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Bankruptcy Law
Filing for bankruptcy can be a stressful, but it doesn't have to be. If you're overwhelmed with debt, lawsuits, collections, foreclosure or other financial difficulties and are considering bankruptcy, I hope you find my website helpful.

The bankruptcy law is intended for the honest but unfortunate debtor. Filing for bankruptcy is a difficult decision and often one of last resort. Once you file for bankruptcy protection, creditors must stop calling and any legal action against you must stop including foreclosures, garnishment of wages & repossessions.

In most bankruptcy cases you have the option of keeping assets, such as your car and house and furnishing. The law is complicated. Please make sure and understand your rights and responsibilities before filing for bankruptcy protection. Consulting an experienced bankruptcy attorney is strongly recommended.

If you have debt, you probably have the right to file bankruptcy. Most of my clients keep their assets. Items such as: houses; cars; household furnishing; 401k plans; and IRAs.

Most debt is discharged. Debts such as credit card bills, medical bills, phone bills, lawsuits, judgments, leases, and repossessions are discharged. Foreclosure proceedings typically must stop. I have been able to save many of houses from the "auction block". Let me try and help save yours.

Once your debt is discharged, you are released from personal liability of those listed and discharged debts. Creditors are prohibited from taking any action against the debtor to collect the discharged debts.

After I file a bankruptcy petition on your behalf, you must appear at the meeting of creditors, This is held at the offices of the U.S. Trustee at The Federal Court House in Downtown Jacksonville and is informally called a “341 meeting”. Bring your drivers license and Social Security card with you for identification purposes. We will meet with the bankruptcy Trustee assigned to your case. The meetings last about 10 minutes and you will be asked questions by the Trustee.

 
Two Different Types of Bankruptcy for Consumers

For most debtor's there are two types of bankruptcy's that can be filed: Chapters 7 & 13. A husband and a wife may file jointly or independently. If you are married and your spouse is not filing, you must gather and submit your spouses financial information to the court.

In a situation where only one spouse files, the income and expenses of the non-filing spouse is required so that the court, the trustee and creditors can evaluate the household’s financial position.

CHAPTER 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 is usually the quickest, cheapest and most efficient. The debtor will receive a discharge in approximately 120 days from the date the petition is filed. Application of a “means test” is used to determine whether debtors qualify for a Chapter 7. If a debtor’s income exceeds a certain amount, the debtor may not be eligible for Chapter 7 relief but instead must file a Chapter 13. The "means test" income amount allowed may vary based on your household size and expenses. Typically the larger the household size, the higher the amount of income allowed. Household size can include non-relatives and non-minors if you are providing support.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 is often used by debtors who do not qualify for Chapter 7 relief. Typically you make payments in a Chapter 13 to the Trustee. The payments are based on the debtor’s anticipated income over the life of the plan. The life of the plan will be 36 or 60 months depending on your income.

Unlike Chapter 7, the debtor does not receive an immediate discharge of debts. The debtor must complete the payments required under the plan before the discharge is received. The debtor is protected from lawsuits, garnishments, and other creditor actions while the plan is in effect. Debtors may bring the past-due payments on a mortgage current over the life of the plan, again either 3 or 5 years.

Click here to learn more. Common questions about Bankruptcy.


Creditors or 341 Meeting

If you file bankruptcy chances are the only meeting you will attend is the 341 meeting, also known as the “Meeting of Creditors”. This meeting is scheduled approximately 30 days after you file your bankruptcy petition. Despite it's name, creditors almost never attend these meetings.

Instead, the Bankruptcy Trustee will ask you a series of questions about your petition and the financial documents that were provided to them after your bankruptcy petition was filed. The Bankruptcy Trustee is trying to determine if there are any asset's that can be sold to pay your creditors.

The usual questions asked by a Bankruptcy Trustee at the 341 meeting include:

1) Your name and current address.

2) You will need to provide your picture ID and social security card. The Bankruptcy Trustee will then state - “I have viewed the original social security card and the number does match the number on the § 341(a) meeting notice.

3) Did you sign the petition, schedules, statements and related documents?

4) Did you read the bankruptcy petition, schedules, statements and related documents before you signed them?

5) Are you personally familiar with the information contained in the bankruptcy petition, schedules, statements and related documents?

6) To the best of your knowledge, is the information contained in the bankruptcy petition, schedules, statements and related documents true and correct? Are there any errors or omissions to bring to my attention at this time?

7) Are all of your assets identified on the bankruptcy schedules?

8) Have you listed all of your creditors on the bankruptcy schedules?

9) What is the address of your current employer?

10) Is the copy of the tax return you provided a true copy of the most recent tax return you filed?

11) Do you have a domestic support obligation? If so, to whom? Please provide to me the recipients address and telephone number, but do not state it on the record.

12) Have you read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet provided by the United States Trustee?

13) Have you made any transfers of any property or given any property away within the last year before filing for bankruptcy?

14) Do you have a claim against anyone?

15) Are you entitled to life insurance proceeds or an inheritance?

16) Does anyone owe you money?

I ask my client to arrive about 30 minutes before the scheduled Creditors Meeting. This allows us the opportunity to discuss these questions as well as any other questions that may be asked by the Bankruptcy Trustee.

Within 60 days or so following the 341 Meeting debtors received their "Discharge Order" from the Bankruptcy Judge discharging their credit card and other dischargeable debt. This is the end of the case.

REMEMBER -

** DEBTORS ARE NOT PERMITTED TO BRING CELLPHONES IN THE FEDERAL COURTHOUSE.

** BRING YOUR DRIVERS LICENSE AND S.S. CARD TO THE MEETING.

** BRING QUARTERS FOR THE METERED PARKING.

** THE STATE & FEDERAL COURTHOUSE IN JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA ARE ADJACENT TO ONE ANOTHER. GO TO THE FEDERAL COURTHOUSE.

** TELL THE TRUTH. BANKRUPTCY FRAUD IS A SERIOUS CRIME.

 

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