The word bankruptcy strikes fear in most people. It implies that you have done something bad — that you are running away from your responsibilities. But if you don't really understand what bankruptcy is or what it can do for you then you aren't to blame for the misconceptions. How do you learn and educate yourself about the options the legal system provides for you? The Douglas Law Firm can help.
Bankruptcy is an end which gives rise to a new beginning. The end of something bad that was caused by a medical crisis, loss of a job, or a failed marriage. Our legal system understands that people can't be doomed to failure because of the bad luck that falls upon them. There has to be a way to clean house and start fresh. Bankruptcy allows people to clear the slate and start the road to financial recovery.
If you have fallen on hard times, filing bankruptcy may provide you with the relief you need. The Bankruptcy lawyers at The Douglas Law Firm will review your individual situation and will help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you. Most important, we will help you make a decision based on the facts, not on common bankruptcy myths and misconceptions.
Douglas Law Firm Bankruptcy Attorneys Here to Help
The Douglas Law Firm is local, we meet with our clients in-person, and we put our clients' needs first by providing them with an individual assessment of their situation. Our Bankruptcy team uses its knowledge and experience to make the process as painless as possible. Serving Jacksonville, Palatka, and St. Augustine, our bankruptcy lawyers help individuals in Duval County, Putnam County, and St. Johns County reorganize and discharge their debts.
What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Under Chapter 13, the obligations are reorganized into a repayment plan which is between three to five years depending on the amount of financial obligations to be repaid. During the Chapter 13 plan, the debtor makes monthly payments to the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee. The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee then disperses these payments among the various creditors. Creditors are typically paid a percentage of what they are owed, and at the end of the Chapter 13 repayment plan, any remaining debt is forgiven and discharged.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is typically used by people who earn too much money to qualify for Chapter 7 as a result of the means test, or those who have assets - such as a home with equity over the homestead exemption or other nonexempt assets which they desire to maintain.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is also a way to help people who have debts which are not dischargeable including student loans, taxes, and child support. While these debts are not dischargeable, placing them in the Chapter 13 repayment plan stops collection attempts including wage garnishment and allows the party to catch up on the payments without that added stress.
What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
As the debts pile up, many hardworking individuals turn to their credit cards for help, which only creates further debt and the vicious cycle continues. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy allows someone to find a way out of debt and to obtain a fresh start. If after reviewing the client's financial situation, it is believed that a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the most effective way to discharge debt, the Douglas Law Firm will walk with our clients through the process to debt relief.
To file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you must qualify under the "means test." The means test is part of a federal law. During the test, an individuals' income and expenses are evaluated. If it is determined that you earn enough to repay a portion of your debts under a repayment plan, you will be required to file a Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy.
There are two parts to the means test. The first part is to evaluate your average monthly income over the past six months. If your average income is equal to, or lower than, the median income of other similarly sized families in Florida, you will qualify for Chapter 7.
The second part of the test is used when an individual's average income is higher than the Florida median. In part two of the means test, your monthly expenses will be deducted from your average income. If this lowers your average income enough, you will qualify for Chapter 7.
If, after completing the means test, your income is still too high, Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganization will be your only bankruptcy option.
Chapter 7 is one of the quickest and most effective ways to eliminate your debt and have the obligations discharged. As soon as you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, a court ordered automatic stay stops all creditor harassment and also prevents creditors from any actions against you which includes: garnishing your wages, foreclosing on your home, or repossessing your vehicle.
Once you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a Chapter 7 trustee will be appointed to handle your case. The Chapter 7 trustee reviews your paperwork to evaluate your assets and determines whether there are any assets that can be sold to repay your creditors.
One key is that State and federal bankruptcy laws exempt certain properties. What this means is that most people get to keep most if not all of their property as the exemptions are used to safeguard the property from your creditors during the bankruptcy.
During the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process, you will be required to meet with the Chapter 7 trustee to review your bankruptcy petition. This is called a 341a meeting and the creditors are also given an opportunity to question you regarding your case. If approved by the trustee, your debts will be discharged.
At The Douglas Law Firm, we closely review our client's individual situations including their debts and assets to determine if they qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy under the means test. Our team works with our clients every step of the way to make sure that their obligations are discharged as quickly as possible. You can call the Douglas Law Firm today for a free consultation, and speak with an attorney from our Bankruptcy team regarding your potential case.
What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 11 is a debt reorganization plan for small businesses that still have the potential to make money, but are currently swamped by debts and contractual obligations. It is also used by individuals whose debt load is too large to qualify for Chapter 13 under the statutory requirements. Filing for Chapter 11 is the only bankruptcy option for small businesses needing to restructure and continue operating when they are owned by a formal group: a partnership, an LLC (limited liability company) or a corporation.
Chapter 11 is not always the best answer for many other types of businesses which include troubled sole proprietors, store and restaurant owners, owners of real estate agencies, plant nurseries, and home-based businesses to mention a few. The Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is often considered as being too expensive and time consuming to work for these type of businesses; however, our Bankruptcy lawyers will work with these small business owners to consider other options such as a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
There is a lot of misinformation about bankruptcy. If you have found yourself in a difficult financial predicament, you owe it to yourself to find out the truth. We look forward to helping clear up the bankruptcy myths and get you on your way to a fresh start. Call us today for a free consultation at 1-800-705-5457.