How To File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
This article was co-authored by Michael R. Lewis. Michael R. Lewis is a retired corporate executive, entrepreneur, and investment advisor in Texas. He has over 40 years of experience in business and finance, including as a Vice President for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. He has a BBA in Industrial Management from the University of Texas at Austin.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 93% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 397,381 times.
For many people who are completely over their head in debt, filing for bankruptcy can provide relief and a fresh financial start. Most United States citizens are able to file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This article discusses Chapter 7, in which a court settles most of the debts involved, partially by selling off the debtor’s unprotected assets and distributing the proceeds to creditors. XResearch source Although the process may seem complicated, with proper legal advice or research it is reasonably simple to navigate.
Objections By The Trustee
The most common objections raised involve acts by the borrower to hinder, delay, or defraud a creditor. An example of this may include, gratuitously transferring assets to a family member within 1 year of filing for bankruptcy. See In Re Emmett. To deny a discharge under these grounds, there must be proof the debtor acted with fraudulent intent. Merely proving the events occurred is not enough. The court must provide sufficient evidence the debtor acted with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud a creditor. See In Re Miller. In determining whether or not the debtor acted with the requisite intent, the court will consider many factors, such as:
- Lack or inadequacy of value received by the debtor in exchange for the assets given
- Relationship between the parties
- Financial condition of the debtor both before and after the transaction
- Existence of a pattern or series of suspicious transactions
- General chronology of the events and transactions
The Good The Bad And The Ugly About Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy has the potential to give you a fresh start once you are out from under your debts, and they have been discharged by the bankruptcy. Additionally, filing for bankruptcy with an automatic stay on any collection actions, lawsuits, or judgments already in process. Because this is a liquidation bankruptcy, there is no provision for catching up on payments such as mortgages or car notes. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida generally takes about three to four months from filing to discharge. The principal drawback is that your nonexempt property is liquidated to pay your debtors as much as possible.
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My Name Is On My Mother’s Checking Account Will They Take Her Money
The court looks to see the source of the funds in the account. That is, whose money is it really? If the money in your mother’s account came from her retirement checks, and your name is on the account just to be able to write checks for her in the event she is unable to do so, the court will not touch it. If you are in this situation, we can report to the court that you have “legal title only” to the account but the “equitable title” lies with your parent. But if you deposited some of your own money into the account, your deposits are subject to seizure.
How To File Bankruptcy Yourself
It’s no secret that as our economy dangles through the doldrums individuals will continue to seek financial solutions to troubled-times – such as how to file bankruptcy. Thousands of Americans are turning to bankruptcy and many of those who do choose are choosing to file bankruptcy for themselves. “How to File Bankruptcy” is a popular subject on the Internet, libraries, and elsewhere. “How to File Bankruptcy Yourself” is also a popular topic among consumers who are seeking to save money by filing bankruptcy themselves.
To review debt relief alternatives to bankruptcy in Florida and to get a free debt relief analysis and savings estimate, simply answer a few online questions. It’s free and there’s no obligation.
This article addresses these important – money saving, finance saving topics. It will share the basic ins and outs of self-directed bankruptcy filing, the various dynamics to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, and will touch briefly on Chapter 11 Bankruptcy – which is generally applies to businesses rather than individuals.
As bankruptcy becomes a viable alternative – in some cases the only alternative – for many financially-strapped Americans, it’s important now more than ever – for those choosing to go it themselves – to take all the proper steps. Failure to do so could be costly – in time, money, and peace of mind.
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Am I Eligible To File Bankruptcy In Florida
If you are a legal resident of the State of Florida you may be eligible to file Bankruptcy. The complete answer to this question is determined by how long you have lived in Florida. In order to file Bankruptcy in Florida, you need to have lived in the State of Florida 91 days in the last 6 months . If not then it must be determined where you need to file and if you can file elsewhere. For instance if you relocated from within the United States or from another country, the Bankruptcy rules, requirements and thus eligibility, will be different.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Most people who file for bankruptcy in Florida will have to print about 23 different forms if theyâre filing on their own plus whatever local Florida bankruptcy forms their district requires. If you donât have a printer at your house, you should go to a local Staples or Kinkos and try to print your forms there.
You can also try to ask around if a friend has a printer or contact your local Florida public librarian to let them know that youâre filing bankruptcy in Florida and need their assistance with printing. Unfortunately, the Florida Bankruptcy Courts donât allow filers to use the printers at the courthouse. If you have a bankruptcy attorney, theyâll file your bankruptcy forms with the court electronically, so you donât have to worry about printing out the forms yourself.
