.
Q: Who will know?
A: Bankruptcy filings are public records. The Credit Bureaus will record your bankruptcy, which will remain on your credit record for ten years. Nonetheless, as a practical matter, your friends, family and employers will not know you filed unless you tell them.