Giving You the Freedom to Start Fresh
It’s tough to admit that you’re overwhelmed financially. Many Boca Raton residents delay seeking a bankruptcy law firm for advice because they fear being judged or feel ashamed of their troubles. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from getting the help you need. The sooner you speak to a Boca Raton bankruptcy attorney, the sooner you can regain financial control of your life and break free of the stress and anxiety caused by debilitating debt.
As bankruptcy attorneys with over 20 years of experience, we understand that numerous circumstances can bring about extreme financial difficulties. Job loss, severe illness or disability, or the death of a loved one are just a few of the reasons why people are unable to meet their financial obligations. We can help you get back on your feet.
Our skilled bankruptcy team can put an end to creditor harassment, protect your most valuable assets, stop lawsuits and wage garnishments and save you money. Most important, we help you attain the fresh start that federal and state bankruptcy laws were designed to achieve.
If you’re in the Boca Raton area and feel crushed by debt, don’t hesitate to contact Klein Law Group today. We’re dedicated to helping you move forward without fear and attain the financial freedom you deserve.
Table of Contents
- Best Bankruptcy Attorneys in Boca Raton
- Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
- Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
- Filing for Bankruptcy in Florida
Best Bankruptcy Attorneys in Boca Raton
Declaring bankruptcy can come as a great relief, but the process can be stressful. When hiring a Boca Raton bankruptcy lawyer, you should feel confident that you’ve selected the best attorneys to provide legal services for your needs and that you’ve placed your trust in the right team.
How do you know whether you’re hiring the best? Do your research. Here are seven essential qualities to look for in a Boca Raton bankruptcy attorney.
At a minimum, a Boca Raton bankruptcy attorney should have graduated from law school, have passed the Florida bar examination and be a member of the United States Federal Bar with privileges to practice in the US Federal District Court in Florida.
A Boca Raton Bankruptcy Attorney will offer added value to their services by offering a free consultation to sit with you and perform a full analysis of your financial situation.
Your financial future is too important to put in the hands of a novice. It’s crucial to take the time to understand whether your prospective bankruptcy attorney has the experience and skill to achieve the results that you seek. A knowledgeable attorney will have the insight to avoid legal and strategic pitfalls that could further hurt your financial situation. They’ll also know how to streamline the process where possible, saving you time and money. As a Wharton graduate, Attorney Klein knows how to come up with the right strategy for your unique situation.
Whether you’re filing Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or another form of bankruptcy, confirm that the attorney specializes in the type of bankruptcy relevant to your situation. During the initial consultation, ask the prospective attorney how many bankruptcy cases they have handled over the years and how long they’ve been practicing bankruptcy law. You should also ask whether they’ve handled cases with facts similar to yours.
Given your financial difficulties, it’s natural to be concerned about legal fees. Resist the urge to go with the least expensive attorney you can find: too often, you get what you pay for, which could lead to the loss of assets, including your car and even your house! Instead, look for an attorney whose rates reflect good value relative to their experience.
Trustworthy law offices will take the time to explain their fee structure at the outset so that there are no unhappy surprises later in the process. In particular, look for an attorney who provides a written fee agreement and guarantees to stick with its terms throughout your case. Don’t forget to check whether they offer $zero money down Chapter 7 bankruptcy.https://www.kleinattorneys.com/about-us/our-guarantees/
The bankruptcy process is complex and highly confusing for those unfamiliar with it. It’s easy for clients to feel lost. That’s why you should look for a bankruptcy lawyer who will communicate with you regularly, using easy-to-understand language. Before hiring a Boca Raton bankruptcy lawyer, confirm that the attorney has a communication policy. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as:
- How often will they contact you? Under what circumstances?
- What is their preferred method of contact?
- If you contact them, how quickly will they respond?
- Is their communication policy guaranteed?
You should also understand with whom you’ll be communicating. Find out who your regular point of contact will be: Will it be a paralegal or an attorney? Associate or partner? If your regular contact isn’t an attorney, can you speak to one if desired? A good bankruptcy attorney will have a plan in place for you to talk to the person most knowledgeable about your case, as needed.
Having a bankruptcy attorney who respects your time is essential. If the attorney has scheduled a meeting or phone call with you, you have every right to expect them to be prompt and fully prepared. Attorneys should also respect the timing of filing deadlines and court appearances, as any oversight can have severe consequences for your case, including delays or even dismissal. Look for an attorney who guarantees timeliness and places it as a priority.
