frequently asked questions

The U.S. Bankruptcy Code lists 21 different categories of debts that cannot be discharged. 11 U.S.C. § 523 – U.S. Bankruptcy Code Exceptions To Discharge

  1. A discharge under section 727 , 1141 , 1228(a) , 1228(b) , or 1328(b) of this title does not discharge an individual debtor from any debt:
    1. for a tax or a customs duty
      1. of the kind and for the periods specified in section 507(a)(3) or 507(a)(8) of this title, whether or not a claim for such tax was filed or allowed;
      2. with respect to which a return, or equivalent report or notice, if required–
        1. was not filed or given;  or
        2.  was filed or given after the date on which such return, report, or notice was last due, under applicable law or under any extension, and after two years before the date of the filing of the petition;  or
      3. with respect to which the debtor made a fraudulent return or willfully attempted in any manner to evade or defeat such tax;
    2. for money, property, services, or an extension, renewal, or refinancing of credit, to the extent obtained by–
      1. false pretenses, a false representation, or actual fraud, other than a statement respecting the debtor’s or an insider’s financial condition;
      2. use of a statement in writing–
        1. that is materially false;
        2. respecting the debtor’s or an insider’s financial condition;
        3. on which the creditor to whom the debtor is liable for such money, property, services, or credit reasonably relied;  and
        4. that the debtor caused to be made or published with intent to deceive;  or
        1. for purposes of subparagraph (A)–
          1. consumer debts owed to a single creditor and aggregating more than $675   1 for luxury goods or services incurred by an individual debtor on or within 90 days before the order for relief under this title are presumed to be nondischargeable;  and
          2. cash advances aggregating more than $950   1 that are extensions of consumer credit under an open end credit plan obtained by an individual debtor on or within 70 days before the order for relief under this title, are presumed to be nondischargeable;  and
        2. for purposes of this subparagraph–
          1. the terms “consumer”, “credit”, and “open end credit plan” have the same meanings as in section 103 of the Truth in Lending Act;  and
          2. the term “luxury goods or services” does not include goods or services reasonably necessary for the support or maintenance of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor;
    3. neither listed nor scheduled under section 521(a)(1) of this title, with the name, if known to the debtor, of the creditor to whom such debt is owed, in time to permit–
      1.  if such debt is not of a kind specified in paragraph (2), (4), or (6) of this subsection, timely filing of a proof of claim, unless such creditor had notice or actual knowledge of the case in time for such timely filing;  or
      2. if such debt is of a kind specified in paragraph (2), (4), or (6) of this subsection, timely filing of a proof of claim and timely request for a determination of dischargeability of such debt under one of such paragraphs, unless such creditor had notice or actual knowledge of the case in time for such timely filing and request;
    4. for fraud or defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity, embezzlement, or larceny;
    5. for a domestic support obligation;
    6. for willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity;
    7. to the extent such debt is for a fine, penalty, or forfeiture payable to and for the benefit of a governmental unit, and is not compensation for actual pecuniary loss, other than a tax penalty–
      1. relating to a tax of a kind not specified in paragraph (1) of this subsection;  or
      2. imposed with respect to a transaction or event that occurred before three years before the date of the filing of the petition;
    8. unless excepting such debt from discharge under this paragraph would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor’s dependents, for–
        1. an educational benefit overpayment or loan made, insured, or guaranteed by a governmental unit, or made under any program funded in whole or in part by a governmental unit or nonprofit institution;  or
        2. an obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit, scholarship, or stipend;  or
      1. any other educational loan that is a qualified education loan, as defined in section 221(d)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 , incurred by a debtor who is an individual;
    9. for death or personal injury caused by the debtor’s operation of a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft if such operation was unlawful because the debtor was intoxicated from using alcohol, a drug, or another substance;
    10. that was or could have been listed or scheduled by the debtor in a prior case concerning the debtor under this title or under the Bankruptcy Act in which the debtor waived discharge, or was denied a discharge under section 727(a)(2), (3), (4), (5), (6), or (7) of this title, or under section 14c(1), (2), (3), (4), (6), or (7) of such Act;
    11. provided in any final judgment, unreviewable order, or consent order or decree entered in any court of the United States or of any State, issued by a Federal depository institutions regulatory agency, or contained in any settlement agreement entered into by the debtor, arising from any act of fraud or defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity committed with respect to any depository institution or insured credit union;
    12. for malicious or reckless failure to fulfill any commitment by the debtor to a Federal depository institutions regulatory agency to maintain the capital of an insured depository institution, except that this paragraph shall not extend any such commitment which would otherwise be terminated due to any act of such agency;
    13. for any payment of an order of restitution issued under title 18, United States Code;
    14. incurred to pay a tax to the United States that would be nondischargeable pursuant to paragraph (1);
      1. incurred to pay a tax to a governmental unit, other than the United States, that would be nondischargeable under paragraph (1);
      2. incurred to pay fines or penalties imposed under Federal election law;
    15. to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor and not of the kind described in paragraph (5) that is incurred by the debtor in the course of a divorce or separation or in connection with a separation agreement, divorce decree or other order of a court of record, or a determination made in accordance with State or territorial law by a governmental unit;
    16. for a fee or assessment that becomes due and payable after the order for relief to a membership association with respect to the debtor’s interest in a unit that has condominium ownership, in a share of a cooperative corporation, or a lot in a homeowners association, for as long as the debtor or the trustee has a legal, equitable, or possessory ownership interest in such unit, such corporation, or such lot, but nothing in this paragraph shall except from discharge the debt of a debtor for a membership association fee or assessment for a period arising before entry of the order for relief in a pending or subsequent bankruptcy case;
    17. Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, a debt that was excepted from discharge under subsection (a)(1), (a)(3), or (a)(8) of this section, under section 17a(1), 17a(3), or 17a(5) of the Bankruptcy Act, under section 439A of the Higher Education Act of 1965, or under section 733(g) of the Public Health Service Act in a prior case concerning the debtor under this title, or under the Bankruptcy Act, is dischargeable in a case under this title unless, by the terms of subsection (a) of this section, such debt is not dischargeable in the case under this title.
      1. Except as provided in subsection (a)(3)(B) of this section, the debtor shall be discharged from a debt of a kind specified in paragraph (2), (4), or (6) of subsection (a) of this section, unless, on request of the creditor to whom such debt is owed, and after notice and a hearing, the court determines such debt to be excepted from discharge under paragraph (2), (4), or (6), as the case may be, of subsection (a) of this section.
      2. Paragraph (1) shall not apply in the case of a Federal depository institutions regulatory agency seeking, in its capacity as conservator, receiver, or liquidating agent for an insured depository institution, to recover a debt described in subsection (a)(2), (a)(4), (a)(6), or (a)(11) owed to such institution by an institution-affiliated party unless the receiver, conservator, or liquidating agent was appointed in time to reasonably comply, or for a Federal depository institutions regulatory agency acting in its corporate capacity as a successor to such receiver, conservator, or liquidating agent to reasonably comply, with subsection (a)(3)(B) as a creditor of such institution-affiliated party with respect to such debt.
    18. If a creditor requests a determination of dischargeability of a consumer debt under subsection (a)(2) of this section, and such debt is discharged, the court shall grant judgment in favor of the debtor for the costs of, and a reasonable attorney’s fee for, the proceeding if the court finds that the position of the creditor was not substantially justified, except that the court shall not award such costs and fees if special circumstances would make the award unjust.
    19. Any institution-affiliated party of an insured depository institution shall be considered to be acting in a fiduciary capacity with respect to the purposes of subsection (a)(4) or (11).

