Is Bankruptcy Your Best Option? Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Is Bankruptcy Your Best Option? Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Deciding whether or not to file for bankruptcy for your debt is a hard choice to face. In some situations, it may seem like the only way out of debt. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy will improve short-term quality of life, but it can also damage your future credit as well as your reputation. There are both good and bad outcomes when you file. Filing this chapter of bankruptcy provides for liquidation of nonexempt property and distribution of goods to debtors. Let’s go over the good and the bad results of Chapter 7 bankruptcy in more detail:

The Bad Outcomes or “Cons” of Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Here are some of the downsides of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

If you do file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it will stay on your credit score for some time. It can remain on your credit report for up to a total of 10 years. This may make it harder to get approval for anything from a car purchase to a small bank loan.

You can lose property that you own that is not protected by bankruptcy exemptions, and that property could be sold by the bankruptcy trustee. You may also lose your luxury possessions if not protected by an available exemption.

You may lose all of your existing credit cards.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may make it more difficult to get a mortgage if you do not already have one.

Making the decision to declare bankruptcy right now might make it harder to do so later should something worse come along. Example: If you complete a filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you cannot declare Chapter 7 again for eight years. This eight-year countdown begins from the date you last filed.

Bankruptcy filing will not relieve you of your responsibility to pay alimony and/or child support.

Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not eliminate most of your student loan debt.

You may still be obligated to pay some of your debts, such a mortgage lien, even after your bankruptcy proceedings have been completed.

If you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy for relief but have an excess of income at your disposal, the court may request you to convert your case from a Chapter 7 to a Chapter 13. Doing this would change your plan to be free from most debts within four to eight months to a plan that would require you to repay your debts over the course of three to five years.

The Good Outcomes or “Pros” of Bankruptcy Chapter 7

Now let’s go over some of the benefits of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

Even though a bankruptcy stays on your credit for years, the time to complete the process under Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually takes only 3-6 months. If you decide against filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy when necessary, it could lead to missed debt payments, defaults, and lawsuits hurting your credit further. This situation may be more complicated to explain to a future lender than bankruptcy.

Most states have generous exemptions that allow you to keep a lot of what you own. Sometimes the exemptions allow more coverage to keep your property than you actually need. You also get to keep the salary you earn and the property you buy after you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

You might also be able to get new lines of credit within a time frame of one to three years after filing bankruptcy, but it may be credit with a higher interest rate.

There are lenders out there that specialize in lending to bad risks. This may seem like an unfair tag to put on someone who has taken a step in solving financial issues, but you can use one of these lenders if you need to.

Yes, you can only file Chapter 7 bankruptcy once every eight years, but you can always file a Chapter 13 if another issue hits you before that eight years is up. You can file a Chapter 13 four years after filing a Chapter 7.

Filing for bankruptcy will get rid of many of your financial obligations, including some Internal Revenue and Franchise Tax Board debt. However, keep in mind that only a family court order can suspend alimony or child support responsibilities.

If you have filed for bankruptcy, it will prevent your lenders from aggressive collection, meaning the daily phone calls will cease and the letters will stop arriving in the mail.

If you received a Chapter 13 discharge in good faith after paying at least 70% of your unsecured debt, the eight-year bar to file a Chapter 7 does not apply.

If you do not owe money on any type of debts that survive your bankruptcy, the amount as well as the number of debts that a bankruptcy court can relive you from paying can be unlimited.

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not require that you need to have debts of any certain amount in order to file for relief. If even your case gets converted to Chapter 13, it can still improve your finances by giving you more time to pay off your debts. With Chapter 13, you get to keep all of your property as well.

Sometimes the best advice a bankruptcy attorney can give a client is not to file a bankruptcy. So be careful when hiring a bankruptcy lawyer who boasts about how many bankruptcy cases he or she files and/or ignores other possibilities for your situation.

Looking into bankruptcy options comes with many considerations, and you will need to look at every consequence to decide what is best for you and your assets. You should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your situation and learn more about how the bankruptcy laws can help you in your financial troubles. If you have more questions for bankruptcy in the state of California, check out Dan Higson’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy page or contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez today!

