Tepper Law Firm Is Full Service Cost Effective Bankruptcy One Stop

Tepper Law Firm will help you navigate your way through the bankruptcy process in an effecient and cost-effective manner. We understand money is tight and the procedures and choices involved with filing BK are complex. We will do everything we can to get you through it with all the right decisions so that you can obtain the fresh start the law provides. The following is some basic information everyone should know.

Obviously costs are very important in any transaction. This is especailly true for banruptcy.

If you are owed money and the person or company who owes you money has filed for banruptcy it does not necessarily mean you cannot recover all or some of what you are entitled to. Creditors (people or companies who are owed money by someone who has filed bankruptcy) have rights under the law. Tepper Law Firm knows those rights and can ensure you get what you are entitled to receive.

CREDITOR BANKRUPTCY SERVICE COSTS

Motion for Relief From Automatic Stay

  • Chapter 7 $550.00
  • Chapter 13 $650.00
  • Chapter 11 $750.00

Standard court filing fee $176.00

Plan Review

  • Chapter 13 $175.00
  • Chapter 11 $200

Proof of Claim

  • Chapter 13 $350.00
  • Chapter 11 $400.00

Plan Objection

  • Chapter 13 $300.00
  • Chapter 11 $400.00

Confirmation Hearing

  • Initial hearing $150.00.
  • Every other hearing until plan is confirmed $200.00

Mediation

  • Chapter 7 $800.00
  • Chapter 13 $800.00
  • Chapter 11 $800.00

Response to Motion to Value

  • Chapter 13 $400.00
  • Chapter 11 $500.00

File Notice of Payment Change Letter

  • Chapter 7 $60.00
  • Chapter 13 $60.00
  • Chapter 11 $60.00

BANKRUPTCY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which an individual who cannot pay his or her bills can get a fresh financial start. The right to file for bankruptcy is provided by federal law, and all bankruptcy cases are handled in federal court. Filing bankruptcy immediately stops all of your creditors from seeking to collect debts from you, at least until your debts are sorted out according to the law.

2. What Can Bankruptcy Do for Me?

Bankruptcy may make it possible for you to:

  • Eliminate the legal obligation to pay most or all of your debts. This is called a "discharge" of debts. It is designed to give you a fresh financial start.
  • Stop foreclosure on your house or mobile home and allow you an opportunity to catch up on missed payments. (Bankruptcy does not, however, automatically eliminate mortgages and other liens on your property without payment.)
  • Prevent repossession of a car or other property, or force the creditor to return property even after it has been repossessed.
  • Stop wage garnishment, debt collection harassment, and similar creditor actions to collect a debt.
  • Restore or prevent termination of utility service.
  • Allow you to challenge the claims of creditors who have committed fraud or who are otherwise trying to collect more than you really owe.

3. How can I get a copy of a bankruptcy filing?

The federal judiciary proves public access to federal appellate, district and bankruptcy court documents through Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), an electronic public access service.

4. What Doesn't Bankruptcy Do?

Bankruptcy cannot, however, cure every financial problem. Nor is it the right step for every individual. In bankruptcy, it is usually not possible to:

  • Eliminate certain rights of "secured" creditors. A "secured" creditor has taken a mortgage or other lien on property as collateral for the loan. Common examples are car loans and home mortgages. You can force secured creditors to take payments over time in the bankruptcy process and bankruptcy can eliminate your obligation to pay any additional money if your property is taken. Nevertheless, you generally cannot keep the collateral unless you continue to pay the debt
  • Discharge types of debts singled out by the bankruptcy law for special treatment, such as child support, alimony, certain other debts related to divorce, some student loans, court restitution orders, criminal fines, and some taxes.
  • Protect cosigners on your debts. When a relative or friend has co-signed a loan, and the consumer discharges the loan in bankruptcy, the cosigner may still have to repay all or part of the loan.- Discharge debts that arise after bankruptcy has been filed.

