Learn Bankruptcy Law And Procedure
You’ll need to become knowledgeable on federal bankruptcy laws, and the rules and procedures of your local bankruptcy court. For instance, Chapter 7 and 13 each have different qualification requirements and benefits. You’ll need to be sure to choose the best chapter for you.
Also, you must turn over supporting documentslike tax returns, paycheck stubs, and bank statementsand represent yourself at all mandatory hearings. If you don’t put in the time and effort into researching all necessary laws, rules, and procedures, you risk having your case dismissed without a discharge or losing your property.
Even so, it’s still possible to represent yourself in Chapter 7. If you’d like more information on filing on your own, an excellent place to start is with a comprehensive do-it-yourself manual, like Nolo’s How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, by Cara O’Neill & Albin Renauer.
What Documents Are Needed For Chapter 13
What Are The Steps to Filing A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy? Tax returns for the past 4 years. Paystubs or other proof of income for the last 6 months before filing. Bank account statements from the past 3 to 6 months. Recent mortgage statement and real estate tax bills. Residential lease agreement if applicable.
Talk To A Bankruptcy Lawyer
Need professional help? Start here.
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How A Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help
Our advice is to avoid the risks of pro se filing and seek the proper legal services. After you choose a bankruptcy attorney, they help you through the filing process. An attorney can help you:
- Understand which debts can be discharged and which cant.
- Accurately fill out your bankruptcy forms.
- Know what tax consequences to expect.
- Understand which assets you can keep.
This is just a small sample of what a bankruptcy attorney can do for you. Filing without a lawyer is possible, but requires so much work on your part and leaves plenty of room for error. Letting your lawyer provide legal advice and handle the difficult stuff also gives you more time and energy to repair your credit score.
Need help starting the filing process? Were here so you can get the fresh start you need.
Consult An Experienced Attorney For Your Bankruptcy Matter
Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is never easy, but sometimes it may be the right choice for the financial future of your enterprise. The experienced commercial bankruptcy lawyers at Bartolone Law will work diligently to help protect your assets. We understand that financial difficulty can hamper the success of your business in both the short terms and the long term. If you need the services of a capable legal professional, call us today at 407-294-4440 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.
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Filers In Alabama And North Carolina
By law, the U.S. Trustee Program does not operate in Alabama and North Carolina in these states, Bankruptcy Administrators approve pre-bankruptcy credit counseling organizations and pre-discharge debtor education course providers. The following is a list of Bankruptcy Administrator approved providers in Alabama and North Carolina.
How To File Bankruptcy For Free In Florida
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In a Nutshell
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy doesnât mean you have to come up with the money to pay a bankruptcy lawyer. You can file your bankruptcy case on your own . This guide will walk you through the 10 steps youâll need to complete to get your bankruptcy discharge.
Written by Rohan Pavuluri.
Filing bankruptcy in Florida is a lifeline for many. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases are the most common for individuals filing in the Sunshine State. Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a repayment plan before unsecured debt is eliminated. If youâre making less than the median income for a household of your size in Florida, Chapter 7 is likely the better of the two two options. Neither one eliminates alimony, child support or student loans, though Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be helpful in paying off past due domestic support obligations.
Florida Legal Aid Organizations
Florida legal aid organizations provide free representation to low-income families who make below a certain amount of income per year, which is usually 200% of the poverty line. Some programs, like Community Legal Services of Mid Florida, are large and funded by Congress through the Legal Services Corporation, while other programs may be smaller and more local.
Overall, legal aid in Florida is robust for low-income Florida residents and you should check in with organizations near you to see if you may be eligible. These programs usually provide help in multiple areas of Florida law.
What About The Credit Counseling Classes For Bankruptcy
After your case is filed, you must complete an approved course in personal finances. This course will take approximately two hours to complete. Many of the course providers give you a choice to take the course in-person at a designated location, over the Internet , or over the telephone.
Many clients hear they must take a class, they start thinking back to school and having to take a test and possibly failing. Dont worry. This class is an online course that does not have a pass or fail component. There are no right and wrong answers. It is more informative and used to help you understand your finances. We will coordinate it for you.
