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Westchase, Florida Bankruptcy Guide (2023) | Learn your options

How to File Bankruptcy in Westchase, Florida

Need Help Filing for Bankruptcy in Westchase, Florida?

If you live in Westchase, 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, Westchase residents must also comply with local bankruptcy court rules.

This article will provide a 10 step guide for Westchase, Florida residents on how to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Middle District of Florida.

Before Filing

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 Westchase, FL it also requires understanding Florida exemptions laws to protect your property. At Stiberman Law you can schedule a free consultation with a Westchase bankruptcy attorney to discuss your case.

How to file bankruptcy in Westchase, FL
Westchase, FL

 Gather The Required Documents

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.

  1. Obtain a free copy of your credit report. You can get it for free once per year.
  2. Your Tax Returns for the past 2 years.
  3. All proof of Income from all sources for the last 6 months, such as:
  • Paystubs from wages
  • A Social Security Benefits Letter
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Pension records
  • All Self-Employment income
  • Alimony and child support payments
  1. Six (6) months of bank account statements from all accounts where your name appears on.
  2. Copies of your vehicle registration for all your vehicles
  3. Retirement/Pension account statements
  4. Mortgage Statements
  5.  Real Estate and vehicle valuations or appraisal
  6. List of your household goods and furnishings

Complete The Credit Counseling Course

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..

Complete the Bankruptcy Forms and Local Forms

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 Westchase, Florida bankruptcy lawyer will know the local rules and requirements, and can help you avoid unnecessary pitfalls, including the possible loss of property.

Prepare Your Filing Fee

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.

File The Forms With The Bankruptcy 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, Tampa Division is the nearest to Westchase, Florida.

Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse, 801 N. Florida Avenue, Suite 555, Tampa, Florida 33664

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.

Send The Requested Documents to Your Trustee

If you are living in Westchase, Florida when you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Middle District of Florida, the clerk will assign your case to the Tampa Division of the bankruptcy court, and a Trustee serving the Tampa Division in Hillsborough, 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.

Attend The 341 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 The Second Course  – Financial Management Course

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.

Dealing With Secured Debt

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.

Westchase, Florida Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Income Limits –

Passing the Means Test

Individuals filing chapter 7 in Westchase, 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
1 $55,681.00
2 $69,884.00
3 $75,057.00
4 $89,206.00
5 $99,106.00
6 $109,006.00
7 $118,906.00
8 $128,806.00
9 $138,706.00
10 $148,606.00

 Westchase, Florida Chapter 7 Attorney Fees and Costs

The average bankruptcy lawyer fee in Westchase, Florida is between $1200 to $1800. Most Westchase, 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.

Bankruptcy Court Location for Westchase, Florida

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida comprises the counties of Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco,Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota.

Individuals filing in the Middle District of Florida and living in Westchase, Florida at the time of fling, will be assigned to the Tampa Division located in:

Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse, 801 N. Florida Avenue, Suite 555, Tampa, Florida 33664

Division Judges

Judge Roberta A. Colton
Chief Judge Caryl E. Delano
Judge Catherine Peek McEwen
Judge Michael G. Williamson

 Need Help Filing for Bankruptcy in Westchase, Florida?

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) 922-2283 or fill out our contact form to get started.

Nearby Cities:

Our experienced bankruptcy attorney can represent clients in Westchase, Wimauma, Apollo Beach, Balm, Bloomingdale, Brandon, Carrollwood, Cheval, Citrus Park, Dover

Nearby City Guides:

Wimauma, Florida Bankruptcy Guide (2023)
Anna Maria, Florida Bankruptcy Guide (2023)
Bayshore Gardens, Florida Bankruptcy Guide (2023)

Local Legal Aid Websites

Bay Area Legal Services
Gulfcoast Legal Services

Written By:

Attorney Robert Stiberman

Robert is an experienced bankruptcy attorney adept at handling Chapter 7, 13, and 11 filings, with more than 15 years of experience in bankruptcy cases. Robert represents clients in both consumer and business bankruptcy ... Read More

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