Probably. The Bankruptcy code details who can file and when they can receive a bankruptcy discharge. An experienced Bankruptcy Attorney will be able to advise you if you are eligible for a Bankruptcy Discharge and what Chapter you may file. If you have filed bankruptcy recently and receive a discharge you may not be eligible to file a Chapter 7.

There are different types of bankruptcies, which are referred to by their Chapter in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. https://www.usbankruptcycode.org/

Individuals usually file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, depending on their situation. The Chapter you file under depends on your particular circumstances.

In general a debtor will file a Chapter 7 if they have insufficient income to pay a portion of their debts, and they are not seeking to keep non-exempt property. Debtors can keep “exempt” property, while the “unexempt assets” are liquidated or sold by the Trustee. The Trustee will distribute the proceeds from the sale creditors in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code.

Chapter 13 is designed for individuals with regular income to repay a portion or all of their debt over an extended period of time. Chapter 13 may be appropriate for Debtors who seek to retain certain assets through a repayment plan.

Municipalities—cities, towns, municipal utilities, and school districts may file under Chapter 9 to reorganize.

Businesses may file Bankruptcy under Chapter 7 to liquidate or Chapter 11 to reorganize.

Chapter 12 provides debt relief to family farmers and fishermen.

Bankruptcy filings that involve parties from more than one country are filed under Chapter 15.

The decision whether to file a bankruptcy case and under which chapter is an extremely important decision and has tremendous financial impact. Consequently, this decision may require expert advice from a bankruptcy attorney.

Yes. If you have filed a Chapter 7 in the past, you will need to wait 8 years from the date you filed to file a Chapter 7 again and a discharge.

Maybe. If you are considering bankruptcy you should consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. The decision will depend on your financial situation. If your debt has become so overwhelming that you are unable to make your payments timely or are being sued, garnished, foreclosed upon or other legal action is being pursued against you, bankruptcy may be your best option. It would be wise to consult with an experienced Bankruptcy Lawyer before taking any action such as disposing of assets or withdrawing money from your retirement accounts. Those decisions have a significant effect on your Bankruptcy and an experienced Bankruptcy Attorney should be able to advise you how best to proceed.

If you are considering filing for Bankruptcy protection, I always recommend hiring an experience Bankruptcy Attorney. There are so many rules, regulations, laws, forms, procedures etc.… that it is difficult to navigate on your own. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and may cost a debtor far more than a Bankruptcy Attorneys fees which are typically nominal compared to the debt one is discharging. However, a debtor filing an individual bankruptcy has a right to represent themselves. They are known as “Pro Se Debtors”.

Please keep in mind, the Bankruptcy Code is incredible lengthy and complicated. https://www.usbankruptcycode.org/

A Bankruptcy Petition must be prepared which is about 50-60 pages in length. All your financial information and assets must be disclosed on the petition and the proper “exemptions” applied to each.