Myth: You Get To Keep Your Stuff
One of the most popular reasons for filing for Chapter 13 is to keep oneâs assets like a home or a car. âChapter 13 is generally a âkeep your stuffâ chapter,â says Bert Benham, a Memphis bankruptcy attorney.
The reality, however, is that because roughly two-thirds of Chapter 13 cases fail, most of the time Chapter 13 does not help you keep your property. Desperate Chapter 13 filers can spend years and multiple bankruptcy cases trying to save a car from repossession.
Take this story of a Memphis resident, interviewed by Pro Publica, who filed for Chapter 13 four times in the past 7 years to hold on to her car:
The first time, she lost her job a year and a half after filing, and her case was dismissed after she fell behind. She immediately filed again to keep the car for job interviews, using unemployment benefits to make the payments until she couldnât. She then filed a third time.
Finally in 2014, after her third dismissal, she got a new part-time job paying $11 an hour and filed again. She still has two years of payments to go and will have spent most of her 30âs trying to hold on to her car. âIf Iâd known,â she said, âI just would have let my car go.â
Considering how few Chapter 13 cases result in discharge, how much you are willing to pay for the slim chance of protecting your property in Chapter 13?
Do I Need A Lawyer For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy law does not require borrowers to hire an attorney for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, it is highly recommended to obtain an attorney to assist with the case. Without full knowledge of the law, you may encounter significant pitfalls. For instance, you may be accused of perjury, fraudulent transfers, and denied a discharge of debt.
It is important to highlight that a Chapter 7 case cannot be dismissed by the borrower. Therefore, if consequences arise in your case, you cannot avoid them with a dismissal. For instance, if the trustee wants to liquidate assets, they can despite your request to dismiss the case.
A Chapter 7 attorney in Tampa should have a full understanding of the law and a working relationship with your trustee. While it is not required, an attorney can help to ease the burden and ensure you obtain a fresh start. If you are considering bankruptcy, contact a lawyer to schedule a consultation.
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Contact An Experienced Jacksonville Bankruptcy Lawyer
Our attorneys and staff have extensive experience with all aspects of bankruptcy code. Whether to file bankruptcy and, if you do, whether to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 will depend on your unique circumstances. Contact us at 904.725.0822 for a personal and confidential consultation.
Request a Free Consultation
Student Loans In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Student loans are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy unless the debtor can demonstrate that loan payments impose undue hardship. To eliminate a student loan under the undue hardship exception, the debtor must file a separate motion with the bankruptcy court and appear before the bankruptcy judge with evidence of hardship. As a practical matter, it is difficult for bankruptcy debtors to demonstrate undue hardship unless the debtor is physically unable to work.
Most bankruptcy courts use the Brunner test in determining hardship. Under this test, to discharge student loans in bankruptcy, the debtor must show:
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Will Filing Bankruptcy In Florida Erase My Debts
Bankruptcy wipes out many bills, like , overdue utility payments, medical bills, personal loans, and more. You can even get rid of a mortgage or car payment if you’re willing to give up the house or car that secures the debt.
But you can’t discharge all debts. Nondischargeable debts, like domestic support arrearages and recent tax debt, won’t go away in bankruptcy, and student loans aren’t easy to wipe out . You’ll want to be sure that bankruptcy will discharge enough bills to make it worth your while.
Consult A Dedicated Florida Bankruptcy Attorney In Cape Coral Or Fort Myers
At Martin Law Firm, we pride ourselves on looking after ordinary peoples needs, just like our family who work hard and care about their financial future and their loved ones future.
We provide a free consultation to help you learn more about the complexities of bankruptcy, which type of proceeding may be right for you, and the steps you need to take. Our seasoned team of legal professionals can guide you through every phase of the process, ensuring that you understand your rights and what is happening with your case. Call our Fort Myers and Cape Coral, Florida bankruptcy attorneys at or contact us online to get started. We represent people in Naples, Miami, Tampa, and other South Florida cities going through bankruptcy under Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13.
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Get More Time To Pay Off Debts With Chapter 13 In Florida
Under federal law, there are a lot of different forms of bankruptcy available to different parties. However, private citizens generally have two options: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges debts, but often forces you to sell off any assets on which you still owe money. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, restructures your debt to give you more time to pay it off.
