Posts

san diego bankruptcy attorneys

San Diego bankruptcy law firm – The first step is the call

When you make an appointment with the Law Office of Paul Staley, you’re making an appointment with Paul himself. Not a paralegal or legal assistant with a questionnaire and a clipboard. You’ll be meeting with the only one among San Diego bankruptcy attorneys who “wrote the book” on bankruptcy. Paul’s book “The Bankruptcy Lifeline: What Your Creditors Hope You Don’t Know” is available for download at Amazon.com.
A client considering bankruptcy need not wonder whether his or her case is a good one. Yet seventy percent of all Chapter 13 cases end in failure. Paul has what he refers to as a “zero failure rate.” He backs up his professional analysis with a common sense guarantee. Paul’s outlook is straightforward. The client gets a Discharge. Every client, every case. Or the client gets a refund. You’ll find that outlook goes to a radical extreme. And Paul says “It’s about time.” Paul has been in practice for over twenty-five years now. He’s never had to issue a refund for a failed case. Among San Diego bankruptcy attorneys, Paul Staley is the first to guarantee his clients’ results.

Choosing the Right Chapter Can Make All The Difference.

Paul is convinced that too many cases are filed under the wrong Chapter.  That, in turn, results in too many cases failing. About twenty-five percent of all bankruptcy cases filed are filed as Chapter 13s.  He has described Chapter 13 proceedings as “the three-to-five-year poverty plan.” That’s because the Chapter 13 trustee becomes a stand-in for the creditors.
He [the trustee] (yes, we still have no female Chapter 13 trustees) becomes the surrogate for creditors. And the Code demands that ALL of the debtor’s disposable income go toward paying the creditors. Oh, and the trustee’s administrative fee of ten percent. These guys don’t work for free. (Yes, they’re both “guys” as of this writing.) In Paul’s practice over the past twenty-one years, he has put fewer than one percent of his clients in Chapter 13s. That’s not to say he thinks no one belongs in Chapter 13.

Among San Diego bankruptcy law firms, Paul conducts the free consultation differently. Differently how?

1 – Different, firstly, because he conducts the free consultation in person rather than delegating it to a non-attorney. He believes he is uniquely qualified to do what’s most important during that meeting – effective legal thinking.  And legal thinking requires applying a complex Bankruptcy Code to your unique situation. He respects other San Diego bankruptcy attorneys’ choice to delegate that meeting. Often that’s done by having an “interviewer” conduct the “intake interview.” That means the interviewer is not an attorney but at a minimum (a) speaks English (or the client’s language) and (b) can use a calculator. Paul has a lot of experience doing damage control after plenty of cases initiated in high-volume “mills.” One such typical scenario looks like this. A different attorney crams a case through based on information that an interviewer either missed or misunderstood.

How else is my consultation with Paul different?

Different – secondly – in that Paul devotes a full hour to the initial interview, sometimes longer. Real talk: he’s found that it’s impossible to collect enough information, analyze it and give the client a certain opinion any faster than that. Clients who come to Paul from other San Diego bankruptcy law firms confirm that Paul’s is the San Diego Bankruptcy law firm which does this process best. He’s a believer in the old adage that “You can do it right or you can do it over.”
Paul does a complete Means Test work-up, digs deep into the client’s unique situation. He frequently, talks about “what if?” scenarios with the client. Paul makes sure that by the end of that first meeting, the client knows the best way forward.

Complete legal analysis.

When you make your appointment for your fresh start plan Paul will do a complete legal analysis of your financial situation. He will not cut corners. You will speak to a lawyer who has experience in bankruptcy law, not a paralegal.  Expect to spend about (or maybe we should say at least) an hour with Paul. In this meeting, Paul performs a complete means test not just an overview. You can ask questions about different solutions to your problems. This test is the only way to truly determine if you qualify for bankruptcy. A fair and reasonable price for this much time and expertise is about $300-$400. But Paul provides this comprehensive analysis at no charge. Why? Because it is truly the only way he can give you the real facts about your financial situation.

Complete confidentiality.

Paul guarantees that when you come and speak to him about your financial situation, he provides receive complete confidentiality. What you say to him stays with him. There is no reason to be embarrassed or worried about any of your information ever leaving our San Diego bankruptcy law firm. If you do decide to go forward with filing bankruptcy (then financial information will become public record). More on just how “public” public really is we discuss elsewhere.
It’s time to call. Lower your blood pressure, ease your stress. Get some peace of mind. Stop wondering if picking up the phone means admitting failure. It doesn’t. You’ve done all you can on your own. It’s time to let someone with bigger shoulders than you help take that burden. Should you file bankruptcy or hold out? When you meet with Paul, you get clear, certain and thoughtful answers. Then you can make an informed decision about what to do next. Paul’s direct line is 619-235-4095. Call today to speak to Paul about meeting with him to discuss one of the most important next steps in your life.