Documents must be submitted to the Trustee timely, on-line classes must be taken, a “Creditors Meeting” a/k/a/ “341 Hearing” is held where you are sworn in under-oath at the Bankruptcy Courthouse and your recorded testimony is taken at this meeting.

Filing a false or misleading document could result in your bankruptcy being dismissed without you receiving a Bankruptcy Discharge or worse you could be charged with Bankruptcy Fraud if your conduct was found to be intentional, willful or malicious. To ensure safe passage through all the requirements of The Federal Bankruptcy Code and to receive a Bankruptcy Discharge, I always recommend an experienced Bankruptcy Lawyer. It really is money well spent, especially for something as significant as Bankruptcy and regaining your financial freedom with a fresh start free from most debt.

Basic information regarding filing for bankruptcy is available on the Federal Courts Website at: United States Bankruptcy Courts.

Information relating to pre-bankruptcy credit counseling and post-bankruptcy debtor education is found on the Program’s Web site at: Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Information

Yes, an individual may file bankruptcy pro se (pronounced “pro say”), a Latin term that means “on one’s own behalf.

A Pro Se Debtor is one who files bankruptcy without an attorney. A Pro Se Debtor is responsible for all proceedings of their case. Failure to comply with the Bankruptcy Code and Rules or with court orders may cause dismissal of the Debtor’s case. It is recommended that all Debtors seek legal advice before filing for bankruptcy protection.

When a debtor files for bankruptcy protection a bankruptcy estate is created. There is a Trustee assigned to the case and the Trustee as well as the Bankruptcy Judge decides what happens to the debtor’s property that is not exempt. Exempt property is the property or assets the debtor is allowed by the Bankruptcy Law to keep.

Bankruptcy court records are accessible via the Internet through the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). Information on obtaining a PACER account is available at: PACER Service Center.

A case number indicates the office location of the court, the year the case was filed, the type of case, the number assigned to the case and the assigned judge. Example: 6:12-bk-00001-KSJ, 6 indicates the office in which the case is filed (3 – Jacksonville, 6 – Orlando, 8 – Tampa, 9 – Ft. Myers); 12 is the year filed, bk indicates a bankruptcy case (ap indicates an adversary proceeding); 00001 is the case number assigned, KSJ stands for Judge Karen S. Jennemann. For a complete list of judges presiding over bankruptcy cases in the Middle District of Florida click here: Bankruptcy Judges.

You can use the services of a “Document Preparer” which are cheaper than retaining an attorney, but they cannot give you legal advice, attend hearings with you, negotiate with a Bankruptcy Trustee if needed, file pleadings with the Bankruptcy Court or take any other legal action. They are basically typist or data entry clerks. Services of petition preparers are limited to the typing of forms. Petition Preparers are not authorized to practice law and therefore cannot provide debtors with any legal advice. If a bankruptcy petition preparer offers to provide legal services to you or fails to disclose that they are not an attorney and may not provide legal services, please report this to a U.S. Trustee Program field office. A list of Program offices is found at: Nationwide Office Locator.

You must complete and obtain a certificate from an approved credit counseling agency during the 6 months before your bankruptcy petition is filed. Your attorney should be able to recommend one or you can review a list of the approved Credit Counseling Agencies on the U.S. Trustees website at www.justice.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/cc_approved.htm

Yes. A husband and wife need not file together. However, if only one spouse is filing, the non-filings spouse’s income will still be used to determine whether the debtor must file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. If the debtor is separated and is in the process of getting a divorce the non-filing spouses income may not be required.

An “automatic stay” occurs immediately after a Bankruptcy Petition is filed. The “automatic stay” prohibits creditors or anyone from taking collection action against the Debtor or the Debtor’s property without Bankruptcy Court approval. All phone calls, lawsuits, garnishments, collections or other actions must halt. If the automatic stay is violated the violating party can be sanctioned by a Bankruptcy Judge.

If a debt collector violates this automatic stay, they may be sanctioned under the Fair Debt Collections Act and/or the Florida Fair Debt Collections Act.

If a debt collector violates this automatic stay, they may be sanctioned under the Fair Debt Collections Act and/or the Florida Fair Debt Collections Act.

Yes! Section 28 U.S.C. 1930(f)(1) provides that the court may waive filing fee in a case under Chapter 7 for an individual if the Court determines that such individual has income less than 150 percent of the income official poverty line applicable to a family of the size involved and is unable to pay that fee in installments.

Yes! The Judge must enter an Order allowing you to pay the filing fee in installments. The debtor or their attorney must submit an application, and the application must be approved by the Court.

A Bankruptcy Judge may dismiss your case filed or withhold entry of the discharge order meaning you’re still obligated for the outstanding debt.

You can obtain a copy from the Bankruptcy Clerk’s Office by either coming in person or sending in a written request. You may also contact the Court’s contracted photocopying service, Judicial Research and Retrieval Service in Tampa at (813)-228-7200, Orlando at (800)-529-6226, and Jacksonville at (813) 228-7200.

Yes, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 727, the Debtor’s discharge may be denied in a chapter 7 case for the following reason: (1) the debtor failed to keep or produce adequate books or financial records; (2) the debtor failed to satisfactorily explain any loss of assets; (3) the debtor committed a bankruptcy crime such as perjury; (4) the debtor failed to obey a lawful order of the bankruptcy court; or (5) there was a fraudulently transferred, concealed, or destroyed property that would have become property of the estate. Please see § 727 for a complete list.

