Bankruptcy Overview

Legal Guidance for Los Angeles Residents Reorganizing Their Finances

Sanaz Sarah Bereliani at the Bereliani Law Firm has years of experience offering advice and advocacy in the areas of bankruptcy, creditor abuse, and debt settlement. We understand that deciding whether to file for bankruptcy is a daunting process. There is no need for you to go through it alone. A dedicated bankruptcy attorney at the Bereliani Law Firm can guide Los Angeles residents through every step of the process. Many people consider bankruptcy to be a negative and embarrassing situation due to how it is portrayed. However, bankruptcy provides you with the opportunity to take control of your finances, to rebuild your credit and start on a fresh new chapter in your life towards building a positive future.

Choosing Among Types of Bankruptcy

California offers two primary categories of bankruptcy to consumers: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is typically a somewhat short-term debt elimination process, while Chapter 13 bankruptcies involve the creation of a repayment plan that usually lasts between three and five years. Whereas individuals must pass a means test to file under Chapter 7, Chapter 13 may be a better option for those who need to stop a foreclosure and save their homes or have disposable income (*as determined by the means test calculation) that require them to repay a portion of their debt.

One of the key issues that individuals filing for bankruptcy often face is the distinction between dischargeable and non-dischargeable debts. In California, some debts are considered “non-dischargeable.” Examples include unpaid child support, alimony, debts resulting from personal injury awards or settlements, criminal restitution, traffic tickets, income tax within the last three years, and usually student loan debt. A bankruptcy judge also has discretion to deem other debts non-dischargeable in some circumstances, such as debts that were incurred because of fraud or certain types of luxury purchases made by credit. Knowing which debts may be non-dischargeable is an important step in planning your bankruptcy.

California offers two sets of exemptions that allow debtors to protect their property. The effect of the exemptions depends on whether you choose a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In general, debtors who have significant equity tend to choose the 704 exemptions which protects the maximum amount of equity allowed. For example, the 704 exemption allows you to protect a mainly the equity in a property that you use as your primary residence, including boats, apartments, homes, and condominiums.

The second set of exemptions, known as 703, is better suited for debtors who have large bank accounts or other valuable assets. 703 exemptions offers exemptions for personal property items such as bank account balances, tax refunds, residuals/commissions, and vehicles. A distinctive feature of 703 is a series of wildcard exemptions; however, note that for both types of exemptions, California does not allow married couples filing for joint bankruptcy to “double up” on their exemptions.

Deciding which set of exemptions is right for you and how to apply the exemptions can be tricky and must be used strategically to maximize the protection they afford. At the Bereliani Law Firm, we are familiar with the rules in this complex area and can help you figure out how to get the most out of California’s bankruptcy exemptions for your particular situation.

Consult a Los Angeles Attorney When Filing for Bankruptcy

The Bereliani Law Firm has experience representing both creditors and debtors from throughout the Los Angeles area in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. Lawyer Sanaz Sarah Bereliani understands the nuances of this system and has helped individuals all over Southern California and specifically in Los Angeles County – including the communities of Culver City, Encino, Studio City, and Woodland Hills - emerge from financial difficulties. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy or are ready to make a fresh start today, contact us online or call 1-818-920-8252 to set up a free initial consultation. We also represent clients in Santa Barbara, Riverside, Lancaster, and throughout Orange County. Let us help you do something today that your future self will thank you for.