Just how many bankruptcies have been filed in recent years is quite astounding. Statistics from the bankruptcy court across America showed that in a 30 day period from March 1 2009 until March 31 2009 a total of 134,282 bankruptcies were filed. This amounts to 10.58 bankruptcies per minute!
Essentially Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is a process whereby you list all your debts and make payments on the things you want to keep and stop paying those debts that have gotten you into trouble. The vast majority of people keep their home and their vehicles. In a small percentage of cases you might have to pay a Trustee who administers your case a small amount of money if you are over your exemptions.
You can keep in nearly all cases your retirement account like a 401k, 403b, IRAs, Social Security, VA pensions, cash value in life insurance policies, most annuities, social security benefits, workers compensation and medicare. Your wages will not be garnished.
You will have to attend a hearing in the bankruptcy court with one of our lawyers. The hearing will last normally about 10 minutes and that should be the only hearing you will attend. In a very small number of cases you might have to attend a court hearing. After the hearing called a “341 hearing” you should receive a bankruptcy discharge in about 60 days, the whole process should take about 4 months start to finish.
Nobody will contact your place of employment (only your harassing creditors might!). Most people do not lose their household goods and the vast majority of the public do not lose their vehicles.
During the bankruptcy procedure your creditors have the right to object to your bankruptcy but most do not have the legal right to do so. In essence, if all you have are credit card debts, medical bills, judgments, etc. you will be able to discharge those debts. I am constantly amazed at the number of lawyers that think you cannot discharge a judgment. Most judgments are dischargeable with the exception of a tax lien on your home. However, on most occasions, even the IRS will work with you once they see you in a bankruptcy. All they really want is some money!
The most common debts that you cannot discharge are most guaranteed student loans, alimony, child support obligations, and governmental fines. Even if the social security administration over pay you that debt is dischargeable in most cases. Pay day loans are dischargeable although the pay day owners tell you they are not.
Remember, one of the most import exemptions allowed under the Florida Constitution is the homestead exemption. If you declare your primary residence as your homestead, it is 100 percent exempt from creditors in the vast majority of cases. We can explain the homestead law to you when you come into our office.
Since you are allowed to keep most retirement accounts in a chapter 7 bankruptcy it is not a good idea to deplete these accounts to pay your debts. I have seen bankruptcy clients who have used their retirement accounts to pay medical bills and credit cards and still have to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy. If only they had spoken to a Ocala bankruptcy lawyer before they made this mistake.
The United States Supreme Court in the 1930’s gave the definitive explanation of what a chapter 7 bankruptcy is:
“It gives the honest but unfortunate debtor a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement of pre-existing debt”
Our Ocala bankruptcy lawyers can help you through this difficult time in your life. We understand that bankruptcy is all about taking care of your family!