Boca Raton residents seeking bankruptcy lawyers often focus on the lawyer’s qualifications, experience and legal fees, but they forget to consider whether the attorney is a good fit in terms of personal and professional style. But, for an overall positive experience, you need an attorney personally compatible with you.
As you move through the bankruptcy process, you’ll have to share a great deal of personal information with your attorney. Your lawyer should be someone whom you trust unreservedly and with whom you feel comfortable sharing all of the necessary information. If you’re not at ease with your lawyer, you might withhold vital information out of embarrassment or discomfort, and wind up damaging your case.
During your initial consultation, consider whether the attorney listens to you without interruption, directly addresses your concerns and has a presence and manner that you like. Also, assess whether the lawyer’s style is one that meshes with your desires and needs. Some people don’t mind a cool, hands-off approach in a lawyer, while others prefer working with lawyers who give close, personalized attention. Before retaining your Boca Raton bankruptcy lawyer, think about the approach that will satisfy you over the long-term.
7 Questions to Ask Your Boca Raton Bankruptcy Attorney
Before your initial consult with a bankruptcy attorney, prepare a list of questions to help you stay focused. In addition to those mentioned above, we recommend including the following inquiries:
- Is filing bankruptcy right for me?
Bankruptcy is not the answer for everyone. Ask your bankruptcy lawyer to explain why bankruptcy is the best choice in your circumstances.
- Which type of bankruptcy should I file?
For most individuals, there are two types of relevant bankruptcies: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Under Chapter 7, the bankruptcy trustee takes property that you own (that is not exempt under state law) in exchange for having your debt wiped out. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you don’t lose any property, but must enter into a three-to-five-year repayment plan. A potential attorney should be able to clearly describe the differences between these bankruptcy types and explain which is most appropriate for your situation and why.
- What alternatives to bankruptcy should I consider?
If bankruptcy isn’t right for you, ask what other options you should consider. Some bankruptcy alternatives may include debt consolidation, negotiating with creditors or establishing a repayment or debt management plan. Remember to ask the bankruptcy lawyer how much experience they have in handling these issues.
- How much is this going to cost me?
Your lawyer should explain their legal fees and payment structure clearly and carefully, and provide you with an explicit fee agreement, in writing, at the outset. Be sure that you understand not only the legal fees, but the filing fees and expenses for which you’ll be responsible. Also, spend time discussing the payment schedule and plan. If you don’t understand something related to fees or billing, don’t be shy to ask for clarification. Your lawyer has an ethical obligation to ensure that you understand.
- Can you talk me through the bankruptcy process?
As you’ll be immersed in the bankruptcy process for your immediate future, you need to know what lies ahead. Your bankruptcy lawyer should be able to orient you to the process by giving you a step-by-step account of what to expect. You should also ask when the lawyer anticipates making the initial filing so that you can understand from which point the bankruptcy timeline begins.
- What do you require of me?
You will also have some work to do during the bankruptcy process. Your lawyer will need certain documents from you, such as tax returns, pay stubs, real estate documents, and more. The materials you’ll have to produce will vary depending on the specifics of your case. You should also expect to fill out some paperwork and turn it over to your lawyer to review.
- Do you help rebuild credit scores after the bankruptcy is over?
Although your credit score will take a hit post-bankruptcy, you can rebuild your score. Some bankruptcy attorneys can facilitate this process by reviewing your credit reports, ensure that the report is accurate and suggest affirmative steps to take. However, we at Klein Law Group go much further. Currently, we are the only firm in South Florida to offer this program. We give you the opportunity to rebuild your credit by enrolling you into a program called, “7 Steps to a 720 Credit Score”. This program is an online credit improvement course that all of our bankruptcy clients receive and we will make it available to you at no additional charge. Be sure to ask your Boca Raton attorney whether they offer this important service.
If you have any questions about bankruptcy or would like to schedule a free initial consultation with our experienced Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and Boca Raton bankruptcy lawyers, contact us today!
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY LAWYERS SERVING BOCA RATON, FL – PALM BEACH & BROWARD COUNTIES
You’ve heard of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but you’re not quite sure what it means. Let us help. Below we give you a thorough overview of this form of bankruptcy so you can understand what it is, what to expect and whether it may be right for you.
