Filing For Bankruptcy In Florida
For many debtors, filing for bankruptcy could breathe new life into their financial life. But, finding the information applicants need to get their Florida bankruptcy case started can be confusing. In particular, applicants without legal support from our lawyers in Gainesville & Ocala might be unaware of how to protect their property when declaring bankruptcy. Florida’s exemption laws allow debtors to keep their property depending on the bankruptcy chapter. For Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, contact us today for a case consultation.
The Bankruptcy Filing Process
Like any other legal process, filing for bankruptcy is best left in the hands of an experienced professional. Please note that while applicants may file for bankruptcy on their own, they still need to pay all of the required filing fees. Bankruptcy attorney, Ken Hesser, can help debtors complete all the necessary paperwork for bankruptcy and get it right the first time. Doing so can help them avoid any complication down the road that would further prolong the already-lengthy bankruptcy process. The following includes a brief breakdown of the bankruptcy filing process.
- Compile all evidence: Before filling out any forms, debtors must compile all relevant evidence that can help their cases, including any financial, employment, and medical records. An experienced attorney knows how to gather the most compelling evidence.
- Take a credit counseling course: Before debtors can file any bankruptcy forms, they need to take a credit counseling course as required by Florida law. The course can be either online or in-person and must be from an approved school.
- Complete the Bankruptcy Forms: Following a thorough case examination, our bankruptcy attorney can help debtors complete and submit all forms to the right court in Florida and their designated trustee. The examination includes questions about the applicant’s income, expenses, assets, debts, and any other personal financial information that might be relevant to the court.
- Take a post-filing bankruptcy course: Similar to the credit counseling course, this course can be pretty straightforward. Debtors filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may take the course over the phone, online, or in person. A lawyer can then help the applicant submit the course certificate to the court.
- Attend a 341 meeting: One to two months after filing, debtors must meet with the court official overseeing their case in what’s called a 341 meeting. The meeting is a chance for applicants to reassure court officials of their honesty and commitment to follow Florida’s bankruptcy laws.
- Complete any additional paperwork: From then on, bankruptcy cases can become more complicated. Debtors filing Chapter 11 and 13 bankrupcies may need to file additional forms. In addition, applicants must pass the Florida bankruptcy means test to confirm they meet the relevant eligibility requirements. We can help debtors complete this and any other required legal documentation following the latest statutory and federal bankruptcy laws.
In the U.S., there are several types of bankruptcy (referred to as chapters) available for individuals, businesses, and married couples — the most common being Chapter 7, 11, and 13. A lawyer can help you determine the best type of bankruptcy for you, depending on your assets, expected earnings, the debt amount, among other factors.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcies, commonly referred to as “liquidation” bankruptcies, are by far the most common among individual debtors. Eligible debtors could have most, if not all, of their debts discharged by a court. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debtors are normally required to sell most of their property to repay as much of their debt as possible — but not always. For instance, some essential assets, such as a debtor’s home, car, and work tools, may be exempt from liquidation. There are also limits on how much property can be liquidated.
Chapter 11 bankruptcies are designed for businesses. This type of bankruptcy is often referred to as a “reorganization bankruptcy” because it allows businesses to remain in operation while management restructures the business’ debts and assets to pay back creditors. Contrary to what some believe, Chapter 11 bankruptcies can be used for any-size business, including business partnerships and, under special circumstances, individuals as well. Please note, however, that although the business continues to operate during the bankruptcy process, the court overseeing the case must approve most business decisions. To learn more, contact our law firm today for a case consultation.
Unlike with Chapter 7, bankruptcy under Chapter 13 allows debtors to retain all of their property, no need to seek exemptions. Instead, debtors must commit to a repayment plan for some or all of their debt. Typically, borrowers agree to make monthly payments under a 3–5 years plan (the duration of the plan is determined according to the debtor’s income, monthly expenses, and remaining debt). Once borrowers have made all payments under the plan, the debt under question is discharged.