Answers To Your Bankruptcy Questions
Bankruptcy is often misunderstood. Our job is to clear up those misunderstandings and provide clear answers and facts. At the law office of Jay W. Moreland, P.A., we can answer all your questions regarding bankruptcy.
When should I consider a bankruptcy?
Simply put, if you see light at the end of the tunnel, keep working to solve your financial problems. When the light goes out, it is time to contact us to explore a bankruptcy filing.
Should I file a Chapter 7 or 13?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires you to fall within a certain income requirements. If you do not qualify via the means test, you can use a Chapter 13, which takes longer, but can be equally effective at eliminating most debts.
What is the mean’s test?
Before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, we must determine if you qualify by taking the bankruptcy court’s means test. The means test compares your household income to similarly sized households here in Florida. If your income is below the median income for a household of your size, you are automatically eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
If your income is above the median, the court applies a means test which involves 55 different mathematical calculations relating to your income and expenses. If you “pass” the means test, you are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you do not, a Chapter 13 filing may be an option. We will explain the process and discuss the outcome during our meeting.
Call our office in New Port Richey law at 727-847-2083.
Can I keep my house?
Florida has an unlimited homestead exemption which means that as long as you can pay your mortgage, you can keep your home, no matter what it is worth, provided you have lived in Florida for more than three and one half years. There are limits in bankruptcy if you have not lived in Florida that long, but in most cases, people can keep their home.
Can I keep my car?
There is a limit of $1,000 equity allowed for a motor vehicle. That amount doubles if both a husband and wife file a joint bankruptcy. Equity is the difference between the value of the vehicle and the amount owed on the loan against the car. Most people with car loans owe more than their car is worth, so they can keep their car as long as they make the payments.
If you own the car free and clear of any car loans, the equity limits may come into play. If you are over the limits and file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may need to pay the excess into the bankruptcy court if you want to keep the vehicle. You could also file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and keep the vehicle.
What are debtor education classes?
The Bankruptcy Act requires that all clients attend court-approved debtor education classes. The objective is to break bad habits and move forward with a greater understanding of what you need to do to prevent future financial problems. The courses are available in person, over the phone or on the Internet. There are quite a few providers who have been approved by the Bankruptcy Court.
The first course on credit counseling must be taken within 180 days prior to filing for bankruptcy. If it has been longer than that, the course must be retaken. The second course on financial management is taken after the bankruptcy case has been filed and before the court grants a discharge. Prices for the course vary with the provider.
Do I have to attend hearings or go to court?
Yes, but we are at your side the entire time. That also includes the 341 meeting with the bankruptcy trustee. Some law firms hire attorneys to cover the hearings. Form preparers are not allowed to go with you.
We go with our clients to the 341 hearings and any other necessary hearings. We understand that many people may be intimidated and uncomfortable in these hearings, which is why we attend all hearings with you and are there to answer your questions and explain the process.
If you have other questions about bankruptcy, give us a call at 727-847-2083 to schedule an appointment with an experienced lawyer. If you would like to read our “What to Do When Debts Get Out of Control,” fill out our contact form and we will send you a copy.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.