Filing for bankruptcy is often a good way to take control of your financial life, but tracking down the information you need can be tricky—especially for your particular state. In this article, you’ll learn about where to get the official bankruptcy forms, California means testing information, and credit counseling providers, as well as how to find your local California bankruptcy court. You’ll also learn about the property you can protect in a California bankruptcy.
(For an overview, start with What Is the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?)
Because bankruptcy is a form-driven area of law, you’ll disclose all aspects of your financial situation on official bankruptcy forms. Downloadable, fillable versions are on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court forms web page.
Although bankruptcy is governed by federal law, you’ll still use some California law and follow particular California procedures. Here’s what you need to know to complete the forms and file your matter.
California, being a large state, has four bankruptcy courts, most of which have multiple locations serving various geographical areas. Each office often has a webpage where you can access information about the following things:
Click on the district to go to the court’s home page.
Be sure to check your California court website for local forms and to review information particular to your California court, as well. Reviewing the “forms” page or the “debtors” information section is often a good place to start.
Some state-specific information appears on the U.S. Trustee website: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.
You don’t lose all of your property when you file for bankruptcy. In fact, California is one of the few states that gives you two separate lists of assets you can exempt (protect). You can’t mix and match between the two exemption schemes, however, so you’ll want to scrutinize each and select the list that will work best for you.
If you have nonexempt property that you can’t protect with an exemption, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee will sell it for the benefit of the creditors. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtor must repay creditors an amount equal to the nonexempt property value (and possibly more).
(Learn what property you can protect in California Bankruptcy Exemptions.)
This overview provides information needed in a bankruptcy case, but it isn’t an exhaustive list. Because each matter is unique, it’s prudent to meet with a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer.