Napa and Santa Rosa Bankruptcy Attorney Ellyn M. Lazar Answers Frequently Asked Questions About Bankruptcy

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Santa Rosa and Napa bankruptcy lawyer Ellyn M. Lazar has compiled answers to frequently asked questions about bankruptcy. These answers provide general information, but every situation is different. To discuss your particular circumstances, call today for a free consultation. Ms. Lazar will make sure you have a clear picture of how the bankruptcy laws work, how your case will proceed and how it will affect your life, your family and your business.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bankruptcy

Can I file bankruptcy if I have a job?
Yes. A popular bankruptcy myth is that you must be unemployed and destitute to file bankruptcy, and while bankruptcy is certainly available to the unemployed, both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are available to individuals with income. Your eligibility for either chapter will depend on the type and amount of debt you have and your household size, monthly income and expenses.

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Will I lose my house or my vehicle if I file bankruptcy?
Not necessarily. If you file Chapter 7, you can generally keep your house and your vehicle if you are not behind on the payments and if you can afford to continue making the payments. If you are behind on you payments, you may be able to save your home and your vehicle through Chapter 13.

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How long does bankruptcy take to complete once my case is filed?
The average Chapter 7 bankruptcy case lasts about three and a half months. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case lasts anywhere from three years to five years.

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Will I have to go to court if I file bankruptcy?
About a month after your case is filed you will be required to attend a hearing called the Meeting of Creditors. The hearing is in a meeting room and not a courtroom. At this hearing, your bankruptcy trustee and any of your creditors that are present can ask you questions under oath about your property and your finances.

People who file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 rarely go to a courtroom to meet the judge.

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Do I need a lawyer to file bankruptcy?
The law does not require you to hire a lawyer to file bankruptcy. However, it is strongly recommended that you do not file a bankruptcy yourself. Bankruptcy is a complicated process, and your future depends upon its successful outcome. If you file by yourself, any mistakes you make could cost you your discharge and/or your assets.

Hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney will ensure that your case will be prepared, filed and processed properly. Your attorney will instruct you on what information you will need to complete your bankruptcy paperwork, hearing procedures, and how the bankruptcy laws apply to you.

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Will I have to close my business if I file bankruptcy?
Not necessarily. In fact, personal bankruptcy can actually help a small business owner keep the business afloat. Through Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can restructure your personal and business debts.

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If I file bankruptcy, does my spouse have to file?
No. A married person can file bankruptcy without including his or her spouse. However, if you have joint debts with your spouse and your spouse does not file bankruptcy with you, he or she will still be responsible for those joint debts.

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Will everyone know I filed bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a matter of public record, but nobody announces it. For someone to find out that you have filed bankruptcy, they would have to either go to the bankruptcy court or have access to the courts electronic records.

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Will bankruptcy get rid of my student loans?
Unfortunately, student loans are generally nondischargeable. However, certain people who suffer from an extreme hardship may be able to discharge (or eliminate) student loans. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may ease some of the burden by restructuring student loan payments.

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Can I eliminate taxes with bankruptcy?
You can eliminate or discharge some income taxes, payroll taxes and sales tax. Not all taxes are dischargeable. However, even nondischargeable taxes have a solution in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 allows you to repay your nondischargeable taxes over a three- to- five-year period without incurring interest and penalties.

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Can same sex married couples file bankruptcy together?
Yes. If two people of the same sex are legally married, they may file together in a joint bankruptcy. Unfortunately, non-married couples and domestic partners are still not able to file together in a joint bankruptcy.

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