Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What payment methods do you accept?
We accept cash, checks and these credit cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa and Discover.
What should I look for when selecting a lawyer?
You should research the firm and attorney at the State Bar of California before you consider hiring an attorney. Review any fee and cost agreements in detail with the lawyer to make sure you understand how you will pay any legal fees and other costs.
Will I need to pay any money to get my case started?
We always explain to our clients the full details of the fee and cost agreement they will have with our firm before we begin representing them on a case. We handle some cases on a conditional fee basis, which means that we do not get paid until you receive a financial award or settlement.
Will I be allowed to file bankruptcy if my income is high?
Bankruptcy now includes a "means test" which is intended to provide a more objective approach to the issue of a debtor's ability to pay their debts. Prior to the 2005 amendments, the trustee could ask the judge to dismiss a case because the debtor's income was so high that to permit the debtor to discharge his debts in Chapter 7 was a "substantial abuse" of the bankruptcy system. For detailed information, please contact us.
What documents do I need when filing for bankruptcy?
There are five important documents you will need to have on hand. The first and most obvious are a photo ID and your social security card. You will also need a schedule of assets and liabilities, a list of people that you owe money and a document itemizing your sources of income and expenses.
I have equity in my property; will I lose my house if I file for bankruptcy?
No, if your property has no equity or as long as your property falls into one of the below categories. There are different amounts of protections call homestead exemptions for a single person, for a married couple, for Senior Citizen or Disabled.
Exemptions for Equity on a debtor’s home where they reside:
Senior Citizen or Disabled: $175,000
Are Married Couples supposed to file the bankruptcy together?If you are married, you can file bankruptcy by yourself, without your husband or wife. A married couple does not need to file together, but may file together if they chose to do so. If you are married and want to file bankruptcy separately without your spouse, an experienced San Diego bankruptcy lawyer can help you file bankruptcy without affecting your spouse, at all. The bankruptcy laws offer important protections to your spouse when you are married filing bankruptcy alone without your spouse.
Do I Include Spouse's Property? California, if you are married and filing alone, you have to disclose to the bankruptcy court all of your separate property and all of your community property, but not your non-filing spouse’s separate property (for example, inheritance). As long as your separate property and your community property that you own with your husband or wife is covered by your bankruptcy exemptions, you will keep the property. The separate property of your husband or wife is not even listed in your bankruptcy filing.
Do I list my spouse's income?
Even if your spouse is not going to be a part of your bankruptcy proceeding, you still have to disclose your household income, which includes the income of both you and your spouse. This does not mean that your spouse is part of the bankruptcy proceeding, or that your bankruptcy filing will affect your non-filing husband or wife in any way. Your non-filing spouse's income is used only to determine whether your household income qualifies you to pass the Means Test and file for bankruptcy relief. If your husband of wife is a very is a very high income earner, you may not qualify to file, as the bankruptcy laws would expect your husband or wife to help you repay your debts. Calculation of your spouse's income is only used for purposes of determining if, based on your total household income and expenses, you have the ability to repay some or all of your debts instead of filing bankruptcy on your debts.
Will My Spouse be Protected by my Filing?
Under the bankruptcy laws, when one spouse obtains a discharge of his or her debts, that discharge enjoins (stops) existing creditors from collecting on a community claim (a debt existing before filing bankruptcy that a married couple's community property is liable for) against any of the two spouses' exempt community property or any community property. That means that, in most cases, your discharge will protect your non-filing spouse.
Married Filing Chapter 7?
In a Chapter 7 case, you typically receive a discharge of your debts about 90 days after your bankruptcy filing. Once you get a discharge, the discharge injunction takes effect. The discharge injunction protects both your separate property and community property as to claims community property was liable for, but will not protect your non-filing spouse's separate property. California law will govern whether your spouse's separate property is liable. In California, the separate property of a married couple is generally not liable for a debt incurred (before or during marriage) by the other spouse unless it was for "necessaries of life" (food, shelter, clothing, and the like.) Because you get a discharge typically in 90 days, your non-filing spouse is often adequately protected by your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
What is the difference between a will and a Living trust?
A will is a traditional document that’s commonly used for property transfer, and names beneficiaries who receive the property. But wills have to go through a process called probate, which is a court approval process. It’s often time consuming, complex and expensive. In contrast to a will, a living trust does not require probate and is easy to manage.
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