Protecting Property In Bankruptcy With Florida Exemptions
Bankruptcy exemptions enacted by states vary from federal exemptions and other state exemptions. One of the favorable bankruptcy exemptions available to Florida residents that is often severely restricted by other states is the homestead exemption.
Under Florida laws, you can exempt all the equity in your home or other real estate that qualifies for a homestead exemption. There are two main requirements for the unlimited homestead exemption in Florida. First, you must have owned the property for a minimum of 1,215 days before filing your bankruptcy petition. Second, the property cannot exceed 160 acres or one-half acre in a municipality. If you meet these requirements, you can probably claim the unlimited homestead exemption.
In addition to protecting your home, Florida bankruptcy exemptions protect items of personal property, retirement accounts, and wages. Some of the bankruptcy exemptions you may use to protect your property in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case includes:
$1,000 for personal property
If You Need To File Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
There are many reasons to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7. You might want to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy because you wish to catch up on mortgage arrears, get rid of your second mortgage, cram down your car loans, or pay back nondischargeable priority debts, such as back taxes or support arrears. Or maybe you make too much money to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. No matter your reason, most Chapter 13 cases are too difficult to file on your own.
In addition to filling out the bankruptcy forms , you must also design a proposed repayment plan, which is very difficult to do without the expensive software that most attorneys use. Specific actions such as stripping your second mortgage or cramming down a car loan will require filing additional bankruptcy motions and paperwork with the court.
As a result, some attorneys limit their bankruptcy practice to Chapter 7 because they feel they are not qualified to handle Chapter 13. And, an overwhelming majority of Chapter 13 cases filed without an attorney get dismissed by the court. So if you are planning to file a Chapter 13, it is a good idea to hire a qualified attorney.
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.
What Can Bankruptcy Do For You
Bankruptcy may make it possible for you to:
- Eliminate the legal obligation to pay most or all of your debts. This is called a discharge of debts. It is designed to give you a fresh financial start.
- Stop foreclosure on your house or mobile home and allow you an opportunity to catch up on missed payments.
- Prevent repossession of a car or other property, or force the creditor to return property even after it has been repossessed.
- Stop wage garnishment, debt collection harassment and similar creditor actions to collect a debt.
- Restore or prevent termination of utility service.
- Allow you to challenge the claims of creditors who have committed fraud or who are otherwise trying to collect more than you really owe.
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Good Faith / Abuse Test
A second test a Chapter 7 debtor must pass is the good faith or abuse test. The United States Trustee, or any creditor, may request that the bankruptcy court dismiss your Chapter 7 petition if it appears that you filed bankruptcy in order to abuse the system. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can assist you in preparing your petition and advising you on behaviors that may trigger this test.
Take A Personal Financial Management Instruction Course
Finally, you must complete a post-filing Personal Financial Management Instruction Course within 45 days of your meeting of creditors. Take a look at the U.S. Trustee Program’s site to find an approved course near you. After you’ve completed the course, the last step is to wait to hear from the bankruptcy court whether your debts have been discharged.
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Can I File Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer
Yes, you can legally file for bankruptcy without a lawyer. But should you?
Every year, thousands of Americans find themselves too broke to pay off their debts, yet unable to afford bankruptcy. It probably comes as no surprise that attorneys’ fees make up the lion’s share of bankruptcy expenses. So you might be wondering, “Do I really need a lawyer to file for bankruptcy?”
It largely depends on how complex your case is. If you own little property and don’t make a lot of money, it might be possible to file bankruptcy pro se . But while filing for bankruptcy on your own can save you money, it’s a serious undertaking. You’ll have to pull together all of your financial documentation, file a lot of paperwork on time, and communicate with your bankruptcy trustee. You’ll also need to take the time to understand the state and federal laws that apply.
In this section, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a few tips to help make the process as simple and painless as possible.
