Are you living in fear of that phone call coming during the night that will ruin your evening, or worse, come when you have company and embarrass you half to death? Do you dread the knock on the door to receive news that your home is being foreclosed or the repo-man is calling to claim your car or furniture? Bad things can and do happen to good people. You are not alone.
If you are struggling with debt and can’t sleep, worried about how to protect your home and family, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have bills that are more than 30 days past due?
- Are you paying only the minimum payment on your credit cards?
- Do you write checks, worried whether you have sufficient funds to cover them?
- Are you near or at the credit limit on one or more credit cards?
- Have you pulled money from your 401K or other retirement plan to pay creditors?
- Are you in jeopardy of losing your house or car?
- Are creditors threatening to sue you?
If you answer yes to one or more of the above questions, then call us for a free initial consultation to discuss whether filing bankruptcy is right for you. Almost immediately upon filing a stop can be made to wage garnishments, collection harassment, foreclosure on your home or repossession of your transportation. Bankruptcy can also provide relief to some forms of IRS debt and divorce related debt.
The two most common forms of individual bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Most people think of the Chapter 7 liquidation or straight bankruptcy when they think of bankruptcy. In the Chapter 7 proceeding, non-exempt assets are sold and the proceeds are used to pay creditors. Any debt remaining after sale of assets and payment to creditors is discharged leaving yo debt free and with a fresh start.
Does the sale of assets mean you will lose everything? No, not in Florida. The sale applies only to non-exempt assets. The law makes provisions to protect certain assets such as your home, your car, and some personal property. It is also possible to do a “buy back” on non-exempt property. All this will be explained during your initial free consultation.
To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the new law passed in 2005 requires a two part means test. First, expenses for rent, food, utilities and other living expenses are deducted from your income to determine if you can afford to pay 25 percent of your non-priority, unsecured debts, such as credit cards. Second, your income is compared to the state’s median income for households your size. If your income is more than the state’s median income and you can afford to pay more than 25 percent of your unsecured debt, you will not be allowed to for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The alternative to Chapter 7 is to file for Chapter 13 which is commonly known as the wage earner’s program. After allowing for living expenses using the standards set forth by the Internal Revenue Service, and you can pay more than 25 percent of your unsecured debt, a plan is worked out to pay your creditors. Once you satisfy the plan, any remaining debt is discharged.
It is possible to have an income below the state’s median or your household size and still be able to pay 25 percent of your unsecured debt. In such cases, the court will decide whether you can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
The new law also requires you to attend credit counseling classes within the six-month period prior to filing the petition for bankruptcy. There is also a requirement to attend a money management class prior to receiving a final discharge from bankruptcy. There are a number of approved courses which you can attend in person or on the internet.
Contact us to schedule your free initial consultation. You do not need to bring any materials with you. We ask only that you print out the initial consult form within this site, complete it and bring it with you. If you decide that bankruptcy is right for you, we will provide work forms and check lists to assist you with gathering the needed information.
Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long. Move now to give yourself a fresh start and regain control of your life.