5. How often can I file bankruptcy?

You cannot receive a discharge in a Chapter 7 case if you received a discharge under a Chapter 7 case filed in the last eight years or a Chapter 13 filed in the last six years. You cannot receive a discharge in a Chapter 13 case if you received a discharge under a Chapter 7 case filed in the last four years or a Chapter 13 filed in the last two years. If didn't received a discharge in the previous bankruptcy filing, depending on why this is the case, you can file and receive a discharge without any time restrictions.

6. What Different Types of Bankruptcy Should I Consider?

  • There are four types of bankruptcy cases provided under the law:
  • Chapter 7 is known as "straight" bankruptcy or "liquidation." It requires a debtor to give up property which exceeds certain limits called "exemptions", so the property can be sold to pay creditors.
  • Chapter 11, known as "reorganization", is used by businesses and a few individual debtors whose debts are very large
  • Chapter 12 is reserved for family farmers.
  • Chapter 13 is called "debt adjustment". It requires a debtor to file a plan to pay debts (or parts of debts) from current income.

Most people filing bankruptcy will want to file under either chapter 7 or chapter 13. Either type of case may be filed individually or by a married couple filing jointly.

7. Is California Chapter 7 (Straight Bankruptcy) Bankruptcy Right for Me?

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 probably will not be the right 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.

8. Is California Chapter 13 bankruptcy (Reorganization) Right for Me?

In a chapter 13 case you file a "plan" showing how you will pay off some of your past-due and current debts over three to five years. The most important thing about a chapter 13 case is that it will allow you to keep valuable property–especially your home and car–which might otherwise be lost, if you can make the payments which the bankruptcy law requires to be made to your creditors. In most cases, these payments will be at least as much as your regular monthly payments on your mortgage or car loan, with some extra payment to get caught up on the amount you have fallen behind. You should consider filing a chapter 13 plan if you:

(1) own your home and are in danger of losing it because of money problems; (2) are behind on debt payments, but can catch up if given some time; (3) have valuable property which is not exempt, but you can afford to pay creditors from your income over time.

You will need to have enough income in chapter 13 to pay for your necessities and to keep up with the required payments as they come due.

9. What Does It Cost to File for Bankruptcy?

It now costs $306 to file for bankruptcy under chapter 7 and $281 to file for bankruptcy under chapter 13, whether for one person or a married couple. The court may allow you to pay this filing fee in installments if you cannot pay all at once. If you hire an attorney you will also have to pay the attorney's fees you agree to.

10. In California What Property Can I Keep?

In a chapter 7 case, you can keep all property which the law says is "exempt" from the claims of creditors. California exemptions provides list of the exemptions available for California. 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 actual equity in any 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 on payments. 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.

11. What Will Happen to My Home and Car If I File Bankruptcy in California?

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.

12. 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 your bankruptcy, that money or property may have to be paid to your creditors if the property or money is not exempt. You can also keep any property covered by California bankruptcy exemptions through the bankruptcy.

13. 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 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).

14. Will I Have to Go to Court?

In most bankruptcy cases, you only have to go to a proceeding called the "meeting of creditors" to meet with the bankruptcy trustee and any creditor who chooses to come. Most of the time, this meeting will be a short and simple procedure where you are asked a few questions about your bankruptcy forms and your financial situation. Occasionally, if complications arise, or if you choose to dispute a debt, you may have to appear before a judge at a hearing. If you need to go to court, you will receive notice of the court date and time from the court and/or from your attorney.

15. Will Bankruptcy Affect My Credit?

There is no clear answer to this question. Unfortunately, if you are behind on your bills, your credit may already be bad. Bankruptcy will probably not make things any worse. The fact that you've filed a bankruptcy can appear on your credit record for ten years. But since bankruptcy wipes out your old debts, you are likely to be in a better position to pay your current bills, and you may be able to get new credit.

16. Can I Get a Credit Card After Bankruptcy?

Yes, there are several options available. While technically not a credit card you could use a bank or debit card to perform activities for which you normally would use a credit card. You also may be able to keep the credit card you already have if the creditor grants approval. If these options do not work you can get secured credit card which is backed by your own bank account.

