Frequently Asked Questions And Answers

Here are a few common questions and that we receive at the Michael Koch, Esq. Lockhart, Britton & Koch. Please note that every legal situation is unique and that speaking with an attorney will provide you with the best answer.

What will this cost me?

The fees and costs are determined based on the complexity of your case. After the one-hour free consultation, you will be quoted a fee. In most cases this will be a flat fee, and there will be no hidden fees or costs.

What debts are forgiven in bankruptcy?

There are exceptions to discharge, and we will discuss these during consultation. The most common nondischarged debts are:

  • Liens
  • Certain taxes
  • Debts due to fraud
  • Support (DSO)
  • Student loans
  • Criminal restitution
  • HOA fees post petition

What is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 is officially known as "liquidation" and sometimes called a straight bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is designed for debtors in financial difficulties that do not have the ability to pay their existing debts. Debtors whose debts are primarily consumer debts are subject to a "means test" designed to determine whether the case should be permitted to proceed under Chapter 7.

Under Chapter 7, you may claim certain of your property as exempt under governing law. A trustee may have the right to take possession of and sell the remaining property that is not exempt and use the sale proceeds to pay your creditors.

Even if you receive a general discharge, some particular debts are not discharged under the law. Therefore, you may still be responsible for most taxes and student loans; debts incurred to pay nondischargeable taxes; domestic support and property settlement obligations; most fines, penalties, forfeitures and criminal restitution obligations; certain debts which are not properly listed in your bankruptcy papers; and debts for death or personal injury caused by operating a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. Also, if a creditor can prove that a debt arose from fraud, breach of fiduciary duty or theft, or from a willful and malicious injury, the bankruptcy court may determine that the debt is not discharged.

What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Repayment of all or part of the debts of an individual with regular income.

Chapter 13 is designed for individuals with regular income who would like to pay all or part of their debts in installments over a period of time.

You are only eligible for Chapter 13 if your debts do not exceed certain dollar amounts set forth in the Bankruptcy Code.

Under Chapter 13, you must file with the court a plan to repay your creditors all or part of the money that you owe them, using your future earnings. The period allowed by the court to repay your debts may be three years or five years, depending upon your income and other factors. The court must approve your plan before it can take effect.

After completing the payments under your plan, your debts are generally discharged except for domestic support obligations; most student loans; certain taxes; most criminal fines and restitution obligations; certain debts which are not properly listed in your bankruptcy papers; certain debts for acts that caused death or personal injury; and certain long-term secured obligations.

Will I qualify for Chapter 7 under the new bankruptcy laws?

Your income, expenses and debts determine if you qualify. We analyze all factors to present a case in your favor.

When will my creditors stop harassing me after a bankruptcy filing?

Once a case is filed, creditors cannot contact you. In many cases, once you retain an attorney these types of calls can be abated.

What do I tell creditors who call me after filing for bankruptcy?

After you hire me, I invite you to have your creditors contact our firm.

We will advise them that you are our clients. Keep in mind, creditors are not required to stop contacting you until after your case is filed. However, if you tell creditors to call your attorneys, most of them will extend the courtesy of collections phone calls to us!

How long does the bankruptcy process take?

Most Chapter 7 cases will take about 90 days from filing date to discharge. Chapter 13 plans run three to five years.

Will I be meeting with an attorney?

Yes, you will meet with an experienced attorney.

Will an attorney be at my meeting of creditors?

Yes, we will be with you every step of the way.

Outline for Your Personal Estate Planning Strategy

Here is an outline for people who are interested in planning their estate but are unsure where to begin.

I. Why Should I Create An Estate Plan?

  • Ensure your intentions are met.
  • Prevent disputes and ease decision-making for family members.
  • Reduce stress for your family at a difficult time.
  • Minimize or eliminate probate and other costs.

II. What to Consider

  • Think about the arrangements you want for the care of your property, children, and pets.
  • Consider who you want to leave your property to and who you trust to take care of your children.
  • Establish formal agent relationships with the people you want to handle your personal care and property.
  • Prepare the legal documents that express your preferences for health treatments and life-prolonging care.

III. Decisions and Documents

  • A. Health Care Decisions:
    • Advance Health Care Directive: Whether you are temporarily unconscious after an accident or slip into a coma after a long-term illness, these documents detail who can see your personal health care information, who can make health care decisions for you, and who can decide what, if any, life sustaining procedures are provided.
    • Durable Power of Attorney: A document in which you appoint an agent to make health care and financial decisions for you when you are incapable of making them.
  • B. Last Will and Testament: A will is a document in which you set out specific directions on who receives your property after your death. It also sets the terms for such gifts, names who you want to carry out your directives and names who will care for your dependents.
  • C. Revocable Living Trust: A revocable living trust is a written agreement which creates an entity to handle the assets put into the trust. In that agreement, you identify:
      1. Who receives the benefit of the trust assets.
      2. Who will manage the trust assets.
      3. Terms for distributing and managing the trust assets

IV. Deciding Which Documents You Need

Consider your needs. You may only want to draft incapacity documents, or you may only want a will. If you own real estate, you may want to do all of them.
Some documents can be used to perform multiple purposes. Additionally, appointments of persons to perform similar or overlapping duties should be made so as to avoid conflict or confusion.

V. Let Us Help You

There is no charge for an initial consultation where we can decide what the best and most effective personal estate planning strategy you need!

Answer All Of Your Questions By Speaking With A Lawyer

A bankruptcy or estate plan is complex and requires extensive legal knowledge. Call our proven La Mesa, California attorney at 619-299-2199 or fill out the contact form.

I am a debt relief agency. I help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.