Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer Tampa, FL
A call to our trusted Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer Tampa, FL turns to should be one of your first steps. Especially if you are struggling to answer your phone each time a number comes through that you do not recognize. As debts begin to increase, many may be unable to make their regularly scheduled payments, and as a result, debtors may succumb to incessant calls from collections agencies. While there are several types of bankruptcy filings to choose from, depending on your needs, we may recommend that you consider Chapter 7, one of the most widely used types of personal bankruptcy. Carolyn Secor, P.A., has seen many people come through her doors feeling shameful of their financial decisions. Know that you are not alone. Sometimes debts come as a result of the unexpected, and filing for Chapter 7 is a way to wipe the slate clean. The following outlines the process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
Know the Steps of Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Our team will work closely with you to gain intimate knowledge of your financial situation. We want to know the details of your financial dealings to make a decision that is informed by the specifics of your case. Once we understand your situation’s full scope, we can then provide you with options that are in your best interest. Sometimes, bankruptcy may not be the right step for you, and with our assistance, we will be able to offer you alternatives. Know that after reviewing your case, it may be possible to discharge many of your unsecured debts under Chapter 7, for example:
- Credit Card Debt
- Medical Expenses
- Student Loans
- Utility Bills
- Personal Loans
Our Tampa, Fl Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer wants you to be aware that these types of debts are often just right for Chapter 7. However, if you have many secured debts such as car loans and house payments and are looking to retain the assets, another option may be more appropriate.
As part of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process, debtors will need to qualify for this type of bankruptcy filing. When working with our team, we will need to know your income level. This information is critical when determining whether your income falls below the state’s median standard. To decide whether or not you qualify for Chapter 7, debtors will need to undergo and pass the means test. If you are unable to meet this standard, we can discuss alternative bankruptcy options that may be better suited to your needs. However, if you pass the means test, your next step will be to complete credit counseling. Credit counseling is a requirement for anyone who is considering bankruptcy as an option.
Once we have solidified that you qualify for Chapter 7 and that it is in your best interest to move forward, we will work closely with you to initiate the bankruptcy process. Chapter 7 filing begins with the bankruptcy petition. For this, you must produce all relevant information regarding your debts and assets so that we can move forward seamlessly. Know that any non-exempt property will need to be liquidated to pay off your debtors during the process. Despite this, it’s important not to fret; we will work closely with you to ensure that you can keep as many of your assets as possible. In some situations, we will help you retain many of your assets throughout the process.
To finalize the process, debtors must meet with the bankruptcy trustee and attend a creditors’ meeting, also known as the 341 meeting. Following this process, debts are discharged, and you will be able to move forward with a clean slate officially.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Asset Retention: What You Need to Know
When faced with bankruptcy people can often feel ashamed, like they failed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any hardworking American may find themselves with insurmountable debt due to factors completely out of their control like layoffs. According to the Federal Reserve, 340 million people are in a combined $14.6 trillion of debt. Talking to a bankruptcy lawyer is the first step in getting out of this debt and rebuilding your life.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Summarized
To briefly summarize how chapter 7 bankruptcy works, it is the liquidation of assets that will then be sold to pay off the debt. However, this doesn’t mean that you will be left with nothing. In fact, 96% of those who file for bankruptcy retain all of their assets.
This is due to exemption laws, meaning that there are certain protected assets the court can’t order you to liquidate. These exemption laws vary depending on the state and can be incredibly complicated, so it is best to speak with a chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in Tampa, FL to protect your property.
Questions to Ask About Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
If you are overwhelmed by debt, bankruptcy is often a manageable way to improve your financial standing, but the process is unfamiliar to many people and tends to raise questions about how much of your money and property you will be allowed to keep. Searching for a chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in Tampa, FL is a good starting point, and your lawyer will be able to guide you through the process.
Are Your Tax Returns Garnished in Bankruptcy?
Filing for bankruptcy may cause you to file your taxes differently. The team at Carolyn Secor, P.A. can inform you of how chapter 7 bankruptcy can affect your taxes and any returns you may be entitled to receive. If you are due to receive a return prior to filing, it may be considered part of your assets, but returns you are entitled to after filing should not affect your case. If your tax returns are garnished, filing for bankruptcy might offer relief in some cases.
Are 529 Plans Safe?
If you contribute to a 529 Savings Plan and you are worried that filing for bankruptcy could affect your child’s ability to afford an education, a chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in Tampa, FL can help you formulate an appropriate plan that minimizes risks. Whether the 529 assets are protected is often dependent on whether you set up the account yourself as well as when the funds were deposited, and your attorney can counsel you on the guidelines regarding protected assets and available options for your child’s educational fund.
Does Chapter 7 Help if You Lost Money in Multilevel Marketing?
Some recent studies have shown that bankruptcy filings among sole proprietors listing the names of multilevel marketing companies as a DBA or FDBA have increased. Carolyn Secor, P.A. can advise you of your options if your business venture did not work out as planned and you incurred unmanageable debt. If you purchased inventory using a loan or credit card, it may be classified like any other consumer debt and the business structure of the organization you joined is not likely to have any impact on your bankruptcy filing. The losses may be able to be deducted from your taxes.
Can You Keep Your Car?
In Florida, the value of your car may be a determining factor in whether you can keep it after chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. Your attorney will be able to advise you of your options if keeping your current vehicle is a necessity.
How much of your wage is exempt depends on how much you make. If you are the main provider of the household, your wages are exempt either up to $750 a week, 75% or 30 times the federal minimum wage. Bankruptcy protection law will automatically defer to whichever is the greatest amount.
If you are an additional contributor to the household finances, your wages are exempt either 75% or 30 times the minimum wage.
If you are retired and on pension, the law becomes increasingly complicated. Your retirement account may be exempt depending on what kind you have and how much money is in it. You may also be exempt if you were a police officer, firefighter, or teacher.
Personal Property Exemption
Personal property exemptions can apply to any property outside of real estate; such as electronics, jewelry, or art. Personal property can be protected up to $4,000 if the homestead exemption is not used.
Under Florida law, certain savings accounts are protected. This includes education funds and hurricane funds.
Tax credit and refunds are also exempt from liquidation in Florida.
If you have owned property in Florida for at least 1,215 days, it may be exempt. Depending on the size and location of your home, you may be entitled to unlimited exemption.
Don’t let the stigma of bankruptcy keep you from reaching out for help, because you are not alone. There are 340 million Americans in the same boat. With proper legal representation, you can protect yourself and your property while you get back on your feet.
Call for the Legal Help You Deserve
Filing for bankruptcy is not an impulsive decision that debtors should take lightly. Chapter 7 is a significant financial mood that should be made after much assessment of your specific financial situation. Additionally, reaching this determination will call on the legal services of Carolyn Secor, P.A. By scheduling a consultation with us, you aren’t obligated to file for bankruptcy; you simply have the opportunity to review whether this is the right next step for your future. Contact our firm to meet with our experienced Tampa, Florida Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer to learn more.