Why Can’t I Keep Some Debts Out of Bankruptcy?

Frequently, clients will ask me if we can’t just keep some debts out of bankruptcy–they want to keep a particular debt off the list of creditors when we’re preparing their bankruptcy case. “I just want to keep that one and pay it off,” they say, “so why can’t we just leave it out of the bankruptcy?”

There are actually a bunch of reasons why we can’t leave it out. First, it sometimes surprises people to learn that we’re not making a list of debts you want to wipe out in your bankruptcy case. Instead, we are making a complete list of people and companies you owe money to. The way things work in a bankruptcy case, you get all of your debts wiped out that can be wiped out. The bankruptcy courts don’t have time to go down the list and see which debts you want to keep and which ones you want to get rid of.

The system just requires you to list all of the creditors and then when you get your discharge at the end of your bankruptcy case, those creditors and their debts are wiped out–unless there’s a particular reason under bankruptcy law why that debt won’t be wiped out. For instance, child support, most student loans and many taxes won’t be wiped out in bankruptcy. You still have to list them because they’re debts, but you’ll still owe them after your case is over.

This is not the case for most regular debts like credit cards and personal loans. At the end of your case, they all get wiped out with the discharge. In California and neighboring states (the Ninth Circuit), they get wiped out whether you list them or not–in most cases.

Second, you have to list all your creditors and can’t leave any “out of bankruptcy” because you have to sign under penalty of perjury that you have listed all your creditors and the debts you owe. When you sign under penalty of perjury, it means you understand you can go to prison for not telling the truth. When you sign those bankruptcy papers, you want to make certain that they’re as accurate as possible. If you intentionally leave off a creditor and sign your papers, you have a perjury problem. When perjury becomes an issue, you may have to start looking for a criminal defense attorney rather than a bankruptcy attorney. So be honest and list every creditor and every debt!

Third, when you are asking for bankruptcy protection from the federal government, all of your creditors are entitled to know about it. If you owe someone money, they have a right to know that you’ve filed a bankruptcy case. That’s the case even if you don’t want them to know. Some of my clients feel that the embarrassment of filing a bankruptcy case is more than they can endure and they don’t want anyone else to know. I try to reassure them that most banks, credit unions and credit card companies don’t care a lick about whether you file a bankruptcy case. They’ll close out the account, write it off and move on.

Of course, if the creditor is a family member, the story might be a bit different. Still, my experience has been that even family members usually understand that bankruptcy was a necessary step for you and that you were out of options.

Fourth, even if you kept the debt off the list, the creditor would likely find out about the case and cancel your account anyway. It comes as a surprise to a lot of people that the credit card companies track who files for bankruptcy and compare those names to their list of cardholders. Within a very short amount of time, a credit card company will usually know that you’ve filed a bankruptcy case. They won’t even wait around to get a notice from the court. They just close your account.

Over the years, I’ve had a number of clients call me right after we file their case and complain that they recently paid (without telling their attorney) $1,000 on an account that they were trying to keep out the bankruptcy case–and the credit card company just cancelled their account anyway! I tell them, “Yep, they keep track of who files. And it’s too bad about the $1,000. You could have flushed that money down the toilet and it would have accomplished the same thing! Or you could have used the cash to buy clothes for your kids, fix the car, put it in retirement or any of a hundred other things. But now it’s gone. Sorry. This is why I told you we have to list all of your creditors and debts.”

The moral: You simply can’t choose to keep some debts out of bankruptcy. List all of your creditors! Period!

Dishonest Debtors May Get Nailed in Bankruptcy


In Oakland bankruptcy court, creditors can object to the debtor's discharge
Dishonest debtors might find that their debts are still there at the end of their case. See you in court.

Yesterday I talked about how most debtors in the Oakland bankruptcy court never even see a judge. I explained that the bankruptcy system is actually pretty automated so the bankruptcy judges don’t have to get involved most of the time. One time when the bankruptcy judges do get involved is when someone believes that the person filing for bankruptcy has been dishonest.

The Bankruptcy Code provides for a mechanism to “catch” dishonest debtors and make it so some or all of their debts don’t get wiped out. That mechanism is called objection to discharge. If someone is going to gripe about the debtor’s honesty, the griper can either object to a particular debt being wiped out, or object to all of the debts being wiped out. If the judge agrees with the griper, the debtor may find himself still owing one or more debts at the end of his case.

It’s not quite as simple as it may sound. In order to win, the griper has to file a lawsuit, called an adversary proceeding. This is done in the bankruptcy court in Oakland, the same place where the debtor filed his bankruptcy case. The adversary proceeding is connected to the debtor’s bankruptcy case and sometimes the bankruptcy case is put on hold until the adversary proceeding is resolved. The court gives the griper and the debtor time to get information from each other about the alleged dishonesty and eventually there’s a trial.

These types of adversary proceedings are pretty rare. After handling bankruptcy cases for nearly fifteen years, I can still count on one hand the number of times any of my clients have been sued for nondischargeability of a particular loan. It just doesn’t happen very often. And when it does, it’s not at all a sure thing that the griper’s going to win. I’m pretty aggressive when it comes to defending my clients from adversary proceedings. I don’t like them. I don’t like it when creditors try to beat up on my clients. I want to see my clients debt free.

If you’re worried that a creditor might grip about a particular debt that you owe, you should speak with an experienced Oakland bankruptcy attorney about your concerns. The best attorneys in Oakland will be able to give you clear and realistic answers.

Image credit: By V Smoothe (Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Most Bankruptcy Filers Never Even See the Bankruptcy Judge


Surprise! You'll probably never see the bankruptcy judge
Surprise! No judge! At least in most cases.

It sometimes comes as a big surprise when I tell my clients what to expect in their Oakland bankruptcy case and I never even mention a judge. “What a minute! When do we explain our situation to the bankruptcy judge?” they’ll ask. “Never,” is my reply, “or at least almost never.”

Seems kind of like taking a red-eye from San Francisco to New York only to find upon landing that there was no pilot in the cockpit, doesn’t it? Why don’t debtors usually have to tell their story to the judge? The answer, I think, is pretty slick. Gives me confidence that the bankruptcy system has its priorities straight most of the time.

Bankruptcy is actually a constitutional right–or at the very least bankruptcy is discussed in the United States Constitution. The Constitution says that Congress was supposed to set up laws that provided for a uniform system of bankruptcy throughout the states. Congress did that. By setting up the laws, Congress intended to provide a way for the honest but unfortunate debtor to get out from underneath the crushing burden of debt and start over financially. And they wanted the system to work as automatically as possible.

One way they did this is to make it so that honest people who filed for bankruptcy whether in Oakland or San Francisco or San Diego or Tallahassee would be entitled to a “discharge” of their debts as long as they jumped through the right hoops and provided the right information at the right time. In other words, if you do everything you’re supposed to do in your bankruptcy case–and you’re an honest person–you are entitled to a discharge–you have a right to have your debts get wiped out.

Since that’s the case, there’s really no need for a bankruptcy judge even to get involved unless it’s absolutely necessary. And that’s the reality: you rarely see a bankruptcy judge unless something unusual pops up in your case. Nothing unusual means you’ll never even see a judge. Once the required amount of time has passed, and assuming you or your experienced bankruptcy attorney has dotted all your “i”s and crossed all your “t”s, a computer in the clerk’s office generates a discharge order, the clerk mails it out to you–and you are debt free!

Always talk with an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your options and your questions. If you’re in the Oakland area, keep in mind that there are a lot of friendly and capable bankruptcy attorneys. If you can’t come to Alameda to meet with James Pixton, give him a call and let him recommend the best bankruptcy attorney your area to help you out. His number is (510) 451-6200.

You Will Not Lose Your Retirement in Bankruptcy–Usually


When filing in Oakland bankruptcy court, care must be given to retirement funds so they're protected.
Investments must be in true retirement accounts to be protected in bankruptcy.

One big fear often leads to a nervous question when I first meet with clients: “Will I lose my retirement when I file for bankruptcy?” The short answer, at least in Northern California, is generally no.

The two California exemption lists (lists of what you get to keep after your case is over) both list retirement accounts. This means that your creditors cannot get at your retirement and you will still have it after your case completes.

What’s important to remember, however, if that your retirement account actually has to qualify as a genuine retirement account under federal tax law. Therefore, IRAs, union pensions, private retirement account and similar products are exempt and protected in bankruptcy.

You’ll run into problems, however, if you try to get cute when you have a retirement account and file a case in Oakland bankruptcy court. I have had clients tell me during their first visit to my office that they have a retirement account. When I ask further questions and request documentation, I’ll occasionally discover that the clients are actually talking about an investment account. When I question them on it, the response I’ve received is, “Well, yeah, we’re going to use those investments to fund our retirement!” Whoops!

This is kind of like common law marriage in California: there ain’t no such thing! Either your account qualifies under tax law as a retirement account or it isn’t a retirement account. It doesn’t matter if the client intends to use the funds as a retirement account. If the IRS don’t see it as a retirement account, it’s not a retirement account.

If you live in the Oakland area and are considering bankruptcy, you should talk with an experienced bankruptcy attorney about all aspects of your finances. Be sure to make sure you talk about how your retirement is going to be handled.

Image credit: By Fletcher6 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

2013 is a Great Time to Protect Your House by Filing for Bankruptcy

New California laws in 2013 make it easier for low income homeowners to protect their homes in bankruptcy.
You can protect your homestead by filing for bankruptcy.