Secured debt is collateralized (secured) by property. A lender that owns the secured debt has the right to repossess or foreclose on the property.

An unsecured debt is when you agree to pay a creditor for loan that was taken out by you, but you have not pledged any property as collateral for the debt.

A priority debt is entitled to receive payment before other debts. They “stand in line first” when proceeds are being distributed. The Bankruptcy Code 11 U.S.C. §507 defines priority debt as follows:

(a) The following expenses and claims have priority in the following order:

(1) (A)

Allowed unsecured claims for domestic support obligations that, as of the date of the filing of the petition in a case under this title, are owed to or recoverable by a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor, or such child’s parent, legal guardian, or responsible relative, without regard to whether the claim is filed by such person or is filed by a governmental unit on behalf of such person, on the condition that funds received under this paragraph by a governmental unit under this title after the date of the filing of the petition shall be applied and distributed in accordance with applicable nonbankruptcy law.

(B)

Subject to claims under subparagraph (A), allowed unsecured claims for domestic support obligations that, as of the date of the filing of the petition, are assigned by a spouse, former spouse, child of the debtor, or such child’s parent, legal guardian, or responsible relative to a governmental unit (unless such obligation is assigned voluntarily by the spouse, former spouse, child, parent, legal guardian, or responsible relative of the child for the purpose of collecting the debt) or are owed directly to or recoverable by a governmental unit under applicable nonbankruptcy law, on the condition that funds received under this paragraph by a governmental unit under this title after the date of the filing of the petition be applied and distributed in accordance with applicable nonbankruptcy law.

(C)

If a trustee is appointed or elected under section 701, 702, 703, 1104, 1202, or 1302, the administrative expenses of the trustee allowed under paragraphs (1)(A), (2), and (6) of section 503(b) shall be paid before payment of claims under subparagraphs (A) and (B), to the extent that the trustee administers assets that are otherwise available for the payment of such claims.

(2)

Second, administrative expenses allowed under section 503(b) of this title, unsecured claims of any Federal reserve bank related to loans made through programs or facilities authorized under section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act (12 U.S.C. 343),[1] and any fees and charges assessed against the estate under chapter 123 of title 28.

(3)

Third, unsecured claims allowed under section 502(f) of this title.

(4) Fourth, allowed unsecured claims, but only to the extent of $10,000 for each individual or corporation, as the case may be, earned within 180 days before the date of the filing of the petition or the date of the cessation of the debtor’s business, whichever occurs first, for—

(A)

wages, salaries, or commissions, including vacation, severance, and sick leave pay earned by an individual; or

(B)

sales commissions earned by an individual or by a corporation with only 1 employee, acting as an independent contractor in the sale of goods or services for the debtor in the ordinary course of the debtor’s business if, and only if, during the 12 months preceding that date, at least 75 percent of the amount that the individual or corporation earned by acting as an independent contractor in the sale of goods or services was earned from the debtor.

(5) Fifth, allowed unsecured claims for contributions to an employee benefit plan—

(A)

arising from services rendered within 180 days before the date of the filing of the petition or the date of the cessation of the debtor’s business, whichever occurs first; but only

(B) for each such plan, to the extent of—

(i)

the number of employees covered by each such plan multiplied by $10,000; less

(ii)

the aggregate amount paid to such employees under paragraph (4) of this subsection, plus the aggregate amount paid by the estate on behalf of such employees to any other employee benefit plan.

(6) Sixth, allowed unsecured claims of persons—

(A)

engaged in the production or raising of grain, as defined in section 557(b) of this title, against a debtor who owns or operates a grain storage facility, as defined in section 557(b) of this title, for grain or the proceeds of grain, or

(B)

engaged as a United States fisherman against a debtor who has acquired fish or fish produce from a fisherman through a sale or conversion, and who is engaged in operating a fish produce storage or processing facility—

but only to the extent of $4,000 for each such individual.

(7)

Seventh, allowed unsecured claims of individuals, to the extent of $1,800 for each such individual, arising from the deposit, before the commencement of the case, of money in connection with the purchase, lease, or rental of property, or the purchase of services, for the personal, family, or household use of such individuals, that were not delivered or provided.

(8) Eighth, allowed unsecured claims of governmental units, only to the extent that such claims are for—

(A) a tax on or measured by income or gross receipts for a taxable year ending on or before the date of the filing of the petition—

(i)

for which a return, if required, is last due, including extensions, after three years before the date of the filing of the petition;

(ii) assessed within 240 days before the date of the filing of the petition, exclusive of—

(I)

any time during which an offer in compromise with respect to that tax was pending or in effect during that 240-day period, plus 30 days; and

(II)

any time during which a stay of proceedings against collections was in effect in a prior case under this title during that 240-day period, plus 90 days; or

(iii)

other than a tax of a kind specified in section 523(a)(1)(B) or 523(a)(1)(C) of this title, not assessed before, but assessable, under applicable law or by agreement, after, the commencement of the case;

(B)

a property tax incurred before the commencement of the case and last payable without penalty after one year before the date of the filing of the petition;

(C)

a tax required to be collected or withheld and for which the debtor is liable in whatever capacity;

(D)

an employment tax on a wage, salary, or commission of a kind specified in paragraph (4) of this subsection earned from the debtor before the date of the filing of the petition, whether or not actually paid before such date, for which a return is last due, under applicable law or under any extension, after three years before the date of the filing of the petition;

(E) an excise tax on—

(i)

a transaction occurring before the date of the filing of the petition for which a return, if required, is last due, under applicable law or under any extension, after three years before the date of the filing of the petition; or

(ii)

if a return is not required, a transaction occurring during the three years immediately preceding the date of the filing of the petition;

(F) a customs duty arising out of the importation of merchandise—

(i)

entered for consumption within one year before the date of the filing of the petition;

(ii)

covered by an entry liquidated or reliquidated within one year before the date of the filing of the petition; or

(iii)

entered for consumption within four years before the date of the filing of the petition but unliquidated on such date, if the Secretary of the Treasury certifies that failure to liquidate such entry was due to an investigation pending on such date into assessment of antidumping or countervailing duties or fraud, or if information needed for the proper appraisement or classification of such merchandise was not available to the appropriate customs officer before such date; or

(G)

a penalty related to a claim of a kind specified in this paragraph and in compensation for actual pecuniary loss.

An otherwise applicable time period specified in this paragraph shall be suspended for any period during which a governmental unit is prohibited under applicable nonbankruptcy law from collecting a tax as a result of a request by the debtor for a hearing and an appeal of any collection action taken or proposed against the debtor, plus 90 days; plus any time during which the stay of proceedings was in effect in a prior case under this title or during which collection was precluded by the existence of 1 or more confirmed plans under this title, plus 90 days.

(9)

Ninth, allowed unsecured claims based upon any commitment by the debtor to a Federal depository institutions regulatory agency (or predecessor to such agency) to maintain the capital of an insured depository institution.

(10)

Tenth, allowed claims for death or personal injury resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle or vessel if such operation was unlawful because the debtor was intoxicated from using alcohol, a drug, or another substance.

An administrative debt is a category of priority debt. Generally, it is created when someone provides goods or services to your bankruptcy estate after you file your petition. An example of an administrative debt is the fee charged by an attorney or other authorized professional for services rendered after the bankruptcy case has been filed.

A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy typically is on your credit report for 10 years from the date that your Bankruptcy Petition was filed, not the date of discharge. A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will appear on your credit report for seven years from the date you filed your case. The effect the bankruptcy has on your credit rating will dissipate over time. You should immediately begin rebuilding your credit score using secured credit cards or loans.

Yes. Many debtors chose to keep their homes. You must be current on your mortgage if you chose to keep your home and file a Chapter 7. If you are not current on your mortgage payments, you may need to file a Chapter 13 and make up the past due amount (arrearages) over time.

Some debtors chose to “surrender” their home meaning “give it up” in bankruptcy. If you surrender your home, you owe nothing to the lien holder.

What is right for you may depend on whether you have equity in the home.

Yes. Some clients elect to participate in a “Mortgage Mediation” in an attempt to reduce their principle, payments and interest. Sometimes, banks have “forgiven” arrearages. There are many options to discuss including possible stripping or discharging a 2nd mortgage.

Yes. You must continue to pay your premiums. The proceeds of a life insurance policy payable to a specific beneficiary are fully exempt. (See Florida Statute 222.13.) The cash surrender value of a life insurance policy and the proceeds of an annuity contract are fully exempt. (See Florida Statute 222.14).

If you would like to keep it, Yes you may. However, you must be current on your payments. Some debtors surrender their car meaning they are no longer obligated to pay the debt.

A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement that the debtor signs stating they will pay all or a portion of the money owed, even though the debtor has filed bankruptcy. In return, the creditor agrees the creditor will not repossess the collateral, if the payments are timely made. Refer to 11 U.S.C. § 524 Bankruptcy Code for detailed information.

YES! The Federal Bankruptcy Law requires you to list all your assets. You must also assign a value these assets. Typically, it is the resale or garage sale value. DO NOT LIE OR HIDE ANY ASSETS! It is a Federal Crime to do so and your bankruptcy may be dismissed without you receiving a discharge or worst you could go to Federal Prison.

Possibly. The Trustee has the authority to retain an appraiser to value your property. The larger the estate, the more likely this is to occur. You will be notified well in advance of the date and time the appraiser will be coming to your house. Do not hide or fail to disclose any assets. Failing to disclose or hiding assets could be considered bankruptcy fraud. Typically, the appraiser will value the assets far in excess of what you had appraised them at. Sometimes the appraiser values them far in excess of what you paid. Remember it is the Trustee (who is looking out for the creditors best interest) that selects and hires the appraiser. You can hire your own appraiser to dispute the Trustee values and you can have a hearing to allow the Judge to determine the proper value.

Absolutely not! NEVER DISPOSE OF ANY ASSETS IMMEDIATELY BEFORE FILING FOR BANKRUPTCY OR IN AN ATTEMPT TO KEEP THEM OUT OF THE BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS.

