Need Help Filing for Bankruptcy in Estero, Florida?
If you live in Estero, Florida and are thinking of filing chapter 7 bankruptcy, we believe you find the below information and resources helpful in your path towards financial freedom.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common bankruptcy filed in the US and it offers relief to hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Although filing chapter 7 Bankruptcy is based on Federal Law, Estero residents must also comply with local bankruptcy court rules.
This article will provide a 10 step guide for Estero, Florida residents on how to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Middle District of Florida.
Before filing for bankruptcy, you need to take a look at what it means to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy and whether you can obtain the relief or benefit you are seeking. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is for individuals with little or no assets, who do not have the means to pay back their debts.
Chapter 7 is best suited for individuals seeking to eliminate primarily unsecured debts such as credit cards, medical bills, and personal loans. Chapter 13 is recommended if your debts are primarily secured debts such as a mortgage on your home and you are looking to get current or if you have a lot of assets that you want to keep.
Filing for bankruptcy can have serous consequences including losing your property. You should always consult with a bankruptcy attorney to determine if bankruptcy is right for you, to know under which chapter to file, and what to expect. Bankruptcy is highly technical and it takes many attorneys years to master. Bankruptcy is governed by the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, local bankruptcy court rules, and in Estero, FL it also requires understanding Florida exemptions laws to protect your property. At Stiberman Law you can schedule a free consultation with a Estero bankruptcy attorney to discuss your case.
Before getting to the bankruptcy forms, it will help you to collect the below documents and information. A little organization in the beginning will save you a lot of time in completing the bankruptcy Forms.
You must complete a credit counseling course from an approved agency.
You will receive a certificate of completion which you will need to attach to your bankruptcy petition when filing.
If you obtained your certificate more than 180 days ago, your certificate has expired, and you must retake the course.
Make sure the Certificate lists the Middle District of Florida if applicable..
You will need to complete the bankruptcy forms.
In addition to preparing the Federal bankruptcy forms, you must also comply with the local requirements of the Middle District of Florida which include:
Although as an individual you can file chapter 7 bankruptcy without an attorney, an experienced Estero, Florida bankruptcy lawyer will know the local rules and requirements, and can help you avoid unnecessary pitfalls, including the possible loss of property.
The Filing Fee for Chapter 7 petition is $338.
You can pay the fee installments by submitting an application with the Court.
If you are unable to afford the fee and your income is below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, you may request a fee waiver from the Court.
If you are PRO SE or filing without an attorney, you can file the documents in person in any division of the Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida. The Bankruptcy Court, Fort Myers Division is the nearest to Estero, Florida.
United States Courthouse, 2110 First Street, Fort Myers, Florida 33940
Click here for directions.
You can also mail your forms along with a legible photocopy of your valid government issued ID.
The filing of bankruptcy can have serious consequences or issues may arise that would be difficult, if not impossible, to resolve without a bankruptcy lawyer.
At Stiberman Law we spend the time to review your case, advise you regarding the best course of action, file all necessary bankruptcy paperwork, and attend all hearings. We keep you informed and answer your questions. We’ll send you an email confirmation with the bankruptcy case number along with other important information within minutes of filing the case.
If you are living in Estero, Florida when you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Middle District of Florida, the clerk will assign your case to the Fort Myers Division of the bankruptcy court, and a Trustee serving the Fort Myers Division in Lee, Florida will be assigned to your case.
Your 341 meeting of creditors will be held in the US Bankruptcy Court, unless otherwise noted.
Your Trustee will notify you, usually within 1-2 weeks, what documents you will need to provide at least 7 days prior to your meeting of creditors.
You are required to attend in person the 341 meeting of creditors scheduled in the Notice of Bankruptcy Filing.
Official Form 309A – Notice of Bankruptcy Filing, will contain your Trustee’s name, contact information, and time and place of your 341 Meeting of Creditors.
You must take your valid original ID such as Driver’s License and your original Social Security Card to the meeting. If you cannot find or don’t have your original social security card, you can provide an original W-2. The Trustee will not be able to conduct the meeting without them.
Note: You are not allowed to enter the Bankruptcy court with a cellphone.
The meeting takes place approximately 30 days after you file. During a typical meeting other debtors will be present and the trustee will give a brief announcement and will begin calling cases one by one. When it’s your turn, the Trustee will verify your ID and Social Security card to make sure it matches the information in your bankruptcy petition.
The Trustee will swear you in and ask you a series of questions relating to your bankruptcy filing and will also provide an opportunity for brief questions from creditors who may be present. It is rare that creditors appear at these meetings. The meeting will be recorded by the Trustee.
The Trustee may request some additional information and reschedule the meeting for a future date if necessary.
The Trustee will analyze your case and determine if you have non-exempt property to liquidate and distribute to your creditors or file a Report of No Distribution.
Complete and file a Financial Management Course from an approved agency. This is different and separate from the 1st credit counseling course.
Note: Your bankruptcy case can close without a discharge if you do not submit your course competition with the Court.
If your debt is secured by an asset such as your car, you must indicate your intention in your filings. You can select to surrender the property to the lender, keep the property and reaffirm the debt, or retain the property and redeem it.
A Reaffirmation Agreement will have to be entered and filed with the court if you want to reaffirm the debt.
Individuals filing chapter 7 in Estero, Florida must pass the means test to determine if they have the means to repay debts. Individuals with the means to repay their debts are required to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7. The first part of the means test compares your annualized current income to the median income for a household you size. The chart below will help you quickly make that determination. If you are over, then you will have to satisfy part two of the means test.
|State of Florida Median Household Income 2023|
|Household Size||Annual Income|
The average bankruptcy lawyer fee in Estero, Florida is between $1200 to $1800. Most Estero, Florida bankruptcy lawyers charge a flat fee and offer payment plans. At Stiberman Law our fees range from $900 to $1500 with affordable payment plans.
Miscellaneous costs include the pre-filing and post-filing bankruptcy instructional courses ranging from $10-$50.
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida comprises the counties of Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, and Lee.
Individuals filing in the Middle District of Florida and living in Estero, Florida at the time of fling, will be assigned to the Fort Myers Division located in:
United States Courthouse, 2110 First Street, Fort Myers, Florida 33940
If you need help filing for bankruptcy in Florida, the bankruptcy attorney at Stiberman Law is here to help. With more than 12 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) 758-4324 or fill out our contact form to get started.
Our experienced bankruptcy attorney can represent clients in Estero, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers Shores, Gateway, Harlem Heights, Iona, Lehigh Acres, Lochmoor Waterway Estates, Matlacha
Fort Myers, Florida Bankruptcy Guide (2023)
Fort Myers Beach, Florida Bankruptcy Guide (2023)
Fort Myers Shores, Florida Bankruptcy Guide (2023)
Lee County Legal Aid Society, Inc.
Florida Legal Services, Inc.
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