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Author Archives: Michael J. Berger

Factors Bankruptcy Courts Consider in Deciding Whether to Grant Relief from the Automatic Stay

The automatic stay is one of the most immediate and powerful benefits of filing for Chapter 7, 11 or 13 bankruptcy. While the automatic stay doesn’t erase debt, it puts a stop to creditors’ attempts to collect, giving the debtor some much-needed breathing room. Creditors can, however, petition the court for relief from the stay. […]

How Does Your Individual Filing for Bankruptcy Affect Your Spouse?

If you live in California, are married and are overwhelmed by debt, you may wonder if you should file for bankruptcy as an individual or jointly with your spouse. You may question, if you choose to go it alone, whether your spouse could lose some personal property, whether he or she can be held responsible […]

What to Do When Creditors Call for Payment After Your Bankruptcy Discharge

One of the most important protections you receive when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the automatic stay — a court order that immediately puts an end to most collection efforts by creditors and collection agencies. The stay goes into effect at the beginning of your case and stays in effect until the end. […]

Why is Bankruptcy Often Preferable to Debt Settlement and Consolidation?

When you’re facing crushing financial problems, you should explore all possible legal options for debt relief. But things can quickly get confusing with all the information (and misinformation) out there about debt consolidation and debt settlement. While these remedies can sometimes be useful alternatives to filing for bankruptcy, they may not be as effective in […]

How the Increased California Homestead Exemption Helps Protect Your Home in Bankruptcy

California’s law on debt collection protects homeowners by preventing creditors from reaching a portion of the equity in the debtor’s primary home. The homestead exemption, as it is known, has helped people avoid losing their homes in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But as real estate prices climbed over the years, the exemption amount stayed low — […]

Understanding the “Willful and Malicious Injury” Exception to Debt Discharge

The overall goal of bankruptcy is to give deserving debtors a fresh start by relieving them of most of their financial obligations. However, “most” does not mean “all.” The U.S. Bankruptcy Code lists several types of debts that are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Among these are debts incurred by inflicting “willful and malicious injury” upon […]

Weighing Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 as Bankruptcy Options for Small Business Owners

A small business depends on its goodwill and name recognition, which are viable assets only if the business stays in operation. If your company is having financial difficulty but could turn the corner to profitability with some help, restructuring your debt through bankruptcy could be your best option. Depending on your circumstances, a Chapter 11 […]

How Might the “Strong-Arm” Powers of the Trustee Affect Your Bankruptcy?

In the weeks and months prior to filing for bankruptcy, debtors may make payments to certain creditors for various reasons. If the bankruptcy trustee — the official who administers the case — concludes that a payment unfairly preferred one creditor over another, the trustee has the power to demand repayment of the money to the […]

Filing for Bankruptcy to Deal with Heavy Medical Debt

Medical debt is by far the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. A 2019 study found that 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies were tied to health care costs. Subsequently, COVID-19 threw millions of people out of their jobs and saddled them with virus-related medical bills. With COVID-related medical debt totaling somewhere between $60 […]

Costly Mistakes to Avoid Prior to Filing for Bankruptcy

When you’re in severe financial distress and considering bankruptcy, don’t let desperation overrule good judgment. Certain actions or omissions taken in the months leading up to filing for bankruptcy can hurt your chances for a successful outcome. Approaching things with a level head will help prevent costly mistakes that can come back to haunt you. […]

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