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

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21st Century Oncology Bankruptcy

21st Century Oncology Bankruptcy

The cancer treatment network known as 21st Century Oncology recently filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. This comes after years of falling revenue for the company, as well as a long list of ongoing lawsuits. The 21st Century Oncology bankruptcy will have a significant impact on the company’s finances, but should not adversely affect the healthcare provided for people who use its services.

Company Overview

21st Century Oncology, based out of Ft. Myers, Florida, provides cancer-related treatments such as radiation, urology, pathology, and other types of cancer treatments at 179 locations across the country. These treatment facilities have a large presence in Florida, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California.

Why Did 21st Century File?

Making the move to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy could put a stop to multiple lawsuits against the company that are now sitting in federal court. The 21stCentury spokesperson, Steven Goldberg, said, “The company intends to use the Chapter 11 process to assist with resolving the pending litigation.” He went on to say, “Beyond that, I can’t really speculate specifically on what the effect or outcome will be.”

There were rumors of a possible bankruptcy filing for the company in the months prior, especially after they failed to make a $20 million debt payment back in November of last year. The company’s last public financial disclosure, also in November 2016, reported a net loss at $92.2 million during a nine-month period. 21st Century has more than $1.1 billion in long-term debt, and the company only reported an annual revenue of $1 billion last year. Most of that revenue came from their North American operations.

What Does This Mean for 21st Century Oncology?

21st Century Oncology has stated that its plan to restructure would reduce its debt by about half of its long-term obligations. It does not expect the process of bankruptcy to interfere with existing clients, appointments, or treatment schedules.

21st Century Oncology asked a judge in Manhattan to approve the full payment of all employees’ salaries and benefits within the bankruptcy. Going forward, the company’s primary lenders have also agreed to provide $75 million in cash that will allow the business to continue on as usual.

Even though there is no immediate plan to lay off its workers, the change in operational structure while going through the bankruptcy could ultimately have large implications for the company’s 4,000 global employees. Most of these employees live and work in Florida. The company will continue to monitor staffing needs to make sure they continually meet the needs of the business.

How Did This Happen?

The company’s recent troubles began and quickly grew when an unauthorized third party accessed 2.2 million patient records back in 2015. 21stCentury notified the patients months later and placed the blame of late action on an ongoing criminal investigation. Within weeks, the notified patients from all across the country began filing lawsuits, and those cases are still pending.

Not too long after that security breach (but unrelated to it), the company did pay a combined $54.5 million to settle two other federal investigations into alleged billing fraud. These cases came to light when persons within the company alleged the claims that 21st Century Oncology and its doctors had been billing insurers for tests that were not medically needed. Several of the doctors named in the suit separately paid out their own multi-million dollar settlements to resolve their parts in the investigation.

With all of the pending lawsuits from patients and the security breach, as well as the billing fraud cases in federal court, it is no surprise that the company choose to file Chapter 11 in hopes of at least keeping the business afloat. It is a sure bet that the creditors for 21st Century Oncology bankruptcy will take a loss, but this is a small hit in comparison to the outcome if the company would have just closed up shop.

If you want more information on bankruptcies, estate planning, and personal injury law in California, check out Dan Higson’s other blogs here.

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

How to Fairly Distribute Assets of an Estate

How to Fairly Distribute Assets of an Estate

Planning your estate is never easy, and you may have a lot of questions. From personal belongings to money to real estate, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your affairs will be in order for your family when the time comes to distribute assets. You must determine what to leave, to whom, and the best way to distribute those belongings. There are four basic methods of asset distribution:

  • Gift assets before your death.
  • Establish a trust during your lifetime.
  • Distribution of assets after death through a will.
  • Distribution of assets after death outside of a will.

Based on your unique financial situation, each method will have its advantages and disadvantages. It may also be possible to combine these methods in order to accomplish your goal. No matter what you decide to do, you should discuss your options of distribution with an attorney that is knowledgeable in estate law to ensure that everything is set up correctly.

Asset Distribution Options

Once you have made a decision on how to distribute your assets, your next step is to determine who your beneficiaries will be and how you want to leave them your property. This is a personal decision and only you can make it. After all, these are the people that are important to you.

