Monday, December 31, 2012

California Bankruptcy Exemptions 2013

California bankruptcy exemptions increased on January 1st thanks to California Assembly Bill 929. The following reflects new amounts included in system two :

Homestead:  $24,060

Motor Vehicles: $4,800

Household Items: $600

Wildcard: $1,280

Tools of Trade:  $7,175

Life Insurance: $12,860

Personal Injury: $24,060

I am pleased to see the Tools of the Trade increase is a healthy one. (it was $2,200) There were some changes to system one as well. Be sure and discuss this with your lawyer to determine which system is right for you. If you're still looking for legal representation, check out my tips for finding a bankruptcy attorney.

For those of you who are planning your 2013 bankruptcy later this year:  know that federal and California bankruptcy exemptions will be going up again, but not until April. So, if you're looking for further California bankruptcy exemptions amounts (2013), I will post them here once they become available.

For comparison purposes, here are the last year's California bankruptcy exemptions.

Hope this helps you with your planning, whether your choose these exemptions or go with the federal ones.

Best of luck and a fresh start to all in 2013. Everyone have a safe and happy New Year!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Years Resolutions 2013

New Year's Resolutions 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, the air is thick with year-end vows to lose weight, quit smoking, and get a better job. Other popular 2013 New Year's Resolutions include drinking less, recycling more, and becoming physically fit through exercise, a healthier diet, or both. These are all admirable goals, but most people won't meet them. So, why make a wish list for the New Year that you probably won't fulfill? 

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. In my experience, they can do more harm than good by the time February rolls around and not a single one of them has been kept. Failure to accomplish your goals coupled with the extra burden just put on yourself after a stressful holiday season can leave you feeling disappointed, inadequate, and more stressed than ever. (Avoiding stress, by the way, is also a popular New Year's resolution - do you see the irony in that?)

But, how are you going to reach your goals, if not through an annual commitment to change? Well, I propose making life resolutions instead of yearly ones. With life resolutions, your goals become easier to achieve, not only because they will always be on your mind, but also because you have given yourself some leeway in reaching them. Rather than having a month or so to prove yourself to yourself, you've got the rest of your life to get it right. Break down larger goals into smaller ones, and celebrate each step forward. This will allow you to gradually and successfully lose weight, wean yourself off of smoking, or start exploring better job opportunities.

Oh, and don't forget to include getting out of debt in your life resolutions, whether that means bankruptcy or not. If you're still in a position where you are able to, start chipping away at that debt or learn about your debt relief options. Even if you aren't going to file bankruptcy, it is a good idea for you to get a free consultation with an attorney, who can help you get a better picture of your financial situation. If you don't know how to go about this, read my tips for choosing the right bankruptcy attorney.

The life resolution I am making is to post more to this blog. Like the debtor who can still afford it, I am going to chip away at my blog. I make myself no promises as far as the timeline. I am not going to guarantee myself that I'll make 15 posts a month. That way, when I make ten posts a month, I'll be free to celebrate the increase of my writings rather than cry over the five that got away.

As you ponder your New Year's Resolutions in 2013, don't be so hard on yourself. You can accomplish your goals…just maybe not all of them in the month of January.

Wishing you a fresh start (whatever that may mean for you) in 2013,


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Personal Bankruptcy Myths

Time to talk about personal bankruptcy myths. As always, please don't take my word as gospel. Talk to a bankruptcy attorney about your own particular situation. Read my tips to help you find a bankruptcy attorney before you meet.

There is so much bad bankruptcy information on the web, that it needs to be debunked somewhat regularly. Here are some of the most common myths about bankruptcy:

1. The bankruptcy laws of 2005 made it nearly impossible to get a personal bankruptcy discharge. This is just not true. Yes, the laws changed in 2005 to help prevent bankruptcy fraud, but the vast majority of folks will still be able to get a fresh start, whether it's through a chapter 7 or a chapter 13 bankruptcy.
2. Bankruptcy will ruin your credit. Okay, this one isn't so much a myth as it is a ridiculous notion for many people. Of course, bankruptcy can ruin healthy credit. But, if you are considering bankruptcy, the chances are great that your credit is already is already bad....maybe really bad. Bankruptcy may actually improve your credit score.

3. You can't afford a bankruptcy lawyer. Yes, you can. Many lawyers will let you pay them off over time. Again, refer to my bankruptcy lawyer tips for more information.

4. If you pay off certain credit cards prior to filing, you can keep those cards open. Nope. It's highly unlikely that any creditor will keep your credit open once they catch wind of your bankruptcy, even if you don't owe them anything. What's more, if you make what is called a preferential payment to any one creditor in an effort to not include them in your creditor matrix, the trustee can actually go after that money if it's over a certain amount. What that means is that it can be retrieved and put back into your estate to be distributed differently than you had intended. 

5. You can run up the balances on your credit cards shortly before filing. DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT! That is fraud, and you will get caught. There are guidelines between your last charges and when you should file. This is another reason you need to talk to an experienced attorney.

6. Your stuff is worth a lot. Well, it could be, I suppose. But most people value their belongings unrealistically.  Your two year old couch is not worth what you paid for it. It is worth considerably less. Why is this important? Because your belongings will determine what your assets as a whole are worth, and that could make the difference between whether you can file a chapter 7, and in what you get to keep. It's possible for many people to keep everything they own (I did), and a lawyer can give you guidance on how to self-appraise your loot.

Those are some of the most common personal bankruptcy myths. There are more, and perhaps we'll get to them later. The point of this post is to not believe everything you read on the web about bankruptcy.  Find out how to get a free consultation with an attorney, and find out the straight dope for yourself. 

Wishing a fresh start to all in need,


Monday, December 24, 2012

Bankruptcy Attorney Search in 2013

If you're conducting a bankruptcy attorney search, I just want to take a moment to remind you that you are not alone. It's hard to consider bankruptcy at any time of year, let alone around the holidays. So, if you're feeling overwhelmed by your situation, keep in mind that it's only temporary.

Nearly four years out of bankruptcy now, my life is in good shape, and I no longer have the stress of trying to figure out how to pay bills that couldn't possibly be paid. My bankruptcy discharge was truly a fresh start, and I couldn't be more grateful that I've had this wonderful opportunity to start over.

I wish everyone a fresh start for the new year if that's what is needed. And, if you're feeling blue because it's looking sparse underneath the Christmas tree, remember that it's not material things that matter this holiday season. It's loving and being with the ones you love that is most appreciated.

Good luck with your bankruptcy attorney search. May you experience a peaceful and joyous year end and new year.