The law office of Hillman & Lucas, PC maintains a strong bankruptcy practice throughout Solano and surrounding counties, focusing principally on debtor representation in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Attorney Joseph Canning leads the firm’s bankruptcy practice and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California and the Northern District of California. Mr. Canning has the expertise to advise clients on their legal options in bankruptcy, and the skill to effectively represent their interests throughout the process.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often the best option for people with mounting personal debts who are not able to meet those obligations within their current financial means. Chapter 7 offers a way for people to get out from under that debt. Credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, judgments, and in some cases, taxes can be eliminated in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under Chapter 7, all of a debtor’s non-exempt assets are liquidated, with the proceeds going to pay off the creditors.
Although this method may sound like a drastic approach, note that only non-exempt assets are liquidated. It is important that a debtor select an experienced attorney who can help a protect assets within the bankruptcy process. In many cases, the debtor is allowed to retain many important and necessary possessions, such as equity in the home, retirement accounts, equity in vehicles, home furnishings, clothing, and other personal possessions.
Chapter 7 is intended to give the debtor a fresh start, but it cannot wipe the slate entirely clean. Certain debts are non-dischargeable, such as student loans, child support and spousal support obligations, and some tax claims or other debts owed to the government. Still, Chapter 7 offers significant relief to individuals and families facing collections calls, lawsuits, wage garnishments, and unmanageable debt.
Under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, consumer debtors must pass a “means test” to determine whether the debtor is eligible to file for Chapter 7. The attorneys at Hillman & Lucas, P.C. are experienced and skilled at guiding debtors through the complexity of the “means test” to help debtors achieve their goals.
Individuals who do not qualify for Chapter 7, or who wish to pay their debts over time may be able to find relief through Chapter 13.
Chapter 13 is most appropriate for an individual with a steady income who is able to make monthly payments toward a payment plan. The focus of Chapter 13 is to give the debtor some breathing room and time to develop a debt consolidation plan which will pay off debts within his or her means. A Chapter 13 wage earner’s plan, as it is known, sets out a road map to pay off those debts in a three-to-five year period. Creditors will be bound to accept the terms of the payment plan and may not initiate other debt collection practices.
Chapter 13 offers some advantages over Chapter 7. In some cases, 2nd mortgages or equity lines of credit can be eliminated in the Chapter 13 bankruptcy while the debtor retains ownership of the underlying property. It is important for an individual or family seeking Chapter 13 to find counsel to guide them through this process.
A bankruptcy should not be entered into lightly and should only be initiated after consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. For advice and representation in a bankruptcy or related proceeding in Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville, Dixon, Vallejo, Napa or anywhere in Northern California, contact Joseph Canning at the law office of Hillman & Lucas, PC.