One of the common misconceptions surrounding bankruptcy has to do with how much debt you must have to qualify for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws do not have a set minimum debt requirement for someone to be able to file for bankruptcy. Ultimately, it depends largely on the person’s financial circumstances, including the type of debt he or she has, as well as the person’s ability to pay back the debt, along with other factors.
When it comes to debt levels, how much debt you have is only one consideration made when determining whether you should proceed with a bankruptcy filing. Unlike a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy does have a maximum debt amount for debtors considering this form of bankruptcy. Currently, you cannot hold more than $1,184,200 in secured debt or $394,725 in unsecured debt when filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. These numbers do fluctuate depending on inflation and can change from year-to-year.
Filers are limited in how many times they can receive a bankruptcy discharge within a set amount of time. For example, if you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge, you must wait eight years before being able to file for Chapter 7 again. Therefore, if you do not have a significant amount of debt, you may want to consider whether you will anticipate needing to file in the future. Is it worth it to file for bankruptcy now on a smaller amount of debt and be barred from filing again, if needed? A bankruptcy attorney can talk through these options with you to help you make the best choice.
Bankruptcy looks at the different types of debts you carry and whether these debts can be discharged. Certain debts are considered non-dischargeable, including priority tax debts, student loans in most cases, child support, spousal support, and any obligations arising from a personal injury case caused by wrong actions, which can include drunk driving. For instance, if most of your debt is in student loans, a bankruptcy may not be your best option, while a person who carries mostly credit card and medical debt will find bankruptcy beneficial.
If you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida, you can use Florida bankruptcy exemptions to protect your property. In addition, residents are provided unlimited exemptions for homestead, annuities, and the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy. Florida has one of the most generous homestead exemptions in the country.
Even if you do not have a large amount of debt, if you are being sued or the matter is being referred to collections, it may be best to file for bankruptcy now instead of later. As soon as you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay will be issued, putting a stop to all collection actions. If you wait too long, and a judgment is issued on the debt, resulting in wage garnishment, it may be too little too late. It is for this reason that it is important you meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to talk about your financial situation and whether bankruptcy is right for you.
If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.