17. Are Utility Services Affected?

Public utilities, such as the electric company, cannot refuse or cut off service because you have filed for bankruptcy. However, the utility can require a deposit for future service and you do have to pay bills which arise after your bankruptcy is filed.

18. Can I Be Discriminated Against For Filing Bankruptcy?

No. 11 U.S.C. sec. 525 prohibits governmental units and private employers from discriminating against you because you filed a bankruptcy petition or because you failed to pay a dischargeable debt.

19. Can Bankruptcy Help Get My California Driver's License Back?

If you lost your license solely because you couldn't pay court-ordered damages caused in an accident, bankruptcy will allow you to get your license back.

20. What About Co-signers?

If someone has co-signed a loan with you and you file for bankruptcy, the co-signer may have to pay your debt.

21. I'm Married, Can I File by Myself?

Yes, but your spouse will still be liable for any joint debts. If you file together you will be able to double your exemptions. In some cases where only one spouse has debts, or one spouse has debts that are not dischargeable then it might be advisable to have only one spouse file. If the spouses have joint debts, the fact that one spouse discharged the debt may show on the other spouses credit report.

22. Can filing bankruptcy stop bill collectors from calling?

Yes. The automatic stay prevents bill collectors from taking any action to collect debts.

23. How long after filing will the creditors stop calling?

Once a creditor or bill collector becomes aware of a filing for bankruptcy protection, it must immediately stop all collection efforts. After you file the bankruptcy petition, the court mails a notice to all the creditors listed in your bankruptcy schedules. This usually takes a couple of weeks. Creditors will also stop calling if you inform them that you filed the bankruptcy petition, and supply them with your case number. In some cases, you or your attorney should contact the creditor immediately upon filing the bankruptcy petition, especially if a lawsuit is pending. If a creditor continues to use collection tactics once informed of the bankruptcy they may be liable for court sanctions and attorney fees for this conduct.

24. Can I erase my student loans by filing bankruptcy?

Generally, student loans are not discharged in bankruptcy. In 11 U.S.C. sec. 523(a)(8) there are two exceptions to this general rule:

  1. The student loan may be discharged if it is neither – Insured or guaranteed by a governmental unit, nor
    - Made under any program funded in whole or in part by a governmental unit or nonprofit institution.
  2. The student loan may be discharged if paying the loan will "impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor's dependents."

Student loans more than 7 years old used to be dischargeable under certain circumstances, but this provision was removed by an appropriations bill passed in October of 1998.

Whether an exception applies depends on the facts of the particular case and may also depend on local court decisions. Even if a student loan falls into one of the two exceptions, discharge of the loan may not be automatic. You may have to file an adversary proceeding in the bankruptcy court to obtain a court order declaring the debt discharged.

25. Where do I file if I haven't lived in the same state or district for the last two years?

If you haven't lived in your current state for 91 days you must wait until you have lived there for 91 days and then file in your current state. If you lived in your current state for more than 91 days but less than two years, you will file in your current state but use the exemptions from where you lived for majority of the 180 day period immediately previous to the 2 year period before you filed. If you bought your home within the last 40 months and/or haven't lived in your current state for the last 2 years then your homestead exemption may be limited.

26. If I am going through a divorce how will my ex-spouse filing bankruptcy affect our divorce settlement?

Alimony, maintenance, and/or support are protected from discharge. Divorce decrees and separation agreements are covered by 11 U.S.C. Section 523(a)(15). This section states that these debts are not dischargeable unless:

(A) the debtor does not have the ability to pay such debt from income or property of the debtor not reasonably necessary to be expended for the maintenance or support of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor and, if the debtor is engaged in a business, for the payment of expenditures necessary for the continuation, preservation, and operation of such business; or
(B) discharging such debt would result in a benefit to the debtor that outweighs the detrimental consequences to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor.

California Bankruptcy Process

2005 Bankruptcy Act Credit Counseling

The 2005 Bankruptcy Act requires all individual debtors who file bankruptcy on or after October 17, 2005, to undergo credit counseling within six months before filing for bankruptcy relief and to complete a financial management instructional course after filing bankruptcy.