Do I Have To Go To Court
Yes, when a debtor files bankruptcy, they will be required to attend a meeting of the creditors. The meeting of creditors is commonly referred to as the 341 meeting because the meeting is required under section 341 of the bankruptcy code. Failure to attend the meeting can result in your case being dismissed. See In Re Lewis. Debtors are allowed to have their bankruptcy lawyer present with them at the meeting. If you filed for bankruptcy, it is strongly recommended to have your bankruptcy attorney present with you.
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Secured Vs Unsecured Debt
To understand how your debts will be treated during both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies you must first know that most of your debt will be divided into two categories: secured and unsecured. Each type will be treated differently during bankruptcy.
When you have unsecured debt, your creditor does not have the right to repossess your property for failure to pay. These debts are the most likely to be significantly reduced, or eliminated, during the bankruptcy process. Credit card debt, court judgments, medical bills, and some unpaid income taxes are common examples of unsecured debt. However, some unsecured debt, such as unpaid child support, cannot be eliminated in bankruptcy and must be repaid in full.
You have a secured debt when a creditor has the right to seize your property if you fail to pay. Home mortgages, car loans, and property liens are the most common types of secured debt.
If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can often eliminate most of your unsecured debt. However, creditors holding secured debt will still have the right to repossess your property for non-payment. This means that you may lose your home, car, or other property to secured lenders in Chapter 7. You will usually have three options for dealing with secured creditors:
Middle District Of Florida Requirements
The Middle District of Florida has detailed instructions on how to file a Chapter 7 without a bankruptcy attorney on its website. This bankruptcy court requires all filers to submit their creditor matrix in electronic format on a USB drive or a CD.
The Middle Districtâs Jacksonville Division requires all bankruptcy filers to participate in a telephone conference with their bankruptcy trustee before their 341 meeting takes place. This requirement applies to people filing with the help of a bankruptcy lawyer as well as folks filing pro se.
The Middle District of Florida has no special forms.
- Expect to keep copies of your documents.
- You will need one copy of your forms.
Middle District of Florida Forms
- Statement of No Payment Advices
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Consider Hiring A Bankruptcy Preparer
Even if you have a simple Chapter 7 case, bankruptcy can be an intimidating and time-consuming process. You will need to accurately fill out many forms, research the law, and attend hearings. If you understand bankruptcy law but would like help completing the formsthe average bankruptcy petition is approximately 50 pages in lengthyou might consider hiring a bankruptcy petition preparer.
Bankruptcy Involves Court Proceedings
In a bankruptcy court proceeding, a bankruptcy judge and a trustee examine what you own and what you owe . A trustee is a neutral person who oversees the bankruptcy procedure, often a lawyer or accountant. An asset is anything of value that can be converted to cash. A liability is a debt you owe to another person or organization. In court, a decision is made to either discharge your debts or enter into a debt repayment plan. When a debt is discharged, the debt is canceled you are no longer required to pay it back. In a repayment plan, you pay the creditors a portion of the outstanding amount over a fixed period of time.
- Other exemptions that may apply to your situation
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Special Consideration For Tenancy By The Entirety States
Certain states, such as Florida, allows married couples to own property as tenants by the entirety as a single marital entity. Tenancies by the entirety property may be exempt in bankruptcy where there are joint debts and only one spouse files. However, if both spouses file for bankruptcy, the entireties exemption will not protect the property from creditors or the Trustee.
Find Answers To Your Frequently Asked Questions
AtThe Dellutri Law Group, PA, weve been doing this a long timesince 1998 actually. Over the years, we began to see some of the same questions being asked by our clients. In case you havent realized from the rest of our website, our firm has two main areas of practice:bankruptcy andpersonal injury. When people ask what we do for a living, we confidently reply that we provide hope to those who have lost it.
With that being said, we want to make sure these frequently asked questions pertain to the issue you are here researching. Weve broken these up into common questions about bankruptcy and common personal injury questions so that you can narrow down your search.
Browse our FAQs here or contact us directly to speak to one of our Florida personal injury or bankruptcy lawyers about your specific situation.
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