In Fresno County, California, bankruptcy is a court procedure in which a person or business has some or all of their debts cleared (or "discharged"), theoretically allowing them to begin 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). Remember, though, that bankruptcy should not be viewed as a proper way to get out of debt that you don't feel like paying back. It is meant to serve as an option of last resort for people and businesses faced with debt that they will probably never be able to pay back. The decision to file for bankruptcy can result in negative consequences, such as damaged credit ratings, which must be seriously weighed against the possible benefits.
Accordingly, you should speak with a good Fresno County, California bankruptcy lawyer. Your Fresno County bankruptcy lawyer can inform you of the costs and benefits of filing for bankruptcy, and give his or her professional advice as to whether or not it's a good option, given your individual circumstances.
Types of Bankruptcy in Fresno County, California
In Fresno County, California, there are 3 types of bankruptcy in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11. Because bankruptcy is a result of federal law, the procedures governing bankruptcy in Fresno County, California will be similar everywhere else in the U.S. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the debtor to liquidate some of his or her property, and use the funds to pay creditors. While this doesn't sound like much of a relief at first glance, the upshot is that once the qualifying property is sold, and the proceeds directed to the creditors, all of the debtor's eligible debts are deemed paid in full, regardless of how much the creditors actually ended up getting. Not all of the debtor's property has to be sold off - the debtor will normally be allowed to keep things like a house, at least one car, some types of personal property, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. It should be noted that some debts are not dischargeable, and will have to be paid in full even if the debtor files for bankruptcy. This includes student loans, taxes, and criminal fines.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Fresno County, most of the debtor's debt is not discharged. Instead, the bankruptcy court, working with the debtor and participating creditors, work out a payment plan that allows the debtor to pay off most of his or her debts over a prolonged period of time, thus theoretically making the debt far more manageable. Once a payment plan is approved by the court, creditors are prohibited from attempting to collect payment under their original agreements that gave rise to the debt in the first place. Though accessible to individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is generally used by businesses. Like Chapter 13, Chapter 11 requires the restructuring of debts. Under this system, the debtor must come up with a plan to reduce debt, cut costs, and improve operations. Once this plan is presented, it is submitted to the participating creditors, who must approve it by a majority vote before it can be implemented.
During the Chapter 11 process, a business can normally continue its operations, and the stock can be traded, even if it is de-listed from a major stock exchange.
How Can a Fresno County Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to consider all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Fresno County cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Fresno County bankruptcy attorney beforehand.