Suppose financial setbacks have left you unable to pay your debts, and your creditors have been calling you non-stop. You probably have worries about your future and your family's future. In Florida, debtors who can no longer pay their debts have a relief option by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can give you the debt relief you need to put it all behind you and start afresh. A Florida Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney can help you make informed decisions and guide you to take actions in your best interest. Florida Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney can ensure that your filing is done correctly with all the documentation. If an issue with your filing occurs, such as a discrepancy in your income reporting, your bankruptcy attorney can help correct it.
At the Law Office of Emil Fleysher, we have a seasoned, well-reviewed Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer dedicated to helping Floridians regain their financial freedom when they have been trapped by overwhelming debts that they have little or no prospect of repaying. Our experienced bankruptcy attorney, Emil Fleysher, has successfully filed thousands of bankruptcy cases for clients throughout Palm Beach, Saint Lucie, Broward, Martin, and Indian River Counties.
Contact our Florida bankruptcy law firm at (888) 886-0020 to schedule a free consultation protected by an attorney-client relationship. You can also send an email at email@example.com or use our online contact form to submit your case details.
Hire a Florida Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney if You’re Planning to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Florida
Hiring a Florida Bankruptcy Relief Lawyer can help you navigate the complex process, explain your options and what you can expect, and, most importantly, advocate on your behalf. We understand that most people are likely scared and overwhelmed about the bankruptcy process, which is why you need the expertise of our bankruptcy lawyer.
Here's how bankruptcy lawyers can help you:
- They are always available to answer your questions and concerns about your situation.
- They will inform you of the necessary information and documentation before your court date.
- They will help you set reasonable expectations and inform you what to expect for the outcome of your filing.
- They will protect as many of your assets/properties as possible.
- They will be present in court to advocate for you against your debtors.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: What You Need to Know
Two types of bankruptcy options are readily available to people in Florida: Chapter 13 bankruptcy and Chapter 7 bankruptcy. While Chapter 13 is for those debtors who think they can pay back all their debts slowly if allowed to make a fair payment agreement, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be availed by those who think they can't pay all their current debts at all given their financial situation.
A debtor who decides to undergo the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing process takes a huge decision that must not be taken lightly. They should fully understand all their financial and legal obligations. In addition, they will have to make major choices, such as which exemptions to file to protect some of their physical assets.
The goal of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to wipe out the honest but unfortunate debtor's unsecured debts. It can provide debtors with a clean slate by eliminating some of their debts. The entire process for Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically takes 90 to 120 days. At the Law Office of Emil Fleysher, P.A., our attorneys have extensive knowledge and expertise in resolving both basic and difficult bankruptcy cases.
If a debtor qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they may be able to receive a discharge for most of their debts. This means that their creditors can't continue to hound them. But, not all debts can be discharged under Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Debts That Can Be Discharged in Chapter 7
- Store accounts
- Medical bills
- Credit card debt
- Trade or vendor debt
- Payday loans
- Old utility bills
- Unsecured personal loan
- Personal liability resulting from the guarantee of another's debt
- Deficiency balances resulting from the sale of a repossessed car or foreclosed mortgage
- Certain kinds of tax obligations
Debts That Can't Be Discharged in Chapter
- Criminal restitution
- Student loans
- Debt incurred through fraud
- Debts incurred by willful and malicious injury
- Marital/domestic obligations
- Debt incurred by defalcation of fiduciary duty
- Certain tax obligations
- Alimony and child support payments
Chapter 7 Means Test
The U.S. bankruptcy code has set certain income limits and financial asset limits since Chapter 7 is intended only for those who can't afford to pay back all their debts. These limits prevent those debtors with the means to pay back their debts from filing Chapter 7.
If a debtor's income falls below the state's median income level, they do not have to submit the paperwork for the means test. Debtors are also exempted from the means test if their debts are primarily not consumer debt related (i.e., mostly medical debt) or if they are disabled veterans.
If you do not meet the criteria above, you must take the U.S. means test to calculate your average monthly income and expenditures.
Who Qualifies for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
There's a difference between who should file and who is allowed to file.
As mentioned above, most debtors who earn under the median income for their state can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy based on their household size. Those who also pass the means test mandated by bankruptcy laws can file. The means test covers your average monthly household income over the last six months.
If a debtor does not have a job or earns near the minimum wage, they will most likely qualify for filing bankruptcy under Chapter 7. Moreover, debtors who pass the means test can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
When Should I File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Some signs are telling you that you may be a good fit for filing bankruptcy now:
- Your dischargeable debts have reached more than $10,000.
- Your credit score is already below 600.
- You don't have expensive property.
- You earn under the median income in your state.
- You find it impossible to make ends meet every month because you keep up with payments.
- You are worried about being sued for your debts or about wage garnishment.
- You don't see any way of being able to pay your debts over the next five years.
Steps for Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Florida
If you have decided to move forward, the following are the steps for filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
- Eligibility. When a debtor files for Chapter 7, it is in the hands of the bankruptcy court, not you or your lawyer. The court will look at how much you bring in and your financial records. Suppose you can establish some kind of monthly repayment depending on how much you bring in. You can file Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7.
- Credit Counseling. You may not have heard of this as one of the steps when you need to prepare for bankruptcy. It is essential that you attend credit counseling from an approved agency after you qualify for Chapter 7. You can do this over the phone or online. You will receive a certificate to show to the bankruptcy court.