It is helpful. However, if you retain The Law Office of Tony Turner to represent you in your Bankruptcy proceedings, they will pull a credit report from the three credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion; Equifax and Experian. They should have most of your debt listed. However, medical bills, cable bills, cellphone bills, loans from individuals, and apartment leases that may have been broken usually do not appear on your credit report. You will need to provide a copy of these bills to your attorney do they can be listed on your bankruptcy petition.

That depends on your case. If you a Chapter 7 and are a “no asset” case, then the answer is YES! A “no asset” case is one where the Trustee recovers no assets from your estate to pay your creditors. Otherwise, you need to list all your debt to ensure it is discharged and you receive your fresh start free from all dischargeable debt.

You are required by the bankruptcy law to list all your creditors. You will be asked under oath at your creditors meeting by the Trustee if you have listed all your debt. You need to answer truthfully, and the answer should be YES. Typically bills that do not appears on your credit report are delinquent phone bills, cable bills, medical bills, and broken leases, just to name a few. Before The Law Office of Tony Turner files your Bankruptcy Petition you will review the Petition and will confirm it includes all your debt.

Yes, but typically this does not occur. Objections need to be for a valid reason, such as fraud. If you have told the truth, have not concealed or transferred any assets. It more likely than not you will receive a discharge.

YES, A garnishment can be stopped immediately upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition.

They can be discharged, unless there is fraudulent activity involved.

Unless the co-signer has filed bankruptcy as well, they remain liable for the debt. Your filing for bankruptcy has no effect on their liability.

You will receive offers of credit cards in the mail almost immediately. Although you should take the appropriate steps to rebuild your credit, be careful of becoming over extended. Use this opportunity to start fresh from the burdensome debt.

Active military members can seek relief under the provisions of the SCRA. This act temporarily protects members from the entry of default judgments and enables the court to stay proceedings against active duty members while engaged in war or a military action. Generally, the protection ends when the member dies or within 90 days after separation from active duty.

YES!!! A self-employed debtor can file for bankruptcy. Some concerns of mine are always are there any assets associated with a business my client may lose? What is the business worth? What debts are my clients personally liable for vs. what debts is the business liable for? Debts associated with a business that a debtor is personally liable for are treated differently with respect to the “means test”. Basically, if the primary source of debt is business related, the means test does not apply. Meaning higher wage earned will qualify for a Chapter 7 that would not otherwise qualify. That’s a very important distinction.

You must produce “profit and loss statements” for the 6 months before the bankruptcy filing. You will also need bank statements and income tax returns taxes, both personal and business tax returns for the 6 months prior to filing bankruptcy.

You may report suspected bankruptcy fraud by using the U.S. Trustee Program’s Internet hotline at USTP.Bankruptcy.Fraud@usdoj.gov(link sends e-mail). Instructions for using this Internet hotline are found at: Report Suspected Bankruptcy Fraud. Alternatively, you may report suspected bankruptcy fraud to a U.S. Trustee Program field office. A list of Program offices is found at: Nationwide Office Locator. Please be prepared to make a written report.

You may find more information on various types of financial fraud, including where to report financial fraud, at www.StopFraud.gov, the Web site of the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task force.

Maybe! Tax debts are typically considered “priority” debts in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. This means that they’re addressed and paid first when assets are liquidated in Chapter 7 and they must be included and paid in full in a Chapter 13 payment plan. Priority tax debts are not dischargeable in Chapter 13.

The Bankruptcy Code sets out certain requirements the debtor must meet in order to eliminate tax debts in bankruptcy:

  • The due date for filing the tax return is at least three years old or older;
  • The tax return was filed at least two years ago;
  • The tax assessment is at least 240 days old;
  • The tax return was not fraudulent;
  • The taxpayer is not guilty of tax evasion.

Tax debts due from tax returns not yet filed are not dischargeable.

Usually the answer is Yes. Most retirement accounts are “exempt” meaning you keep them. DO NOT LIQUIDATE OR CASH OUT YOUR RETIREMENT ACCOUNT immediately before filing for bankruptcy. There could be negative consequences like losing these funds to the Trustee and your creditors.

The following types of pensions and retirement funds are exempt in Florida:

ERISA qualified retirement plans and pensions (including 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s, profit sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRA’s, and other defined benefit plans) are fully exempt. (11 U.S.C. Section 522 and Fl. Stat. 222.21.)

IRA’s and Roth IRA’s are exempt up to $1,171,650. (11 U.S.C. Section 522(b)(3)(C)(n).)

Benefits payable under the Florida Retirement System. (Fl. Stat. 121.131.)

State and County officers and employee’s retirement system benefits. (Fl. Stat. 122.15.)

Firefighter pensions. (Fl. Stat. 175.241.)

Municipal police pensions. (Fl. Stat. 185.25.)

Teachers’ retirement benefits. (Fl. Stat. 238.15.)

A Proof of Claim is filed by a creditor or one who claims to be owed money. It is a document or form that must be filed by a deadline set by the Bankruptcy Code. The Proof of Claim must set out the particulars of the amount of money due. Proofs of Claims can be disputed by the debtor or Trustee.

The bankruptcy law is complicated. There are numerous forms to be completed and filed in a timely manner. Hearings are held and testimony is taken under-oath. Filing false or misleading documents is a Federal crime. Hiring an attorney that is experienced and knowledgeable in bankruptcy is wise. These can be stressful times and an experienced attorney can alleviate some of your concerns and make the process more efficient. Look at my google reviews. Ask for references. Make the right decision for you and your family.

