Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyers serving Salinas, California 93905. Chapter 13, Foreclosure, Debt Settlement

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CA Bankruptcy InformationFinding a Bankruptcy Lawyer
in Salinas, California

Residents of Salinas and Monterey County will want a bankruptcy attorney that is familiar with filing cases in the California Northern District Bankruptcy Court, and has experience with the trustee that will be appointed to your case.

Legal Aid serving
Salinas, California

If your income is low, you may be able to get bankruptcy representation through your local legal aid organization.

Listing of free legal services in California from Legal Services Corporation.

Listing of bankruptcy pro bono programs in California from ABIWorld

(Current income guidelines to qualify for legal aid.)

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Use the search box below to do a GoogleSearch for bankruptcy attorneys that serve your area.

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Salinas, CA Bankruptcy Attorney
Salinas, CA Bankruptcy Lawyer
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Directories of Salinas
Bankruptcy Attorney Advertising.

 

NACBA Attorney Finder

Type in your zip code to find bankruptcy attorneys in your area who are members of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA).

Nolo Lawyer Directory of Salinas Area Bankruptcy Attorneys

Nolo offers lawyer profiles and asks the attorney whether they're open to the idea of working with people who have read up on the subject of bankruptcy.

Justia.com's Salinas Lawyer Directory

Started by original FindLaw founder and "free law" pioneer, Tim Stanley, Justia.com has localized listings & profiles of attorneys that have been listed on lawyer directories services,including Nolo's and Cornell University's LLI project.

Ten Ways a Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help You

There is no requirement to use a lawyer to file for bankruptcy. However, some people decide to hire one to help them get through the process.

Although I write self-help law books, I realize that -- when it comes to complex forms, tight deadlines, and piles of details -- not everyone is cut out for do-it-yourself law.

Whether you're a good candidate for doing it yourself, depends on the complexity of your financial situation, and your willingness to take the time to learn the rules of bankruptcy and complete work carefully, and on time, and meet all filing requirements and deadlines. (If you're not the type of person that is willing to follow instructions carefully, then self-help bankruptcy is probably not for you. For more discusion, see the help topic: Do I Need Lawyer?)

Indeed, there are many ways that a lawyer can help you in filing for bankruptcy. Here are at least ten ways that come to mind:

  1. Help you classify exempt property.
  2. Help answer issues about debt and expenses on the means test.
  3. Help decide whether bankruptcy is the best solution for your particular situation.
  4. Help you organize all of your relevant financial details into the appropriate forms.
  5. Help you meet all filing requirements and deadlines for the California Northern District Bankruptcy Court.
  6. Help you analyze whether you qualify for lien avoidance (and decide when to use it)
  7. Help you untangle complicated property ownership issues with jointly-owned property and divorce.
  8. Help decide if a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the right option for you.
  9. Help you write a Chapter 13 plan that the trustee assigned to your case will accept.
  10. Give you local knowledge about what your trustee generally allows when it comes to "reasonable" expenses.

Like tax law, bankruptcy is a specialty. Someone claiming to be a bankruptcy lawyer should be able to point to experience and deep knowledge of the specialized law of bankruptcy, and specifically, your local court.

Most bankruptcies are routine for someone who has done many of them. Chances are very good that an experienced bankruptcy attorney has seen your situation many times before. The lawyer you choose should be able to advise you on the best way to proceed with your bankruptcy given your assets, your debts, your secured debts, whether there are cosigners, and other issues.

If you're going to pay for a bankruptcy lawyer, make sure you get a good one. Just because someone is a lawyer does not mean they are knowledgeable about bankruptcy law. Do your homework before you hire someone.

Using Non-Lawyers (Bankrupty Petition Preparers) to help you

See this article on Should I use a Petition Preparer.

Credit Counseling & Debtor Education

Before you file for bankruptcy, you must get credit counseling, and get a certificate proving that you have done so. You MUST use one of the approved counseling agencies for your court district.

