Watch out for Complications
If the trustee suspects that you own nonexempt property the trustee may try to question your estimation of the value in order to determine whether he/she can take that property from you. This may be especially tricky with houses that have some equity close over just over the allowed homestead exemption. In recent months due to the decline in real estate values this has become a lesser issue. The trustee may ask you where you obtained the figures for the value of the house and ask you if you have an appraisal. There is no clear rule whether an appraisal of the house is required in all cases. Often trustees seem to accept a less formal value estimation if it is clear that there will be no nonexempt equity in the house. The trustee may ask you how you came up with certain exemptions for your properties. The California exemption system in California Code of Civil Procedure (Paragraph 703-704) can be complicated in its application and it is an area where self-filing petitioners often make mistakes. If you are unsure of how much property you can exempt it makes sense to consult a bankruptcy attorney who will be able to help you keep as much property as possible.
It is important to check that the trustee “closed” the meeting and this is noted in the court’s docket. The closing of the meeting triggers a thirty-day period in which the creditors have the right to file objections to your exemptions. If the file has not been closed after the meeting contact the trustee or a bankruptcy lawyer to get the file closed immediately.
Non-lawyer bankruptcy services
Even if you use the help of a non-lawyer bankruptcy service you are responsible for the paperwork. Trustees are especially suspicious of some of the non-lawyer bankruptcy services and questions petitioners if they received any legal advice from these services. This is strictly prohibited by law.
After the Creditors’ Meeting
If the trustee has reason to believe that you own nonexempt property or property that is covered only partially by a statutory exemption, the trustee or a creditor may file an objection with the court. The court will schedule a hearing at which you have to explain why you think the property should be exempt according to the California exemption laws. A bankruptcy attorney who knows the local rules and the practices of the trustee in most cases will foresee potential issues with your property and try to settle these issues early on in the process.
We are Vallejo Bankruptcy Lawyers with the mission to help people in need. We serve all of Solano County. We have offices in Walnut Creek. We also serve our clients in Concord, Antioch, Pittburgh Pay Point and Brentwood.