When you file for bankruptcy in California, you are allowed to keep certain property called exempt property. If you happen to own a home with some equity in it (not so common in California these days), you may be able to protect your home with what’s called the “homestead exemption.” On January 1, 2013, the homestead rules changed in some really great ways for California residence who are considering bankruptcy.

Under the new 2013 California exemption laws for bankruptcy, you can protect up to $175,000.00 of equity in your house if you are over the age of 55 and made less than $25,000 if you’re single or less than $35,000 together if you’re married. (There are some other changes as well, but the income issue is all I’m tackling today.) This is a big change from before 2013 when you could only use the max homestead amount if you made no more than $15,000 if you were single or $20,000 together if you were married. This means many low income California residents with equity in their homes may qualify for the largest exemption amount fully ten years earlier now than in the past. That’s a great thing for California homeowners who need to file for bankruptcy.

The homestead exemption is available in both chapter 7 and chapter 13 case. If you love reading legal language, you can read about homesteads straight from the source: When you file a bankruptcy case, it doesn’t matter if you’ve recorded a claim of exemption with the county or not. You get an “automatic homestead” in the bankruptcy as long as you claim it properly in your bankruptcy papers.

You want to be very careful, however, because bankruptcy law and homestead law are both pretty complicated. If you do things the wrong way, you run the risk of losing your home. If you’re looking to protect your house in bankruptcy, you should definitely talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney before you file.

Image credit : By Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Why You Want to File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Early in 2013

Most of my clients have one thing in common: They have almost all put off bankruptcy until there was absolutely nothing else left to try. Bankruptcy was the last thing on their “get out of debt” list, and even when everything else had failed, they still spent months stressing and struggling to find something else besides bankruptcy to fix their problems.

When folks finally do come to my office and we talk through the timeline of a bankruptcy case, they are frequently surprised to learn how quickly a chapter 7 bankruptcy can be prepared, filed and finished. In most cases, the life of the case from filing to discharge (debts are wiped out) is a little over three months.

But here’s another little piece of information that people often don’t realize: When you get your discharge order from the bankruptcy judge and all your debts that can be wiped out have been wiped out, the discharge order actually relates back to the day your filed your case. In other words, if you file a chapter 7 bankruptcy in Oakland Bankruptcy Court on January 2, 2013, and then get your discharge order around April 10, 2013, the order says your debts are wiped out as of the original filing date, January 2nd.

The bankruptcy system is pretty slick in this one area. As you probably know, when you file your case, you are immediately protected by the automatic stay. This means generally that your creditors can’t do anything to collect on the debts you owe. It also means that you don’t have to pay your bills while your waiting for your case to finish up. The automatic stay usually lasts up until the day you get your discharge order at which point you no longer need it because the discharge order says your debts are gone.

What it all comes down to is that for most debtors filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy, that filing date is the last time they need to worry about their creditors calling or suing or otherwise bothering them over a debt. This is why filing sooner in 2013 is probably better than filing later. There are of course some other considerations that come into play like taxes (bankruptcy is actually pretty complicated), so you should consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney about the proper time to file.

Should I Lie to My Bankruptcy Attorney | Oakland Bankruptcy Attorney James Pixton Responds

I have been a bankruptcy attorney since the late 1990s. During that time I have met with and advised thousands of people who are looking to improve their lives through bankruptcy. Usually, I am the first attorney they have ever met and considered hiring. That’s fine. I think a big part of my job is help people feel less nervous about the bankruptcy process.

Every once in a while, a new client will come to my office for the first meeting and will seem a bit jumpy. Questions that I ask seem to elicit sideways responses, answers that just don’t make sense. Sometimes I will hear responses that are actually questions, like, “Why do you need to know that?” My “favorite” answer is when I ask about the real estate or a car or stocks that this potential client owns, and the person responds, “Oh, no, I don’t want that included in the bankruptcy!”

All of these are clues to me that I’m not getting the full story and when I don’t get the full story, you can assume that I will not take the case. There is a lot at stake in a bankruptcy case and I want to make sure that I do the best job possible for my clients. If I sense that I’m not getting the truth from my clients, I will warn them what happens when a debtor in bankruptcy in not truthful. It’s not a pretty picture.

When I finished law school, my first job was as a law clerk for a federal bankruptcy judge in Fresno. Shortly before I arrived there, the judge had handled one particular case that is of interest to our discussion today. It seems that a woman in the Fresno area was suffering through some financial hardship and decided to file a bankruptcy case.

One woman thought she'd beat the bankruptcy system by lying about a cabin. She lost!
Lying about owning a cabin (or any other property) in your bankruptcy case could land you in federal prison!*

When she helped her attorney prepare the paperwork, she deliberately left out mentioning one piece of property, a cabin up in the woods that had been in her family for several generations. She figured that no one would know, no one would notice; her case would go through the system quietly, she would wipe out all her debts and on the other end, she’d still have the family cabin.

Her brilliant little plan had one little hiccup. It turns out the the nice, elderly gentleman who for many decades had owned a cabin right next to this woman’s family cabin was–the bankruptcy judge who would handle her case. You can imagine his surprise when he was reviewing the list of cases assigned to his court and he saw his cabin neighbor’s name.

The bankruptcy judge went down to the clerk’s office and pulled the file just to see what there was to see. Again, he suffered some surprise when he saw that the cabin up in the mountains right next to his was not listed as an asset. He was not pleased.

The long and the short of it was that the judge referred the matter to the US Trustee’s Office (a part of the US Department of Justice) and this woman was charged and convicted of bankruptcy crimes including concealing property of a bankruptcy estate. She ended up spending several years in prison all because she thought she could outwit the bankruptcy system.

It’s just not worth it! You need to be completely truthful with your bankruptcy attorney so he or she can help you. If you lie, you face not only a cratered bankruptcy case, but also prison time. Again, it’s just not worth it!

On the good side of things, an honest but unfortunate person with debts get to wipe out most of them. This means that a bankruptcy case that goes the way it’s supposed to could result in tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of debts just evaporating as a result of an order from a bankruptcy judge.

On the flip side, a dishonest debtors faces some pretty scary things. First, a dishonest debtor may find that certain of his or her debts does not get wipe out

By Oakland Bankruptcy Attorney James Pixton

*Photo courtesy of Almonroth (Wikimedia).

What is a Homestead and What Does It Have To Do With Bankruptcy in Oakland?

Thinking of filing for bankruptcy in Oakland or nearby, but worried about what will happen to your house? When you hear the word “homestead” do you start thinking about the Ponderosa, the Cartwrights and six-shooters? Speaking of “Bonanza,” didn’t it always bother you that the same parents who produced Adam and Little Joe could also give life to Hoss–and what kind of a name is Hoss, anyway?

It turns out that the term homestead still has meaning in our modern day. Homestead is actually a legal term for property that a property owner is claiming as his residence. Under California law, residents are allowed to protect their homesteads from demands of creditors up to certain values depending on their age and the size and makeup of their family.

As of 2012, a single person can protect up to $75,000 of equity in his homestead. If we’re talking about a married couple or someone living with his minor children, they can protect $100,000 of equity in their homestead. If the homeowner is over the age of 65, he can protect up to $175,000 of equity whether he’s married or not.

There are a bunch of other rules for homesteads besides these common ones.

So if you file for bankruptcy with an Oakland bankruptcy attorney, that bankruptcy attorney will take a look at how much you owe on your house and how much your house is worth. As long as you are able to exempt (protect) all the equity in your house with one of the homestead bankruptcy exemptions, you should be fine when you file your bankruptcy case to wipe out your credit cards, some taxes, medical bills and other stuff in collections.

Since homesteads in bankruptcy can be kind of complicated, you really should talk to a bankruptcy lawyer in Oakland or nearby. There are a number of good ones, including the one who wrote this article. SmileGood luck to you with your bankruptcy plans.

Which Bankruptcy Exemptions Can You Use If You Just Moved to California?

Be careful about bankruptcy exemptions if you’ve just moved to Oakland from anywhere outside California. As I’ve explained in another post, you are allowed to protect and keep certain property. In California, the California legislature has decided on two lists that you can choose from. These lists apply whether you’re filing in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento or anywhere else in the State of California. For most people who file for bankruptcy in California one or the other of these lists will allow them to protect pretty much everything that they own.

If you’ve moved from out of state in the past few years, however, you need to be careful. Under the current bankruptcy laws, we have to look at where you’ve been living for the past two to three years in order to determine if you’re entitled to use California’s exemption laws or if you have to use the laws of some other state.

Basically, the rules that determine which state’s exemptions you get to use are as follows:

1. The 730-Day Rule: Have you resided uninterrupted in the same state for the past 730 days? By the way, that’s two years (365 x 2 = 730). If the answer is yes, you use that state’s exemptions. If the answer is no, you go to the next rule, the 730 + 180-Day Rule.

2. The 730 + 180-Day Rule: Where did you reside for the greatest number of days in the 180 days preceding the 730 days prior to filing your case? How’s that for confusing? What it really means is that you look at where you lived the most between 2 and 2.5 years ago. Wherever that is, you get to use the exemptions of that state.

3. If it turns out that neither 1. nor 2. applies to your situation (i.e., you were living outside the country), you’re supposed to use the federal exemptions instead of the exemptions of a particular state. At this point, you definitely should talk to a lawyer who has a lot of bankruptcy experience so you can make sure you protect the maximum amount of property you can.