After your Bankruptcy Lawyer files your Bankruptcy Petition, a “Meeting of The Creditors” or “341 Meeting” is scheduled with a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee. As a Debtor that has filed a Bankruptcy Petition or a Debtor that has requested a Bankruptcy Lawyer file a Bankruptcy Petition on your behalf, YOU MUST ATTEND THIS MEETING.

At this meeting you will be sworn in and placed under oath by the Bankruptcy Trustee and you have an obligation to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Not telling the truth, while under oath and testifying before a Bankruptcy Trustee, Bankruptcy Judge or any other Bankruptcy Meeting or Hearing is perjury and can be prosecuted as Bankruptcy Fraud.

Bankruptcy Fraud is a serious crime that can result in jail time. PLEASE DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH WHEN YOU DISCLOSE YOUR ASSETS TO YOUR BANKRUPTCY LAWYER AND WHEN YOU TESTIFY AT ANY BANKRUPTCY HEARING OR MEETINGS.

When your Bankruptcy Petition is completed, and before it is filed, you will sign it under penalty of perjury attesting to its truthfulness and accuracy. Please review your Bankruptcy Petition and make any corrections to any misstatements or include any information omitted which is relevant including, debt owed, assets owned or money earned or due to you.

DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE, DISCLOSE. Keep repeating those words when in Bankruptcy Proceedings or completing Bankruptcy questions or documents. If you have any additional questions or would like additional information on Bankruptcy Fraud, please see the section on my website titled – Bankruptcy Fraud in the FAQ’s section. This will detail what constitutes Bankruptcy Fraud and how to avoid committing Bankruptcy Fraud.

The meeting is held at the Federal Courthouse. The location or address of the Federal Courthouse depends on the county you resided in at the time your Bankruptcy Petition is filed.
THERE ARE 3 BANKRUPTCY DIVISIONS IN FLORIDA
The State of Florida is divided into 3 sections for Bankruptcy filing purposes: http://www.flmb.uscourts.gov/counties/
1) The United States Bankruptcy Court for The Northern District of Florida;
http://www.flnb.uscourts.gov/
2) The United States Bankruptcy Court for The Middle District of Florida Middle; http://www.flmb.uscourts.gov/
3) The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida;
http://www.flsb.uscourts.gov/
THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA’s HEARINGS ARE HELD IN JACKSONVILLE
For the following Counties in Florida the “Creditors Meeting” will be held at: The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida at 300 North Hogan Street, Suite 1200, Jacksonville, Florida 32202:

Probably. There are rules and regulations with respect to who can file and what Chapter they can file under. An experienced bankruptcy attorney should know the answer. If you have filed a Chapter 7 in the past, you will need to wait 8 years from the date you filed to receive another Chapter 7 discharge.

Yes. A husband and wife need not file together. However, if one spouse is filing the non-filings spouse’s information will need to be obtained. Personal information must be obtained such as income, employer, and residency. If the spouses are in the process of getting a divorce this becomes problematic but not a barrier to filing.

An “Automatic Stay” takes effect. All lawsuits, debt collection attempts, phone calls from creditors, garnishment withholdings, foreclosures proceedings and the like MUST STOP. If a debt collector violates this automatic stay they may be sanctioned under the Fair Debt Collections Act and/or the Florida Fair Debt Collections Act.

You must attend a “Creditors Meeting” also called a 341 meeting. In all bankruptcy cases a trustee is appointed by the court to review the case. The Trustee’s role is to determine if there are any assets available to liquidate. All debtors must attend this meeting.

You should receive a “Discharge Order” approximately 90 days after filing your bankruptcy petition. This Discharge Order eliminates your liability or obligation to pay the eligible debt. There should be no further collection attempts from any of your discharged debt.

Many clients chose to keep their home. Some chose to “surrender” their home and owe nothing to the creditor. What is right for you may depend on whether you have equity in the home. Some clients elect to participate in a “Mortgage Mediation” in an attempt to reduce their principle, payments and interest. Sometimes, banks have “forgiven” arrearages. There are many options to discuss including possible stripping or discharging a 2nd mortgage.

    • Most retirement accounts are exempt meaning you keep all of the proceeds. However, do not cash in your retirement account before filing bankruptcy. There could be dire consequences like you losing these funds to the Trustee and your creditors.

      The following types of pensions and retirement funds are exempt in Florida:
      ERISA qualified retirement plans and pensions (including 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s, profit sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRA’s, and other defined benefit plans) are fully exempt. (11 U.S.C. Section 522 and Fl. Stat. 222.21.)
      IRA’s and Roth IRA’s are exempt up to $1,171,650. (11 U.S.C. Section 522(b)(3)(C)(n).)
      Benefits payable under the Florida Retirement System. (Fl. Stat. 121.131.)
      State and County officers and employees retirement system benefits. (Fl. Stat. 122.15.)
      Firefighter pensions. (Fl. Stat. 175.241.)
      Municipal police pensions. (Fl. Stat. 185.25.)
      Teachers’ retirement benefits. (Fl. Stat. 238.15.)

