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.
If are in debt, you probably have the right to file for bankruptcy protection. In most bankruptcy cases you have the option of keeping assets, such as your car, house, household furnishings, 401k plans, IRA’s, tax refunds and other assets.
Two Different Types of Bankruptcy for Consumers
For most debtors’ 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 spouse’s financial information to the court. 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 90 days from the date the bankruptcy 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.
Once Your Bankruptcy Petition is Filed
After you have retained me as your attorney to represent you in the bankruptcy proceeding, I will file a bankruptcy petition on your behalf. Approximately 30 days later you must appear at a “Meeting of the Creditors”. This meeting is held at the offices of the U.S. Trustee in The Federal Court House located at 300 N. Hogan St. Jacksonville, Florida 32202. Their web-site is www.flmb.uscourts.gov.
It is informally called a “341 meeting”. You must bring your driver’s license and Social Security Card (or W-2) 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.
The Bankruptcy Trustee is trying to determine if there are any asset’s to be distributed to your creditors. The usual questions asked by a Bankruptcy Trustee at the 341 meeting include:
- Your name and current address.
- Did you read the bankruptcy petition, schedules, statements and related documents before you signed them?
- Did you sign the petition, schedules, statements and related documents?
- Are you personally familiar with the information contained in the bankruptcy petition, schedules, statements and related documents?
- 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?
- Are all of your assets identified on the bankruptcy schedules?
- Have you listed all of your creditors on the bankruptcy schedules?
- What is the address of your current employer?
- Is the copy of the tax return you provided a true copy of the most recent tax return you filed?
- 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.
- Have you read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet provided by the United States Trustee?
- Have you made any transfers of any property or given any property away within the last year before filing for bankruptcy?
- Do you have a claim against anyone?
- Are you entitled to life insurance proceeds or an inheritance?
- Does anyone owe you money?
Approximately 60 days after this meeting, debtors received their “Discharge Order” from the Bankruptcy Judge discharging their credit card and other dischargeable debt. This is usually the end of the case.
Why should you retain The Law Office of Tony Turner? Mr. Turner has been licensed to practice law in Florida since 1991. He is licensed in all Florida Courts and the United States Court for the Middle District of Florida. His current and former memberships include: The Florida Bar, The Washington Bar; Clay County Bar Assoc; St. Petersburg Bar Assoc; Hillsborough Bar Assoc; ABA Membership. Please review his biography page for additional information. Mr. Turner offers a free consultation to discuss all your bankruptcy options.
The bankruptcy law is complicated. Please make sure and understand your rights and responsibilities before filing for bankruptcy protection, disposing of assets or taking any legal actions. Consulting an experienced bankruptcy attorney is strongly recommended.