What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, also known as liquidation or straight bankruptcy, is a legal process that allows you to eliminate most of your unsecured debt. Discharging your debt provides you with an opportunity to start fresh and take control of your financial future.
Although Chapter 7 is the most common and straightforward of all the bankruptcy options, achieving a clean financial slate isn’t as simple as hitting a reset button. This form of bankruptcy requires you to liquidate certain assets and give the proceeds to your creditors. You need a skilled Florida bankruptcy lawyer who can help protect as many of your assets as possible and safeguard your rights and interests.
At Klein Law Group, our team of Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers is committed to providing comprehensive legal counsel to residents of Palm Beach and Broward counties, including cities such as Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Palm Beach and Boynton Beach. We want to help you get out from under your debt and provide you the Freedom to Start Fresh!
Advantages of Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Florida
Chapter 7 bankruptcy can provide numerous benefits to people overwhelmed with debt. The most significant advantages include:
Immediate relief. Once you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida, the court will order an “automatic stay.” A stay instantly stops almost all lawsuits actions or collection activity against you. With a stay, creditors can no longer harass you, a bank cannot foreclose on your house, your wages cannot be garnished and utility providers cannot discontinue their service to you.
Speed. Florida bankruptcy courts usually discharge debts within four months of filing.
Accessibility. You can file bankruptcy no matter the amount of your debt. There is no minimum or maximum amount required to file bankruptcy.
Freedom. Once the process is complete, you will no longer be liable for most debts and can keep future income which will give you the Freedom to Start Fresh!
Finality. After a court issues a discharge, your obligations toward old debt is complete. There is no mandated repayment plan.
Generous exemptions. Generally, you can keep your vehicle after bankruptcy in Florida. The state also has a generous homestead exemption. However, if your property is mortgaged, you still must pay the mortgage or you will lose your home.
A path forward. Because you generally no longer have debt after bankruptcy, you can use the income for new debt and start rebuilding your credit. Creditors often will issue you a credit card post-bankruptcy as they know you can only file Chapter 7 once every eight years.
Disadvantages of Chapter 7 bankruptcy
Naturally, this type of bankruptcy comes with a few drawbacks as well.
You may lose some valuable assets. While a Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy can protect many of your most valuable possessions, including your car and home, some items are not exempt. A bankruptcy court may order some non-exempt assets sold and distributed to creditors who have filed claims. As a result, you may lose items that have a significant financial and emotional value such as real estate, jewelry, art or other personal possessions.
Some debts aren’t dischargeable. Chapter 7 won’t eliminate certain types of debt, including:
- student loans (although dischargeable if you can prove a hardship)
- family law support obligations such as alimony or child support
- certain tax debts
- SEC violations
- fraud claims
- criminal fines and penalties
Bankruptcy appears on your credit report. Reference to the bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for up to ten years.
Co-signers to debt will still be liable. If you have shared the debt with a person who is not filing bankruptcy, they remain responsible for the debt even if you are relieved of responsibility. This can cause serious tensions among relationships.
You can only file every eight years. The 8-year restriction on filing Chapter 7 means that before you declare bankruptcy, you must be confident that you’re going to be able to eliminate a significant amount of debt. If you foresee that you’ll incur a substantial amount of debt in the near future, such as medical bills, it might be better to delay filing bankruptcy until your medical treatment has concluded.
Ultimately, you’ll have to balance the advantages of a Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy against the drawbacks. Discuss your financial situation and concerns with a Palm Beach or Broward County bankruptcy attorney. An attorney can help you consider the answers to these four key questions:
- Will Chapter 7 bankruptcy eliminate enough debt to be worthwhile?
- Will I lose property that I want to keep?
- Does bankruptcy make financial sense for me?
- Will bankruptcy give me peace of mind?
The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Process
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is generally straightforward. For you, the debtor, the most work-intensive part occurs in the early stages, before making the actual filing. To help you get a sense of the process of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida and its general timeline, we describe the nine major steps and components of the process below.
- Take the Florida “Means Test”
To be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your attorney must calculate whether you have the means to repay all or a small portion of your debt. You will qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if your most recent six months of income (annualized) falls below the median income level set for your household size, as based on the most recent Florida median household income levels.
If you do not pass the means test, don’t panic. Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection or a bankruptcy alternative might be more appropriate for you. Speak with a Palm Beach or Broward County bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.
