Experienced Florida Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with consumer debt, filing for bankruptcy might be your best way to move forward. Every year, more than 400,000 individuals across the United States file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows debtors to get out from under crippling consumer debts, such as credit card bills and medical expenses. With help from a dedicated Florida bankruptcy lawyer, you can protect your home, your family, and your future.
The Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A., is dedicated to helping individuals and families in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties who are struggling with debt or have become disabled and need debt relief assistance. We have years of experience helping Florida debtors find financial freedom through Chapter 7 bankruptcy and other debt-relief measures. We provide the personal care, attention, and legal know-how that you need to put yourself on the path to a brighter financial future.
What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also called a “liquidation” or “straight” bankruptcy, is the most common form of consumer bankruptcy in the United States. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a trustee will collect non-exempt assets from the debtor, sell them, and use the proceeds to pay off as much of the qualifying debts as possible. The remainder of the qualifying debts will be discharged at the conclusion of the proceeding, meaning that your creditors can no longer seek to collect any portion of that discharged debt. As discussed below, by effectively utilizing the exemptions provided under federal and Florida state laws, most debtors can protect most, if not all, of their personal property from the asset sale while still benefiting from the discharge.
What Debts are Covered by Chapter 7?
Chapter 7 covers most unsecured debts. Typically, those include credit card bills, medical expenses, certain tax debts, and in limited circumstances, student loans. While not all debts are included in Chapter 7 (debts secured by collateral such as home mortgages are not covered, for example), Chapter 7 often allows debtors to free up enough disposable income to catch up on payments for the debts that remain.
Qualifying for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Not all debtors are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Debtors must satisfy a “means test,” which compares gross household income to expenses. Debtors whose household income is under the Florida state median automatically qualify for Chapter 7. Debtors whose household income is above the median must utilize a complex formula comparing average monthly income to applicable expenses to evaluate their level of disposable income in order to determine eligibility. A seasoned Florida bankruptcy attorney at the Law Office of Verna Popo will help you gather the documents and evaluate your finances in order to apply the means test formula, ensuring that you maximize your chances for eligibility.
Protecting Your Property With Exemptions
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can take advantage of a number of exemptions under the bankruptcy laws. The exemptions protect certain categories of property from collection and sale as part of the liquidation proceedings. Debtors can choose to use either the set of exemptions provided under Florida state law or those provided by federal law. The ideal set of exemptions will depend upon your assets and circumstances, which you can discuss with your Florida bankruptcy attorney.
Exemptions include a homestead exemption for home equity, personal property up to a certain dollar value, educational savings accounts, health savings, hurricane savings, equity in a motor vehicle, and others. The exemption limits are higher for married couples than for single filers. Discuss your valued property with your bankruptcy attorney to determine which set of exemptions is better for you, and what you can do to maximize the value of those exemptions to protect the biggest share of your personal property from sale.
Trusted Advice and Representation for Your Florida Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Struggling with debt, dealing with hounding from relentless bill collectors, and trying to navigate the frustrating social security system, can cause tremendous stress and anxiety. Don’t waste another sleepless night worrying about how you will deal with these issues. Get dedicated help from a seasoned and effective lawyer who knows the law and knows how to provide you with real help in a timely fashion. For debt relief help from Miami to West Palm Beach and all points in between, contact the Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A., for a free consultation.