To Have a Will or Not to Have a Will

Making a will is a surefire way to ensure that the people you wish to inherit assets from your estate will actually do so. If there is no will, then the law of intestacy will come in and dictate how your estate gets distributed. If this happens, there is a chance that the decisions made by a probate court may not reflect what you ultimately would have wanted. If you are interested in what happens to an estate after someone dies without a will, check out this blog that details the process for California.

Leaving Everything to Your Spouse

If you wish to leave everything you own to your spouse, there are a couple of ways to accomplish this that will depend on the laws of your state. The first possibility is joint tenancy. This can be a complex option, but might be exactly what your estate needs. Joint tenancy allows for the surviving spouse to inherit all property outside of the will. Holding property as joint tenants avoids the probate process at the time of your death. However, it does not avoid probate at the later time of death of the surviving spouse.

The second option is a type of will that has been termed the “I Love You” will. This is a simple document that leaves all assets to the surviving spouse and then, for example, to the surviving children. Some common language designed to accomplish this may be something like: “Upon my death, I leave my entire estate to my spouse, and upon the death of my spouse, our assets go to our children.”

But, neither a joint tenancy nor a simple will that leaves everything to your spouse will ensure protection to your children. This is because your spouse could either spend or lose all the property, or might remarry and lose control of the assets. These situations could leave your children with no part of your estate whatsoever.

For couples who have divided their property ownership equally between themselves, a complex will is a great option. In this case, the will directs property, typically real estate but not personal residence, to the children with lifetime use and enjoyment for the surviving spouse during his/her lifetime.

Children from a Previous Marriage

What if you have children from a previous marriage and you want to make sure part of or all of your assets go to them? You can have this done in several different ways.

You may use your will and be specific of which gifts or shares of the estate go to them. You should also be mindful that this type of gift will bypass your spouse and, in some circumstances, may lead to family conflict.

Another option is setting up a trust. Trusts are often the best way for cutting financial ties between a current spouse and grown children from another marriage. One type of trust that is often used is known as a qualified terminable interest property (or QTIP). A QTIP is used to transfer assets to children from previous marriages. What this basically does is provide support for your surviving spouse during his or her lifetime, but then controls the distribution of the estate after your spouse’s death.

If you worry that your spouse will outlive the assets set aside in the trust (QTIP), you are able to stipulate the annual income from the residual go to him or her. Setting up a trust like this with a residuary stipulation probably will not eliminate all the tension that can arise in the family once you are deceased, but it may ultimately help remove confusion.

Equal Distribution to Your Children

What would happen if you passed away without a will and had children but no surviving spouse? In most cases, your estate would be divided equally between your children. If this is not what you want, then you need to make a will that clearly states what parts or percentages of your estate should go to each individual. For example, you may have three surviving children but feel that one child has a greater financial need than the other two. In such a scenario, it would be possible to leave 50% of your estate to one child and 25% each to the other two.

Your Parents Survive You

If you want any of your assets to go to your parents, it is important to make a will that expresses this desire. If there is no will set up, the court will most likely transfer a third or half of the assets in your name to your spouse and the rest over to your children. Depending on the state you live in, half of your assets may go to your surviving parent if you have no children. If your will specifies which parts of your estate you would like to go to your parents, it would also be a wise choice to have alternate beneficiaries in case your parents do not survive you.

Distributing Personal Belongings

Often, after someone passes away, the separating and sharing of personal items can become an emotionally involved issue amongst potential heirs. Personal possessions like jewelry, dishes, or other belongings may carry individual significance to each of your loved ones. It is possible to create a will that takes these considerations into account and specifies which items will be handed down to particular people. Otherwise, this task is often left up to the surviving family to decide and may become an unpleasant and contentious process. Consider the personalities involved among your potential heirs before deciding to let them fend for themselves after your death.

No matter how you look at it, planning your estate is never an easy task. It is best to talk to an attorney who specializes in estate law. It is also important to discuss your options with your family. Doing so could ensure that there are no surprises later and maximize the possibility that everyone will be content with your wishes.

This blog has focused on the creation of a will, but there are several other important documents to set up in a comprehensive estate plan. If you want more information, schedule an appointment with Ventura Estate Planning Attorney Dan Higson or check out his California estate planning checklist here.

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.