There are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify for Chapter 13 in Florida, and deciding to file for this type of bankruptcy should never be taken lightly. There may be other options that are better suited for your situation that will have a lighter impact on your credit score and the rest of your life.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney in Florida can help you examine all of your legal options to help you through this difficult time in your life. If you and your attorney decide that filing for bankruptcy is the best option, your lawyer can help you collect the proper documentation and file the right forms to make sure the process goes smoothly. If there are any issues, an experienced lawyer can make sure those issues are taken care of quickly and efficiently.
At Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, our legal team has helped members of our Treasure Coast community file for Chapter 13 in Florida for over 30 years. We know how distressing this time in your life can be, and our goal is to help the bankruptcy process go as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Will Bankruptcy Affect My Credit
Great question! One of the biggest misconceptions about bankruptcy is that it will ruin your credit forever. That is false. Our emphasis is in credit. Face it. Without a good credit score, it is hard to be approved for anything. Most people come to our office with bad credit to begin with. Bankruptcy may actually IMPROVE your credit because your debt to income ratio will improve since most debts will be wiped out. It is not uncommon to see a jump of 70 to 100 points in your credit score because you filed bankruptcy! If you decide to file bankruptcy, remember that debts discharged in your bankruptcy should be listed on your credit report as having a zero balance, meaning you do not own anything on the debt. Debts incorrectly reported as having a balance owed will negatively affect your credit score and make it more difficult or costly to get credit. I am currently the only attorney in Orlando that provides a free service in reviewing your credit reports and MAKING SURE they are reporting accurately. Because its not just what happens during the bankruptcy, it is what happens after that is just as important.
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Mail Documents To Your Trustee
Most of the steps in your journey to a fresh start are done before your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed with the court. But, do you have some obligations after filing your case. The first such task is to send your bankruptcy trustee the paperwork that they request.
The bankruptcy trustee will be assigned to your case by the court after your bankruptcy petition has been filed. Theyâre also the person youâll be dealing with at your meeting of creditors. You can find the name and contact information of your bankruptcy trustee on Official Form 309A which youâll receive from the court within 1 – 2 weeks of filing your case.
If you donât hear from your bankruptcy trustee within 2 – 3 weeks from filing, itâs ok to contact their office to find out what paperwork they require.
Dealing With Your Car
If you have a car, the first important thing you need to do is make sure to list it on your bankruptcy forms. Even if you donât drive the car everyday, and you donât consider the car âyour car,â as long as your name is on the title, you need to list it on your bankruptcy forms.
Whether or not youâre going to be able to keep your car when filing bankruptcy in Florida depends on a few factors, including how much your car is worth and what exemptions you choose to apply.
In Florida, some bankruptcy trustees do not permit the Kelly Blue Book valuation and, instead, require a valuation from the National Automobile Dealers Association. After you list your car on your forms, you have a few options on how to deal with your car loan. Youâll have to choose between reaffirming your car loan, or either redeeming or surrendering your car.
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Bankruptcy Exemptions May Not Affect Your Secured Creditors
While exemptions allow you to keep property even in a Chapter 7 case, your exemptions do not make any difference to the right of a mortgage holder or car loan creditor to take the property to cover the debt if you are behind. In a Chapter 13 case, you can keep all of your property if your plan meets the bankruptcy law requirements. In most cases, you will have to pay the mortgages or liens as you would if you didnt file bankruptcy.
How Chapter 7 Works
A Chapter 7 case begins with you, the debtor, filing a petition with the bankruptcy court serving the area where you live. In addition to the petition, you also must file with the court: schedules of assets and liabilities a schedule of current monthly income and expenditures a statement of financial affairs and a schedule of executory contracts and unexpired leases. Individual debtors with primarily consumer debts must file a certificate of credit counseling.
A husband and wife may file a joint petition or individual petitions. Even if filing jointly, a husband and wife are subject to all the document filing requirements of individual debtors.
After the petition is filed, usually no more than 40 days afterward, the trustee will hold a meeting of creditors. During this meeting, the trustee puts you under oath, and both the trustee and your creditors may ask questions . If a husband and wife have filed a joint petition, they both must attend the creditors meeting and answer questions. Although referred to as a meeting of creditors, it is quite rare for a debtors creditors to attend. For most consumers, this will be the only meeting or court appearance that they will need to make during their bankruptcy.
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