In Stockton, 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). Remember, though, that bankruptcy should not be viewed as a convenient 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 potential benefits.
For that reason, it would be advisable to speak with a good Stockton, 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 particular situation. This determination is highly dependent on the details of each individual case, so a Stockton attorney's advice is truly indispensable.
Types of Bankruptcy in Stockton, California
In Stockton, 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 Stockton, California will be roughly the same as everywhere else in America. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of part of the debtor's assets to pay off as much of his or her debt as possible. Once the liquidation is complete, 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 various 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 largely used bankruptcy system in Stockton 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 authorized by the bankruptcy court, creditors are legally barred from seeking repayment under the terms of the agreements 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 usually a better option for people who have a steady income. Though Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be used by individuals, it is almost always 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 authorized by a vote of participating creditors.
During the Chapter 11 process, a business can usually continue its operations, and the stock can be traded, even if it is de-listed from a major stock exchange.
How Can a Stockton Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to weigh all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Stockton cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Stockton bankruptcy attorney beforehand.