Bankruptcy Law

Knowing When to File for Bankruptcy

Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is never an easy one. Many times, it can be difficult to know when the time is right or when it is better to wait.  

A bankruptcy case allows a consumer to receive a much-needed financial fresh start by discharging his or her outstanding consumer debts. The types of debts that are discharged in a bankruptcy case include credit card debt, mortgages, car loans, medical debt, and other unsecured loans.  

Bankruptcy Law

What is a ‘No Asset’ Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case?

In a no-asset Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the person filing for bankruptcy keeps all of their property because it falls within the exemptions provided under federal law or the law in their state.

With a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy, a filer surrenders their assets to the bankruptcy estate, which uses them to pay off creditors. But in reality, this is only true of non-exempt property. Many of our cases, are in fact, ‘no asset’ cases. Bankruptcy law recognizes that filers need to retain some property so they can survive the process with something on which to build a future after bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Law

The Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Requirement and What Filers Need to Know

All bankruptcy filers are required to take and complete two educational courses before receiving a final bankruptcy discharge. These courses are required for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filers. It is important that individuals considering bankruptcy be aware of these requirements for their cases to be successful.  

At the start of a bankruptcy case, the individual filing must meet certain requirements. The filer must disclose his or her complete financial picture by submitting required bankruptcy financial declarations. He or she must also pay a filing fee, request a fee waiver, or request an installment payment for the fee. Lastly, the individual must submit proof that he or she received credit counseling from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee’s office. This proof of completion must show that the course was taken within 180 days prior to filing.

Bankruptcy Law

Which Type of Bankruptcy Should I File to Keep My Home?

One of the biggest fears people have when filing for bankruptcy is losing their home, car, and other important assets. However, with Florida bankruptcy exemptions and depending on the type of bankruptcy being filed, it is possible for consumers to keep their home and other property. It ultimately depends on the filer’s financial circumstances.  

Protecting Home Equity  

How much equity the filer has in his or her home plays a big part in whether he or she can keep it Equity plays an important part in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. The equity a person has in his or her home is protected through the state’s homestead exemption, and fortunately for Florida filers, the state’s homestead exemption is quite generous.  

Bankruptcy Law, Business Bankruptcy

The Impact the Coronavirus has had on Bankruptcy Filings in Miami Beach

The economic impact caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been substantial throughout the country, and Miami Beach is not excluded. Countless businesses have been forced to close temporarily and many even permanently. While technically the number of bankruptcies were down at the end of 2020 nationwide, financial experts fear that the number of bankruptcy filings will increase over the next several years.  

While the number of consumer bankruptcies were down nationwide, the number of Chapter 11 business bankruptcies saw an increase of 18.7 percent when compared to 2019. This form of bankruptcy is normally used by businesses that hope to stay in operation through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process that allows them to renegotiate their debts. Several larger businesses, including Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 in 2020.  

Specifically, in Florida, a total of 37,776 bankruptcies were filed in 2020, which is 19.26 percent lower than the 46,786 filed in 2019. Of all the bankruptcy cases filed in 2020, businesses accounted for four percent of these cases. This number may seem small, but business bankruptcies tend to have a significant effect far past the bankruptcy case alone, including the effect these closures and filings have on the individual employees who lost their job as a result.  

Many times, a ripple effect can be seen on other businesses after one or more close.  

According to figures from the U.S. Courts Administrative Office, a total of 7,430 bankruptcies were filed in Miami-Dade County in 2020. This figure is slightly less than the 8,705 filed in 2019.  

While consumer bankruptcies were down in Miami-Dade County, the number of business bankruptcies saw a slight increase. It is reported that 322 Miami area business bankruptcies were filed in 2020, as compared to 215 filed in 2019. Of these cases filed in 2020, 188 of them were filed under Chapter 7, commonly referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy. Only 129 Chapter 7 business cases were filed in 2019.  

Miami-Dade County did see an increase in the number of Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed in 2020. Approximately 120 were filed in 2020, as compared to the 62 filed in 2019.  

