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How to File for Bankruptcy in Florida

If you’re thinking of filing for bankruptcy in Florida you should know that it falls under federal law. But, state laws do come into play when you’re talking about property and what you’re allowed to keep. It’s important to know how these laws work and what they will mean for your bankruptcy case.

We’re going to take a look at the steps you need to take when filing for bankruptcy in Florida, the documents you will need to prepare, as well as whether you should consider Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

How do I Know Whether to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Before you even start gathering documents, you need to determine whether you should file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy tends to be the most preferred because the process is quicker and less expensive because you don’t need to pay creditors anything. But, if you have more assets than essential items needed to live, you may end up losing them. Luxury items like a vacation home or expensive vehicle may be lost during the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy process. If you are majorly behind on your regular mortgage or car payments, you could also lose them when you file.

If you decide to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you need to make sure you qualify. To qualify your family’s gross income has to be lower than the median income for the same size family in Florida.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, plan on paying creditors some or all of what you owe. This is done through a three-to-five-year repayment plan. You are allowed to keep all of your property and can force a creditor into a payment plan if you can’t discharge all of the debts during the bankruptcy process. Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is more expensive because many people can’t afford the monthly payment. If you can afford the payment, then Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may be more beneficial because you will be allowed to keep all of your property.

To qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have to pay the larger of the value of your non-exempt property, your priority nondischargeable debt, or your disposable income. Because this can get very expensive, many people don’t take this route.

What Happens to My Property When I File for Bankruptcy in Florida?

Many people are afraid they will lose everything when they file for bankruptcy. That is not always the case. You can determine which assets you can protect by looking at Florida’s exemption laws. Anything on that list and the federal nonbankruptcy exemption list is yours to keep. Remember, the type of bankruptcy you file will determine what will happen to any nonexempt property.

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee assigned to your case will sell any property that isn’t exempt. When filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you keep your property, but you need to pay your creditors through the repayment plan we mentioned earlier.

What Happens to My Debts When I File for Bankruptcy in Florida?

Many types of debts are wiped out when you file for bankruptcy. This includes:

  • Credit card balances
  • Overdue utility payments
  • Medical bills
  • Personal loans

If you are willing to give up a house or car that secures a debt, you can even eliminate mortgage or car payments.

Non-dischargeable debts like taxes, student loans, and domestic support can not be erased when filing for bankruptcy. You want to make sure that enough debt will be eliminated to make it worth filing for bankruptcy.

What Documents Do I Need to File for Bankruptcy?

There are many documents needed when filing for bankruptcy. These include:

  • Tax Returns (two years for Chapter 7, four years for Chapter 13)
  • Tax transcripts
  • 6 months of proof of income from employer and other proof of income
  • 6 months of bank statements
  • 6 months of investment and retirement statements
  • Copies of driver’s license and social security card

You may also be asked for mortgage or car loan statements, home, and car valuations. For businesses filing for bankruptcy, profit and loss statements, and liability insurance policies may also be requested.

Should I Hire an Attorney When Filing for Bankruptcy in Florida?

Hiring a bankruptcy attorney when filing for bankruptcy in Florida is a good idea because they will make sure that paperwork gets filed correctly and that you are following all guidelines. They can also help when it comes to:

  • Deciding which type of bankruptcy to file
  • Determine when to file
  • Helping you keep the property you want
  • Explaining the process.

Also, if you hire a lawyer, you can refer your creditors to them so they will stop calling for you.

Filing for Bankruptcy Checklist

Once you’ve done some homework about filing for bankruptcy in Florida, you’ll want to make sure you are doing everything you are supposed to be doing. If you hire a bankruptcy attorney, they can help keep you on track when it comes to this checklist:

  • Checking whether bankruptcy will erase your debt
  • Determining what property you can keep
  • Determining what if you qualify
  • Stop paying qualifying debts
  • Getting documents ready
  • Taking a credit counseling course
  • Filling out paperwork
  • Attending the 341 creditor’s meeting
  • Making payment plans (Chapter 13 only)
  • File a debtor’s education course certificate
  • Receiving debt discharge

When you hire a bankruptcy attorney, you can also ask questions as you go along in the process. 

What Happens After I File for Bankruptcy?

Once you file for bankruptcy, you don’t have to worry about creditors bothering you. You’ll turn over your financial documents, attend the 341 meeting of creditors, and complete a debtor education course. If you are filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will also need to attend a repayment plan confirmation hearing as well as complete the payment plan.

Need Help Filing for Bankruptcy in Florida?

If you need help filing for bankruptcy in Florida, the team at Stiberman Law is here to help. With more than 20 years of experience in Florida bankruptcy law, we can answer your questions and guide you when it comes to your financial future. Call us today at (954) 922-2283 to learn more and schedule a consultation.

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