Does all of this really matter? Absolutely! The exemption lists vary a lot from state to state. California has one of the more debtor-friendly lists out there. You definitely wouldn’t want to file in California only to discover that you were not entitled to all the exemptions that would normally be available to a California resident. Again, this is why you should speak with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.

Debt and the Elderly | Often Bankruptcy Is Not Necessary.

Often the elderly do not need bankruptcy.I have helped out a lot of senior citizens during my time as a bankruptcy attorney in Oakland. More often than not, I don’t file a bankruptcy case for them for the simple reason that they often don’t need one. Instead I help them understand that they often can simply do nothing–and that includes stopping any further payment of creditor card bills. In the United States and in California in particular, we want to protect our seniors a bit more than the younger generations. To do that, the federal and state governments have set up some very strong protections for the elderly.

Your Social Security Checks Are Protected from Your Creditors

Social security is protected from creditorsThe first is this: Social security is protected from pretty much all creditors. (The only rare exception may be the US government and in that case, there still may be options to avoid having your social security check intercepted.) This is important. No creditor, no one you owe money to, no one who is trying to collect on a bill you owe can touch your social security! It is protected. This is true for monthly social security payments you have in your bank account (up to a certain limit) and for your right to future payments of social security.

I make a big point of this because I’ve had lots of scared and beaten down seniors come to my Oakland bankruptcy office frightened out of their wits because a bill collector has been telling them that their kind of debt can’t be wiped out in a bankruptcy, or their kind of debt is fraud so it’s kept out of bankruptcy. Rubbish like that. The problem of course is that my elderly clients aren’t familiar with the law and are often susceptible to the lies of bill collectors.

By the way, California and federal law require bill collectors to be truthful in their communications with the people they are trying to collect from. Violations of federal and state fair debt collection practices laws can subject creditors to fines and punishment. Pensions and other private retirements are also protected from creditors. Keep in mind, however, that these exemptions amounts are not unlimited, so you should probably talk to a knowledgeable Oakland bankruptcy attorney before you make decision about how to deal with creditors.

If Social Security Is Protected, Bankruptcy May Not Be Necessary

So, here’s my important point: Seniors in the Oakland area who are having serious debt problems may not need to file for bankruptcy. Since creditors can’t take their pension or social security, they really can’t do anything to a senior who does not own any real estate. This folks are referred to as being “judgment proof.” In other words, even if a creditor sued and got a judgment against them, the creditor still couldn’t get anything from them. That’s very good news for the elderly and should allow them to sleep better at night.

Beware of Lying Bill Collectors | Just Because They Say It Doesn’t Mean It’s True

Seniors should talk to an attorney if they feel that bill collectors are being too aggressive.Unfortunately, unscrupulous debt collectors might continue to call and harass seniors even knowing that they can’t get anything. Their hope is to create such nuisance that the senior will make some sort of payments just so the collector will quit calling for another month. Again, this probably violates federal and state laws with regard to debt collection. But it also can cause a lot of stress for the senior.

In many cases, the elderly individual may elect to file a bankruptcy case in Oakland just to get the harassing bill collectors to stop calling. I have filed this type of case for many clients. We talk about all the issues I discuss above and I reassure them that if they do nothing, no one can take their retirement or social security. Nevertheless, for their peace of mind they elect to file a simple chapter 7 bankruptcy case and wipe out the debt once and for all. No more debt, no more phone calls.

Order a Free Book on Debt and the Elderly

I have written a book entitled Debt and the Elderly: A Guide for SF Bay Areas Seniors, Their Family Members and Caregivers. It’s available for free to Oakland-area residents who might be considering bankruptc. Just fill out the form below and I’ll send it right out to you. It will answer a lot of questions that seniors or those who care about them or for them are asking these days about debts and bill collectors.

Can I Still Wipe Out Credit Card Debt in Bankruptcy?

Yes, you can! Over the years, a lot of very bad information about bankruptcy has slithered its way into our collective brains and doesn’t seem to want to leave. One of the biggest falsehoods is that bankruptcy no longer wipes out credit card debt. This myth surfaced in a big way in 2005 when Congress passed big changes to the bankruptcy laws. There was a lot of frantic scurrying about and a lot of bankruptcy cases filed because people had it in their heads that credit cards would no longer be discharged (wiped out) in bankruptcy. That wasn’t true then it still isn’t true.

In my Oakland bankruptcy office, I would say that credit cards are one of the number one reasons my clients file for bankruptcy. They have been struggling for years to pay off credit cards with huge interest rates while at the same time trying to put food on the table and new socks and shoes on their kids’ feet. The problem of course is that when hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month goes to credit card interest instead of household expenses, Average Joe and Jane are left with little choice but to pay the basics like clothes, food, gas and insurance with the same credit cards they’re trying to pay off. As many of us know, it’s a vicious cycle.

Again, the short answer is that credit cards can be wiped out in bankruptcy here in Oakland.

A warning: just because credit cards debt can be wiped out in bankruptcy does not means that you can go out and charge up all your cards and then head into an attorney’s office to file a bankruptcy case and wipe them out without any problem. If you make major charges on cards in the months leading up to a bankruptcy filing, the credit card companies may choose to file law suits against you Oakland bankruptcy court and try to convince the court that you made all those charges without any intent to repay. This is considered a type of fraud. If the Oakland bankruptcy judge agrees with the credit card companies, the judge can declare that one or more of your debts does not get wiped out even though you filed a bankruptcy case.

If you are considering bankruptcy, you should be very careful about credit card use. You should also consider speaking with an experienced Oakland bankruptcy attorney about the charges you have already made on your cards.

Oakland-area bankruptcy attorney James Pixton is an expert at deciphering credit card issues and can give you an idea of whether you need to worry about particular accounts or charges. He can also help you come up with a game plan to decrease the likelihood that you’ll have problems if you go forward with a bankruptcy case.

To contact bankruptcy attorney James Pixton, give him a call at (510) 451-6200 x101. You can also fill out the quick form below:

Difference Between Secured Debt and Unsecured Debt and Why It Matters in Bankruptcy

This Alameda County craftsmen cottage is probably collateral for a loanThe difference between secured debt and unsecured debt is an issue that I bring up with every single one of my bankruptcy clients here in the Oakland-East Bay area. The basic difference is this: Secured debt involves collateral as well as the obligation of the person who signed the loan documents, while unsecured debt just involves the personal obligation of the person who signed up for the loan. In the United States, the collateral we’re most familiar with in consumer (non-business) situations is either a car or a house.

If you borrow money from a bank to get a new truck, the truck will be collateral for the loan.The idea is that the collateral provides an additional assurance to the lender that it will get repaid what it is owed. For instance, while a bank might hesitate to loan Average Joe $50,000 based only on Joe’s signature, that same bank might be more willing to consider lending the money when it gets to use the new Made-In-America pickup that Average Joe is going to buy with the $50,000. The pickup acts as collateral which means that if Average Joe doesn’t make the payments, the bank can repossess the pickup, sell it and then use the proceeds (the money from the sale) to pay off or at least pay down the loan.

It’s the same with a home loan. The house itself is the collateral for the loan. If the borrower fails to make payments, the bank can begin a process of selling the house called foreclosure. When the house sells in the foreclosure, the bank uses the proceeds to pay off or at least pay down the loan.

So why does this all matter in bankruptcy? Well, bankruptcy wipes out personal liability (an individual’s legal responsibility to pay) on debts, but in most cases, it doesn’t wipe out the bank’s right to go after collateral. That right to go after collateral is called a lien, a french word that means a leash. Basically the bank holds your car or your house by a leash. If you don’t pay, they grab a hold of that leash and yank the collateral out for from underneath you.

[There are, however, times when a bankruptcy can wipe out a lien as well as personal liability. One of those times is when you have a second mortgage or a line of credit on your house and the home has lost a lot of value. If the circumstances are right, you can wipe out that lien in a chapter 13. Click here to learn more.]

So for most unsecured debt, you file bankruptcy, get your discharge and your liability is wiped out forever. You’ll never have to pay on that debt again, the lender can no longer do anything to collect on it. For secured debt, while the discharge wipes out your personal liability, you will still have to decided whether you want to keep the collateral or give it up. If you want to keep it, you will have to continue making the payments. If you don’t want to keep it, you can give the collateral back to the lender that will be the end of it. Since your personal liability has been wiped out in your bankruptcy case, giving the collateral back to the lender means that the lender no longer has any power to collect on that debt from you.

When you meet with bankruptcy attorney James Pixton, one of the things he’ll discuss with you is what you want to do with loans and collateral. If you want to keep the collateral there are a few different options. Go ahead and make an appointment today. Call (510) 451-6200 or fill out the handy form below:

Richmond Bankruptcy Attorney Explains Qualifying for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Qualifying for Chapter 13: A skilled lawyer can help you clear all the hurdles.Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a special kind of bankruptcy. Unlike the simple and quick chapter 7, chapter 13 has a set of different and more complicated rules to go along with it. Those who file for chapter 13 often have different goals from chapter 7 filers. A home foreclosure is often in the mix, or possibly a car repossession. Sometimes a huge tax bill is looming. Chapter 13 can protect people from these kinds of creditors and can get them up to five years to catch up or repay some or all of their debts. Again, how much gets paid depends on those complicated rules. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can run the numbers for you and give you more details.

Although chapter 13 is a very versatile tool, Congress decided that they wanted to limit who was allowed to file for chapter 13. They puts some caps on the amount of debt allowed, and set out what type of persons can file. I know those caps served a purpose at some point. The problem is that with the rising cost of living and the larger debt load carried by so many people in the recession, it’s not too difficult to find yourself over the caps and disqualified from bankruptcy.

