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.

Pre-bankruptcy credit counseling helps determine whether bankruptcy is necessary. Granted, bankruptcy law only requires the consumer to participate in the counseling program. This participation does not mean the person has to do everything recommended to him or her. However, if the credit counseling agency prepares a debt repayment plan for the consumer, and the bankruptcy court views the repayment plan as something the filer could feasibly do, they may use this repayment plan in an effort to push the person from proceeding with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case to filing a Chapter 13 case.  

A list of approved credit counseling courses and agencies can be found on the U.S. Trustee’s website. These agencies can charge a reasonable fee for their services, but if the filer is not able to pay the fee and falls below a certain income threshold, the agency must either provide the services for a reduced rate or for free. 

The second credit counseling required by bankruptcy courts is called debtor education. This course must be completed after filing for bankruptcy. The purpose of this second course is to give the filer resources and tools to help him or her create a budget, rebuild his or her credit after bankruptcy, and avoid falling into the same situation again.  Proof of completion must be provided by the filer within 60 days of date first set for the case’s meeting of creditors 

Please click here to read more.  

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.   

Debt Relief

Credit Counseling vs. Bankruptcy- Which one is right for you?

When it comes to dealing with debt, you have options.  Debt relief can ease the burden of overwhelming debt, but it’s not right for everyone. Given a person’s financial and personal circumstances, certain considerations should be kept in mind when making the determination between credit counseling and bankruptcy.

If the consumer has a steady income and can pay back his or her debt within a few months to a year, credit counseling may be the wise choice for him or her. However, if the person has an overwhelming amount of debt in comparison to his or her income, filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the better option.  

Credit counseling involves consumer education from a certified credit counselor regarding a variety of topics, including improving a credit score, managing money, preparing, and sticking to a budget, and improving the person’s credit score. The goal is to educate the consumer and prepare him or her to handle his or her finances independently to avoid the need to file for bankruptcy.  

Credit counselors can be found through the assistance of the consumer’s bank or credit union, as well as a consumer protection agency. It is extremely important that the consumer does his or her research before selecting a credit counseling agency. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) can also be an excellent resource for finding credible nonprofit credit counseling agencies.

This type of credit counseling should not be confused with the credit counseling that is required when filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy courts require filers to receive debt and credit-related financial counseling at least 180 days before filing for bankruptcy. 

A legitimate nonprofit credit counseling agency should offer free credit counseling services and should not charge a fee upfront before offering these services. These free consultations normally last up to an hour and should provide long-term solutions for the consumer on how to handle his or her debt. 

Unfortunately, credit counseling scams do exist. It is important that the consumer does his or her research to ensure that the agency selected is not one of them. Never provide personal or financial information to the agency until the consumer is sure the credit counseling agency is legitimate.  Research the company with the Better Business Bureau to see if any scams have been reported.

It is equally as important that the consumer realize when enough is enough and when bankruptcy is the better course of action. Many times, the financial burden becomes too much to handle through counseling along. At this point, it may be wise to move forward towards formally filing for bankruptcy. Before making this decision, the consumer should consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney and talk to him or her about the situation. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will be able to help the individual make the decision of whether to pursue credit counseling first or file for bankruptcy. Additionally, the attorney will be able to guide the person as to which form of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, would be best.

Please click here to read more.  

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

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.

Bankruptcy Law

How to Know which Type of Bankruptcy is Right for You

Making the choice to file for bankruptcy is not an easy decision to make, but it is the first step towards a financial fresh start. However, choosing which type of bankruptcy to pursue can be a difficult decision to make.  

Typically, consumers choose between a Chapter 7 “liquidation” bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 “reorganization” bankruptcy. Both forms of bankruptcy have their positive attributes, as well as their negative ones, and it ultimately depends on the consumer’s financial situation and the goals he or she wants to achieve as to which type of consumer bankruptcy will be best for him or her.  

Bankruptcy Law, COVID-19, Debt Relief, Small Business Bankruptcy

How to Handle Business Bankruptcy in the Aftermath of the Coronavirus

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit South Florida businesses hard. Many small businesses have struggled to survive the shutdowns and drop in revenue, while others are pursuing bankruptcy as a means of remaining in operation while receiving financial assistance. For businesses who wish to make it through this time of crisis, help is available.

It has been reported that the number of businesses that filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy increased by 26 percent from the previous year, even though overall bankruptcy filings were down. These numbers are expected to continue to increase over the summer months as businesses begin to reopen.

Bankruptcy Law, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Debt Relief

Coronavirus and the Changes it has had to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code

The coronavirus pandemic has affected our country in so many ways. It has also affected the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, specifically through the recently passed $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

Within the CARES Act were revisions to parts of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, meant to help small businesses and consumers during this difficult time. The CARES Act amended the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA), which temporarily increased the debt threshold for filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy relief. The debt threshold increased from $2,725,625 to $7,500,000. After one year, the threshold will go back down to the original amount.

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

Timing is Important When It Comes to Filing for Bankruptcy

When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, it is not always a matter of “if” but rather a matter of “when.” Depending on a person’s financial situation, it can pay to properly time out a bankruptcy filing. Whether it is the right time to file for bankruptcy can depend on several factors including whether someone is facing foreclosure, vehicle repossession, wage garnishment, or any of the following.

Mortgage Modification

When someone is facing foreclosure, a few different steps can be taken to delay or even prevent the process. One of these solutions is through a mortgage modification. Homeowners facing foreclosure should try this approach first before filing for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Law

Miami Bankruptcy Attorney Timothy S. Kingcade Obtains Order Allowing Protections for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Client

Bankruptcy Attorney Timothy S. Kingcade of the Miami-based bankruptcy and foreclosure defense law firm of Kingcade Garcia McMaken obtained an Order for his client in a Chapter 13 case (Case No. 20-10135-RAM), limiting the scope of permissible relief in a pending criminal contempt case. The Motion for Contempt seeks relief against Jeffrey Charlow and counsel, for proceeding with a criminal case pending against Kingcade’s client in Broward County, Florida.

The Criminal Contempt Case was initiated by an order entered by Judge Robert W. Lee in a civil case also pending against the client. The court determined continuation of the Criminal Contempt case was not a violation of the automatic stay, but imposed two important limitations protecting our client:  Judge Lee may not sentence our client to jail with an Order that expels the sentence if a fine is paid and payment will necessarily come from the property of the estate.