Some people come in because someone told them to come in but they are in denial of their situation. Most consumers know that they are in trouble. They are getting the phone calls and the letters, they have been served with a lawsuit or they are being threatened with foreclosure of a house or repossession of a vehicle, and they are pretty charged up emotionally. They are stressing out, they feel like they have nowhere to turn and there is a lot of misinformation about bankruptcy and what it can do for them.
When they come in, they are afraid and sometimes embarrassed and so really my job at that point is to look at them and offer to protect them, without judgment, and to let them know I am very glad they came in. I tell them, “I am here to help you and I want you to understand that it is all okay and we are going to get your life back to where you want it to be.” That means a life without the phone calls, the stress and the fear, which is the biggest part because they do not understand what is going on; they have not been to law school or studied bankruptcy law, so all they know is what they have heard or bits and pieces that they have read on the Internet. They have never sat down with someone and asked them to explain everything and they are generally in a difficult kind of emotional state. However, once they meet with me and I explain their options to them and how the whole systems and process works, they then they leave my office in a much different emotional state, normally much calmer and in control of their emotions and life.
How Public Is Filing for Bankruptcy in California?
When you file bankruptcy, you are filing a court petition in United States Bankruptcy Court, which is a part of the federal court system. When you file, everyone listed as a creditor will get a notice. Your employer will not be automatically notified, nor will your family and the rest of the world will not be magically notified. There are data companies that will buy the court listing and the address information of the people who file bankruptcy because once you get through the bankruptcy process they sell your information to people who give credit to people who just got through bankruptcy.
If you are applying for a new job and they want to run a background check and pull your credit report, obviously they will see the bankruptcy. However, if you fear that everyone will find out that generally does not happen. Generally speaking, very few people will actually find out that you have filed bankruptcy. The only parties that will normally find out will be all of your creditors, bill collectors and all the people that are making your life miserable.
What is the General Impact of Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
I can give you an example of a very nice couple who walked into my office about a month ago; the husband was stressing out, the wife was in tears, they were afraid of losing their cars and their jobs and they were afraid of having their wages garnished because they were served with a lawsuit. They didnot know what to do, they were afraid and they had all this misinformation. It took me about twenty to thirty minutes just to calm them down, but once I did and made them understand that I am here to help, they were okay and then I went through the process with them.
They looked at me and said they understood and they then retained me at that point, so I gave them a list of the documents and information that I needed and they brought it all back to me. We went over it and prepared their petition and schedules, then they came in and signed them, and they were smiling when they walked out the door because they felt as if a big weight had been lifted from their shoulders. They knew where they were headed financially, they knew their lives were improving and they were thrilled because all the phone calls, letters, lawsuits and all of that insanity was about to stop.
They are a good representation of most people who come in to see me in one way or another and by the time they file and get through their creditor meeting, which is about a month after you file, they are pretty much home free. Most of my clients are really happy once this is all done and they can move forward with their lives and just enjoy life the way it is supposed to be enjoyed.
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