Right now, the cap for secured debt (debt with collateral like a house or a car) is about $1.08 million. The cap for unsecured debt is about $380,000. For most “consumers” (regular folks who draw a paycheck and work for someone else, these caps are usually not a problem. For small business owners, however, these numbers can cause some problems. A good bankruptcy lawyer can help you figure out if you are bumping up against those caps and might need to consider chapter 11 instead.

There are a couple things to keep in mind about the chapter 13 caps.  First, real property that is underwater might be split into a secured part and an unsecured part if the value of the property is less than the amounts of the loans against it. For instance, if you owe $600,000 on your house, but it’s only worth $420,000, the bankruptcy court might look at the debt as $420,000 of secured debt and $180,000 of unsecured debt. If you’re a small business owner and have a couple hundred thousand dollars of unsecured business debt, you could have a problem. Again, an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you figure this out.

Another thing to understand is that “disputed” or “unliquidated” debt is not counted in the unsecured and secured totals. A disputed debt is one that you say you don’t owe. Say you’re involved in a car accident and it’s not clear who’s at fault. Even though you may have been sued by the other driver, that debt is still disputed because you may or may not owe it. Unliquidated debt is debt that you can’t readily attach an amount to right now. Even if you were clearly responsible for that car accident, you don’t know exactly how much the damages are going to be until a judge or a jury decides. That means it’s unliquidated and doesn’t count in the total for purposes of qualifying for chapter 13.

A final thing to keep in mind about chapter 13 is that the person filing for chapter 13 must be employed or have “regular income.” “Regular income” is kind of a wishy-washy term, but it is clear that “no income” is not “regular income.” So if you have no income, you won’t be able to stay in a chapter 13. With no income, chapter 7 might be a better choice or indeed the only option.

Alameda bankruptcy attorney James Pixton careful analyzes his clients’ numbers to make sure they can file the bankruptcy case that is best for them. Call (510) 451-6200 to make an appointment or email him at james@pixlaw.com.

Why Are People Willing to Come From All Over the Bay Area to File Their Bankruptcy Case With Alameda Attorney James Pixton?

Clients come from all over the Bay Area to Alameda for bankruptcy help.

They come from as far south as Santa Cruz, from as far north as Sacramento, from as far east as Modesto, and from just about every town or city on the San Francisco peninsula or in the East Bay. They all come to Alameda so that bankruptcy attorney James Pixton can file their case for them. Why?

The answer is simple. It’s because James makes his clients feel safe, well-informed and respected. You are already freaking out about the prospect of filing for bankruptcy and have heard the horror stories from people who have no idea what they’re talking about. You’ve had sleepless night because of your finances. You’ve probably have some pretty heated arguments with your spouse about the bills and the bill collectors who won’t stop calling. The last thing you need is a lawyer who makes you feel like you’re an inconvenience.

You won’t get that at all when you meet with James Pixton. He calls himself the Bay Area’s friendliest bankruptcy attorney–and he means it! When you first meet him in his quiet little office in a quiet little office building just off Park Street in downtown Alameda, the first thing you’ll notice is his big, confident smile. One thing that James has learned to quickly explain to his new clients is that that smile is not because he doesn’t care about what’s making them anxious, but because he is excited that things are about to get a whole lot better for his news clients. They’re going to be much happier as a result of bringing James into their lives. He loves assuring new clients life is going to be fabulous once they get into bankruptcy protection.

You probably have a lot of questions that you need answered. The internet is great for finding general information, but sometimes it can be difficult to connect what you find there with the real world situation that will be your own bankruptcy case. What are exemptions and why are they important to me and my family? What happens to my house when I file for bankruptcy? What happens to my car when I file for bankruptcy? What happens to my retirement when I file for bankruptcy? Will my creditors be able to embarrass me or hassle me while I’m in bankruptcy? Who will find out about my bankruptcy? Can I lose my job because of filing a bankruptcy? These are all questions flying through the minds of people in your situation–those struggling to pay the bills and trying to figure out if bankruptcy is the solution. James takes the time answer these questions and to anticipate others that may come up.

What if you forget to ask him something at that first meeting in James’ Alameda bankruptcy office? No problem! Give Jim a call and he’ll be happy to chat with you as much as you need to feel comfortable about the bankruptcy process. Pixton Bankruptcy Law usually handles cases on a flat fee. That means you pay one fee and James represents from the beginning of the case to the end. No hourly billing and no clock watching. Just a friendly bankruptcy attorney looking out for his clients.

What Documents Are Required for Filing a Bankruptcy and Why?

During the course of a bankruptcy case, explains Oakland bankruptcy attorney James Pixton, the debtors are required to disclose certain financial information. The idea is that they need to show all of their financial affairs in exchange for the federal bankruptcy court’s protection and for that all-important discharge order that comes at the end of the case.

Here is a pretty basic list of the documents you’ll have to come up with:

Your last-filed tax return. This means that if you haven’t filed since 1965, that’s the tax return you’re going to have to come up with. If you haven’t filed a tax return in a while, you will definitely want to talk with an experienced Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney about how that will affect your bankruptcy case. In Oakland bankruptcy court, you may find that the trustees are most interested in your returns for the past few years. They’re looking for assets and a non-yet-filed tax return might mean a tax refund for the trustees to pursue.

Your paystubs for the two-month period just prior to the filing of your bankruptcy case. You are supposed to provide these to the trustee in your case. The trustees are supposed to look them over although it’s not too clear to me just what they’re supposed to be looking for. My experience is that trustees do require them, but pay very little attention to them.

Monthly statements for all bank and financials account showing the balances of the accounts as of the date you filed your bankruptcy case. These documents are required for a much clearer purpose. In their quest for assets that they can get a hold and use to pay creditors, the trustees will want to see how much money you had when you filed. Sometimes, a careless debtor will file a case with a significant amount of money in the bank accounts that he is unable to protect completely. Again, this is where an experienced Oakland bankruptcy attorney like James Pixton is vital. You need to make sure that you can protect as much of your money as possible. An experienced bankruptcy attorney means fewer surprises.

Oakland bankruptcy attorney James Pixton’s phone number is (510) 451-6200 x101. He has a by-appointment-only office at 1300 Clay Street, Suite 600, Oakland, CA  94612. His main office is just a few minutes away in beautiful downtown Alameda, California (the East Bay’s best kept secret). Give him a call and come in for a visit.

How Will Bankruptcy Affect My Credit Score?

This is often one of the biggest questions looming in the minds of people who are having trouble paying their bills and are thinking about bankruptcy. It seems like everyone has an opinion–and some of them come from brain-dead idiots who have no business talking about things they don’t understand. See the links at the bottom if you want to see morons at work.

Here’s the first thing I tell people when I meet with them in my Oakland bankruptcy office: Don’t believe the horror stories you hear about the blood bath that results when credit scores collide with bankruptcy. It’s not as bad as the credit card companies would have you believe. That’s the second thing I tell them. Think about it. If everyone knew how quick and simple bankruptcy can be, more people would do it and millions (or billions) of dollars more in credit card debt would be wiped out! The credit card companies don’t want you to know that, so they continue to float boatloads of misinformation out there about bankruptcy. The longer they can keep you from bankruptcy, the more money they can continue to suck out of you even when you can’t afford it.

Here’s the simple truth about the affect of bankruptcy on your credit score:

  • Chapter 7 stays on your credit report for 10 years although it impacts your score less as time goes on.
  • Chapter 13 stays on your credit report for 7 years and its impact also lessens with time.
  • If you currently have stellar credit and file a bankruptcy case, you can expect a large drop in your score.
  • If you have had trouble paying bills and your credit score is already low, however, a bankruptcy will likely improve your score because it wipes out balances due. You go from owing lots of money to owing no money or very little money.
  • You can buy a car on credit the day after your chapter 7 is over, and you can buy a car on credit in the middle of a chapter 13 case if you need one! How’s that for surprising?
  • If you qualify in all other respects, lenders will loan you money to buy a house in as little as 2 years after filing a bankruptcy. Even more surprising?
  • Bankruptcy law prohibits discrimination in employment due to bankruptcy.
  • Although credit may be available to you after you file a bankruptcy case, it will most likely be at a higher rate of interest. That’s understandable, but it’s still less expensive than repaying all that credit card debt (that you couldn’t afford to repay anyway)!
  • The best way to improve your credit score after a bankruptcy is to pay your bill on time for the rest of your life. You plan to do that anyway, right?
  • As a practical matter, a chapter 7 bankruptcy can drop you score between 200 and 300 points.
  • According to Bankrate.com, you can rebuild to an excellent credit score (above 750) “within a few years after your bankruptcy case has been discharged.” That doesn’t sound like a bloodbath, does it?

Now, here are some practical thoughts. If you were in my office and talking to me about the effect of bankruptcy on your credit score, I might have this conversation with you:

Client: I am so worried! Won’t bankruptcy kill my credit score?

Me: Well, sure, your score will go down but it will also recover again over time.

Client: But, but…how will I survive if I can’t get credit?

Me: What do you mean when you say, “How will I survive?” Do mean will you die if you don’t have credit?

Client: No, no, no…I mean how will I get by financially if I can’t get credit?

Me: That’s a good question. I’m glad your asking it. OK, so if you had no debts at all and you needed to buy something new, how would you buy it? Would you put it on a card or would you just pay cash for it.

