A bankruptcy is a legal proceeding that allows you to eliminate all, or a percentage, of your debts. When you file a bankruptcy, it immediately gives you protection under the federal bankruptcy laws and prohibits creditors from taking any further collection action against you. Once your have bankruptcy is discharge, you are no longer compelled to pay any of the debts that were discharged in the by the bankruptcy court.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:

Chapter 7 bankruptcies are usually best if you do not have a considerable amount of assets, like substantial equity available in your home or other investments. This is because the Bankruptcy Trustee may liquidate your assets if it is not protected by your state’s bankruptcy exemptions. A liquidation can occur if and when the Trustee converts your assets to cash for distribution to your creditors. However, the vast majority of Chapter 7 cases are considered “no-asset” cases and no property is taken. It is important to consult with a local bankruptcy attorney to determine which assets can be protected.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:

Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to repay your creditors at a reduced percentage of your debt based on what you are able to repay. It also forces your creditors to accept repayment according to the terms set forth in a plan approved by the bankruptcy court. The main eligibility requirement for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that you have a steady source of monthly income and an ability to repay at least a portion of your debts.

Estate Planning and Probate

You cannot be sure what your future holds, and you want to be as well prepared as possible. You need to start with an estate plan tailored to fit your specific needs. Life can be unpredictable. Careful estate planning will provide you with peace of mind, ensuring that your affairs are in order regardless of what life may bring. Having an attorney assist you with probate administration allows you to focus on important personal matters at a difficult time by minimizing the attention you must devote to these legal matters. As an Estate Planning and Probate Attorney, Stephen M. Goodman helps all his client consider their needs, desires, and options under California and federal tax law.

Living Trusts

A living trust, also known as a Revocable Living Trust or a Family Trust is a legal document that holds title or ownership to all your real and personal property and other assets. When you create a Revocable Living Trust, you must transfer ownership of your assets to the living trust. Transferring assets is typically called "funding." When you transfer title, you do not relinquish ownership. You can still buy, sell, borrow, or transfer against these assets. You can be the trustee of your own living trust there by keeping full control over all property held in the trust. The main benefit to making a living trust is that all property in the trust does not have to go through the probate process. Probate is the court-supervised process of paying all of your outstanding debts and distributing the remainder of your property to the people who you desire to inherit it. The average probate can last for months or even years before the beneficiaries can get anything and by that time, there is less for them to receive due to probate fees. In many cases, lawyer and administration fees have eaten up about 10% of the property.


Conservators have court-ordered authority and responsibility to manage the affairs of individuals who can no longer make their own decisions about their finances or health care. If the incapacitated person had planned ahead and created durable powers of attorney for asset management and health care, that person will not need a conservator because the individual named in those documents would take charge. If a court appoints someone to take care of financial matters, that person is usually called the "conservator of the estate," while a person who is in charge of medical and personal decisions is the "conservator of the person." An incapacitated person may need just one type of representative, or both. The same person can be appointed to handle both jobs. Both types of conservatorships are supervised by and held accountable to the court. When a conservatorship is needed right away, the court may appoint a temporary conservator until a permanent conservatorship is appointed. The request must be filed as part of a general conservatorship mater, and can be filed either at the same time or soon after the general conservatorship case has been opened. The main duties of a temporary conservatorships is to arrange for the temporary care, protection, and support of the conservatee, and thereby protecting the conservatee’s finances and property.

Tax Litigation

There is nothing worse than having the Internal Revenue Service or any other taxing authority such as the California State Board of Equalization (SBE), the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), or the California Employment Development Department (EDD) chasing after you. As a former IRS auditor, Stephen M. Goodman understands that dealing with tax problems, whether it is a tax audit, by the IRS or FTB,, a California sales tax audit by the State Board of Equalization or a payroll tax problem with the Employment Development Department, can be a very stressful experience. Therefore, he will work not only to minimize the taxes owed by his clients, but also reduce the clients stress by taking the weight of dealing with the taxing authorities on a day-to-day basis off their shoulders.

Corporate Planning

If you operate a small business, professional practice, or you are planning to start a new venture, it is important to organize it in such as to set you up to succeed financially and protect you from legal problems. Certain laws that affect businesses can change quickly; Stephen M. Goodman understands the current law and can help you leverage it to your advantage, while avoiding pitfalls. He can advise you on the pros and cons of different types of entities and help you make choices that will suit your business model and establish it properly.