- Gather and Complete Bankruptcy Paperwork
Before filing for bankruptcy, you will have to collect all relevant financial documents, including tax records, credit card statements, bank statements, pay stubs, loan documents, deeds, and more. Your bankruptcy attorney will use the information in these documents to complete the bankruptcy petition, the financial schedule of assets and liabilities and other documents the bankruptcy court requires. During this stage, you will also work with your attorney to create a plan for surrendering or retaining your non-exempt property.
- Obtain Credit Counseling
Federal law requires all bankruptcy petitioners obtain credit counseling prior to filing bankruptcy. Usually, this is a 30-minute course that a debtor may complete online, on the telephone or in-person. You’ll receive a certificate as proof of completion which must be filed along with your bankruptcy petition. You can find a list of government-approved credit counselors here.
- File the Bankruptcy Petition
The next step is to file the bankruptcy petition and other relevant documents with the clerk of your local bankruptcy court. Residents in Palm Beach and Broward counties will most likely file in the Southern District of Florida.
- Receive Court-appointed Bankruptcy Trustee
After you have filed the petition, the bankruptcy court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee to administer your case. Trustees are responsible for examining the petition and documents to ensure that all the information is accurate, sell any non-exempt property and distribute the proceeds among your creditors on a pro-rata basis.
Trustees also have the power to file a lawsuit against you to avoid “preference” transfers. Such transfers occur when, in the 90 days before filing bankruptcy, the debtor makes payments or gives assets to preferred creditors to ensure that they receive their share or to hide assets. The trustee can seek the return of (“clawback”) such funds or assets to fairly distribute the money or assets among all creditors.
- Attend the 341 Meeting of Creditors
After the petition is filed, the bankruptcy court will send a notice to all your creditors to inform them of your petition and invite them to a meeting which is known as the 341 meeting of creditors. The meeting, which takes place 20 to 40 days after filing, offers the bankruptcy trustee and any creditors who attend the opportunity to ask you questions, under oath, about your financial affairs. If the meeting is not completed in one session, the trustee may schedule a second meeting. Although creditors are not required to attend the meeting, and 99 out of 100 times they do not, your attendance is mandatory.
- Prepare for Asset Seizure
Once the trustee is satisfied that your petition is accurate, they can begin selling your non-exempt assets and distribute them to creditors. They may also file a fraudulent transfer lawsuit (also known as an adversary proceeding) against you in an effort to claw back assets you transferred to avoid losing them to your creditors in bankruptcy.
During this stage of the process, it is critical to have an experienced Boca Raton bankruptcy lawyer to represent and protect your interests. Your lawyer will ensure that the trustee is only targeting non-exempt assets and, in the case of an adversary proceeding or clawback lawsuit, vigorously defend your actions.
- Take a Financial Management Course
Before having your debts discharged, you must take a financial management course from a government-approved agency. You may complete the course in person, online or by telephone within 60 days of the 341 Meeting of Creditors.
- Receive Order of Discharge
The bankruptcy court will issue a general order of discharge of debt at the end of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case if there are no outstanding objections from creditors or the trustee. The order of discharge delivers the message that you have completed everything required of you under the Federal and Florida bankruptcy laws and that you are no longer obligated to pay back dischargeable debts.
My Chapter 7 bankruptcy is complete– now what?
After your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is officially closed, you can move on with your life. But what does that mean? In financial terms, it means learning how to best manage your finances and start rebuilding your credit. At Klein Law Group, our bankruptcy lawyers not only help you rebuild credit, but we also offer an online credit improvement course called “7 Steps to a 720 credit score.” We are so committed to your financial rehabilitation that we offer this course free of charge to our clients.
If you’re a resident of South Florida and have questions regarding Chapter 7 bankruptcy, our experienced bankruptcy attorneys proudly serve Palm Beach and Broward counties and cities such as Deerfield Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale. Contact us today to take the first step toward your Freedom to Start Fresh!
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY LAWYERS IN PALM BEACH & BROWARD COUNTIES
Chapter 13 is the second most common form of bankruptcy, after Chapter 7. To help you understand the differences between these two bankruptcy types, and which one might be right for you, take a look at the following comprehensive overview of the process.
