Bankruptcy Attorneys in Orange County

Orange County Trial Lawyers Association, Orange County Women Lawyers Association, OCTLA, OCWLAIf you feel suffocated by debt and genuinely see no way that you’ll ever be able to pay it off, bankruptcy may be a viable option for you. Bankruptcy helps individuals and businesses that have more debt than they can handle. Depending on your financial situation and what your goals are with bankruptcy, there are different options you may consider.

Bankruptcy is a complex area of law that requires substantial documentation, calculations, and strict deadlines. It is crucial that you work with an attorney to minimize your stress, meet deadlines, and meet the expectations of the court. Use our list of Orange County bankruptcy attorneys below to find the right lawyer for your case.

Helpful Information About Choosing an Orange County Bankruptcy Lawyer

  • You can research the Bar license status, suspensions or reprimands of an attorney at the California Bar Association website.
  • Some attorneys may specialize in bankruptcy law to become a “California Bar Certified Specialist” but may not be completely necessary unless your BK issue is highly complex and requires a very high level of expertise.
  • Some attorneys will be able to meet with you at their office, your home, or over Zoom. It’s important to ask these questions when you call.

Chapters of Bankruptcy

If you are filing for bankruptcy as an individual, there are two main options available to individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 involves a full discharge of all of your debts, both secured and unsecured. Those with more assets or higher incomes may opt instead for Chapter 13, which is a reorganization of your debt. The primary difference is that with Chapter 13, you do pay some of your debt back. The court sets up a three-to-five year payment schedule. During that time, you will pay back all of your secured debt and a portion of your unsecured debt. Any unsecured debt that has not been paid by the end of the payment schedule is discharged.

Options for businesses include Chapter 11 and Chapter 12. Chapter 11 allows for the reorganization of individual or corporation debts, while Chapter 12 is for the reorganization of family farm debts.

Orange County Bankruptcy Lawyers:

Golden Goodrich LLP

Golden Goodrich LLP

Smiley Wang-Ekvall, LLP

Smiley Wang-Ekvall, LLP

NHT Law Group

NHT Law Group

Advertise Here

Advertise Here

Bankruptcy Process Overview

Bankruptcy in California, as in all U.S. states, is primarily governed by federal law, not state law. The process is outlined in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which is part of federal law. However, state law can influence certain aspects of the bankruptcy process, like exemptions.

Below is a general overview of the bankruptcy process in California, but it’s always a good idea to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer who has hands-on experience. Bankruptcy can be complex, even if you think it’s “simple” because you don’t think you have any assets.

  1. Credit Counseling: Before filing for bankruptcy, the debtor must undergo credit counseling from a U.S. Trustee-approved agency within 180 days before filing.
  2. Preparing Your Bankruptcy Petition: The debtor must prepare a petition to file in the bankruptcy court. This includes filling out a number of forms detailing their financial situation, including income, expenses, assets, debts, and financial transactions.
  3. Choosing Exemptions: California has two sets of bankruptcy exemptions (System 1 and System 2 – scroll down for more details) that determine what property you can keep in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and affect how much you have to repay unsecured creditors in Chapter 13. You can choose the system that best protects your property.
  4. Filing the Petition: The debtor then files the petition with the bankruptcy court serving their area. When the petition is filed, an automatic stay is triggered, halting most collection actions against the debtor.
  5. Trustee and Creditors’ Meeting: After filing, the court appoints a trustee and a meeting of creditors is scheduled (also known as a 341 meeting). The debtor must attend this meeting, where the trustee and any attending creditors can ask the debtor questions.
  6. Undergoing a Means Test: In a Chapter 7 case, the debtor will have to pass a “means test” that examines their income and expenses. If the debtor’s income is too high, they may have to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.
  7. Debtor Education Course: After filing, but before receiving a discharge, the debtor must complete a debtor education course.
  8. Discharge: If all goes well in a Chapter 7 case, the debtor will receive a discharge of most of their debts. In a Chapter 13 case, the debtor will enter a repayment plan approved by the court. After the completion of the repayment plan, remaining debts are generally discharged.

Remember, bankruptcy is a complicated process and it’s usually recommended to consult with a bankruptcy attorney who can help you through each part of the process. Also, this is just a general overview and doesn’t cover every situation or type of bankruptcy or nuance in the laws.

Bankruptcy Attorneys Near Me:

Christiansen Law Offices...

17011 Beach Blvd Suite 900 Huntington Beach, CA 92647
17011 Beach Blvd Suite 900 Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Desiree Causey...

7755 Center Avenue. Suite 1100 Huntington Beach, CA 92647
7755 Center Avenue. Suite 1100 Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Robert P. Taylor...

Garfield Plaza Shopping Center, 9042 Garfield Ave Suite 302, Huntington Beach, CA 92646
Garfield Plaza Shopping Center, 9042 Garfield Ave Suite 302, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Advertise Here...

12900 Garden Grove Blvd #132, Garden Grove, CA 92843
12900 Garden Grove Blvd #132, Garden Grove, CA 92843

Exemptions in California

While bankruptcy is handled by federal courts, certain aspects of it are left up to the states. Exemptions are set on a state-by-state basis. When determining whether or not you can file bankruptcy, the court looks at your assets and whether or not you can afford to pay back your debt. If you have enough assets, they will seize the assets, use them to pay off as much debt as possible, and then discharge the rest. However, certain assets are exempt from seizure.

In California, there are two options for bankruptcy exemptions: System 1 or System 2.

  • System 1 allows you to exempt real property that you live in up to $600,000, up to $3,625 for a vehicle, and no wildcard exemption.
  • System 2 allows up to $31,950 for real estate, up to $6,375 in vehicle equity, and an additional $1,700 in wildcard exemptions. You must choose one or the other—you cannot mix and match.

When to Consider Hiring an Orange County Bankruptcy Attorney

Some people believe that bankruptcy should only be used when you have exhausted every single other option and are completely out of funds. However, you may want to consult a bankruptcy attorney in Orange County before you reach that point. If there is truly no way out of your debt, it doesn’t do you any good to continue struggling for several months when you could instead be using your income to bounce back from bankruptcy and get a fresh start. Once you’ve reached the point where you don’t think your debts are manageable anymore, consider talking to an attorney.

Ready to find out if bankruptcy is a good option for you? Check out our list of local bankruptcy attorneys and reach out today.

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