In Arcata, California, bankruptcy is a court procedure in which a person or business has some or all of their debts excused (or "discharged"), theoretically allowing them to start with a clean slate, and move on with their lives no longer drowning in debt (and hopefully having learned to better manage their use of credit in the process). Of course, one should never view bankruptcy as a "get out of debt free" card, allowing someone to be relieved of their obligation to pay their debts just because they don't want to. It is meant to serve as a lifeline, preventing unmanageable debt from resulting in complete financial ruin. Accordingly, it is best treated as an option of last resort, because it can carry with it significant negative consequences, which must be weighed against the possible benefits. For example, filing for bankruptcy can severely damage a person's credit rating.
Accordingly, it might be a good idea to consult with an Arcata, California bankruptcy attorney. Your lawyer will be able to counsel you about your options, including alternatives to bankruptcy, if such alternatives exist in your case. Whatever the result, it is often difficult to foresee the long-term consequences of any bankruptcy-related decisions, so the advice of a bankruptcy in Arcata could prove invaluable.
Types of Bankruptcy in Arcata, California
In Arcata, California, there are 3 types of bankruptcy in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Because bankruptcy is a creation of federal law, the procedures governing bankruptcy in Arcata, California will be similar anywhere else in the U.S. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of many of the debtor's assets in order to pay off as much of the debt as possible. This sounds harsh, but there is an upside: once the liquidation is complete, the debts are legally viewed as having been paid in full, whether or not the full amount was covered by the liquidation. Liquidation involves selling some personal property, and using the proceeds to pay off debt. Many types of property are exempt from liqudiation, and therefore may not need to be sold. They include homes, cars, and insurance policies, among others. You should know that some types of debt cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including taxes, student loans, and child support.
The other recognized bankruptcy scheme used by consumers in Arcata is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In this system, debt is not discharged. Instead, it is restructured. This allows the debtor to have the terms of the agreements that gave rise to their debts in the first place thrown out, and replaced with new terms that call for a structured repayment plan, designed to allow the debtor to survive on whatever income they have, and allowing the creditors to get paid back eventually. Once a payment plan is approved, creditors are not allowed to attempt to collect payment under the original agreements. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is primarily used by businesses, though it can be used by individuals (which is quite rare). Chapter 11 bankruptcy requires that the debtor come up with a reorganization plan - essentially telling the court how they propose to cut costs, streamline their operations, and pay their debts. This plan must be approved by the participating creditors through a simple majority vote.
A main advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that businesses can continue their operations while going through the process. Also, they can continue to buy and sell their stock.
How Can a Arcata Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
One should not make the decision to file for bankruptcy in Arcata lightly. Before making any such decision, it would be highly advisable to contact an experienced Arcata bankruptcy attorney.