There are many shady credit counseling agencies that advertise heavily on TV and other media. They call themselves non-profit, are really just fronts for profit making businesses and are designed to funnel people into dead-end payment plans that do little for the consumer. Indeed 40% of the industry has been targeted by the IRS to remove their non-profit status [NPR Report] [SFGate article].

The FTC has published a "Consumer Alert" pamphlet for debtor thinking about bankruptcy warning about shady credit counselors and how to protect yourself from falling victim to one. You can download the pamphlet here.

Again, be sure to use only a credit counselor that is on the approved list of counselors for your court district.

Even assuming you're using a legitimate credit counselor, a recent GAO report to Congress stated that:

"The value of the credit counseling requirement is not clear. The counseling was intended to help consumers make informed choices about bankruptcy and its alternatives. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests that by the time most clients receive the counseling, their financial situations are dire, leaving them with no viable alternative to bankruptcy. As a result, the requirement may often serve more as an administrative obstacle than as a timely presentation of meaningful options."
- source: Government Accounting Office testimony before the House Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, May 1, 2007

Form Preparation Services (BPPs)

Bankruptcy Petition Preparers are non-lawyers paid by consumers to prepare bankruptcy documents, for filing in court.

Anyone can be a BPP, provided they comply with the rules governing BPP practice contained in the bankruptcy code.

Customers who use a BPP are representing themselves in the bankruptcy court. This means they are responsible for making the choices required of them in their case. They must also provide the BPP with complete and accurate information to be entered in the documents.

Because BPPs are not lawyers, their customers must obtain necessary legal information and advice from an independent source such as a self-help law book or a lawyer.

Think of it this way, A BPP's customers are their own lawyers and the BPP is their legal secretary. The customers have to be sufficiently informed to tell the BPP what to do.

What BPPs Can't Do

Lawyers have jealously guarded their turf when it comes to bankruptcy. Lawyers already lost this battle in the area of tax preparation. Today, non-lawyer tax preparers openly advertise the good advice they can give you in addition to completing your forms. BPPs can do no such thing when it comes to bankruptcy forms.

Under the new bankruptcy law, BPPs must give debtors a form that lists all the things BPPs can't do (form B19), and all the topics they can't discuss -- basically anything that might be characterized as legal advice. Thus, the sort of tips that tax preparers commonly give to people when preparing their taxes, BPPs can't give when bankruptcy forms.

 

What BPPs can't do
(language of Form B19)
Plain English Where topic
is covered in HFB Book.
I am forbidden
to offer you
any legal advice, including advice about any of the following:
  How to File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (HFB book) will not give you specific advice, either, but it does discuss important facts to consider in making these decisions:
• whether to file a petition under the Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.); Whether you should file for bankruptcy Ch. 1
• whether commencing a case under chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13 is appropriate; What kind of bankruptcy you should file for Ch. 1
• whether your debts will be eliminated or discharged in a case under the Bankruptcy Code; Which debts are non-dischargeable, secured, etc. Ch's. 9, 5
• whether you will be able to retain your home, car, or other property after commencing a case
under the Bankruptcy Code;
Whether you'll lose your house, car, or other property Chs. 3, 4, 5
• concerning the tax consequences of a case brought under the Bankruptcy Code; Tax consequences Not covered
• concerning the dischargeability of tax claims; Whether or not your tax debts will be wiped out Ch. 9
• whether you may or should promise to repay debts to a creditor or enter into a reaffirmation
agreement with a creditor to reaffirm a debt;
Which secured loans are worth hanging onto, versus other options (e.g. surrendering property) Ch. 5
• concerning how to characterize the nature of your interests in property or your debts; or Whether property is exempt
or
into which exemption category a particular item fits
Ch. 3, 4
• concerning bankruptcy procedures and rights.
What happens in bankruptcy; what are your rights Whole book

 

Online Bankruptcy Filing Advertised to Consumers

There are several software products designed for lawyers that will prepare full sets of bankruptcy forms, but these programs assume you already know bankruptcy law and are designed for filing multiple bankruptcies. In short, they're not appropriate for first-time bankruptcy filers.
There are also a few packages purportedly offered for consumers. Proceed with caution. Some of these packages are little more than PDF versions of the forms, which are are available free from the courts themselves.
If you are not a lawyer, the only value of these products would depend on the quality of the instructions they provide. You'll need instructions on how to complete each form, as well as a good understanding of how each form fits into the larger process of filing for bankruptcy.

