Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer in Jacksonville FL
If you’re struggling to manage unpaid debt, bankruptcy may provide much-needed relief. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most of your unsecured debt is forgiven, allowing you a chance at a fresh start. Below, learn more about how a Jacksonville FL bankruptcy attorney at Gahanian Law, PA can help you regain control of your finances.
What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a legal process where you get relief from your unsecured debts, such as credit card debt, medical bills, and personal loans. If all you have are exempt assets, your creditor may simply have to erase your debt.
Compared to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a liquidation bankruptcy is relatively fast; it may only take six months to complete the entire process. Because the process is quicker, it will also cost you less time and money.
Do I Have to Liquidate My Property in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Under federal bankruptcy laws, you must sell all of your non-exempt property as part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to sell everything you own. In Florida, you can keep your exempt property, which may include:
- Your home (Florida’s homestead exemption is one of the most generous in the country)
- Up to $1,000 in personal property
- Certain education, health, and hurricane savings accounts
- Up to $1,000 in motor vehicle equity
- A portion of your wages
- Pension and retirement accounts
- Public benefit payments, such as workers’ compensation payments
- Alimony and child support payments
However, you can also use Florida’s bankruptcy exemptions if you meet the state’s residency requirements. Generally speaking, that means that you must have been domiciled in Florida for two years. Otherwise, you’ll need to apply your previous state’s bankruptcy exemptions.
When you work with an experienced Jacksonville FL Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer, we will carefully evaluate your assets and financial resources. Our goal is to maximize your bankruptcy exemptions, ensuring that you don’t lose your exempt property during the liquidation process.
Do I Qualify?
Not everyone qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To be eligible, you must pass a complicated means test that evaluates your financial liquidity. If you have significant financial resources, you may have to consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Because the means test considers a wide variety of factors, including your income, it’s best to consult with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer before you file.
At Gahanian Law, we can help you understand whether you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. We can also help you weigh your debt relief options and choose a path forward that best suits your needs and circumstances.
How Does a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Work?
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will submit a series of forms that identify your creditors, assets, and debts. Once you pay a filing fee and give the Bankruptcy Court these documents, it will initiate an automatic stay on your creditors’ collection efforts. That means that collections companies, credit card providers, and other creditors must immediately stop their harassing phone calls, letters, and legal actions. This stay will remain in place throughout your entire Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
For many people, the automatic stay provides welcome relief. Phone calls and law suits cease immediately and this is a huge source of stress for many people who are struggling.
Early on in the process, the court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee to your case. This individual will help liquidate your non-exempt property, issue payments to your creditors, and monitor your bankruptcy. Your Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer will communicate with the trustee, providing them with necessary information and ensuring that the trustee treats you fairly at every step of the process.
During your bankruptcy, you or your attorney will need to attend meetings, respond or file motions, and submit necessary documents and information to the trustee. Because the bankruptcy process is highly technical, it’s in your best interest to work with an experienced Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer — otherwise, you could end up making costly mistakes that impact your case.
Once your non-exempt property is liquidated and your creditors are paid, the bankruptcy court will discharge or forgive any remaining debts that are included in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, not all debt is dischargeable. For example, the court will not forgive your unpaid alimony or child support and certain tax debt. If you want to discharge your student loans, you’ll have to prove that they pose an “undue hardship.”
Consult With a Jacksonville FL Bankruptcy Attorney Today
Deciding whether or not to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an important and potentially difficult decision. However, when properly planned and executed, bankruptcy is a powerful tool that can help you recover after a financial crisis. To learn more about your debt relief options, contact a bankruptcy attorney at Gahanian Law, PA.
We offer free, confidential consultations. Just as importantly, we pride ourselves on our practical and respectful approach. We treat our clients with the dignity they deserve and help them make the best possible decisions about their financial future. Contact us today to learn more.