For many years, the lushness of the Salinas Valley along with the mildness of the Monterey County climate have made Salinas the “salad bowl of the world.” Many area families depend, directly or indirectly, on produce and agriculture. So, area residents know what it is like to lose almost everything due to an unexpected freeze, sudden economic downturn, or other uncontrollable event.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy was designed for people in these situations. Many times, a job loss, divorce, serious illness, or other financial storm comes along and financially devastates a family. Since most people in Salinas live from paycheck to paycheck, they do not have the resources to cope with these events. They often turn to credit cards and other unsecured loans, and that debt quickly gets out of control.
The diligent lawyers at Miranda, Magden & Miranda not only work hard to protect your financial future. We also communicate with you proactively throughout the entire process, so you are never in the dark.
Protecting Your Assets in a Chapter 7
Bankruptcy gives people a fresh start. To receive that fresh start, debtors must retain most or all of their assets. So, rather than liquidating assets to pay creditors, Chapter 7 bankruptcy protects these assets.
This protection begins with the Automatic Stay. In most cases, Section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code takes effect immediately. As long as the Automatic Stay remains in effect, moneylenders cannot pursue any adverse action against debtors.
Adverse action includes things like repossession, foreclosure, and wage garnishment. To do these things, the moneylender must obtain special permission from the bankruptcy judge. At Miranda, Magden & Miranda, our attorneys fight to keep that from happening.
Furthermore, most of your assets are exempt in Chapter 7. In most cases, the trustee (person who oversees the bankruptcy for the judge) cannot seize property like:
- Motor vehicles,
- Retirement accounts,
- Government benefits, including Social Security benefits, and
- Personal property.
An experienced attorney knows how to maximize your exemptions by accurately declaring their value. For example, most used cars have practically no economic value, despite their substantial emotional value.
Getting Your Fresh Start
Chapter 7 is the best way to shed unsecured debt that a family cannot possibly afford to pay. In a matter of months, the judge typically discharges most unsecured debt, including:
- Credit cards,
- Medical bills, and
- Payday loans.
Other unsecured debts are dischargeable in certain situations. For example, past-due income tax is usually dischargeable if the returns have been on file for at least two years and the debt is at least three years old.
At Miranda, Magden & Miranda, we do more than file paperwork. We take assertive action to help you get back on your feet. These actions include some advanced bankruptcy options, like the property redemption option, which can save you thousands of dollars.
We also help advise people on how to rebuild their credit ratings.
Contact a Proactive Lawyer
Chapter 7 can be the key to your family’s successful financial future. For a confidential consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Salinas, contact Miranda, Magden & Miranda LLP. We routinely handle matters in Monterey County and nearby jurisdictions.