Bankruptcy Law

The Pros and Cons of Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in 2020

For someone struggling financially, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case can offer him or her a fresh start and freedom from insurmountable debt. The year 2020 has pushed many consumers to the brink financially, and bankruptcy can offer the help a person needs to start the New Year debt-free.  

Pros of Filing Chapter 7  

As soon as a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is filed, the consumer receives immediate protection from his or her creditors. This protection comes from the automatic stay that is issued by the court upon filing. The automatic stay puts a pause on all collection actions, including collection phone calls, legal proceedings to collect on a debt, wage garnishments, evictions, and foreclosures. The automatic stay also gives consumers a chance to breathe and work with the court and bankruptcy trustee.   

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief

Which Type of Bankruptcy Eliminates the Most Debts?

When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, several different options are available, depending on the filer’s financial situation and types of debt owed. Two of the most common forms of consumer bankruptcy filings are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 is a liquidation bankruptcy that wipes out most of your general unsecured debts such as credit cards and medical bills without the need to pay back balances through a repayment plan.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Credit Card Debt, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Top Reason Americans Are Carrying an Average Credit Card Balance of Over $6,200

Credit card debt is a burden for many consumers. Most have a complicated relationship with their credit cards. On one hand, disciplined and modest use of a credit card to make certain purchases can help establish a good credit score. On the other hand, if the balance on a credit card is not paid in full each month, and on time, the balance can quickly spiral out of control.

According a recent study by CompareCards, American consumers are carrying an all-time high of $1.1 trillion in credit card and other types of revolving debt. This figure is up nearly 20 percent from where it was just ten years ago.

Bankruptcy Law

Important Factors to Keep in Mind When Filing for Bankruptcy

When filing for bankruptcy, certain factors should be kept in mind, including the type of bankruptcy being filed, property exemptions available to the filer, and the various laws and legal regulations that accompany filing for bankruptcy.

The type of bankruptcy being filed.

The most common types of consumer bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows filers to receive a total discharge of their qualifying debts and is an option used mostly by filers whose debts are particularly high compared to their level of income. To file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filers must qualify under the bankruptcy means test. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows the consumer to enter a repayment plan to pay all or part of his or her debts over the course of three to five years.

Bankruptcy Law

Steps for Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Florida

If someone is considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the path that person needs to take may not always be clear. While everyone’s situation differs in some respects, certain steps must be taken when it comes to proceeding with Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Review Your Financial Situation

Before proceeding, it is always recommended that the filer sit down with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and go over what types of debt the person has, as well as what property would be protected by Florida’s bankruptcy exemptions.

Bankruptcy Law

Converting a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to a Chapter 7

On occasion, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case may need to be converted to a Chapter 7 case. This transition may be on the request of the individual filer or the bankruptcy court. Many bankruptcy filers will decide to convert their Chapter 13 case into a Chapter 7 case in the event their financial situations have changed after the initial filing, or if the filer had originally chosen to pursue a Chapter 13 case to protect property that no longer needs protection.

The Conversion Process

Florida bankruptcy courts have specific guidelines that must be followed for converting a case from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7.  Unless the filer has already received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge within the most recent eight years, he or she should be able to convert a Chapter 13 case into a Chapter 7 at any time.

Bankruptcy Law

Understanding the Bankruptcy Process: How to File & the Qualifications

Filing for bankruptcy can be an emotional and sometimes stressful process. However, enlisting the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney can make the process painless and worry-free.  Many clients have little understanding about what is involved when they file for bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding where a judge and bankruptcy trustee review the financial situation of individuals or businesses who are not able to pay their financial obligations and discharge qualifying debts that they are no longer able to pay.

The Purpose of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is meant to give an individual a fresh financial start, allowing that person to wipe the slate clean. It also serves as a way to give the filer some sense of relief through the protection of the automatic stay, which means creditors are prohibited from continuing collection actions against the filer. This allows the person time to regroup, protect valuable assets and work with the bankruptcy trustee to handle their debts.