 

What is bankruptcy means testing?

 

Bankruptcy means testing is a mathematical formula used by bankruptcy attorneys to determine what type of bankruptcy relief a debtor can receive. Means testing was created by congress with the help of the credit card lobby to prevent bankruptcy abuse. The most likely mistake potential bankruptcy clients make is to first go online, late at night when they can’t sleep, and try to do means testing online. 95 percent of all San Diego residents who file bankruptcy wouldn’t fit the means test requirements online but still, qualify for bankruptcy. 0The bankruptcy means test is all about the math and how you put it together.

Means testing will determine if you can first even be considered as a candidate for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or if instead, you may be required to use a Chapter 13 case. This is an income-based means testing, and debtors who have income above the median income of their state are subject to the unpleasant limitations imposed by the Means Test. However, the analysis doesn’t end there; from the income on the Means Test, one gets to take certain deductions.

  • Taxes: You can deduct your tax obligations from your income on the means test as well.
  • Involuntary deductions: Deductions required for employment such as mandatory retirement plans, union dues, or uniforms.
  • Health, disability, or term life insurance
  • Secured debt payments These include payments on secured debts such as your mortgage or car loan. Even if your mortgage or car payment is above the national or local living standards, you can normally deduct it in full on the means test.
  • Court-ordered payments: If you are required to pay domestic support obligations such as alimony or child support, you can deduct these expenses on the means test.
  • Child care: Expenses for child care such as babysitting, daycare, or preschool.
  • Health care: If you incur more out-of-pocket health care costs (other than insurance) for you or your dependents than the allowed national standard, you may be able to deduct the actual amount you pay.
  • Education for employment or disabled child: You can deduct your education expenses if those expenses are required for your employment or for your mentally or physically disabled child.
  • Charitable contributions: If you regularly made charitable contributions prior to bankruptcy and expect to continue making those contributions, you can deduct them on the means test.
  • Care of elderly, chronically ill, or disabled: You can deduct the amount you contribute towards the care of an elderly or disabled family member or person in your household.

The Means Test determines if a bankruptcy petition must be assigned a “Presumption of Abuse” by the court. If your petition is assigned a presumption of abuse status, you must prove that your bankruptcy petition is not “abusive” or fraudulent. The rule of thumb so far, in practice, is that if the Means Test result is that “The Presumption of Abuse Arises,” it is extremely unwise to try and file the case as a Chapter 7. A bankruptcy attorney can properly do the Means Test for you and let you know what your options are. It’s a bad idea for you to rely on the so-called “Online Means Test Calculators” because the test is highly complex. The key to a thorough, accurate Means Test is not just getting in all the required income; it’s knowing how to apply bankruptcy law in figuring out how to maximize the allowable deductions. That is why just having a calculator isn’t going to do the trick.

Is bankruptcy a public record in San Diego?

Filing for bankruptcy is a matter of public record. So the idea that you can keep bankruptcy secret isn’t really true. It is something that you really have to look for to find out about. Who files bankruptcy in San Diego is not easily accessible knowledge. It is not published in the  San Diego newspaper under notices.

If you file for bankruptcy, you must list all of your creditors. Sometimes those bankruptcy creditors might include family and friends who might have cosigned a loan for you. Those bankruptcy creditors will receive notice that you filed. You can find out about a personal bankruptcy on your credit report so some jobs will know filed bankruptcy.  While filing for bankruptcy is not what anyone wants to do, in today’s modern times, many people have filed for bankruptcy.  The last economic storm we went through included many people got caught in the undertow.

However, if you want to keep your bankruptcy filing a secret from your friends or family, the odds are that they may never know. The Bankruptcy Courts and Trustees do not inform others of your bankruptcy filing unless they are in some way related or involved in your case. There is a good chance that many people you know (family, friends, neighbors, co-workers) have filed for bankruptcy in the past and you were unaware. If filing bankruptcy is a viable option for you, embarrassment should not be a barrier to obtaining relief.

Filing bankruptcy san diego

Learn about filing bankruptcy in San Diego

Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13

What is Bankruptcy?  Bankruptcy is a legal petition filed in federal court which you may seek a discharge of a debt when you can’t pay your bills. There are two main bankruptcies for individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Most people who are considering filing bankruptcy in San Diego are middle class . They own homes and usually have jobs but, not always. Without talking to a bankruptcy lawyer is is impossible to know if you qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13

Here are the basics of a bankruptcy filing in San Diego:Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 .

When Should I consider filing Bankruptcy in San Diego ? You should consider filing bankruptcy when you cannot pay your bills or when a particular crisis, such as an illness, accident or loss of employment makes the future payment of your bills very unlikely. Also, if a judgment is handed against you, a bankruptcy may be used to stop the creditor from attaching your assets or wages.