Basics of California Personal Injury Law

Basics of California Personal Injury Law

There are many types of injuries that can lead to a claim for personal injury, and every state has slightly different laws governing them. Here we will go over the basics of California personal injury law, including the time limit to file, compensation, and liability rules.

Statute of Limitations – Deadline to File

Each state sets a time limit in which the injured party can file the claim. There are different deadlines based on the type of claim being filed, and each deadline is called a statute of limitations.

In California, you are given a time limit of two years from the date of your injury to file a lawsuit for personal injury against the person you claim is responsible. Failure to file your claim in time may lead to your case being dismissed before you ever reach a trial on the facts of the underlying injury. If this happens, you will not be granted any compensation for your injury. It is very important to keep the statute of limitations in mind whenever you’re thinking about filing a claim.

If your injury was caused by the conduct of a government entity such as a city, state agency, or county, you have a reduced time limit of six months to file the claim. It also must stick to a unique and stricter set of rules.

Limits on Injury Damages in California

There are a few California laws that set limits on the types or amounts of damages that are deemed recoverable in a personal injury case. In most cases, California law prevents uninsured drivers from recovering any ‘non-economic’ damages after a car accident. This is true even if the other driver is completely at fault for the accident at issue. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering, physical impairment, inconvenience, and disfigurement.

There is one major exception to this rule limiting non-economic damages. The uninsured driver would be able to claim non-economic damages if he or she is in an accident where the at-fault driver was impaired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Along with the non-economic damages law outlined above, California also caps payment for non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. This is law is known as the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MIRCA), and the maximum payout in a medical malpractice case is $250,000.

Shared Fault Laws in California

In some cases of personal injury, the defendant may argue that you are actually at least partially at fault for causing the accident that creates the basis for your claim. If it turns out that you do share a portion of the blame for the accident, it will affect the total amount that you are compensated from the other party.

In cases of shared fault, the state of California goes with a ‘pure comparative negligence‘ rule. This means that the amount of compensation you receive is reduced by an amount that is equal to the percentage of fault for the accident. For example, if the court determines that you are 25% at fault for an accident, and damages are estimated at $100,000, you would only receive $75,000. The remaining $25,000 represents the percentage of fault that is attributed to you.

Courts in California are obligated to follow this rule while hearing injury lawsuits that make it to trial, but if you deal with an insurance adjuster outside the court, they could raise the issue of the comparative negligence rule while discussing settlements. In this case, you are able to negotiate what the impact of the rule should be on the claim. In this case, having an experienced personal injury lawyer like Dan Higson on your side could help you get the compensation you deserve.

“Strict” Liability on Dog Bites

California has a very specific set of rules concerning injuries caused by dog bites. For this kind of personal injury case, the owner is considered to be ‘strictly liable.’ This means that the owner of the dog is always responsible for their dog’s bites regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong. In other words, no amount of fault or negligence on the part of the owner needs to be shown in dog bite cases. In the event the dog bite took place in a public location or while the injured person was lawfully in a private place, the dog owner is completely liable, even if the owner doesn’t know of any previous aggressive tendencies of the dog. If you want more information on California dog bite cases, check out Dan Higson’s other blog here.

Personal Injury Resources

Here are several resources for more information for California personal injury claims:

Knowing these basics of personal injury law in California will help you as you set out to file your claim or prepare to defend against a personal injury case. Before you file, you need to make sure that you have a good case, and that you file it within the statute of limitations. There are many factors that can help or hurt your case, so it’s very helpful to get professional legal advice. Contact the Law Firm of Hathaway, Perrett, Webster, Powers, Chrisman & Gutierrez for help with your personal injury case. 805-644-7111

Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC is a debt relief agency pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528(a)(4) and assists individuals, families, and businesses file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.  This website is a communication under California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400.  No legal relationship is created by the use of this website and no legal advice is provided.  No guarantee or warranty is provided that your case or matter will achieve any particular result and testimonials and endorsements provided on this site do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction about your matter or case. This communication is made on behalf of Hathaway Perrett Webster Powers Chrisman & Gutierrez, APC and DANIEL A. HIGSON, State Bar No. 71212 is responsible for its contents.  All information contained on this website may be factually substantiated by a credible source, including data from the United States Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system.  Detailed data and information is available on request.