At Mancuso Law, P.A., we provide expert legal representation for those looking to utilize bankruptcy to resolve their debt problems. We have helped many people in South Florida ( through our Boca Raton and Fort Pierce offices) file for bankruptcy. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Which type of bankruptcy should I file?
This will depend on your circumstances and your income (if you qualify). After a thorough conversation at a consultation, we can help you to make an informed decision regarding which type of bankruptcy to file.
When should bankruptcy be considered?
If your situation isn’t getting better and you aren’t seeing your debts go down, you should consider bankruptcy. Also, if you’re worried about retirement and may have dipped into retirement savings to pay off debts, you may want to consider bankruptcy too. When you’re facing repossession and/or foreclosure, bankruptcy is usually a necessity at that stage, to possibly find a way to keep some assets if you are eligible to do so.
Can I afford to file?
It’s important to remember that any costs associated with a fresh financial start will put you in a better situation than you were in before you filed for bankruptcy in Florida. If you’re struggling to pay your debts, you are better suited to make a plan, than to do nothing at all and ignore the situation.
Will I have to court when filing?
Yes. A month or so after filing for bankruptcy, you will be required to go to a hearing called a “First Meeting of Creditors.” If you retain our services, a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer will attend this meeting with you and offer you advice on how to proceed.
This initial meeting is presided over by a bankruptcy trustee. While the trustee oversees the meeting, he or she is not a judge. The trustee will ask you questions about your bankruptcy papers and financial situation, and creditors are permitted to do so as well. You will be under oath and bound to answer their questions in their entirety. This hearing typically does not last long; the trustee has already had time to review your paperwork and will be familiar with your situation.
After this initial meeting, people who file bankruptcy usually do not need to return to court. If a creditor or trustee files a motion or another action, however, it may be necessary to make another appearance.
When you retain Mancuso Law, P.A. to represent you in your bankruptcy matter, a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer will be by your side every step of the way. We know that a courtroom can be an intimidating place when you have not had much experience with the legal system. But it is important to know you are not facing it alone.
Can I keep my house or car?
What property you can keep will depend on many factors, including your payment history, income and where you live. When we meet for an initial consultation, we can help you understand what will happen to the assets you care about.
In many cases, you can keep your car in bankruptcy, depending on where you live, your loan status and how much the car is worth. At Mancuso Law, P.A., we can advise you of your rights during bankruptcy, as well as your options for keeping your vehicle.
Will filing bankruptcy stop bill collectors from calling?
Yes. As soon as you file, something called the “automatic stay” goes into effect, barring creditors from pursuing any additional collection efforts on your debts. This gives you a chance to breathe and begin eliminating eligible debts.
How often can I file for bankruptcy?
Technically, there is no limit to how many times you can file bankruptcy. There is also no limit how often you can file. Limits apply to how often you can receive a discharge, or release from your debts. If you file too early the second time, you may be unable to receive a second bankruptcy discharge. It is important to understand those limits to avoid wasting time and money on non-essential forms and procedures.
The specific time limits vary depending on which chapter of the Bankruptcy Code you are using.
- Chapter 7, then Chapter 7 —– Eight years
- Chapter 13, then Chapter 13 —Two years
- Chapter 7, then Chapter 13 — Four years
- Chapter 13, then Chapter 7 — Six years
There are exceptions for cases in which you paid all unsecured creditors in the Chapter 13, or if you paid at least 70 percent of the claims in the Chapter 13, and the plan was proposed in good faith and was your best effort.
These limitations may not apply if your first bankruptcy case was dismissed or denied. Every case is unique, and the best way to fully understand your options is to speak with a lawyer experienced in bankruptcy proceedings.
What do I need to begin the bankruptcy process?
It is wise to begin compiling a list of your past and current debts, as well as your assets and liabilities. This will help you and your bankruptcy lawyer work promptly and efficiently toward your goals. Keeping a list of debts and any documentation in relation to that paperwork will help to be organized throughout this process.
What property can I keep in bankruptcy?
What and how much you can keep during the bankruptcy process depends on what types of property you have, their value and the exemptions you use. Some property you may be able to keep include:
- Homestead — Bankruptcy filers may file a homestead declaration for real estate property that they occupy. This may include a home, trailer or mobile home. The property cannot exceed a half acre if it is located in an urban area.
- Personal property — A limited amount of personal property may be kept during the bankruptcy process, including federal income tax refunds, health aids and $1,000 worth of vehicles.
- Insurance — Certain insurance benefits, such as death benefits and proceeds from annuity contracts, may be exempt in bankruptcy.
- Public benefits — Crime victim compensation, Social Security and unemployment benefits are just a few of the public benefits that you may be able to keep in bankruptcy.
Contact a South Florida/Boca Raton Bankruptcy Lawyer Today
To schedule a free consultation to discuss your debt problems, call our Boca Raton, Florida office at 561-245-4705 or our Fort Pierce, Florida office at 772-497-5796. You don’t have to go it alone or guess at what will happen during a bankruptcy proceeding, we are here to help you at every step of the way. At Mancuso Law, P.A., we represent clients throughout South Florida and have years of experience helping them to get a fresh start. Call now and talk to us, we are here to assist you in managing your financial future for hope and a better tomorrow.