Client: Well, I’d just pay cash for it.

Me: So if you had no bills and you were paying cash for everything, then you really wouldn’t need credit so much, would you?

Client: No, I guess not.

Me: And I’ve already told you that you can qualify for a car loan and a home loan not too after you file, right?

Client: Yes.

Me: OK, now think about this: Right now, you have $75,000 of credit card debt (pretty typical for the San Francisco Bay Area). Do you have the ability to pay that off?

Client: No.

Me: And you want a good credit score so that banks will loan you more money that you will also be unable to repay?

Client: Oh, I see what you mean.

Me: I guess this is the big question to consider: What good does it do to have a great credit score and access to lots of additional credit if you don’t have the ability to pay off the debt you now have?

Client: I never thought about it that way! I kept thinking I needed more credit so I could borrow more. I sound like a drug addict, don’t I?

Me: No, you don’t. But I find it’s always helpful to look at credit and bankruptcy in the right way.

I suppose the final thought I have about credit and bankruptcy is this: People file for bankruptcy because they no longer have the ability to repay their debts. In other words, they file when they have no other choice. What this means is that if you are still making decisions based upon how it will impact your credit score, you may not have reached that point where you have no other choice.

If, on the other hand, you run the numbers and find that you can’t pay rent and utilities and credit card bills–and still have money left to feed the family, your credit score really no longer matters. What matters is putting food on the table and a roof over your kids’ heads. If bankruptcy will help that happen, I can help. Call me at (510) 451-6200 to make an appointment. You can also email me at james@pixlaw.com.

And now, those links I promised. Click here, here, here, or here. Idiots! All of them!

If you want to meet with Oakland bankruptcy attorney James Pixton, you can make an appointment for his office at 1300 Clay Street, Suite 600, Oakland, CA 94612. His phone number is (510) 451-6200 x101. Be aware that the Oakland is by appointment only. There is no staff there and Attorney James Pixton meets clients there only as needed. All paperwork should be sent to his PO box in Alameda, California.

How Long Does a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Take in Oakland, California?

A typical chapter 7 bankruptcy case in Oakland Bankruptcy Court takes about 3-4 months.

If you file your bankruptcy case in the Oakland Bankruptcy court, you have to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to get your bankruptcy discharge order and to wipe out your debts. If you do things right, the whole process takes somewhere between three and four months.

Why this amount of time? There are certain things that have to happen. Here’s a short, basic timeline for chapter 7 in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court:
Day 1: File the petition. This starts the clocks running.
Day 5 (approx.): Court sends out a notice of case filing and date for the first meeting of creditors (actually a meeting between the debtor and the trustee).
Day 30 (approx.): Debtor and attorney meet with trustee for a short and usually painless review of documents and information in the case. Although this is referred to as a meeting of creditors, creditors rarely show up.
Another thing that happens on this day is that a 60-day clock starts ticking. Creditors have that long to object to the debtor’s discharge generally or the discharge of one particular debt.
The last clock that also starts ticking on this date is 60-day period for the debtor to finish that second educational course, the one on personal financial management.
Day 90 (approx): If no creditor objects to discharge and the debtor has completed the financial management course, the court issues a discharge order meaning that all debts that can be wiped out have been wiped out. Then the court closes the case file, you’re done and can move on to your new debt-free life.

Bankruptcy attorney James Pixton meets with clients at his appointment-only office in Oakland. Here’s the address, but remember to call (510) 451-6200 first to make an appointment.

Pixton Bankruptcy Law
1300 Clay Street, Suite 600
Oakland, CA
(This is not a staffed office; by appointment only)

If you live in Emeryville, you will file your bankruptcy case in Oakland, California.
If you live in El Cerrito, you will also file your bankruptcy case in Oakland, California.
If you live in Albany, you will–yep, you guessed it–file your bankruptcy case in Oakland, California.

How Does Bankruptcy Stop Foreclosure in Oakland?

Bankruptcy is a very powerful tool that can protect people who are struggling financially. In particular, bankruptcy can help drowning homeowners. What makes bankruptcy so great is really two little words: automatic stay. The automatic stay is a federal (national) law that basically says that your creditors all have to leave you alone the second you file a bankruptcy case.

When you file your bankruptcy case, the automatic stay requires all your creditors so stop doing anything to collect on debts you might owe. This means that they have to stop lawsuits, they have to stop collection phone calls and letters–and they have to stop any foreclosure proceedings. In other words, once you file, they can’t sell your house without first getting the bankruptcy judge’s permission.

Here in Oakland and the East Bay, the bankruptcy judges are pretty friendly towards debtors and try to give them all the protections they’re entitled to under the Bankruptcy Code. They’ll make sure that the foreclosure sale doesn’t happen. If you file your bankruptcy case and then the lender conducts a foreclosure sale anyway, we can get the sale nullified–a fancy way of saying that we get it unwound, as though it never happened.

Keep in mind, however, that this is only the case if you file your bankruptcy case in the Oakland bankruptcy court before the trustee’s sale (foreclosure sale) happens. Alameda bankruptcy attorney James Pixton can stop a foreclosure sale if you call quickly and get in for a consultation.

If you meet and decide to hire James (and he decides to work with you), he can file the case electronically right from his office. This means that he can file a case in the evening or on a weekend when the Oakland bankruptcy court is closed.

The sooner you call Oakland-area bankruptcy attorney James Pixton, the sooner Pixton Bankruptcy Law can help you save your home and get back on track financially. Call (510) 451-6200 today!

What to Bring for First Meeting With Bankruptcy Attorney James Pixton

During Inside Bankruptcy Attorney James Pixton's office | where the genius happensour first meeting together at Pixton Bankruptcy Law’s Alameda office, you will spend about a half hour to forty-five minutes with James Pixton, bankruptcy attorney Castro Valley. Remember, he’s the friendliest attorney Alameda–or the entire East Bay for that matter! He’ll run through a bunch of questions that will help him decide what your best options are and whether you should file for bankruptcy or consider another option.

In order to help James and so you can get the most out of your meeting with him, you should try to bring the following:

  • Copies (not originals) of your tax returns from the last two years
  • Copies of your pay stubs for the last two months
  • Copies of bank statements for the past two months for each you account you have
  • Copies of your bills
  • A quick list of the people and businesses you owe money to (your creditors)
  • A list of all the real estate you own or used to own in the past six years
  • A list of all stock portfolios, retirement accounts, 401ks or any investment-type property

Having all these documents in a folder can help you and James move quickly through your financial situation so he tell you whether a bankruptcy case is the way for you to go.

But what if you don’t have some or all of these documents? Never fear! Try to put together what you can and bring it with you. But even if you bring nothing at all, James can usually get most of the information he needs for that first visit from what you know off the top of your head. In other words, the most important thing James needs at that meeting is your brain.

So give Pixton Bankruptcy Law a call today at (510) 451-6200 and schedule an appointment with Alameda bankruptcy attorney James Pixton. He’ll get you quickly on your way to being debt free. Call today!

I Live in Berkeley. Where Do I File My Bankruptcy Case?

Berkeley Residents File for Bankruptcy in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court.

Four bankruptcy courts serve the Bay Area: Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa. Your county of residence determines which court you use to file your bankruptcy case. All residents of Alameda County and Contra Costa County who file for bankruptcy file in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court located at 1300 Clay Street, 3rd Floor.

If you telephone Pixton Bankruptcy Law at (510) 451-6200, we can give you more information about the documents that need to be filed in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court. Give Attorney James Pixton a call. He’s always happy to chat with you. Or email him at james@pixlaw.com.

If you’re filing without an attorney (in pro per or pro se), you’ll need to take all your documents in person or by mail to the clerk of court’s office along the required number of copies. After stamping all your documents, the clerk will give a copy back to you for your records. If you’re working on your case without the assistance of an attorney, you should always check the Oakland Bankruptcy Court’s website for additional requirements.

If you decide to work with an East Bay bankruptcy attorney on your case, however, things are simpler–as least for you. Your bankruptcy attorney can file your case electronically right from his office. This makes a lot of people very happy because they don’t even have to set foot in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court! At Pixton Bankruptcy Law, attorney James Pixton prepares all the paperwork for his clients, reviews it with them in the Oakland or Alameda office or even on the phone and then instantly files over the internet to the Oakland Bankruptcy Court. You can walk out of James Pixton’s office with a copy of your bankruptcy case filing order showing your case number and a statement that you’re protected by bankruptcy law Is that much better than going to court?

Are ready to wipe out your debts permanently? Call or email James Pixton, the most enthusiastic bankruptcy lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area! His direct number is (510) 451-6200 x101. His email address is james @pixlaw.com. You can also complete the info form below so we can make an appointment with you.

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If it works for you, bankruptcy attorney James Pixton has an office in Oakland. It’s an appointment-only office so you have to be sure to make an appointment. Call (510) 451-6200 and let us know you’re coming to visit. The address is:

Pixton Bankruptcy Law
1300 Clay Street, Suite 600
Oakland, CA
(This office is not staffed; by appointment only)

If you live in Albany, you need to file in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court.

I Live in Oakland, California. Where To File for Bankruptcy

Oakland Residents File for Bankruptcy in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court.

There are four bankruptcy courts in the Bay Area: Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa. Your county of residence determines which court you use to file your bankruptcy case. All residents of Alameda County and Contra Costa County who file for bankruptcy file in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court located at 1300 Clay Street, 3rd Floor.

