South Florida Bankruptcy Attorneys
When a person is burdened by debt, filing for bankruptcy may provide a way to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start. The Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy lawyers at Anidjar & Levine offer guidance and counseling to Florida residents who are considering filing for bankruptcy. Our compassionate team of lawyers is dedicated to providing knowledgeable and practical counseling that can help you pursue your goals. We can discuss whether bankruptcy is a viable option for you and provide the representation you need in the filing process.
What is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal process by which an individual can discharge some or all of his or her debt. This means that a person can essentially wipe out almost all debts. By filing for bankruptcy, a person can put an immediate stop to creditor harassment, avoid wage garnishment , and possibly stop foreclosure proceedings or prevent vehicle repossession.
Depending on the type of bankruptcy, you may be able to discharge your debt while keeping most of your assets, or you can reorganize your debt to pay creditors while keeping most of your assets. The two most common types of bankruptcies are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Whether you qualify for one or the other will depend on a host of factors, including your debts, income, and assets.
Choosing Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a person’s non-exempt assets are liquidated. A trustee will collect and sell the non-exempt assets to pay off a person’s debts. Although there is usually little or no money to cover the debts, a person emerges from Chapter 7 with no further obligation to pay the remaining debts. In other words, the debts are discharged. The process typically takes anywhere between 3-6 months to complete. To apply for Chapter 7, a person must pass what is called a means test. If his or her income is too high, however, Chapter 13 may be an option.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows a person to reduce his or her debt by reorganizing it into a repayment plan based on his or her disposable income. A person must have both the willingness to make regular payments to a trustee and the income to actually make the payments. Unlike Chapter 7, a person can keep all of his or her property, including exempt and non-exempt property. If a person is facing foreclosure, Chapter 13 offers a way to keep the home as long as the payments are made under the plan. Chapter 13 plans are typically anywhere between 3-5 years in duration, so the process is longer than Chapter 7.
While bankruptcy may discharge some debts, not all debts are dischargeable. Back child support and alimony, student loans, and tax debts are some examples of what is generally considered non-dischargeable debt. A person is responsible for these debts even after other debts are discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, these debts must be paid in full as part of the repayment plan. Otherwise, they will remain even after the end of the plan.
A person can protect certain assets, known as exemptions, from creditors. Some examples of exemptions available to Florida residents include the homestead exemption, which applies to homes (including mobile homes) of up to half an acre in a municipality or 160 acres elsewhere. Other exemptions include disability benefits, or the cash surrender value of life insurance benefits, and public benefits, such as social security and workers’ compensation. A lawyer who understands the various exemptions can help determine what property you may be able to protect in bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy Lawyers Serving Hollywood Residents
At Anidjar & Levine, our Hollywood bankruptcy attorneys provide clients with exceptional legal counseling during stressful financial times. We can discuss your particular situation and concerns with you, and assess whether bankruptcy or other alternatives may be available to you. Our Miami attorneys are well-versed in this area of law, and we can offer the knowledgeable guidance you need if filing for bankruptcy is right for you. Call our office today at (800) 747-3733, or complete our online form to schedule a free initial consultation.