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We understand that big debt and even the word “bankruptcy” can carry a lot of shame and baggage, mostly because of misconceptions people have about what bankruptcy does and what it means. We will take the time to explain exactly how bankruptcy can impact your life, evaluate your financial situation, establish whether bankruptcy is the best option for you, and file for bankruptcy with the Florida courts. Eliminating debt in this manner can be complicated and confusing to navigate, but our Valrico bankruptcy lawyer is here to make it easier! We can give you a clean financial state and change the course of your family’s future. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
What Is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal process that provides debt relief when you can no longer afford to pay your mounting bills. Anyone can file for bankruptcy, from individual debtors to major corporations.
Does Bankruptcy Destroy Your Credit?
Yes and no, but mostly no! Bankruptcy does stay as a negative mark on your credit for several years after you file, depending on the type of bankruptcy you choose. However, bankruptcy lowers your debt-to-income ratio, which means that many people who file will actually see their credit score improve dramatically on the very first day after they obtain their discharge (Chapter 7) or start their repayment plan (Chapter 13). After 7 or 10 years, bankruptcy will no longer remain on your report.
Will Collection Companies And Creditors Stop Contacting Me?
Yes! Once you begin the bankruptcy process, the court prevents all calls, letters, and other debt collection efforts from continuing. Extreme debt collection like wage garnishments, foreclosure, repossession, and levies against your bank accounts also end immediately upon filing for bankruptcy. If creditor harassment has been hanging over your head and negatively affecting your family’s life, filing for bankruptcy can give you peace of mind and protect what matters most to you!
Why It’s Smart To Work With Our Valrico Bankruptcy Lawyer
Bankruptcy can be a complex undertaking; because it is a legal process, it involves a lot of paperwork and something known as a 341 meeting (where you need to present financial information to creditors). It may involve other court proceedings, depending on how your case unfolds. Any missteps along the way could result in you losing valuable assets or not being able to eliminate as much debt as you would have if you had filed correctly. Mistakes could also result in the dismissal of your petition and even criminal penalties.
Our Valrico bankruptcy lawyer can help you understand what’s required of you, avoid common pitfalls, take care of all the paperwork for you, and represent you in any capacity necessary. We focus on getting you out from under debt so you can focus on doing what you need to do to stay out from under it.
Types Of Bankruptcy
There are three main types of bankruptcy; which one you will file for will depend on your unique needs (and our Valrico bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine how to file).
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as liquidation bankruptcy, or straight bankruptcy. It frees you from unsecured debts like credit cards and medical bills while allowing you to keep exempt property such as retirement funds, vehicles, and homestead property in your possession (though some of your non-exempt property may need to be sold to pay the debt). When filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court performs a means test to determine whether your debts exceed the state’s income eligibility requirements.
The means test takes your income, amount of dependents, residents, non-filing spouses, and allowances like housing, food, transportation, and other requisite items into account while comparing your budget to your debts. If your debts outweigh your income, a court-appointed trustee will liquidate your assets that are unsecured by a lien or mortgage. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is best for people who are overwhelmed by debt and don’t have steady income. If you do have the means to cover some of your debts, Florida bankruptcy courts may require you to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.
Benefits of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
- Creditors cannot initiate or continue legal proceedings against you (foreclosure will be halted, you will no longer be harassed, etc.).
- It’s fast – generally, Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes six months or less
- Debts or assets gained after you’ve started bankruptcy proceedings won’t fall under the purview of your filing.
- You won’t lose all of your possessions – you can keep many of your assets. Our Valrico bankruptcy lawyer can explain which of your possessions will be protected in a Chapter 7 filing before you file, and we may be able to help you protect assets that aren’t typically exempt as well.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also known as reorganization bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy is designed for people who have income but have fallen behind on debt payments and can’t pay them back. In a Chapter 13 filing, some of your debts will be discharged and a monthly payment plan will be created that gives you typically between three to five years to pay back the rest. You will be able to retain ownership of your assets.
Benefits of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
- Just like with a Chapter 7, creditors will be forced to stop all collection actions against you (wage garnishments, liens, foreclosure, harassment, etc.)
- Secured debts can be rescheduled and extended over the life of the Chapter 13 plan, which can lower the payments and make them more affordable.
- You won’t have to sell/liquidate your possessions to pay off your debts.
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy only stays on your credit for 7 years (compared to 10 for Chapter 7).
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Chapter 11 is similar to Chapter 13 in that it is a reorganization plan, but designed for businesses. Large corporations, mid-size companies, and small businesses frequently use Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize their financial affairs. It is more expensive and involved to file for Chapter 11 than it is for Chapter 13, so individuals receive more benefits under 13, but organizations are legally required to file under 11. However, if you are a small business owner, Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be a suitable option depending on your goals.
Benefits of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
- The organization can continue to operate during bankruptcy proceedings.
- Just like with Chapter 13, a payment plan is made to make paying off debts easier for the organization.
- Chapter 11 can allow companies to rebuild a healthier financial future instead of being forced to close completely.
Overwhelmed By Debt? Call An Experienced Valrico Bankruptcy Lawyer Today.
Economically, times are tough, and even the most responsible person can find themselves wondering how their debt piled up so high. Filing for bankruptcy helps you stop collection efforts, pay off your debts, and create more financial opportunities for yourself and your family! The least stressful way to handle stressful debt is to work with a legal professional you can trust to keep filing for bankruptcy as smooth and straightforward as possible. If you need a Valrico bankruptcy lawyer, call Osenton Law, P.A., to schedule a free consultation. Our lead attorney, O. Reginald “Reggie” Osenton, can give you sound counsel at every stage of the process. He has been successfully guiding clients through Chapter 13, Chapter 7, and Chapter 11 filings for over 33 years! Call today to learn more about your next steps.
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Osenton Law, P.A.
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