Q? HOW WILL BANKRUPTCY AFFECT MY CREDIT?
A. Bankruptcy does adversely affect your credit for several years, but perhaps no worse than what your current credit state already is. From a future lender’s perspective, bankruptcy is a liability that they have to protect themselves against.
Those who declare bankruptcy are given the opportunity to breathe relief from current debts and start over again to rebuild their future credit worthiness. A Chapter 7 & Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be reported for no more than 10 years. Under either Chapter, as early as one year after a bankruptcy, the negative effects begin to dissipate as time passes. While filing bankruptcy may be the only viable option, it should never be filed lightly, without consideration of all the consequences and a thorough evaluation of your situation.
Q? WHAT PERSONAL PROPERTY AND ASSETS WILL I BE ALLOWED TO KEEP?
A. Florida and federal bankruptcy laws allow most debtors to keep many of their assets including Social Security, Pensions and Retirement Accounts (401K, IRA), Pre-paid College Funds and 529 Plans, up to 100% of the equity in your Homestead, up to $1000 equity in your automobile, $1000 in personal property (up to $4000 in personal property if you do not receive the benefit of Homestead Exemption).
Q? WHAT DEBTS ARE UNABLE TO BE DISCHARGED IN BANKRUPTCY?
A. In bankruptcy, assets in excess of your allowed personal exemptions, or nonexempt assets such as real estate, automobiles and boats, willbe liquidated by a Chapter 7 Trustee or you will reorganize in a Chapter 13. Certain other debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and you will continue to pay them as if you had never filed for bankruptcy, such as back child support, alimony and some tax debts. Student loans will not be discharged unless you can prove them to be a financial burden, but there is a very high standard to meet.
Q? WHAT IS BANKRUPTCY AND WILL IT WIPE OUT ALL OF MY DEBTS?
A. Bankruptcy Laws in The United States were created to help people and businesses unable to pay their bills. It is a federal court process that can help you eliminate many of your debts or repay them under the protection of the bankruptcy court.
Q? WHAT IS CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY?
A. Chapter 7 is the elimination of unsecured debt which includes, but is not limited to: credit card bills, payday loans, utility bills and medical bills. This type of bankruptcy involves a liquidation of non-exempt property to the bankruptcy trustee who then converts it to cash for distribution to the creditors. It is generally used by people who qualify based on having little or no income, or means to repay debts. It gives a person a fresh start by wiping out his or her debts.
Q? WHAT IS CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY?
A. Chapter 13 is a reorganization of personal secured debts, like a mortgage loan, car payments, etc. It is a repayment plan filed by individuals who have sufficient income and are able to repay debts over a period of three to five years. Many people are able to keep their home, car and other property as long as they make their payments. Chapter 13 also assists individuals with the repayment of tax liabilities.
Q? WHAT IS CHAPTER 11 BANKRUPTCY?
A. Chapter 11 is a reorganization of debts usually involving a corporation or partnership to keep the business running and to pay creditors back over a period of time. At times, Chapter 11 applies to individuals who do not qualify for Chapters 7 or 13
Q? HOW CAN I STOP A FORECLOSURE?
A. Depending on your particular situation and hardship circumstances, there are options to avoid foreclosure, such as working out a repayment plan called a forbearance, seeking debt forgiveness on missing a payment or two, spreading out the missed payments over a longer period of time, changing the terms of your loan, or adding back payments to your loan balance. When the lender files a Notice of Default, options become more limited to 1) Selling your home, 2) Considering a Short Sale, 3) Signing over a Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure, essentially forfeiting the home. These are all alternatives to bankruptcy, but relevant to evaluating if you need a bankruptcy.
Q? HOW CAN I STOP HARASSING TELEPHONE CALLS FROM CREDITORS?
A. After filing bankruptcy, creditors MUST generally stop attempting to collect debt from you during the bankruptcy process. Creditors should not be able to repossess your car or foreclose on your home or send you harassing letters demanding payment. Also, creditors can not initiate or continue any lawsuits or wage garnishes by law once the bankruptcy documents are filed.
Q? WHAT IS A “MEANS” TEST AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT BANKRUPTCY?
A. If you are considering filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be asked how much of your assets may be exempt from liquidation and if you earn a sustainable monthly income that is more than the state median. If your income is more than the state median, certain criteria must be met to qualify for a Chapter 7. If you do not meet that criteria, then you may need to consider Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.