Can bankruptcy stop the collection of tax ?

Taxes are normally given priority and are difficult to erase.As a general rule, if you have an income tax debt that is at least three years old, and you filed your tax returns on time for the year in question, you may be able to discharge all such taxes in a Chapter 7 proceeding. In a Chapter 13, however, that tax debt would be paid in the same way as any other unsecured creditor (i.e., repaid over three years). Payroll taxes (i.e. taxes you failed to withhold from your employees’ pay or withheld and did not pay the appropriate government agency) are generally not dis-chargeable.Bankruptcy will initially stop the collection process but may not eliminate the obligation to pay the taxes. Does a Bankruptcy affect my credit? Yes. Future lenders may consider your bankruptcy when they are deciding whether to loan you money or credit. However, certain laws exist to prevent unlawful discrimination against you just because you filed for bankruptcy. The fact that you have filed for bankruptcy may be carried on your credit records for ten years.

Chapter 7  vs Chapter 13 If I choose Chapter 7 liquidation, do I lose all my assets?

No. Bankruptcy law lets individual debtors keep certain property that is not subject to attachment and execution under state law. These assets include some or all of the debtor’s equity in his or her home, household goods, a car, 401k  retirement plans and numerous other assets. Chapter 7 bankruptcy may enable you to get rid of all your unsecured debts.  In most cases, if you have barely enough to live on, not counting payment of your credit card (and other unsecured) debts, you can make all of your credit card debts go away. If, however, when you look at your monthly budget you have a significant amount of cash left over without paying your credit card (unsecured) debts, you will not be permitted to proceed with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Instead, you will be required to file a Chapter 13, also alternatively described as a “debt consolidation” or wage earner bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 proceeding, the court will require you to pay, usually for three years, all of your disposable income to the bankruptcy trustee, who will in turn pay your creditors. The amount of your monthly payment to the trustee will be approximately equal to the amount of the cash you ordinarily have on hand after you pay your basic necessary living expenses. In many cases, you will not have to pay back everything that you owe. For instance, if you have $100,000.00 in unsecured debt, but you only have $500.00 per month of income available to pay the creditors, your unsecured creditors may receive a total of only $18,000.00 over a period of three years (that’s $500.00 multiplied by thirty-six months)

What is the cost to file a Bankruptcy in San Diego court : Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 ?

In a Chapter 7, generally your attorney’s fees must be paid up front before the filing. This makes sense because in a Chapter 7 proceeding a promise made before filing the case to pay attorney’s fees after filing makes the promise dischargeable, too. In a Chapter 13, your attorney’s fees can be paid either before the filing or as part of the repayment plan. For Chapter 13 cases, the installment payment plan is the preferred choice of most clients since it requires less up-front cash.The filing costs differ based upon the Chapter of the Bankruptcy you file. Currently, fees are $306.00 for a Chapter 7 and $281.00 for a Chapter 13.

How long does a Bankruptcy take In San Diego : Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13?

Do I have to attend a Hearing? Chapter 7 bankruptcies require you to attend a meeting of creditors. If no objections are filed, the discharge can be entered in approximately 90 days. Chapter 13 bankruptcies take 48 months and may involve a number of hearings over an extended period with both the trustee and the court.

 Where do I file bankruptcy in San Diego

 In the federal bankruptcy district where you have lived for the past 180 days.  If you have not lived in your current District for 180 days, you may file in the district in which you most recently resided for one hundred eighty days or you can take your chances filing where you now live. If you are finally tired for the bill collectors and the stress,Call me 619-235-4095 we can talk.

bankruptcy advice Thou Shalt Not: San Diego bankruptcy advice

*Thou Shalt Not: Delay in getting bankruptcy advice if you’re in financial trouble. Lawsuits can be filed and creditors can take advantage of how overwhelmed are most ordinary people when they’re sued. Inaction by you is good for them. Get yourself informed, pronto.

*Thou Shalt Not: Feel guilty about the predicament in which you now find yourself. It’s normal, natural to feel bad, like there is some moral defect in you that caused your economic implosion. This is more than just warm and fuzzy here: very often, debtors continued to go deeper and deeper in debt out of guilt and only making the situation worse.

Examples: Taking balance transfers on credit cards (you know the “victim”, the card to which you transfer a big balance, is not going to go quietly away);

Taking loans or outright withdrawals against retirement plan(s) to make mortgage payments, on homes which now turn out to be either losing value or at best not holding it. Those retirement loans have to be repaid. And retirement withdrawals are a double whammy: you pay taxes, and a 10% penalty right off the top. You may have just poured good money after bad money if it’s to hold onto a home. Especially if you’re already upside down in the home. Lots of people don’t realize that even in bankruptcy, you can usually keep all your retirement.

