In St. Helena, California, bankruptcy is a court procedure in which a person or business has some or all of their debts absolved (or "discharged"), theoretically allowing them to commence 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 fitting 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 probable benefits.
For that reason, it would be prudent to speak with a good St. Helena, 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 specific situation. This determination is highly dependent on the details of each individual case, so a St. Helena attorney's advice is really indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in St. Helena, California
In St. Helena, California, 3 types of bankruptcy procedures are in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. Being governed by federal law, the procedures involved in filing for bankruptcy in St. Helena, California will be about the same as anywhere else in America. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of some of the debtor's assets to pay off as much of his or her debt as possible. Once the liquidation is done, and the proceeds given to the creditors, the rest of the debt is discharged. Liquidation is essentially selling assets to the highest bidder. Only some of the debtor's assets have to be sold, and varied classes of property are exempt, meaning that the debtor can keep them, including homes, cars, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. It should be noted that certain types of debt cannot be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, child support payments, criminal fines, and recent taxes.
The other normally used bankruptcy system in St. Helena is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows a debtor to repay most or all of their debts in a structured manner. It reorganizes the debt into lower periodic payments that, with a bit of frugality, the debtor should find manageable. This allows the debtor to continue to earn a living, and allows the creditors to eventually collect what they are owed. Once a repayment plan is approved by the bankruptcy court, creditors are legally barred from seeking repayment under the terms of the arrangements that gave rise to the debt in the first place, and will instead have to accept payment under the new plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is typically a better option for people who have a steady income. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is almost exclusively used by businesses, but there is nothing that legally prevents it from being used by individuals, and its use by individuals is very rare. Chapter 11 bankruptcy requires the debtor to come up with a restructuring plan - telling the court how they propose to cut costs, improve their operations, and pay down their debts. The plan has to be approved by a majority 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 St. Helena Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
Filing for bankruptcy in St. Helena is a very important decision, and should not be made lightly. Before filing, one should consult with a good St. Helena bankruptcy attorney for assistance.