Individual consumer bankruptcies in Miami-Dade County did not see the same increase, however. According to court filings, a total of 7,108 non-business consumer bankruptcy cases were filed in 2020, as compared to the 8,490 filed in 2019. Of these cases, 4,841 were Chapter 7 filings and 2,260 were Chapter 13 filings. In comparison, 5,067 Chapter 7 cases were filed while 3,414 Chapter 13 cases were filed in 2019.  

Despite the decrease between 2019 and 2020, financial experts predict these numbers will continue to increase through 2021 and beyond. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more and more businesses and individuals will continue to feel the economic impact of this crisis.  

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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.   

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Collection

Understanding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) 

Facing debt collection is stressful and there are laws in place to protect consumers.  Debt collectors can be persistent, even to the point of becoming harassing and threatening at times. However, it is vital that consumers facing collections actions realize that they do, in fact, have rights, and these rights fall largely under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). 

The FDCPA was signed into law in 1978. The law designates what type of behavior is acceptable by debt collectors and what type is considered abusive and unethical.  The law was created to curb tactics that had largely gotten out of control by companies engaging in debt collection.  

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Card Debt, Debt Collection

Important Tips to Know about Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

Credit card debt plagues so many today. Even with the economic stimulus relief, some consumers are having to utilize credit cards to make ends meet. Escaping the load of credit card debt can seem like an impossible feat. Whenever someone offers a way out or credit card debt forgiveness, it can be easy to jump to accept the offer. The problem is credit card debt forgiveness can be more complicated than simply having the debt forgiven.   

Not All Debt Forgiveness Strategies Are Equal  

Credit card debt is forgiven usually from two strategies, namely debt settlement or bankruptcy. Many consumers try a third strategy, which involves ignoring the amount owed until the statute of limitations has passed for collecting on the debt.  However, the damage that can result to the consumer’s credit score as a result of this failed strategy make it often not worth the wait.  

Bankruptcy Law, Kingcade Garcia McMaken

What to Look for When Choosing a Bankruptcy Lawyer

Making the decision to file for bankruptcy can be a difficult one, but having the right bankruptcy attorney in your corner can make the process a seamless one. It helps to do your research, not only online but in person, too. The following tips can help someone who is considering filing for bankruptcy choose the best attorney for the job.

Experience Matters

Many people will start their search on the Internet, looking online to find a bankruptcy attorney. Experience is one factor that should always be considered when choosing an attorney. Experience does not just mean years practicing law. It is important to find someone who has filed cases in bankruptcy court and handles bankruptcy matters regularly. It helps a great deal to find someone who focuses his or her practice solely on bankruptcy law and who handles the specific type of bankruptcy the filer is pursuing instead of a general practice attorney who handles a little bit of everything. Many attorneys will handle only Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, while others will handle corporate bankruptcies, restructuring and reorganization.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Collection

Can a Debt Collector Try To Collect on Debts Discharged in Bankruptcy?

A bankruptcy discharge gives a person a fresh financial start, freeing him or her from the stress of collection calls and aggressive debt collection practices. However, the fact that a debt has been discharged successfully in a bankruptcy case does not necessarily mean debt collectors will still not try and attempt to pursue collection of the debt. What happens in these situations?  

Under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, a discharge is a permanent court order that prohibits creditors from pursuing any type of collection on discharged debts. These prohibited actions include filing legal cases to collect on the debt, as well as communications with the consumer via personal contacts, letters, and phone calls. Essentially, the discharge in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case relieves the filer from any personal responsibility to pay off the debt.  

Not all consumer debts are dischargeable in a bankruptcy caseCertain debts are prohibited as a matter of public policy from being discharged, including government-backed student loans, child support, alimony, tax debt, and any debts incurred because of improper or illegal behavior.  Creditors for these debts can continue collecting on them even after the bankruptcy case is finalized.  

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Score

When Can I Apply for a Credit Card after Bankruptcy?

The type of bankruptcy can affect how soon someone can apply for a credit card after bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy case allows the consumer’s debts to be discharged fairly quickly, within a few months, after non-exempt assets are liquidated and used to pay off the filer’s debts.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case takes longer than a Chapter 7 case since it involves a three-to-five-year long repayment plan where the consumer works with the bankruptcy trustee on paying down qualifying debts while discharging what is left at the end of the repayment period.