 

So-Called "Full Service" Companies - Proceed with Caution

Some companies tout themselves as "full service" to distinguish themselves from companies that only offer forms preparation. But they do not appear to be lawyers, so, by law, all they can do is forms preparation. Therefore it is unclear what "full service" actually includes, or what it CAN include under the strict guidelines preventing non-lawyers from providing bankruptcy advice.

Note that similar services to these have been found by courts to be BPPs and therefore subject to BPP fee limits and service limitations. To the extent that these services charge more than such limits, and the "advice" they give (by deciding where your information should go on the bankruptcy forms), may exceed what is allowed in your court district.

"Software" for consumers -- or is it?

Standard Legal ($49). This "software" is actually a zip file of MS Word and PDF forms that you can use or fill in. The merchant's website does not say whether local forms are included and whether or not forms do any calculations. This does not appear to really be "software" but rather a package of MS Word and PDF forms. (Note: before you pay for PDF bankruptcy forms, remember that PDF, fill-in bankruptcy forms are downloadable for free from the government, your local bankruptcy court website, and here .) So what you're really paying for is the instructions that come with the forms.

Step-by-Step Guidebooks to the Bankruptcy Process

How to File for Chapter 7 BankruptcyHow to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Before spending hundreds of dollars on bankruptcy services, take the time to learn about what's involved in filing for bankruptcy, and determine exactly the kind of help you need. Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (17th ed., 2011) walks you through the law and procedures of filing for bankruptcy, explains what bankruptcy can -- and can't -- do for you, and tells you how to get the most from your bankruptcy lawyer if you decide to hire one.

 

   
 

CloseDo I Need a Lawyer?

There is no requirement to use a lawyer to file for bankruptcy. However, some people decide to hire one to help them get through the process.

Whether you're a good candidate for doing it yourself, depends on the complexity of your financial situation, and your willingness to take the time to learn the rules of bankruptcy. (If you're not the type of person that is willing to follow instructions carefully, then self-help is probably not for you.)

Your Financial Situation

If your debts consist only of unsecured credit card debt, you may well be able to file for bankruptcy on your own.

However, other factors to consider are the amount and type of property you own. If you own your home, have substantial retirement savings, or other substantial assets you may want to consult with a lawyer to make sure your property is not at risk.

A good way to approach the decision of whether to hire a lawyer is to buy (and read) Nolo's book How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It will give you a good idea of what issues may arise when you file, and flags specific situations when a lawyer's help is called for. It will also give you a good idea of whether the filing process seems to complicated for you.

If your financial situation is simple, but you just don't want to deal with the forms, you might consider a using a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer to handle the form preparation.

Some lawyers may be willing to review your situation without taking on your entire case. If they see that your situation is very simple, some lawyers might even tell you that you can do it yourself.

One option is to get limited help from a lawyer combined with the services of a bankruptcy petition preparer. If you live in California, see www.bankruptcylawproject.com for more information about their "Affordable Attorney Advice" service, which, for a flat rate of $100, will answer all questions that may arise in the course of your bankruptcy, but not actually file bankruptcy for you. (Disclaimer: This service is run by my friend and co-author, Attorney Stephen Elias. But I think what he's doing is pretty innovative and useful and so I list it here.)

Other Resources, Other Opinions

Lots of people have opinions on the topic of whether you should get a lawyer. Most lawyers... guess what... think you should always have a lawyer. But, seriously, they make some worthwhile points that are worth reading as you decide what to do.