Bankruptcy Law, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

When to File for Bankruptcy

Coming to the decision to file for bankruptcy is not an easy choice to make. Many individuals consider bankruptcy to be an admission of failure, but it can oftentimes be the only way for them to truly obtain a fresh financial start. Certain decisions and factors must be considered when coming to the decision to file for bankruptcy.

One consideration that often holds people back from making the decision to file is the effect the filing will have on their credit. The effects of bankruptcy on a person’s credit score depends on the score the filer had before filing for bankruptcy. If you have a higher credit score, the effect the bankruptcy will have will be more noticeable. However, if you have a lower credit score to begin with, the change may not be as much after filing for bankruptcy.

It helps to sort through the myths and facts before making that final decision, and if you do choose to file for bankruptcy, this does not mean all hope is loss. There are proven ways to rebuild your credit score after bankruptcy, and our clients are proof!

My credit score said on all three reports 775, I couldn’t believe that I had such a great score before 10 years. Tim for me was the best move I have made for my situation. I have no regrets, I am glad the past is the past. – Bill T.

Hi Tim- I just wanted to send a quick note and thank you and your team for handling my bankruptcy case.  It is only a month or two after discharge, and my credit scores are already in the upper 600’s. – C.S.

Traditionally, two of the biggest reasons people file for bankruptcy are the result of a serious medical crisis or a divorce. Both can cause a person’s financial situation to change overnight. Even if someone has medical insurance, a major medical crisis can still put them in a tough financial spot, especially if that person must pay a high deductible for his or her medical costs. The same goes for a divorce and losing the financial support of another person in a relationship.

Several factors need to be considered when deciding which form of bankruptcy to choose. Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes approximately three to six months to have the debt discharged, which includes most of the filer’s unsecured debt, including medical bills, credit card debt and personal loans. Other types of debt are excluded for the most part, including student loan debt, child support, spousal support and tax obligations. The bankruptcy trustee may choose to sell of non-exempt property to pay off the debt, although most property falls under an exemption- which means you can keep it. Property that is secured and is associated with a piece of property, like a home, can be kept so long as the debtor is able to keep up on payments and maintain the property. Therefore, if most of your debt involves credit card debt or medical debt, Chapter 7 may be the best option for you to eliminate this burden.

If you are behind on your mortgage payments but want to keep your home, many times, the Chapter 13 filing is a more logical choice. In a Chapter 13 case, you can lump past due mortgage payments into the repayment plan and pay them over time while keeping current on payments.

The bankruptcy means test determines whether or not you are eligible to file for debt forgiveness through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The test uses factors such as: income, expenses and family size to determine who can afford to repay their debts through reorganization and who cannot.

It is always recommended that you speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney before making any decision to file or not file. If you are expecting a large lump sum payment, such as an inheritance or tax refund, the attorney may advise you to wait on filing and utilize that money on needed expenses first before filing to avoid losing it in a bankruptcy. Be honest with your attorney during this meeting and fully disclose all your financial circumstances so that the best decision can be made.

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.

Related Resources:

https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/pay-down-my-debt/debt-guide-file-bankruptcy/

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Credit Card Debt, Debt Relief

Tips for Eliminating Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is a problem for many people today. While having a credit card is not necessarily a bad thing, if you are unable to pay off the entire balance each month, the interest, fees and finance charges can accumulate quickly.  This can eventually cause your credit card balance to spiral out of control. It helps to know what steps to take to eliminate credit card debt before it becomes too big of a problem.