- The Automatic Stay. When a debtor successfully files for bankruptcy, the court can issue an automatic stay to ensure that creditors can no longer call to harass debtors about debt collection.
- Filing Additional Documentation. Debtors must file additional documentation regarding income and expenditures, assets and liabilities, financial affairs, and other information. They need to provide a copy of their tax return for the most recent year.
- Appointing a Trustee. The court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee to oversee the case and liquidate any nonexempt assets. The appointed trustee will be tasked to pay unsecured creditors with proceeds from the nonexempt assets' sale.
- Meeting with the Creditors. Also known as a 341 meeting, this is a meeting of creditors and your bankruptcy trustee, which you and your attorney will attend. During this meeting, the trustee will ask you specific questions to verify your identity and financial records.
- Exempt Property. You can keep some of your personal property (exempt property). But, your trustee will sell your unprotected assets so you can pay back your creditors.
- Discharge. In most cases, the court will issue a discharge order. Your automatic stay will be lifted once you have completed all requirements outlined by the bankruptcy court. A discharge stops creditors from taking further debt collection action and releases you from most debts. It also states what kind of debts you still have after filing for bankruptcy.
Filing for Chapter 7 Property Exemptions in Florida
Florida has maintained its own set of properties eligible for exemption. To be eligible for property exemptions, you must have officially lived in Florida for the past 730 days or two years. If you have not lived in Florida for the past two years, you must use the state's exemption laws where you officially lived for the majority of the previous 180 days prior to the 730 days.
Florida offers generous homestead exemptions to those property owners who do not live in a municipality. Under Florida Statutes §222.01-02, you can exempt an unlimited amount of home equity if your property is only 160 acres outside municipal zones or not larger than a half-acre in a municipality.
In most circumstances, you can also exempt the following:
- Personal property up to $1000 in value
- Tax credits and refunds
- Savings accounts for health emergencies, education, and hurricane disasters
- Certain property owned in a partnership
- Prescribed health aids, such as assistive devices and hearing aids
- Funeral costs per Florida's Preneed Funeral Contract Consumer Protection Trust Fund
- Up to $1,000 in motor vehicle equity
- Up to $750 in wages per week
Can a Chapter 7 Discharge Be Denied?
The following can be reasons why your Chapter 7 discharge could be denied:
- You committed a bankruptcy crime.
- You could not adequately explain the loss of assets.
- You did not provide or keep adequate financial records.
- You fraudulently hid, transferred, or destroyed property that should have been liquidated.
Working with a qualified Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney can help you avoid making mistakes that may be detrimental to your case. Schedule a free consultation with one of our Florida bankruptcy lawyers.
Why Choose The Law Office of Emil Fleysher to Handle Your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing
At Fleysher Law, we are dedicated to diligently and compassionately helping clients resolve their debt problems and get a fresh start through our efficient legal representation. We are a debt relief agency that helps people file bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. Whether you live near Deerfield Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Stuart, or Port Saint Lucie, the Fleysher Law Firm can provide the information you need to formulate and choose a debt resolution strategy that works best for you. Whether utilizing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Debt Settlement, Debt Defense, Asset Protection, or a combination, the bankruptcy and debt restructuring team at Fleysher Law will provide the quality, value, professionalism, and responsiveness you need to get a fresh start.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy FAQ
The cost depends on the complexity of your case. It usually costs between $900 and $1500 in attorney’s fees. There is also a mandatory minimum fee of $338 to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You also spend around $50 on a debt counseling course and a personal finance course.
Generally, you don’t have to hire an attorney to file for bankruptcy on your behalf. But since the filing process is quite complex and many factors have to be considered, most bankruptcy filings necessitate the assistance of a Florida Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer.
It depends. If you don’t own a home, Florida allows you to exempt up to $5000 in personal property. So if you own a car without a loan and it’s worth less than $5K, this is exempt, and you will keep your vehicle.
It will stay on your credit for ten years. However, your credit score will improve over time if you stay in good standing with any other debts you may accrue following the bankruptcy.
It depends. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it will pause the foreclosure proceedings. However, the proceedings will restart after your bankruptcy proceedings are finished. You will likely keep your home if you keep up with payments and remain in good standing with your mortgage company.
- Primary homes, up to a specific value
- Reasonable household furnishings
- Household appliances
- Vehicles, up to a specific value
- Clothing, up to a certain amount
- Public benefits such as unemployment, social security, and food aid
- Tools of your trade
A trustee is a person appointed to act on behalf of the court. Their tasks involve:
- Gathering any non-exempt assets a debtor may have;
- Selling these non-exempt assets;
- Paying creditors with the money resulting from the sale; and
- Ensuring the entire bankruptcy process is done efficiently and correctly.
- It will typically take one week to file your bankruptcy forms if you are organized.
- You have to wait another one or two months for the 341 meeting with the trustee.
- Two or three months after the 341 meeting, you will get a letter in the mail that your debt is officially discharged;
- It will take about 3-5 months from the beginning to the discharge of your debts.
Contact the Florida Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer at the Fleysher Law Bankruptcy & Debt Attorneys
The decision to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is challenging, and the filing process can be overwhelming. Our Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney can help you with this and will advocate for you to fight for your best interest. We offer $0 down filing and flexible payment plans. Avail of our no-obligation consultation today. Reach us at (888) 886-0020 or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.