Wondering whether chapter 13 bankruptcy might be right for you? Not sure if your qualify? Confused about how to get started with the filing process?
Bankruptcy can be a very complicated process, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm you – especially when you have experienced legal advice in your corner. Your lawyer can help you make sense of all the details of your case but for an overview, here’s your guide for how to file chapter 13 bankruptcy in Florida:
Before you file for chapter 13 bankruptcy in Florida, you’ll need to ensure that you meet the state requirements. Perhaps the most important of these is that you are able to comply with the repayment plan set up for you during the bankruptcy. If your total debt cannot be consolidated into a monthly sum that you can feasibly pay, you will not qualify for a chapter 13 bankruptcy.
There are other financial requirements for eligibility for chapter 13 bankruptcy, including having $419,000 or less in unsecured debt and $1,277,000 of secured debt.
Some examples of unsecured debt include:
Secured debts are any in which the creditor has an interest in your assets to guarantee. These debts typically require you to use some type of collateral to take them out and may result in the loss of this asset if you are unable to repay the amount borrowed.
Keep in mind, if you do not qualify for chapter 13 bankruptcy you may still be eligible for chapter 7 bankruptcy or other solutions. Talk to your legal counsel about your options and which is the best fit for your circumstances.
Just as they would in the case of a chapter 7 bankruptcy, the judge in charge of your chapter 13 bankruptcy case will assign a trustee to you. In chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee’s job is to locate and collect any non-exempt assets owned by the debtor which will then comprise the bankruptcy estate. In a chapter 13 bankruptcy, though, the trustee’s main job is to assist in the evaluation of the debtor and the creation and administration of the repayment plan.
Typically, the trustee is entitled to an amount equal to ten percent of the debtor’s monthly payments as compensation for their work. However, some trustees may have their fee forgone to make the repayment plan more manageable for debtors on a very tight budget. If you believe your trustee fees are too high to be financially feasible, be sure to speak to your legal counsel or the judge overseeing your case.
The primary goal of a chapter 13 bankruptcy in Florida or anywhere else is to restructure debts so that they are manageable for a debtor to repay. Whereas a chapter 7 bankruptcy aims to eliminate debt but may come with some serious trade-offs – such as the surrender of property and other assets – a chapter 13 bankruptcy helps people keep their possessions while finding a way to repay debt that works for their income, assets, and lifestyle.
Once you have been approved for a chapter 13 bankruptcy and had a trustee appointed to your case, it’s time to make a repayment plan and schedule your payments. This is another area where a chapter 13 bankruptcy varies from a chapter 7. Chapter 7 bankruptcies typically take several months, but a chapter 13 bankruptcy can last for several years or more.
The length of time between your initial filing and your discharge date will depend on the amount of debt you have and the repayment plan and schedule that you and your creditors agree to. Smaller payments will obviously chip away at your debt much slower, but will be more manageable if you are on a tight budget. Keep this in mind when establishing your repayment plan.
An important thing to know about chapter 13 bankruptcy is that once you enter into it, your creditors will be blocked from further pursuit of traditional repayment – such as collection calls, letters, etc. – by the automatic stay associated with your case. The automatic stay ensures that creditors do not continue their own collection efforts in addition to what is being provid3d by the bankruptcy itself. It also allows debtors to focus fully on their repayment plans schedule, rather than worry about when the next collection call will come.
Something else to know about your bankruptcy is that you and your legal counsel will be required to attend a meeting of your creditors, also known as a 341 meeting. Attendance of this meeting is required and failure to do so can result in the termination of your case. Be sure to keep track of the date, time, and location of this meeting – determined by the court – as well as any other important details about your proceedings.
You will be subject to questions regarding your financial situation from your creditors and their representatives. However, no one is permitted to harass, threaten, or otherwise intimidate you regarding this topic. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly, be sure to raise the issue with your legal counsel.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is all about recovery, repayment of debt, and rebuilding your life. If you have questions regarding how to file chapter 13 bankruptcy in Florida, contact the local industry leaders at the Van Horn Law Group. They can help you with every step of the process, from determining which type of bankruptcy suits your situation to ensuring that your case is handled fairly and results in a manageable solution for you and your family. Don’t try to navigate the process alone! Let your local bankruptcy attorney guide you to a better and brighter financial future.
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