Threats of lawsuits, wage garnishment, and endless calls from creditors can feel overwhelming and scary, but debt relief is available. When you can’t pay your bills and your debt is growing, filing for bankruptcy may be the best option to create a new path forward, but you shouldn’t try to navigate this process alone. At Stiberman Law, you can work with an experienced Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in West Palm Beach who will fight for your best interests and help you move forward into a more secure, confident financial future. FREE CONSULTATION
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also referred to as liquidation bankruptcy. During this process, you’ll report all your debt information and income, and as soon as the bankruptcy filing begins, all secured and unsecured creditors must cease collection attempts.
A bankruptcy trustee is assigned to your case, and they will assess your personal property and gather your nonexempt valuable assets, such as a second vehicle or money in a savings account. They will sell off those assets to pay off as much of your debt as possible, and after this is complete, any eligible, unsecured debt that is not paid is discharged by the bankruptcy court. This means you are no longer responsible for paying these debts and creditors can no longer attempt to collect. From start to finish, the process takes between three and six months.
The following types of unsecured debts can be discharged during Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
These types of debt are not eligible for a bankruptcy discharge:
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney from Stiberman Law will fight to have as much of your debt eliminated as possible to ensure you’re starting over with a clean slate and a secure future.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is specifically designed for people with little to no extra income to repay creditors to get out from under the crushing weight of debt.
To minimize the number of people who can receive debt elimination, rather than repayment, a means test is required. Under United States bankruptcy law, your income must be below the median income in your state for your family size for you to be automatically eligible to file Chapter 7. For example, in Florida, the median income for a family of four is $89,206, so if your annual income is below this, this option will be available to you.
If you make over this amount, the bankruptcy court will then look into your average monthly income as well as your monthly expenses, taking into account housing, groceries, medical care, and utilities to determine your disposable income. If a bankruptcy judge determines you can pay on some or all of your debt, you may need to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Even if you are eligible to file for Chapter 7, it may not be the best option for you. If much of your debt is due to student loans, or you’re concerned about losing your property, another option may lead to a better outcome for you. Working with an experienced Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer is essential to making sure you have the best information and can make an informed choice for your financial future.
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While it’s not a legal requirement to have a Chapter 7 attorney file bankruptcy on your behalf, it is highly beneficial and recommended. This is a complex legal procedure that can be difficult to navigate on your own. Having an advocate can reduce your stress as well as improve your outcome by:
Stiberman Law has been serving clients in West Palm Beach and the surrounding area since 1998. With over 100 5-star reviews, you can feel confident that you will work with a bankruptcy attorney with the experience and knowledge needed to help you secure a faster process and a more favorable outcome. From your first free consultation to the completion of your bankruptcy case, we’re by your side to help you through the process:
In addition to our legal counsel and experience, we offer you an affordable way to file for bankruptcy with $0 down options and low payment plans.
We understand you have questions and concerns. To help you better understand the process, we’re sharing some information related to our most frequently asked questions about Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Yes. In order to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you must prove you have completed a federally-mandated course from an approved credit counseling agency. Rather than paying out more, our law firm is also an approved agency and can include credit counseling during the filing process to save you time and money.
A mortgage is a secured debt, meaning that if you don’t pay the debt, the lender can seize the home. If you are currently in foreclosure, beginning the bankruptcy process will pause the proceedings temporarily, but after your bankruptcy is complete, the process will re-start.
If you have remained in good standing with your mortgage and are up-to-date on your payments, you can file an exemption to keep your property so that it won’t be seized during the liquidation process.
Like a mortgage, a car loan is a secured debt, so if you are behind on your payments, the lender can still repossess the vehicle.
If you are caught up on payments, whether you can keep your car depends on the amount of equity you have. If you do not own a home, you’re allowed up to $5,000 in asset exemptions, so if you have less than $5,000 equity in your car, you will get to keep it.
For example, if your car is worth $10,000, and you owe $7,000, you only have $3,000 in equity, so this would be exempt. If your vehicle is paid off and worth $6,000, it is subject to seizure.
An experienced Chapter 7 lawyer will provide you with more personalized details related to whether your car is or is not eligible for exemption.
In Florida, you receive an exemption of $4,000 for your primary home, and $1,000 for personal property owned, such as a car, jewelry, or other valuables. If you don't own a home, you can use $5,000 to exempt property. However, anything beyond this can be taken by the bankruptcy trustee and used to pay your debt. This includes:
Unsecured debts are debts that don't have collateral. As we mentioned above, mortgages and car loans are secured debts because the lender can repossess the property. Unsecured debts include credit cards and medical bills.
No, this type of bankruptcy is designed for people with serious debt and minimal income who can't afford a debt repayment plan. Once all nonexempt property is used to pay off as much as possible, the eligible debt is discharged.
Federal law requires a minimum filing fee of $338 to file Chapter 7, and mandatory debt counseling is often around another $50 to $100. If you hire a bankruptcy lawyer, fees are between $900 and $1,500.
At Stiberman Law, we include credit counseling, filing fees, and attorney fees in one package as well as offer low payment plans to reduce the financial burden of filing bankruptcy.
It stays on your credit report for 10 years, but your credit score will improve over time if you stay in good standing with any other debts you may accrue following the bankruptcy.
Federal student loans are typically not discharged in bankruptcy. However, discharging other debts and filing for an income-based repayment plan can help you get back in good standing with your student loan provider.
If you don’t pass the means test or we determine that Chapter 7 bankruptcy isn’t the best option, we will look at Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.
No, you can keep your bank account, though any assets in a savings or money market account may be gathered to pay off the debts.
No. Once Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings begin, an automatic stay goes into effect within a week which means creditors, such as credit card companies or collection agencies can no longer contact you, send letters, go through with court proceedings, or garnish wages.
No, once the bankruptcy process begins, all debt collection must cease, including wage garnishment.
If you are ready to break free from medical debt, credit card bills, and more, we can help. Schedule a free consultation with our law firm today by calling (954) 932-7804 or filling out the form below to get started.
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