Call Pixton Bankruptcy Law at (510) 451-6200 for more information about the filing requirements in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court. Attorney James Pixton is happy to talk with you. You can also contact him by email at james@pixlaw.com.

If you’re filing on your own, you’ll need to take all your documents to the clerk of courts office along the required number of copies. The clerk will stamp all your documents and give a copy back to you for your records. You should check the court’s website for additional requirements.

If you hire a Bay Area attorney to help with your bankruptcy case, however, things work a bit differently. Your bankruptcy attorney can file your case electronically right from his office. It usually works out great for people who don’t want even to have to set foot in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court! At Pixton Bankruptcy Law, attorney James Pixton prepares all the paperwork for his clients, reviews it with them in the Oakland or Alameda office or even on the phone and then instantly files over the internet to the Oakland Bankruptcy Court. You can walk out of James Pixton’s office with a copy of your bankruptcy case filing order showing your case number and a statement that you’re protected by bankruptcy law That sure beats going to court!

Once you’re ready to be debt free, call or email James Pixton, the hardest-working bankruptcy lawyer in the East Bay! Fill out the form below so we can contact you and make an appointment.

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If I told you Pixton Bankruptcy Law is located downtown at 1300 Clay Street, Suite 600, Oakland, CA, you’d know just where to go, right? It’s right across the street from the big federal building and on the end of that outside shopping center that charges a lot for parking. If you come to James Pixton’s Alameda office, the parking is 50 cents for an hour. And you might want to do some shopping on Park Street afterwards. It’s an amazing place.

I Live in Alameda, California. Where Do I File for Bankruptcy?

Alameda Residents File for Bankruptcy in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court.

There are four bankruptcy courts in the Bay Area: Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Rosa. Your county of residence determines which court you use to file your bankruptcy case. All residents of Alameda County and Contra Costa County who file for bankruptcy file in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court located at 1300 Clay Street, 3rd Floor.

Call Pixton Bankruptcy Law at (510) 451-6200 for more information about the filing requirements in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court. Attorney James Pixton is happy to talk with you. You can also contact him by email at james@pixlaw.com.

One of the advantages of having an attorney help with your bankruptcy case is that your attorney can file your case electronically from the bankruptcy attorney’s office. What this means is that if your work things right, you will never even have to set foot in the Oakland Bankruptcy Court! For instance, Pixton Bankruptcy Law prepares all the paperwork for their clients, reviews it in the Oakland or Alameda office or even on the phone and then files right there by sending the documents over the internet to the Oakland Bankruptcy Court. That can be a big relief for folks who are already stressed enough about their finances and don’t want to add going to court to that stress.

If you’re ready to be debt free or just want to talk with a cheerful bankruptcy attorney (that’s James Pixton, the happiest bankruptcy lawyer in the East Bay!), go ahead and give us some information below and we’ll get right back to you to make an appointment.

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Not from Alameda? You can also meet with bankruptcy attorney James Pixton at his appointment-only office in Oakland. You’ll need to call (510) 451-6200 to make an appointment.

Pixton Bankruptcy Law
1300 Clay Street, Suite 600
Oakland, CA

What Are Exemptions in Bankruptcy?

Why Are Bankruptcy Exemptions Important?

It’s an old image, but one that sticks in our heads. It’s the cartoon of the guy who has just lost everything and now he’s wearing a barrel around his middle held up by two suspender straps.

Saving My Alameda Home and Saving My Sanity with a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If You’re Facing a Foreclosure in Alameda, You Should Check Out Chapter 13 in Oakland Bankruptcy Court.

Welcome to Pixton Bankruptcy Law. If you’re facing foreclosure, you’re in the right place. As you’ve come to understand, foreclosure means that your bank lender can take your house and sell it out from underneath if you’ve fallen behind.

If you’re looking for a quick understanding of how the foreclosure process works in Alameda, Oakland, Hayward and the rest of the Bay Area, click here.

If you already understand that the clock is ticking, you know that you need to do something sooner rather than later or you’ll soon be an ex-homeowner. Once that foreclosure sale happens, it’s impossible–or at least nearly impossible–to get your house back.

So what can you do if you’re home is scheduled for auction?

First, you can choose to do nothing. If that’s the case, your home will be gone–either purchased by a new owner or “taken back” by the bank if no one else bids on it.

Second, you can contact the lender directly and try to work out some sort of loan modification. Oftentimes, this can at least delay a foreclosure while you complete the modification application process. You need to be careful, however, because the lender can still go forward with the foreclosure. It isn’t bound to grant a modification and it isn’t required to sit around while you apply for one. The lender may choose to cooperate, but it can take back its cooperation at any time and you’ll be out of luck.

Third, you can sell your house quickly if there’s equity, or you can short sell your house (less quickly) if there’s no equity. Read up on the realities of the short sale here. If you sell the house, your mortgage problems are over, but you also no longer own your home and will have to move elsewhere.

Fourth, you can file a bankruptcy case. Here’s where I come in as an Alameda bankruptcy attorney with tons of experience doing this kind of thing. Your options are usually chapter 7 or chapter 13, two dramatically different kinds of bankruptcy cases. If you live in Alameda and are considering bankruptcy, you need to understand both. On this page we’re going to focus on chapter 13 because that’s the one that will best help you save your home. Click here for more on chapter 7.

Filing a chapter 13 will immediately get you two things: time and peace. You need both in order to figure out how to protect your home. As long as you haven’t recently filed a previous case, the filing of your case creates what’s called the “automatic stay.” This just means all your lenders have to leave you alone and quite trying to collect from you. This applies to foreclosure sales! So your lender can’t foreclose–at least not without first asking for permission from the bankruptcy judge.

Now that you’re protected by the automatic stay, you are in good shape to do a lot. You can complete a short sale if you choose. You can complete a loan modification–or even apply for one after you file! Or, if you just needed time to catch up on your payments, you can start making the mortgage payments again and take up to five years (60 months) to catch up on the missed payments from before the case was filed.

Chapter 13 is not a magic wand that we can wave and permanently fix all your home loan problems. But it is

Bankruptcy Can Wipe Out a Second Mortgage or Line of Credit

Wiping Out a Second Mortgage in Bankruptcy

If you own a home in the Oakland area, you have seen its value decline in the past several years–most likely by hundreds of thousands of dollars. So now you’re wondering how you will ever pay that second mortgage off.

On top of that problem, you’re drowning in credit card bills, back taxes, student loans and a car payment. Welcome to the American Dream–Bay Area style!

Here’s something amazing that can change your life around: A chapter 13 bankruptcy can wipe out a second mortgage forever! That means that you can finish a chapter 13 case and be left with no debt other than a first mortgage on your home! Sweet!

It’s Called Lien Stripping

This whole wipe-out-the-second-mortgage thing is called “lien stripping” because the bankruptcy court strips away the lien on the second mortgage. Lien stripping is permanent. Once you finish the case, the second mortgage is gone forever!

There are a lot of rules that go along with lien stripping, but here are the basics:

  1. You have to file a chapter 13 case; a chapter 7 won’t work.
  2. You have to make monthly payments in a chapter 13 case for a three to five year period (usually five) in order complete the case successfully.
  3. You have to convince the Oakland bankruptcy court that the value of your home is less than the amount you owe on the first mortgage.

If you can do those things, you can wipe out your second mortgage. Pretty incredible! You can save up to $200,000 or more by filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Want to know more? Call Oakland bankruptcy attorney James Pixton at (510) 451-6200 and make an appointment to come in and talk about lien stripping. You can also fill out the form below. We’re serious when we say YOUR NEW LIFE BEGINS TODAY!

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Bankruptcy Helps You Sleep Peacefully!

No More Stress or Jumping When Phone Rings!
How would it be? That is a question you could answer for yourself pretty soon. Imagine being able to buy groceries without worrying about how you’re going to make the car payment. Bankruptcy can help you! Getting school clothes for the kids and filling up the gas tank in the same trip because you now have money in your bank account at the end of the month. Bankruptcy can help you!

Paying the mortgage with a cash advance will be a thing of the past–just a bad memory after bankruptcy. Those late night arguments over the finances with your husband or wife will just end. No more ugly mess to fight about! Bankruptcy wipes it all out!

How would it be? Well, you can find out that it’s a great feeling to be back on your financial feet again. And Pixton Bankruptcy Law can help you find that feeling.

If you live in Oakland, Alameda, Hayward–or anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area–relief is just a phone call (or email) away. (510) 451-6200 or no-debt@pixlaw.com


Oakland Bankruptcy Lawyer James Pixton Explains Lien Stripping in Chapter 13

A chance to wipe out a second mortgage permanently in chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Something that is not well known is the fact that chapter 13 bankruptcy carries with it the power to eliminate second and third mortgages. Homeowners who are underwater on their first mortgage (loan amount more than home value) can file a chapter 13 bankruptcy case in one of the bankruptcy courts in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose or Santa Rosa, make all the necessary monthly payments and at the end, get an order from the judge saying that their second mortgage has been eliminated.

In this short video, East Bay bankruptcy attorney James Pixton explains some of the details of lien stripping.

Come in and visit us at our Oakland office right downtown (just two minutes off I-980), and ask us your questions about lien stripping–and anything else about bankruptcy. We are the Bay Area’s friendliest bankruptcy law office!