What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a legal process that allows individuals to repay their debts to secured and unsecured creditors. Sometimes called “debt reorganization” or “a wage earner’s plan,” Chapter 13 helps people with regular monthly incomes hold on to their non-exempt property by restructuring their debt and crafting a repayment plan that lasts three to five years.
This form of bankruptcy can be an attractive option for people that do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and for those who are seeking to retain a greater portion of their assets and property. Chapter 13 bankruptcy also offers a broader discharge of debts than Chapter 7.
Below we discuss the advantages and drawbacks of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced team of Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyers serving Palm Beach and Broward counties. We are committed to helping you find a way out from under your debt and give you peace of mind.
Advantages of a Florida Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Although Chapter 7’s immediate debt relief may seem more appealing initially, many debtors ultimately decide that Chapter 13 bankruptcy’s repayment plan is more beneficial. Its most significant advantages include:
As with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court will order an “automatic stay” after you file for Chapter 13 protection. The stay immediately stops almost all collection activities against you including foreclosure defense actions you no longer have to pursue. Creditors are no longer allowed to pursue lawsuits, contact you regarding payments or garnish your wages. Unlike Chapter 7, Chapter 13’s automatic stay also protects co-debtors from creditor’s demands.
Manageable repayment plan
Chapter 13 permits you to consolidate your debt and make one monthly payment based on your income and expenses. You and your bankruptcy attorney work together to restructure a repayment plan that is suitable for your particular circumstances. Repayment plans range anywhere from 1% to 100% of your total unsecured debt. The percentage you payback is a function of your income and living expenses.
In most instances, Chapter 13 allows you to keep most, if not all, of your non-exempt property. Because you’re repaying a percentage of the debt under Chapter 13, you’re almost always allowed to preserve assets that would have been vulnerable to sale and distribution to creditors under Chapter 7. This benefit makes it a good option for those who want to keep family jewelry or those trying to keep their businesses open while filing bankruptcy.
Broad discharge of debt
After you complete your repayment plan under Chapter 13, the court may discharge certain types of debt that are not dischargeable under Chapter 7. For example, a discharge order may include certain tax obligations, debts arising out of divorce, or, in many circumstances, strip away a homeowner association (HOA) lien or a second or third mortgage on your home.
Chapter 13 doesn’t require you to pay all of your unsecured debt–just a percentage that varies depending on your circumstances. Your bankruptcy lawyer can help you calculate the proper percentage and formulate a plan for repayment that gives you the best advantage possible.
Relative ease in rebuilding credit
Because you’re paying back some of your debt through Chapter 13, creditors see it as more favorable than Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under Chapter 13, you can begin rebuilding your credit after the confirmation of your repayment plan, which usually takes three to four months after the filing of the petition. By the time you receive your bankruptcy discharge, your credit score may be higher than it was at the time of your filing.
Potential disadvantages of a Florida Chapter 13 bankruptcy
Requires patience and discipline. Because bankruptcy under Chapter 13 is a long-term plan, you don’t have the immediate relief of having all your debt discharged quickly. Moreover, it will require discipline and sacrifice on your part to commit to your monthly payment.
Requires sufficient disposable income. Only petitioners with adequate disposable income are eligible for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Debt limits. To be eligible for protection under Chapter 13, your unsecured debt must be less than $394,725 and secured debt less than $1,184,200.
Bankruptcy appears on credit reports. After the bankruptcy is complete, a reference to the bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for up to ten years. Nevertheless, this will not necessarily prevent you from obtaining new debt or even buying a house.
To weigh the balance of these pros and cons and determine whether Florida Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you, don’t hesitate to consult with an experienced Palm Beach and Broward county bankruptcy lawyer.
The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Process
Executing a Florida Chapter 13 bankruptcy is fairly complicated: having an experienced Florida bankruptcy lawyer to help navigate you through it is essential. Keep reading to obtain an overview of the basic steps and stages of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Obtain Credit Counseling
Under federal law, all people filing bankruptcy are required to obtain credit counseling prior to filing bankruptcy. The counseling typically lasts about 30 minutes and can be done online. You’ll receive a certificate as proof of completion which must be filed with your bankruptcy petition. You can find a list of government-approved credit counselors here.
