St. Petersburg Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney
Getting Lives Back on Track in Pinellas County
Are you falling behind on your bills despite having a steady income? Did some extenuating circumstance make it impossible for you to effectively manage your finances? Do you have assets you are worried about losing if you file for Chapter 7 relief? Are you worried you will lose your home to foreclosure? If so, Chapter 13 may be able to provide the relief you need.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganizational type of bankruptcy. It allows individuals and families with a steady income to repay a portion of their debts over a period of time at a rate based on their current income and expenses or value of their non-exempt assets.
Our office is ready to help you develop a repayment plan that will get your life back on track. We have filed thousands of bankruptcy cases and have over 30 years of legal experience. We understand the intricacies of this process and will leverage our knowledge to pursue maximum relief.
Is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Right for Me?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is reserved for people who have the financial resources to partially repay creditors. You must therefore have regular, reliable income to pursue Chapter 13 relief. We will certainly help you to determine your disposable income under the Court mandated “means test.”
If you make more than Florida’s average median, we can calculate your disposable income by subtracting qualifying expenses.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a good choice if you have non-exempt assets you want to keep. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, non-exempt assets are liquidated to pay creditors. Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases do not involve liquidation, and, within certain guidelines, you will be able to keep all of your personal and real property.
If you are facing foreclosure, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can also save your home from foreclosure by giving you the time and resources you need to catch up on delinquent mortgage payments. We can evaluate your circumstances and advise how filing can help.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers immediate relief through the automatic stay, a court order that stops most collection actions. The automatic stay will often remain in effect throughout your bankruptcy case so long as you continue to make plan payments.
In most cases, the filing of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case will put an immediate stop to:
- The foreclosure of your home
- A pending automobile repossession
- Collection lawsuits
- Creditor harassment
- Wage garnishments
- Bank account garnishments
- IRS Collections
Our attorney, Mr. Moore, will work closely with you to develop a repayment plan that will be filed with the Bankruptcy Court. This plan will tell creditors how much they will receive based on your current ability to pay and the property you are keeping. The Bankruptcy Court will often approve plans that provide for payments that are only a percentage of your unsecured debts. The repayment plan will also, in most cases, be at 0% interest. Chapter 13 plans can last for up to 5 years.
A Chapter 13 repayment plan can allow you to:
- Catch up on late or missed mortgage payments. If you wish to keep your home, your mortgage must be brought current over the course of the plan.
- Eliminate a second mortgage on your home. This can be done if the current value of your home is less than what you owe to the first mortgage holder.
- Catch up on late or missed car payments. Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop a repossession and give you the opportunity to cure a default.
- Restructure an automobile loan. You may only have to pay what your car is currently worth instead of the full balance claimed by the creditor.
- Repay debts at a fraction of the balance owed. Certain debts must be paid in full, but you may only need to pay a small portion of unsecured debts.
Upon completing all plan payments, you will often be entitled to a discharge of any remaining unsecured debts. Unsecured debts do not have collateral and include medical bills, credit card debt, gambling debt, signature loans, and unpaid utility bills.
We know how to effectively structure repayment plans and will work with you to create a reorganization strategy that facilitates optimal relief. We are committed to guiding you through this stressful time and can offer the representation you need to save your most important assets and retake control of your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Type of Bankruptcy Is Right for Me?
There are two major types of consumer bankruptcy: Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is intended for people with limited income, while Chapter 13 is meant for people with regular income but are unable to meet their current obligations.
To determine your eligibility, you will need to complete the Means Test. Compare your current monthly income to Florida’s average median income for your household size. If your income is less than the state average, you “pass” the Means Test and qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your income is greater than the state average, you will likely need to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you have considerable disposable income each month.
We also recognize that bankruptcy is not necessarily right for everyone. It is important to have a full understanding of what property you can expect to keep, what debts can be discharged, and any other potential impacts and consequences that might result from your filing. Our lawyer will thoroughly review your situation and give you straightforward advice.
What Types of Debts Can I Wipe Out through Bankruptcy?
Completing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 generally allows filers to discharge nearly all of their unsecured debts without penalty. Unsecured debts are issued based on your creditworthiness and do not have collateral backing.
Bankruptcy can typically eliminate:
- Credit card debt
- Medical debt
- Gambling debt
- Signature loans
- Mortgage deficiencies
- Certain types of tax debt
You cannot discharge all types of debt through bankruptcy. While you may be able to discharge secured debts, which are backed by collateral, you will likely lose secured assets in the process. In other words, while you may theoretically be able to discharge a mortgage, for example, doing so will result in you losing your home. Additionally, you cannot discharge newer income tax debt, student loan debt, child support, or spousal support.
Will I Lose All of My Assets If I File for Bankruptcy?
No. There is a pervasive myth that you will be left with nothing if you file for bankruptcy. Though Chapter 7 bankruptcy does involve a liquidation process, only non-exempt assets will be sold to compensate creditors. You get to keep any exempt assets, and the state of Florida allows you to protect the equity in your home, a certain amount of equity in your vehicle, most of your personal property, and other essential assets. Strategic use of exemptions can result in your losing little to nothing.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves no liquidation process whatsoever. Within certain guidelines, you will be able to keep all of your property. This type of bankruptcy can be a great choice for filers with non-exempt assets they wish to keep.
Can Filing for Bankruptcy Save My Home?
Yes. Filing for bankruptcy immediately stops foreclosure proceedings thanks to the automatic stay, a court order that halts nearly all collection efforts. However, you must file before your home has been sold.
If you hope to keep your home, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide you the time and relief you need to catch up on payments. Your repayment plan must prioritize mortgage arrears over unsecured debts, so you will be able to devote more of your disposable income to bring your mortgage current. You will also usually be able to eliminate unsecured debts once you have made all plan payments, which can give you the additional financial flexibility you need to stay on top of your mortgage in the future.