Yes. You must continue to pay your premiums. The proceeds of a life insurance policy payable to a specific beneficiary are fully exempt. (Fl. Stat. 222.13.) The cash surrender value of a life insurance policy and the proceeds of an annuity contract are fully exempt. (Fl. Stat. 222.14.)

You must be current on your payments. Some clients will reaffirm their debt meaning they keep their car and continue to be obligated to pay the debt. Some clients surrender their car meaning they are no longer obligated to pay the debt.

YES! The Federal Bankruptcy Law requires you to list all your assets. You must also value these assets. Typically it is the resale or garage sale value. DO NOT LIE OR HIDE ANY ASSETS! It is a Federal Crime to do so and your bankruptcy may be dismissed.

Possibly. The Trustee has the authority to retain an appraiser to value your property. The larger the estate, the more likely this is to occur.

Absolutely not! A trustee has the power to reverse the sale or transfer. DO NOT DISPOSE OF YOUR ASSETS IN AN ATTMEPT TO KEEP THEM OUT OF BANKRUPTCY.

It is helpful. However if you retain my office to file your bankruptcy, I will pull a credit report from the three credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion; Equifax and Experian. Most likely this will include the majority of your debt. Some debt is not listed on your credit report. Debt such as: Medical Bills; Cable Bills; Leases; Cell Phone Bills usually do not appear…just to name a few. Before you bankruptcy petition is filed you will review the document with me and will confirm it includes all your debt. You are required by the bankruptcy law to list all your creditors. You will be asked under oath at your creditors meeting by the Trustee if you have listed all your debt. You need to answer truthfully and the answer should be YES.

That depends on your case. If you are a “no asset” case, then YES! A “no asset” case is one where the Trustee does no recover any assets to pay to any creditors. Otherwise, you need to list all of your debt for it to be discharged.

Yes. Typically this does not occur. Objections need to be for a valid reason, such as fraud. If you have told the truth, have not concealed or transferred any assets. It more likely than not you will receive a discharge.

A garnishment can be stopped immediately upon the filing of a bankruptcy. Some of your money may be recovered.

Typically they are dis-chargeable unless there is fraudulent activity involved.

Unless the co-signer has filed bankruptcy as well, they remain liable for the debt. You filing for bankruptcy has no effect on their liability.

You will receive offers of credit cards in the mail almost immediately. Although you should take the appropriate steps to rebuild your credit, be careful of becoming over extended. Use this opportunity to start fresh from the burdensome debt.

Bankruptcy may be listed on your credit report for 10 years. Even though you have a bankruptcy listed on your credit report you should be able to obtain loans for cars or houses if needed. Be careful of high interest rates and bad terms. Some creditors prey on individuals who have recently received a bankruptcy discharge.

  • Credit Card Debt. A Chapter 7 can eliminate most credit card debt in approximately 90 days from start to finish.
  • Foreclosure . Once the bankruptcy petition is filed usually the sale of a home stops. An exception maybe if a debtor has had a prior case dismissed. You should contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer if you have any questions or if your home is being foreclosed upon.
  • Repossession. Once a bankruptcy petition is filed any effort to repossess your automobile must stop. Typically my clients have a window of about 4 months to use that automobile during bankruptcy before having to surrender it to the lien holder.
  • Wage Garnishment from lawsuits that have been file for delinquent debt owed. Once a bankruptcy petition is filed any wage garnishment must stop. The debt is then discharged through the bankruptcy process.
  • I.R.S. debt. Believe it or not!!!!!! Some I.R.S. debt can be discharged.
  • Medical Bills.
  • Divorce – Even though your ex was responsible or ordered to pay the outstanding debt, if they do not, you can and probably will be sued. Bankruptcy can eliminate this debt.
  • Death of a spouse. Unfortunately when a spouse dies their income is eliminated from the household, but the bills remain the same. Bankruptcy eliminates the debt so the surviving spouse can heal and recover financially.

CALL ME TODAY FOR A FREE BANKRUPTCY CONSULTATION.

  • Credit Card Debt. A Chapter 7 can eliminate most credit card debt in approximately 90 days from start to finish.
  • Foreclosure . Once the bankruptcy petition is filed usually the sale of a home stops. An exception maybe if a debtor has had a prior case dismissed. You should contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer if you have any questions or if your home is being foreclosed upon.
  • Repossession. Once a bankruptcy petition is filed any effort to repossess your automobile must stop. Typically my clients have a window of about 4 months to use that automobile during bankruptcy before having to surrender it to the lien holder.
  • Wage Garnishment from lawsuits that have been file for delinquent debt owed. Once a bankruptcy petition is filed any wage garnishment must stop. The debt is then discharged through the bankruptcy process.
  • I.R.S. debt. Believe it or not!!!!!! Some I.R.S. debt can be discharged.
  • Medical Bills.
  • Divorce – Even though your ex was responsible or ordered to pay the outstanding debt, if they do not, you can and probably will be sued. Bankruptcy can eliminate this debt.
  • Death of a spouse. Unfortunately when a spouse dies their income is eliminated from the household, but the bills remain the same. Bankruptcy eliminates the debt so the surviving spouse can heal and recover financially.

CALL ME TODAY FOR A FREE BANKRUPTCY CONSULTATION.