Prepare the Bankruptcy Petition
Your Boca Raton bankruptcy attorney will complete the bankruptcy petition, schedules, and other documents. Most importantly, your attorney will draft a proposed debt repayment plan based on your financial position. This plan, which sets forth which debts you will pay and the amount each creditor will receive, is based on your disposable income, assets, liabilities, living expenses and other pertinent criteria.
The plan will also propose how much debt you’re capable of paying each month. This figure is based on your current income, living expenses and in some cases, certain non-exempt assets.
File the Bankruptcy Petition
Your Florida bankruptcy attorney will file the bankruptcy petition and repayment plan in the local bankruptcy court, most likely in the Southern District of Florida. After you file, the automatic stay immediately goes into effect.
Appointment of the Trustee
After receiving the petition, the court will appoint a trustee to oversee your case. The Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee must review your proposed debt reorganization and repayment plan and ensure that it complies with all legal requirements. The trustee will also be the person to receive payments under your plan and distribute these payments to your creditors on a pro-rata basis.
Begin Making Payments
The first payment is due within 30 days of filing or prior to the 341 meeting of creditors, whichever is first to occur.
Attend Creditor Meeting
Within 40 days of filing, you are required to attend a Section 341 meeting of the creditors where the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors may ask you questions about your debt and repayment plan (although it is rare that creditors attend). Your bankruptcy attorney will be with you during this meeting. This is the only time that you will have to meet face-to-face with the trustee or creditors. It is very rare that a debtor appears in a courtroom before a judge.
Approval of Payment Plan
If there are no objections, within a few weeks of the 341 Meeting, the court will approve or confirm your repayment plan.
Once you have successfully completed all of the payments as outlined in your Chapter 13 debt repayment plan, the court will issue an order of discharge thereby discharging you of any remaining debts to your creditors. Your slate is now wiped clean.
If you’re considering filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in Palm Beach and Broward counties and have questions or concerns about the process, contact our experienced bankruptcy lawyers as soon as possible. We are ready to provide you with the Freedom to Start Fresh!
Filing for Bankruptcy in Florida
Deciding to file for bankruptcy in Florida isn’t always an easy choice to make. But it might be the right one. In this section, we seek to answer some of your questions about Florida bankruptcy and alleviate some of your concerns.
I just moved to Florida. Am I eligible to file bankruptcy in Florida?
There is no residency requirement to file bankruptcy in Florida. You can submit a bankruptcy petition even if you just moved to the state last month. However, if you’re a recent resident, Florida’s bankruptcy exemptions may not apply to you.
Under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, you must have lived in Florida for at least 730 days (two years) before filing the bankruptcy petition to take advantage of Florida’s bankruptcy exemptions. If you’ve lived in Florida for less than two years, the bankruptcy court will apply the exemptions from the state that you spent the most time in for the 180-day period before you filed.
What are Florida bankruptcy exemptions?
Exemptions generally refer to the property or assets that you can keep when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or how much you must pay creditors in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While some states allow debtors to choose between federal exemptions and state exemptions, Florida requires bankruptcy petitioners to use Florida state exemptions. Some examples of Florida exemptions include:
|Exemption Type||Exemption Description|
|Homestead||You can exempt an unlimited amount of equity in your home or other property that meets the homestead requirement as long as the property is no larger than a half-acre in a municipality or 160 acres elsewhere.|
|Personal Property||You can exempt up to $1,000 in value of personal property, such as cash, art, furniture, electronics, etc.|
|Motor Vehicle||You can exempt up to $1,000 equity in one vehicle (more if you’re married and filing jointly)|
|“Wild Card”||If a debtor doesn’t use the homestead exemption, the debtor can claim an additional $4,000 of personal property.|
|Pension and Retirement Accounts||ERISA qualified plans (401(k), 403(b), IRA’s, etc.) and pensions are fully exempt as are public employee, teacher, and municipal employee retirement benefits.|
What kind of fees are involved with filing bankruptcy in Florida?
When filing bankruptcy, you’ll have to pay administrative, education and legal fees.
In the Southern District of Florida, court filing fees are currently $335 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and $310 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Consumer counseling and education fees can range between $50 and $100. Credit report fees range from $35 to $75.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee receives a $60 fee for each case they administer which is paid by the court. Then, if any assets are liquidated, the trustee will receive a portion, on a sliding scale percentage, of the non-exempt assets sold. Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the trustee receives 10 percent of the payment plan.
