In Oakland, 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.
For that reason, it would be prudent to speak with a good Oakland, California bankruptcy attorney. This attorney will be able to advise you as to whether or not filing for bankruptcy is a good idea, given your individual situation. This determination is highly dependent on the details of each individual case, so an Oakland attorney's advice is absolutely indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in Oakland, California
There are 3 bankruptcy options that are normally used in Oakland: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, so the procedures in Oakland, California are very similar to what they will be anywhere else in the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the debtor to liquidate some of his or her property, and use the proceeds 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 given 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.
The other recognized bankruptcy scheme used by consumers in Oakland 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 contracts 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. Though Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be used by individuals, it is almost exclusively used by businesses. Similar to Chapter 13, Chapter 11 involves restructuring of debts, rather than complete discharge. The debtor is required to come up with a restructuring plan that lays out how it plans to cut costs, streamline operations, and pay its debts. The plan must then be approved by a vote of participating creditors.
While going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a business can continue operations, and its stock can continue to be traded.
How Can a Oakland Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankruptcy in Oakland is a very important decision, and should not be made lightly. Before filing, one should consult with a good Oakland bankruptcy attorney for help.