2005 Bankruptcy Act Means Test
Under the 2005 Bankruptcy Act your income and expenses will be analyzed to determine if you qualify to file a Chapter 7 or if you must file Chapter 13. To apply the means test, the courts will look at the your average income for the 6 months prior to filing and compare it to the median income for California. If the income is below the median, then you may choose Chapter 7. If your income exceeds the median, the remaining parts of the means test will be applied to determine if you can file Chapter 7 or if you must file Chapter 13.

Gathering Paperwork
To begin the bankruptcy process you must itemize your current income sources; major financial transactions for the last two years; monthly living expenses; debts (secured and unsecured); and property (all assets and possessions, not just real estate). You should also collect your tax returns for the last two years, deeds to any real estate you own, your car(s) titles, and the documents for any loans you may have.

Filing Bankruptcy
Once you have gathered this information, either on your own or with the help of an attorney, you should then determine which property you believe is exempt from seizure based on the California exemptions. To actually file, either you or your attorney, will need to file a two-page petition and several other forms at your California district bankruptcy court. These forms, collectively are referred to as the schedules and ask you to describe your current financial status and recent financial transactions (typically within the last two years). If your creditors or the judge feel or find out that you have not been entirely forthcoming in your bankruptcy filing, it could jeopardize the outcome of your petition.

The cost for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $306. This fee may not be waived but you may be able to pay it in installments. The fee of $281 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy cannot be waived.

Chapter 13 Requirements
If you are filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a proposed repayment plan must also be submitted. After reasonable monthly expenses have been paid, how much money will you have left over to put toward your outstanding bills? And how will this money be divvied up among those you owe? Priority claims (such as taxes and back child support) must be paid in full; unsecured debts (like credit card debt and medical bills) are usually paid in part. Depending upon the judgments of those involved with your case, unsecured debts can be paid off for as little as 10 cents on the dollar.

In addition to the general requirements listed above, the repayment plan must pass each of the following three tests:
1) It must be delivered in good faith.
2) Unsecured creditors must be paid at least as much as if a Chapter 7 bankruptcy had been filed. Generally, this is the value of all the nonexempt property you own.
3) All disposable income must be paid into the plan for at least three years (you may use up to five years in order to meet the second test that you pay at least as much as in a Chapter 7).

If you have filed Chapter 13, you must begin making your plan payments. Generally these payments will be withdrawn directly from your wages and you or your attorney should arrange with the court for these payments to be deducted from your wages.

Automatic Stay
Once you have filed your paperwork with the bankruptcy court, an automatic stay immediately goes into effect. This provision prevents creditors from making direct contact with you or staking a claim on any of your property from the day of filing forward. This will stop any foreclosure proceedings.

Bankruptcy Trustee
Upon filing, the court will assume legal control of your debts and any property not covered by your California exemptions. A trustee will be appointed to your case by the court. The job of the trustee is to see that your creditors are paid as much as possible. This person will thoroughly review your paperwork, particularly the assets you have in your possession and the exemptions you wish to claim, and can challenge any element of your case.

341 Meeting of Creditors
Approximately a month after filing, the trustee will call a first meeting of creditors, which the debtor must attend. This proceeding is also referred to as the § 341 meeting, named after the corresponding section of the bankruptcy code. Creditors rarely attend a Chapter 7 bankruptcy meeting; one or two creditors may attend a Chapter 13 meeting, especially if there is a question as to the legitimacy of some aspect of the plan. Objections are typically resolved by negotiation between the debtor or the debtor's counsel and the creditor. If a compromise can not be reached, a judge will intervene.

The meeting of creditors typically lasts about five minutes. You will receive notice of the location of the meeting but you may contact the court to confirm the address and time. Most Chapter 7 filings involve no non-exempt assets, however, if you filed for Chapter 7 and do have non-exempt assets, you will have to turn over non-exempt property (or its fair market value in cash) to the trustee after the meeting. The trustee will sell this property and distribute the proceeds to your creditors. If the property isn't worth a great deal or would be hard to sell, the trustee may decide to abandon the property (and return it to you). Trustees and creditors have 60 days to challenge the debtor's right to a discharge. If there are no challenges, you will receive a notice from the court that your dischargeable debts have been discharged within three to six months.