Legal fees vary depending on the complexity and length of the bankruptcy process, the lawyer’s billing method (hourly vs. flat fee), and lawyer’s experience, education, knowledge and qualifications.
Will I be able to obtain a loan in Florida after declaring bankruptcy?
Yes. Most people can rebuild their credit and obtain new debt, such as a mortgage or a car loan, shortly after filing bankruptcy. The terms of these loans might be different than before, but it is still probable.
Will I be able to get a job in Florida with a bankruptcy on my credit report?
Yes. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against a person who has filed for bankruptcy. It should not affect your ability to get a job in the future.
As difficult as the decision is to file bankruptcy, it may also be the best thing for you and your family. Whether you opt for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 protections or decide to go with a bankruptcy alternative, you can stop feeling suffocated by the weight of your debt and get the fresh financial start you need.
If you are considering pursuing a bankruptcy in South Florida, in cities like Parkland, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Sunrise, Dania Beach, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Boynton Beach, Wilton Manors, Highland Beach, Delray Beach, Lantana, Lake Worth, Greenacres, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, our experienced bankruptcy attorneys serving Palm Beach and Broward counties want to help you. Among other things, we can help you:
- decide whether bankruptcy is right for you
- determine which form of bankruptcy to file
- file your bankruptcy petition
- prepare a reorganization of debt and payment plan
- ensure that your assets fall in the proper exemption category
- help you rebuild your credit score.
We understand that this is a difficult time. It is our mission to help you through it as painlessly as possible and get you back on a sound financial footing.
Contact Klein Law Group at (561) 353-2800, or go online to schedule a consultation today.
Frequently Asked Questions
So that those considering using our services can be as informed as possible about their rights and the processes related to bankruptcy – ranging from foreclosure alternatives, documentary requirements, income source exemptions from creditors, amongst many others – we’ve answered the following questions for you.
- Will bankruptcy eliminate a deficiency judgement?
- What is a strategic default?
- Do I qualify for foreclosure defense?
- Can I defense a foreclosure if it is an investment property?
- Can I answer the complaint for foreclosure myself?
- Can hiring an attorney give me a better chance of avoiding foreclosure?
- Are there alternatives to foreclosure available?
- Will I have to file for bankruptcy if my house is foreclosed on and sold?
- Will I be able to get a mortgage or car loan with a bankruptcy on my credit report?
- Will bankruptcy affect my ability to get a job in the future?
- Can bankruptcy eliminate a deficiency judgement?
- Why should someone consult an attorney when filing bankruptcy?
- What if I do not have statements from some of my creditors how will you know who I owe money to?
- What happens if a creditor files a lien against my property before I file bankruptcy?
- What does the chapter 13 trustee do with the money I pay every month through my Chapter 13 plan?
- Is social security income exempt from the reach of my creditors?
- Is my 401(k) and retirement accounts protected from the reach of my creditors?
- If you file bankruptcy can you keep your car?
- If I file bankruptcy and my spouse does not, will their credit be affected?
- If I do not file bankruptcy can a creditor garnish my wages or bank accounts?
- How much of my debt do I have to pay back through a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
- How long does the entire bankruptcy process take from start to finish?
- How long does bankruptcy stay on your credit report?
- How does the bankruptcy court determine what my income is if I am self-employed?
- How does the bankruptcy court come up with values for automobiles and, or other personal property?
- Do you lose your home if you file bankruptcy?
- Do I have to include everyone that I owe money to in the bankruptcy?
- Do I have to close my bank accounts when filing bankruptcy?
- Do I have to be up to date on taxes to file bankruptcy?
- Does an individual have to hire a lawyer to file bankruptcy?
- Can the bankruptcy court take property owned by my corporation or LLC?
- Can I sell my car before filing bankruptcy and use the money to pay expenses?
- Can I modify my existing mortgage through bankruptcy?
- Can I keep my home if I file for bankruptcy in Florida?
- Can I do a short sale if I’ve filed for bankruptcy?
- Can I discharge a second mortgage or a home equity loan through bankruptcy?
- Can I defend a foreclosure action & file bankruptcy?
- Can business debts that I personally guaranteed be included in my personal bankruptcy?
- Can bankruptcy stop wage garnishment if a creditor is garnishing my wages?
- Are taxes ever dischargeable?
- Are student loans dischargeable?
- Am I able to pay off my chapter 13 debt early?