The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) makes the case of why you should use an attorney and offers tips for those who cannot afford one.

The law firm of Moran Law Group, in addition to providing loads of useful free information about bankruptcy, also makes the case why you should get a lawyer and the US Courts site has this advice about filing without an attorney.

And Nolo has an article on Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney

These are all worth reading.

Close

CloseWhat should I expect from a lawyer?

If you hire a lawyer, make sure your lawyer is an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Bankruptcy is a complex, unique area of law that is not something that a general practitioner can learn overnight. Ask your lawyer how many bankruptcies they have filed.

Your lawyer will probably have you fill in a questionnaire about your property, debts, expenses and income. A good lawyer will be able to determine quickly what kinds of debts will be dischargeable in bankruptcy. The lawyer should advise you to get credit counseling before you file, and will may even have a computer terminal in their office where you can do the counseling right there, online. Many lawyers have preferred credit counselors that they work with.

Lawyers are responsible for making sure that your information is accurate, so they will be asking you to bring in documentation about your finances, including pay stubs, tax returns, etc.

For more information about working with a bankruptcy attorney, check out Chapter 10 of How to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Close

CloseWhat is a "BPP" (Bankruptcy Petition Preparer)?

Bankruptcy Petition Preparers are non-lawyers paid by consumers to prepare bankruptcy documents, for filing in court.

Anyone can be a BPP, provided they comply with the rules governing BPP practice contained in the bankruptcy code.

Customers who use a BPP are representing themselves in the bankruptcy court. This means they are responsible for making the choices required of them in their case. They must also provide the BPP with complete and accurate information to be entered in the documents.

Because BPPs are not lawyers, their customers must obtain necessary legal information and advice from an independent source such as a self-help law book or a lawyer.

Think of it this way, A BPP's customers are their own lawyers and the BPP is thewww.bankruptcylawproject.com.

Close

CloseWhat is Credit Counseling?

Credit counseling is now required for all persons filing for bankruptcy. It costs about $50 and can be done in person, on the phone, or over the internet.

A credit counseling session generally lasts about 90 minutes. They'll review of your financial situation, give you information about your rights and options, and propose a repayment plan for resolving your debt problems, if possible.

Credit counseling organizations are now screened by the federal government and only approved organizations can be used in bankruptcy. (Click here for the list of approved credit counseling agencies.) This regulation is a good thing. The field rife with rip-off artists and the regulation has been welcomed by legitimate credit counselors.

The FTC also publishes a useful pamphlet on how to select a credit counselor.

Close

CloseWhat is "debt consolidation"

Debt consolidation is the practice of taking out one large loan to pay off a bunch of smaller debts that are charging higher interest.

Debt consolidation may or may not be a good idea, depending on your situation. Lower interest is a good thing, but turning unsecured debts (like credit card bills) into secured debts (like a home equity loan) can be a costly mistake if you eventually file bankruptcy anyway. Unsecured debts can often be eliminated in bankruptcy, while most secured debts cannot. If you can't pay your secured debt -- or if the payments are late -- you may lose your home.

Also, the fees for setting up such loans can be expensive.

Close

 

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Welcome, users of Nolo's

How to File for Chapter 7 BankruptcyHow to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy


LegalConsumer.com helps you find local information and services to help you file for bankruptcy.

If you don't own the book, you can still use this site and the free means test calculator.

 

 

How to File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (Nolo, 18th edition, 2013)

Buy or download now @
Nolo (publisher)

  • Takes you through the process of filing bankruptcy.
  • Explains the impact of the new bankruptcy laws.
  • Provides step-by-step instructions for preparing and filing official bankruptcy court forms.
  • Alerts you to situations that require a lawyer's help.

In Paperback and eBook (Adobe Reader)
Pub. Date: Oct 2013
Edition: 18th
Pages: 440 pp
ISBN:9781413319378
Forms: 13 forms

Buy & download now @
Nolo (publisher)

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