Alhambra Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
In a bankruptcy case under chapter 7, you file a petition asking the court to discharge your debts. The basic idea in a chapter 7 bankruptcy is to wipe out (discharge) your debts in exchange for your giving up property, except for "exempt" property which the law allows you to keep. In most cases, all of your property will be exempt. But property which is not exempt is sold, with the money distributed to creditors.
If you want to keep property like a home or a car and are behind on the payments on a mortgage or car loan, a chapter 7 case may work, but you have to continue making the payments. But if you are too far behind, And you still want to keep your property, chapter 13 probably will be a better choice for you. That is because chapter 7 bankruptcy does not eliminate the right of mortgage holders or car loan creditors to take your property to cover your debt, but it will buy you time, if that is all you need to catch up.
What Property Can I Keep?
chapter 7 case, you can keep all property which the law says is exempt from claims of creditors. In California, these exemptions include but are not limited to:
- $50,000 to $150,000 in equity in your home;
- $2300 in equity in your car;
- ordinary and reasonably necessary items in your household
- $5,000 to $10,000 in things you need for your job
- $23,000 in different assets you may have
- Your right to receive certain benefits such as social security, unemployment compensation,. . . . . .
In determining whether property is exempt, you must keep a few things in mind. The value of property is not the amount you paid for it, but what it is worth now. Especially for furniture and cars, this may be a lot less than what you paid or what it would cost to buy a replacement.
You also only need to look at your equity in property. This means that you count your exemptions against the full value minus any money that you owe on mortgages or liens. For example, if you own a $50,000 house with a $40,000 mortgage, you count your exemptions against the $10,000 which is your equity if you sell it.
While your exemptions allow you to keep property even in a chapter 7 case, your exemptions do not make any difference to the right of a mortgage holder or car loan creditor to take the property to cover the debt if you are behind. In a chapter 13 case, you can keep all of your property if your plan meets the requirements of the bankruptcy law. In most cases you will have to pay the mortgages or liens as you would if you didn't file bankruptcy.
What Will Happen to My Home and Car If I File Bankruptcy?
In most cases you will not lose your home or car during your bankruptcy case as long as your equity in the property is fully exempt. Even if your property is not fully exempt, you will be able to keep it, if you pay its non-exempt value to creditors in chapter 13 .
However, some of your creditors may have a "security interest" in your home, automobile or other personal property. This means that you gave that creditor a mortgage on the home or put your other property up as collateral for the debt. Bankruptcy does not make these security interests go away. If you don't make your payments on that debt, the creditor may be able to take and sell the home or the property, during or after the bankruptcy case.
There are several ways that you can keep collateral or mortgaged property after you file bankruptcy. You can agree to keep making your payments on the debt until it is paid in full. Or you can pay the creditor the amount that the property you want to keep is worth. In some cases involving fraud or other improper conduct by the creditor, you may be able to challenge the debt. If you put up your household goods as collateral for a loan (other than a loan to purchase the goods), you can usually keep your property without making any more payments on that debt.
Can I Own Anything After Bankruptcy?
Yes! Many people believe they cannot own anything for a period of time after filing for bankruptcy. This is not true. You can keep your exempt property and anything you obtain after the bankruptcy is filed. However, if you receive an inheritance, a property settlement, or life insurance benefits within 180 days after filing for bankruptcy, that money or property may have to be paid to your creditors if the property or money is not exempt.
Will Bankruptcy Wipe Out All My Debts?
Yes, with some exceptions. Bankruptcy will not normally wipe out:
(1) money owed for child support or alimony, fines, and some taxes;
(2) debts not listed on your bankruptcy petition;
(3) loans you got by knowingly giving false information to a creditor, who reasonably relied on it in making you the loan;
(4) debts resulting from "willful and malicious" harm;
(5) student loans owed to a school or government body, except if:
- the loan first became due more than 7 years before the bankruptcy was filed
- the court decides that payment would be an undue hardship;
(6) mortgages and other liens which are not paid in the bankruptcy case (but bankruptcy will wipe out your obligation to pay any additional money if the property is sold by the creditor).