Oakland Bankruptcy Attorney Talks About Why He Likes His Job

Oakland bankruptcy attorney James Pixton has helped thousands people in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties get rid of their debts since 1999. He has had a hand in saving people’s homes, marriages and sanity. Whether you live Antioch or Pittsburg, Berkeley or Oakland, Newark or Union city, Livermore or Dublin, the chances are good that many of your neighbors have started over financially with the help of PIXTON BANKRUPTCY LAW.

In this short video clip, James talks about what he likes most about his job–and it’s not wearing a tie and going to court! Among other things, James shares about how rewarding it is to be able to tell people at the end of their case that their debts have all been wiped out.

Take a look and then call us for an appointment at (510) 451-6200.

What is a Bankruptcy Trustee and What Does He Do in a Chapter 7 Case?

Bankruptcy trustees are the folks responsible for reviewing each bankruptcy case filed and finding out whether there are going to be any assets with which to pay creditors.

We file most of our cases in the bankruptcy courts in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. Each of these courts has a list of about eight “panel trustees.” These trustees are usually attorneys or accountants although that is not a requirement. When we file your case, a computer randomly assigns your case to one of these trustees.

The trustee receives an electronic copy of all the documents we file in the case and his job is to look it over to determine whether you have assets that can be used to pay creditors. Now before you panic about this, keep in mind that most cases are what we call “no-asset chapter 7 cases.” A no-asset chapter 7 case is one where the trustee looks it over and concludes that there are no assets there that can be collected and used to pay creditors. If the trustee makes this determination, his job is pretty much done.

One the most important events in your bankruptcy is what is called the meeting of creditors or the 341 meeting. This is a reference to section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. That’s the section that requires all debtors to show up at the local federal building with their attorneys on particular day and answer a short list of questions asked by the trustee. The trustee asks these questions in order to decide whether there are assets to go after. He’s already reviewed your paperwork. Now he just wants to tie up any loose ends.

This meeting with the trustee usually lasts about three to five minutes. Following the meeting, the trustee will usually file a “Report of No Assets” which means that he’s done his research and rummaging and has determined that there are no assets for him to get a hold of. At this point, the trustee usually does nothing further in your case.

So what if the trustee happens to locate an asset in your case that can be used to pay creditors? Again, this is very rare. I have been filing cases for clients for over a decade and I can probably count on one hand the number of “asset” chapter 7 cases. In all but one of those cases, we knew going in that there were assets for the trustee to liquidate. In the one case that came as a surprise, it was when the client decided not to tell me about huge tax refund he was getting. The trustee questioned him about the refund and then went after it. The lesson? Always be up front and honest with your attorney.

OK. So if there are assets, the trustee has powers from the Bankruptcy Code and the federal government that allow him to take property from debtors, sell it and use the proceeds to pay creditors. The trustee gets to keep a percentage of the proceeds and that’s how he makes his living. If the trustee gets enough to pay creditors only a small percentage of what they’re owed, then that’s all they get. If the trustee manages to rustle up enough assets to pay off all the creditors, then he does so and returns any remaining proceeds to the debtor at the end of the case.

Generally speaking, I like pretty much all the trustee’s in the San Francisco Bay Area area. They are polite, friendly and respectful of the debtors. They know you’re nervous and under a lot of stress. They try hard not to do or say anything that will hurt debtors feelings or add to their stress level. Still, keep in mind that the trustee has a job and that’s to collect assets that can go to pay creditors. If the trustee feels like you’re not being honest or forthcoming in response to his questions, you’ll see him get nasty pretty quickly. Although they’re good guys, they have a job to do and they do it efficiently. Our job as debtor and debtor’s attorney is to help him understand your financial situation. If we do that, we’ll get along with him just fine.

Alameda County Residents: Get Ready to Go Debt-Free!

Alameda County bankruptcy attorney James Pixton is offering free half-hour consultations to local residents who are considering bankruptcy. Since 1999, Attorney James Pixton has been helping residents of Alameda and other cities in Alameda County start over through Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases.

During the free meeting, you’ll meet personally with Attorney Pixton, the friendliest attorney in Oakland, Alameda or Hayward, who will carefully discuss your financial options. You’ll learn about the pros and cons of bankruptcy and whether you qualify.

Don’t delay! You can be debt free in a matter of weeks! Give us a call at (510) 451-6200.

But wait! There’s more. If you act now, Pixton Bankruptcy Law will add to your package two years of post-bankruptcy credit report reviews–FREE! That’s right! If you file a bankruptcy case with Pixton Bankruptcy Law, you can ask your attorney to look over your credit report and advise you of items that should be corrected following your bankruptcy discharge. This is a legal service valued at $750 and you get it FREE with a bankruptcy package!

Call us at (510) 451-6200 or email us at debt-free@pixlaw.com! We help people from all over the county: from Berkeley and Oakland up north, to Hayward, Fremont and Union City down south, to Pleasanton and Livermore in the east. We look forward to helping you become debt free!

Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 in an Alameda Bankruptcy?

What’s with all these chapters and what do they have to do with my debts? You’ve been wondering that for years and now you’re going to get the answers straight from the hometown Alameda lawyer’s mouth.

The federal government has a set of laws called the Bankruptcy Code. The Code is divided up into chapters. For some reason, they decided to go with odd chapters only–until they got to chapter 12 (don’t ask). So we’ve got a chapter 1, a chapter 3, and so on up through chapter 13. Chapters 1 though 5 deal with the general stuff in bankruptcy that are common to all the different types of bankruptcy. Alameda residents, Oakland resident, Berkeley residents, or any Alameda County residents who file for bankruptcy are all subject to the provisions of these chapters. In fact, it’s the same set of general rules across the country.

Chapters 7, 11 and 13 are the bankruptcy chapters that talk about the different routes folks can take to eliminate or reduce their debts. For most people, a chapter 11 bankruptcy case is barely a tiny blip on the radar. I’m just mentioning it now and will only say that this chapter is usually for big companies with millions (or even billions) of dollars of debts and assets. Most people in Alameda never need to consider chapter 11.

Chapters 7 and 13 are the ones that regular people care about. Chapter 7 is considered to be just the plain, old, regular bankruptcy. We prepare your paperwork; we file; we handle things with the court, the trustee, the creditors and anyone else who needs handling; and about three months later, you get a discharge order from the judge. The discharge order means that all your debts that can be wiped out have been wiped out.

Chapter 13 is very different animal. It lasts somewhere between three years (36 months) and five years (60 months). During that your case is going, you make a monthly payment to a trustee who then makes monthly distributions to your creditors. Certain creditors, like car lenders and the IRS (of course) get paid ahead of other “lower priority” creditors. Doing the math, you can see that you’d need to make between 36 and 60 payments. At the end of the payment period, the judge issues a discharge order and sends us each a copy here in Alameda, and the rest of your debts are wiped out.

The big question of course is how much your monthly payment is going to be. That’s where Alameda bankruptcy attorney–James Pixton–works his magic. Using years of experience and a razor sharp legal mind, he calculates what bankruptcy law requires you to pay and does everything he can to see that the payments are as low as possible.

So which do you choose? Call (510) 451-6200 right now and make an appointment today with Pixton Bankruptcy Law. You’ll meet with Alameda bankruptcy attorney James A. Pixton at his quiet, cozy office on Oak Street (one street over from Park street) for a free initial meeting. He will talk in detail about the advantages and disadvantages of chapter 7 and chapter 13 and will help you decide which one is best for you.

Remember: Pixton Bankruptcy Law is the friendliest law office in Alameda! You’ll like us–and we’ll like you!

Those %&*#! Creditors Won’t Stop Calling!

Bankruptcy in Oakland can stop the harassing phone calls.

“The bill collectors are driving me crazy! How do I make them stop calling? They call me during dinner time. They call my cell phone. They call me at work. Now I’m starting to worry about my job. Maybe the boss will get sick of the calls, too, and just fire me!” Does that sound too familiar?

At Pixton Bankruptcy Law, we know exactly what to do to make the phone calls stop immediately. We can even get the calls to stop before you file a bankruptcy case. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The second Pixton Bankruptcy Law files a bankruptcy case for you in the Oakland bankruptcy court, you receive automatic and absolute protection from your creditors. The calls have to stop. The letters have to stop. The lawsuits have to stop. This protection is called the “automatic stay” and it will be one of your best friends for the next three months (and even longer in a chapter 13).

When the automatic stay goes into effect for you when you file your case in Oakland bankruptcy court, the creditors can get in some very serious trouble if the violate the automatic stay. This basically means that if they do anything at all to try and collect on debt you owe, we can haul them into bankruptcy court and ask the judge to award you money as a punishment. Imagine that! You owe them money and they have to pay you!

At Pixton Bankruptcy Law, we take our clients’ rights very seriously. You are entitled to peace and quiet and we insist that your creditors respect that right. Over the years we have hauled creditors–including banks and check cashing companies–into the Oakland bankruptcy court where they had to explain to the judge why they continued to hassle my clients. In nearly every case, the bankruptcy judge awarded some form of money sanction. I can’t guarantee a money recovery in each case of a violation, of course, but I can promise that I’ll do everything I can to protect you from obnoxious creditors who don’t care about the law.

If you’re ready to be protected instantly from your annoying creditors by filing a case in the Oakland bankruptcy court, give me a call at (510) 451-6200 or fill out the form below and I’ll get a hold of you to set up an appointment.

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I Filed for Bankruptcy! Is My Life Over Now?