  1. Use all your resources.

One tip that helps in attacking credit card debt is to maximize all the resources available to you. It can take a lot of time and dedication, but it does get the job done. To be successful with the method of throwing all your resources at your debt, you need to do the following:

  • Rely on cash-only to pay for expenses. Make sure these expenses are essential in nature and not frivolous, causing you to waste more money rather than make progress.
  • Put together a list of all credit card debt, detailing the interest rate for each card and the minimum payment on each card.
  • Use the debt avalanche method to attack the debt. What this entails is the person chooses the card with the highest interest rate, and he or she uses all extra money that he or she has available at paying off that card. After that card is paid off, the money that was used to pay that card goes to the next one, and so on. The idea is the money that goes towards the card snowballs in size, helping to pay each one down quicker than the person would be able to do with just meeting monthly minimum payments.
  • Find extra money to pay towards credit cards by creating a realistic budget and sticking to it.
  1. Consider a Balance-Transfer Credit Card.

If the person has a good credit rating, it is possible that he or she could open a new credit card with a lower interest rate for the sole purpose of transferring the balance from a current card with a higher interest rate. Many cards offer promotions for zero-percent annual percentage rates (APRs) with no balance transfer fees during that limited time period. This idea may seem like a bad one since it encourages the person to rely on a credit card to pay off another credit card. However, it can be a good idea if the person has good credit and is dedicated to paying off the balance on the new card, once the old balance is transferred. It is also important that the card holder take advantage of the introductory period to make sure the interest rate stays low while the amount is paid off. Once the period is over, the interest rate could jump up, thus bringing the cardholder to square one.

  1. Credit Consolidation Loan

Another method that is possible to pay off credit card debt is through a credit card consolidation loan. These loans are also referred to as debt consolidation or personal loans. Many of them are unsecured, meaning the person does not need to have assets or collateral to cover the obligation. The interest rates on these loans are usually lower than what the credit card interest rates would be, which makes it a little easier for the borrower to pay back the loan and make progress rather than pay the minimum payment owed on the credit card. Another benefit is the loan allows the person to only make one monthly payment rather than several different minimum payments on various credit cards. It is possible the borrower will need a cosigner, depending on his or her credit score, to back up the loan.

  1. Debt Management Plan

Another option that is available to individuals struggling to pay off credit card debt is a debt management plan. Debt management plans line the debtor up with a credit counselor who works with that person to create a budget and a plan to pay back the debt. The counselor will also speak with the person’s creditors on behalf of that individual and can often negotiate down the debt amount or terms of repayment. It is important to find a quality company when choosing a debt management company. Do research before jumping into the first choice and ensure that the company is legitimate and not a scam. An average debt management plan can take anywhere from four to five years for a person to successfully clear his or her debt.

  1. File for Bankruptcy

If none of these options work or if the debt is simply too much, bankruptcy may be the best option. Chapter 7 is the fastest form of consumer bankruptcy and forgives most unsecured debts like credit card debt, medical bills and personal loans.  There are certain qualifications a consumer must meet in regards to income, assets and expenses to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is determined by the bankruptcy means test.

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.

Related Resources:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2018/06/26/credit-card-debt-5-cost-effective-ways-you-can-erase/714014002/

 

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

How to Know If You Qualify for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy Means Test determines whether your income is low enough to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The test is designed to keep high-income earners from filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy and limited to consumers who truly need it and cannot afford to repay their debts.

If the Means Test proves your income is too high to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy and repay a portion of your debts (typically over a three-to five-year period).  Even with the requirements to pass the Means Test, it does not mean you have to be penniless to file Chapter 7.  In fact, you can earn significant monthly income and still qualify for Chapter 7- depending on the expenses you have.

The Means Test determines if you qualify for Chapter 7 by deducting specific monthly expenses from your “current monthly income” (i.e. – your average income over the six calendar months before you file for bankruptcy) to arrive at your monthly “disposable income.” The more disposable income you have, the more likely you will be required to repay your creditors.

The first step of the Means Test is to determine whether your income is more or less than the median income in your state.  Median income levels vary by state and household size.  Also, each county and metropolitan region has different allowed amounts for categories of expenses, such as necessities, housing, and transportation.  You can enter your zip code into the Means Test Calculator to determine the income requirements for your specific location.

If you have any 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.

Related Resources: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/chapter-7-bankruptcy-means-test-eligibility-29907.html