Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in South Florida

Are you drowning in unsecured debt and unable to keep up with your payments? Do you find yourself deciding between making minimum payments and providing for yourself and your children? If so, Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be the right path forward. Also known as liquidation bankruptcy, you can use it to discharge eligible unsecured debt. However, certain assets can be seized and liquidated. 

Because this is such a big decision, it’s wise to consult with a South Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer first. Your attorney will review your situation and help you determine if bankruptcy is the right choice. If it is, your lawyer can handle the paperwork to help you get approved. Then, you can start over with a clean slate.

Dischargeable Debts Under Chapter 7

Your South Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer will review your debts to determine what is eligible for discharge. Dischargeable debts include:

  • Credit card debt
  • Medical bills
  • Past-due utility bills 
  • Business debts 
  • Collection accounts 
  • Personal loan debt

You cannot discharge federal student loans, alimony, child support payments, and some other types of debt.

How Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Works

There are rules and guidelines in place for discharging debt under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can begin by consulting with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in South Florida to ensure you qualify. Then, you’ll need to undergo credit counseling at least 180 days before filing for bankruptcy. When you reach the 90-day mark before filing, stop using your credit cards. Any charges incurred from this point forward won’t be dischargeable with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

Your lawyer will then file the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Approximately 30 days later, you’ll submit a Statement of Intention to the court. You’ll use this to reaffirm debt held by collateral or liquidate it to go to creditors. If you reaffirm the debt, you must make payments.

You’ll attend a meeting of creditors approximately six weeks after filing the petition. The trustee will ask you questions about your filing. Creditors can also ask questions if they wish, although that is rare.

Next, the bankruptcy court will discharge your debt if your bankruptcy is approved. This typically happens within six months of filing.

Means Test For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is designed to help people who cannot repay debt. However, the courts do not want people to abuse it. Thus, you have to prove that you cannot feasibly repay the debt to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in South Florida.

You’ll qualify to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if your income falls below the state’s median income level. If you don’t meet the income requirement, you’ll take the means test. You’ll calculate your income and expenses to determine how much you have left. If you don’t have much disposable income, you’ll likely pass the means test and can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Attorneys in South Florida

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Does Filing For Bankruptcy Stop Collections?

When you file your petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in South Florida, the bankruptcy court will halt all collection efforts immediately. Creditors cannot call, send notices, or reach out in any way. Also, foreclosure sales and wage garnishments must stop. If creditors continue to harass you after filing, notify your South Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer. Your attorney will put a stop to all collection efforts while you wait to get approved. Then, once your bankruptcy is discharged, you will get a clean slate.

Does Filing For Bankruptcy Stop Collections?

Your bankruptcy trustee will liquidate non-exempt property to pay your creditors. However, you can qualify for exemptions to protect eligible property from liquidation. You are only eligible for exemptions if you’ve lived in Florida for the 780 days prior to filing. If you don’t meet that requirement, you’ll follow the laws of your previous state. Eligible exemptions include the equity in your home, up to $1,000 in personal property, education savings, prepaid medical savings accounts, tax credits, refunds, and more. Your South Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney will go through your estate and explain what is and is not eligible for exemption.

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