*Thou Shalt Not: Pay off personal loans to family members, close business associates, or friends.When you think you might have to file bankruptcy. These so-called “insider transactions” are “preferential transfers”, and they really irk the bankruptcy trustees. Such payments can be voided, and the relative, associate, or friend can be forced to hand over the money to the bankruptcy trustee.

*Thou Shalt Not: Take cash advances on credit cards and soon (like, within a year) expect they’ll routinely discharge in bankruptcy.

*Thou Shalt Not: Pay for elective/cosmetic surgery with a credit card, and anticipate the debt will be routinely discharged. If the creditor is paying attention, discharge of that debt could well be challenged.

*Thou Shalt Not: Travel for luxury, or buy luxury goods with a credit card, and anticipate that debt will be routinely discharged in bankruptcy.

*Thou Shalt Not: Use your credit cards for ANYTHING within ten weeks prior to filing bankruptcy (one can sometimes get away with paying for some dire necessities in reasonable amounts.)

*Thou Shalt Not: Say anything to anyone about your finances that is inconsistent with what you said, or will say, in your bankruptcy papers. Example 1: credit application overstates income, bankruptcy papers list accurate (read LESS) income. Result: if the discrepancy is discovered in the bankruptcy proceedings, big trouble. Example 2: you’re involved in litigation over something, most commonly in Family Court, regarding financial issues (support, etc.), and you list information, in writing, signed by you under penalty of perjury, that is inconsistent with the paper submitted or to be submitted to the Bankruptcy Court. People tend to be sort of casual at times, or less than thorough, about the information submitted in Bankruptcy Court. Sometimes they even…GASP! LIE!! I can’t explain why, but sloppiness and downright untruthfulness are common enough that one must be very vigilant to get the information right.

do i need to file bankruptcyDo you need bankruptcy ? How do you know when to file?

 

 First of all there are no easy answers , but you probably know that…. Are creditors constantly calling you? Does the thought of opening your mail  stress you out? Are you worried that utilities may be shut off or your car repossessed? Do you lie awake at night because you’re afraid of losing your home? Have you already dipped into savings or, worse, your retirement funds just to pay bills and buy groceries? These are all signs that you might be eligible to file bankruptcy  .

Now, probably more than at any other time in the last fifty years, people are having financial trouble because of events beyond their control, such as recession, layoffs and small business owners suffering acute drop-offs in sales. No one assumes anymore that the need to file bankruptcy is somehow a reflection of the moral character of the person filing. For centuries bankruptcy has been the ultimate relief valve for those in direst of straits. Americans seem pretty unanimous in continuing to believe that bankruptcy is a valid, valuable tool in our economy.  The choice of whether to seek bankruptcy relief is difficult and can be close to
heartbreaking. Many people experience shame and anxiety over filing bankruptcy.  they are sometimes afraid that filing bankruptcy makes them look irresponsible, or like people who don’t want to pay their bills. But the truth is that there is no shame in filing bankruptcy. Some people need bankruptcy, and bankruptcy  law exists to make sure that people having serious financial trouble can survive.

95% of the people who come to my office qualify to file bankruptcy. 

 This is what I have found in my over 20 years of practicing bankruptcy law. By the time a person gets to seeing a  bankruptcy lawyer face to face it is bad. No no wants to come and see a lawyer about being eligible for bankruptcy .

One of the first things you might have done to discover if you are eligible to file bankruptcy is  an online means test.  Big mistake (… really

It is virtually impossible for a middle class person in San Diego with a home and maybe a job  to go online and have any clue if they are eligible to file bankruptcy. There are no easy spreadsheets or lists to help you figure this out.  The process usually takes me about an hour to go over all the issues and questions to really understand are you eligible for bankruptcy. In my practice,we have had  many people who file Chapter 7 who were making a salary of $100,000.00 per year. You might ask, how is that possible?  

There are as many variables to the computation in who and how a person can file for bankruptcy, as choices of cereal at the local grocery store. How much do you owe? How close you are to retirement? Who lives with you? What is your house really worth in San Diego? Who knows that these days? It really does take a professional to figure this out.

One of my practices specialties is taking people who didn’t think they qualified for bankruptcy(or sometimes other lawyers who told it was not possible )and making that happen. Then they can move on with their lives. I am good with the difficult situations,that others can’t seem to figure out. So, if you think it is just not possible to file bankruptcy, or you make too much money or aren’t sure if you qualify. Come down to the office and let’s talk.

The Law Office Of Paul Staley provides legal advice and representation for residents of San Diego County. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
Paul Staley
Bankruptcy Attorney
1901 1st Ave., FLR 1 San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: +619 235 40 95
Email: pstaley@paulstaley.com

Copyright © Paul Staley | Bankruptcy Attorney