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santa rosa california law firm

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost to file bankruptcy?

The answer depends on what chapter and how complicated your case is. Our law firm will quote you a fee during the initial consultation. In general, the total cost for a chapter 7 bankruptcy case not involving a business is a little less than $2,000 including the court filing fee and the initial cost to file chapter 13 bankruptcy is about $2,500 including the court filing fee. (Most chapter 13 attorneys ask for additional fees to be paid through the chapter 13 plan. The additional fees will be paid by the bankruptcy trustee from your payments to him. The amount of these additional fees varies depending on the complexity of the case.) However, in very simple or very involved cases we may quote different fees.

Do all of the fees have to be paid at once?

No, and there is no required payment schedule. The timing of the payments is completely up to you. Just keep in mind that our attorney cannot file the case until the full amount is paid. (In chapter 13, that means the up-front portion only.)

Can I refer creditors to you to stop the phone calls?

Yes. Once you sign a retainer agreement and start making payments toward the fees you are free to refer creditors to Mr. Jeffrey. In fact, we generally recommend that you do that, although sometimes Attorney Thomas Jeffrey will recommend that you wait. Unless the creditor has filed a lawsuit or may foreclose or repossess a vehicle, that usually will stall creditors long enough to get your case filed.

How quickly can my case be filed?

If it’s urgent, we can make arrangements to file an emergency case. Bankruptcy Attorney Thomas Jeffrey always wants to be available to do this when it’s necessary. If you have an important deadline such as a foreclosure sale on a home or a possible repossession of a vehicle, make sure to talk to Mr. Jeffrey beforehand to make sure that we will be able to file in time.

Can I keep my car and my home?

In many cases yes, but we have to know the values of all of your property to answer in your case. Assuming the values are within certain limits, you can keep your home, your car, and any other property that is collateral for a loan. Usually that is done by continuing to make the regular loan payments.

Do I have to go to court?

Usually not. You have to attend a creditor meeting which isn’t in court. Our attorney will be at the meeting with you. Most of our clients are surprised at how simple and quick the meeting is. If there are any court hearings, we usually can handle it without you having to be there.

Do I have to explain how my debts were incurred or why I’m filing bankruptcy?

This is rarely something that comes up. When it does it’s usually about how a particular debt or debts were incurred, not why you’re facing financial hardships.

Will the fact that I filed bankruptcy be published in a newspaper?

With few exceptions, bankruptcy filings are public documents that anyone can view, but it is rare to have it published in a newspaper. In our experience, the only cases that are published locally involve a well-known business or person or a case with enough notoriety that it is of interest to the general public (e.g., someone who defrauded a large number of investors). There used to be a small local publication (The Daily Herald Recorder) that published bankruptcy filings but they stopped publishing in 2012.  When last checked, no other local publication was available that listed bankruptcy filings.

How long will it be on my credit report?

10 years. (It’s a common misbelief that it’s 7 years.) However, our law firm has many clients who have been able to get credit including home loans and car loans soon after bankruptcy. In fact, most clients get many solicitations from credit card companies after their bankruptcy is over. (Most are secured accounts or have very high interest, so be careful.) Mr. Jeffrey has had clients tell him that they had credit scores over 700 less than 2 years after their bankruptcy. Although the guidelines for lenders certainly have changed over time, most federally insured home loans require that the borrower wait 2 years after a bankruptcy before they can qualify.

What happens to home loans in bankruptcy?

If you want to keep the home, all you have to do is stay current on the payments on the loans that are not eliminated in the bankruptcy. If you're behind on those payments, chapter 13 usually is the best option because it gives you time to get the payments current or to do a loan modification agreement with the lender. This works more often than you might expect. Bankruptcy laws generally don't allow us to force the lender to modify the loan, but we have had many chapter 13 cases that successfully stalled foreclosure long enough that our clients were able to get a loan modification agreement. Second loans and other junior liens against your home can be eliminated entirely if the value of the home is no more than the balance(s) of the senior loan(s) at the time of filing your bankruptcy.

I've heard or read that I may not be able to file bankruptcy because my income is more than the local median income. Is that true?

Usually not. If the person's income is more than the median, then they have to complete more complicated income and expense calculations and pass those in order to qualify for chapter 7. That requirement does not apply to other chapters of bankruptcy. Most clients who have consulted Mr. Jeffrey with income over the median still qualified for chapter 7. Those clients who didn't qualify for chapter 7 were able to file chapter 13.

Ask Attorney Thomas Jeffrey a question

If you have a question, feel free to submit it here. Some questions are simple to answer but probably most require that we first do the initial consultation. Mr. Jeffrey will let you know either way.


(707) 543-8530

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Law Office of Thomas Jeffrey
1400 N. Dutton Avenue, #21
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
P: (707) 543-8530
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Santa Rosa California Office Location