Chapter 13 Plan Confirmation
If you filed a Chapter 13 plan, you will need to attend a hearing before a bankruptcy judge who will either confirm or deny the repayment plan. If your plan is confirmed and you make good on it, the balance (if any) on the dischargeable debts you owe will be eliminated at the end of your term.

California Bankruptcy Means Test

If you would like to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy you must pass the California means test. The test only applies to higher income filers which means that if your income is below the California median for your household size you are exempt from the test and may file a Chapter 7.

If your income is higher than the California median you will need to complete the means test calculation to determine if you can pay back a portion of your unsecured debts through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Means Test Exemptions

If your debts are not primarily consumer debts then you are exempt from the means test. You are also exempt from the means test if you are a disabled veteran and incurred your debt primarily during active duty or performing a homeland defense activity.

California Median Income

If your currently monthly household income is less than the California median income for a household of your size there is a presumption that you pass the means test and are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Your average household income is determined by averaging your monthly income over the last six calendar months. If you are over the median income limit and your income has declined over the last six months, then waiting one or more months might bring your income under the median level for California. Once you determine your average monthly income you multiply that by 12 to determine your annual income for the purpose of California median income test.

1 Member Household - $47,798.00
2 Member Household - $62,009.00
3 Member Household - $66,618.00
4 Member Household - $75,111.00
5 Member Household - $83,211.00
6 Member Household - $91,311.00
7 Member Household - $99,411.00
8 Member Household - $107,511.00
9 Member Household - $115,611.00
10 Member Household - $123,711.00

Means Test

If your income is over the California median income for a household your size then you must complete the means test by calculating your income and expense information. Tepper Law Firm will help you do everything necessary to pass the Means Test and file your BK.

BANKRUPTCY COURT FEE SCHEDULE

New Petitions:

Chapter 7

$306.00

Chapter 9

$1,213.00

Chapter 11

$1,213.00

Chapter 12 (Family Farmer)

$246.00

Chapter 13

$281.00

Chapter 15

$1,213.00

Case Reopening:2

Chapter 7

$260.00

Chapter 9

$1,167.00

Chapter 11

$1,167.00

Chapter 12

$200.00

Chapter 13

$235.00

Chapter 15

$1,167.00

Case Conversions:

Chapter 7 to Chapter 13

None

Chapter 7 to Chapter 11

$922.00

Chapter 11 to Chapter 7

$15.00

Chapter 12 to Chapter 7

$60.00

Chapter 13 to Chapter 11

$932.00

Chapter 13 to Chapter 7

$25.00

Amendments:

Schedules "D," "E," or "F"

$30.00

Master Mailing List (exceptions listed in "Miscellaneous Fee Schedule")

$30.00

Motions:

Motion to Compel Abandonment of Property

$176.00

Motion to Terminate, Annul, Modify, or Condition of the Automatic Stay

$176.00

Motion to Withdraw Reference

$176.00

Motion to Sell Property of the Estate Free & Clear of Liens under 11 U.S.C. §363(f)

$176.00

Other:

Abstract of Judgment

$9.00

Appeal*

$298.00

Certification

$11.00

Claims Transfer

$25.00

Complaint (Adversary Proceeding)

$293.00

Cross-Appeal*

$298.00

Exemplification

$21.00

Filing or Indexing of Miscellaneous Paper

$46.00

Issuance of Out of District Subpoena

$46.00

Photocopies Made by Court Personnel (per page)

$0.50

Printed Copies from Courthouse Public Terminal (per page)

$0.10

Registration of Judgment from Another District

$46.00

Reproduction of Audio Recording (regardless of the medium)

$30.00

Retrieval of Records from NARA (first box)

$64.00

Retrievals Involving Multiple Boxes of NARA Records (each additional box)

$39.00

Returned Fee Charge (e.g., insufficient funds, disputed charges)

$53.00

Search of Court Records (each name/item searched)

$30.00