Here at Pixton Bankruptcy Law, our Alameda clients often come to our office wondering whether filing a chapter 7 or a chapter 13 will basically destroy their lives. We say with confidence that it won’t. Our clients are often surprised at how upbeat Attorney James Pixton is as he carefully explains to each client how the bankruptcy process works. He absolutely believes that bankruptcy can change his clients’ lives for the better. That’s one of the reasons why James Pixton loves being a bankruptcy lawyer! Give him a call at (510) 451-6200. Listen to his enthusiasm!

So does bankruptcy have any effect on our clients’ lives? Sure, but usually less than they think. Yes, your credit score will take a hit, but then it will start making a quick turnaround once your debts are wiped out. Bankruptcy can stay on your credit report as long a ten years, but that doesn’t mean that you have bad credit for the entire ten years. The older the bankruptcy is, the less impact it has on the score.

Attorney James Pixton keeps in touch with many of his former clients who have gone through bankruptcy. He has seen many of them buy homes only a few years after the completion of their case. Keep in mind, however, that Pixton Bankruptcy has no way to guarantee similar results for all its Alameda clients. We just want you to know what’s possible.

Call us at (510) 451-6200 for a no-cost appointment with Alameda bankruptcy attorney James Pixton. If you prefer, you can email him at james@pixlaw.com. He types pretty fast, so he’ll get right back to you.

Are All Bankruptcy Lawyers Stuffy? No–At Least Not in the Bay Area!

Stuffy? Hardly! Alameda bankruptcy attorney James Pixton has spent a lot of time in the various Bay Area courts over the past twelve or so years of practice and the one thing he’s noticed is that the happiest lawyers seem to be bankruptcy attorneys. James speculates that it has something to do with outcomes. “If you think about it,” he says, “bankruptcy is pretty much the only area of the law where people are so much better off at the end than they were at the beginning. You owe tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that you can’t pay; you file for bankruptcy; it all goes away.” He continues, “People feel so much genuine relief and they express tremendous appreciation for the help their bankruptcy attorney gives them. It’s very rewarding.”

Bankruptcy seems to attract a particular type of attorney. “From what I’ve seen,” James says, “Some of the friendliest and most compassionate lawyers I’ve met and interacted with are bankruptcy lawyers. Even the lawyers on who represent the banks and other creditors are generally good and pleasant people. They certainly fight for their clients’ rights and goals, but they do it in a very civil way.” According to James, good manners seems to be a hallmark of those who practice in the bankruptcy arena.

One of the greatest aspects of the bankruptcy bar is its collaborative nature. James noticed right from the beginning that bankruptcy lawyers help each other out. “This willingness to work together certainly benefits the clients,” he says. “If I run into a conflict, I can call one of my bankruptcy attorney friends and he can pinch hit for me at a hearing–but only if the clients are OK with it. It usually works out best for them because it keeps their case moving along.” James says he also helps other attorneys when he can.

The local bankruptcy bar is big on improving the quality of practice. Led by peninsula bankruptcy attorney Cathy Moran, the San Francisco Bay Area bankruptcy bar is developing many online resources for new and experienced practitioners alike. “It’s pretty great to have a sounding board on the internet,” reports James. “Every once in a while, I run across an issue with one of my clients that’s unfamiliar and that completely stumps me. I can post the question in one of the bankruptcy attorney forums and within a few hours, I end up with one, two or sometime half a dozens ideas or responses from other attorneys. We help each other, and that in turn helps our clients.

Oh No! They’ve Repo’ed My Car!

If they repo guy took your car, we may be able to get it back if you hurry!Has your car been taken by the repo man? If it hasn’t been sold, we can get it back in most cases. By filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy with Pixton Bankruptcy Law in Alameda, you will get the immediate protection of federal bankruptcy law. This means that a lender and repo man who have repossessed your car will have to give it back and then give you time to catch up on the payments.

That sounds like a pretty good deal doesn’t it? If you call Alameda attorney James Pixton, he’ll give you the details. His number is (510) 451-6200. Did we mention that he’s the friendliest attorney in Alameda, California?

So what makes it possible to get your car back? Well, every once in a while Congress gets things right. When they built the bankruptcy laws, they put in some provisions that require car lenders to step back, leave car owners alone and let them catch up. Federal bankruptcy law is some of the most powerful law in the land–just below the US Constitution (that’s according to the Constitution). When you file for bankruptcy, you bundle yourself up in some strong rights and protections.

Here’s another thing. If you’ve owned your car for long enough, we can often eliminate thousand of dollars from the loan amount by get the bankruptcy judge to allow you to pay what it’s worth rather than what you. Call Alameda’s finest bankruptcy law firm, Pixton Bankruptcy Law and let us give you the details. Our number is (510) 451-6200. We look forward to a cheerful chat with you.

Remember! You’ve got to hurry! If the repo man has done his job and now the car’s been sold, you’re out of luck. When you call us, be sure to tell us that you’ve lost your car and want to get it back. We’ve saved the wheels of a lot of Alameda residents. Saving wheels often means savings jobs. Another reason why we at Pixton Bankruptcy Law love what we do.

Help! My House is Going to Sale! Alameda Foreclosures!

Alameda foreclosures. We can stop a home foreclosure sale in Alameda! Even if it’s right on the eve of the sale! Call Alameda bankruptcy attorney James Pixton now at (510) 451-6200 so you can set up an appointment to meet. Be sure to let us know that a sale date is coming up.

The mere mention of the word “foreclosure” sends a shudder through Alameda homeowners as though an icicle had been dropped down the back of their shirt. In the typical Alameda mind, home ownership is a symbol of success and acceptance. When we buy that house, we have arrived. Here in Alameda, like everywhere else, we take our home ownership very seriously. When that dream is threatened, it’s scary, it’s depressing and it’s stressful.

The recession throughout the United States–and here in the San Francisco Bay Area–has done enormous damage to the dream of home ownership. In Alameda County each month, hundreds of homes go into foreclosure. What this really means is that the home owner has fallen behind on his monthly mortgage payment and the lender has grown tired of waiting for late payments to come in. The lender starts foreclosure proceedings. In another article, we’ll talk about how the foreclosure process works here in Alameda–and throughout California.

If your lender has started the foreclosure process, Alameda foreclosures attorney James Pixton may be able to help you. Even if you’re right up against a sale date, Pixton Bankruptcy Law can in many instances file a bankruptcy case to stop foreclosure and get you some time to breath. Chapter 13 was designed to help Alameda homeowners catch up on their mortgage payments.

If you’re like a lot of the residents of the City of Alameda, you have a pretty hefty mortgage. It doesn’t take much to upset the apple cart. Layoffs, divorce and devastating illness are all contributing factors to foreclosure. When the money gets tights, it’s easy to fall behind on the mortgage, especially here in the East Bay.

Sometimes a homeowner no longer wants to hang onto his house. In that case, a chapter 7 might be a good move. As the busiest bankruptcy attorney in Alameda, James Pixton has the experience to quickly help you understand your options. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can get the homeowner more time to figure out how to exit the home and get into a rented home. Often a chapter 7 is necessary if there’s a second mortgage that doesn’t get paid when the house is sold.

At the Pixton Bankruptcy Law, Alameda attorney James Pixton meets personally with all potential clients to talk over the options. If foreclosure is coming up, James will help you decide whether to keep your house or let it go. James’ job is to help you understand your options and to know what your rights are.

Give Alameda foreclosures attorney James Pixton a call at his office today. (510) 451-6200. Like every other bankruptcy in the Oakland area, he offers a free half-hour appointment. At the end of your meeting, you will have a much better idea of what will work for you and what won’t. Want James does, that other attorneys don’t, however, if provide you with no-cost books and other materials to help you make important decision.

Call the Alameda office of bankruptcy attorney James Pixton soon at (510) 451-6200. Peace of mind awaits you.

Will I Lose My House or My Car if I File for Bankruptcy in Oakland?

Keeping the house or the family car is often one of the biggest concerns on the minds of our clients when they first walk through our office door in Alameda or call us on the phone to discuss bankruptcy. “Will filing for bankruptcy in Oakland leave us homeless and with no way of getting to work?” they ask anxiously.

The short answer is NO! In most cases, people do not lose their home or car just because they file for bankruptcy. They lose them if they are unable to pay for them. That happens even if you don’t file for bankruptcy. It’s the way things work here in Alameda, in Alameda County and throughout California.

Protecting a Home with Bankruptcy in Oakland. In many cases, filing a bankruptcy case can help you either catch up if you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage. In a chapter 13 case, you can get up to five years to get caught up. Chapter 13 was built by Congress to help Americans stay in their homes if they are able to continue making their payments and can catch up on arrears if given time. Many residents of Alameda are currently catching up the mortgage with a chapter 13.

In addition, a little know fact is that chapter 13 can often eliminate a second mortgage. Call Pixton Bankruptcy of Alameda today at (510) 451-6200 to schedule a no cost-no obligation consultation. We can help you decide if chapter 13 will help you save your home!

Protecting a Car in Bankruptcy. The great news is that you can keep your car in either chapter 7 or chapter 13 as long as you can afford the payments. As long as you navigate the bankruptcy system correctly, you’ll keep driving your car. Let Pixton Bankruptcy Law show you the way. Whether you live in Alameda or elsewhere, we know bankruptcy law and we can show you how to protect your car during and after the bankruptcy process.

Here’s another piece of good news: Chapter 13 can often reduce the amount you have to pay on your car. If you’ve owned your car for long enough, we can file a chapter 13 and get you into a payment plan where you pay only what the car is worth instead of what you owe on it. Often, we can save our clients thousands of dollars. Call us at (510) 451-6200 for details.