St. Petersburg Foreclosure Attorney
Saving Homes in Pinellas County
Have you fallen behind on mortgage payments and are not sure how you will catch up? Have you received a Notice of Default? If you find yourself in this stressful scenario, you will need to act quickly and may need to consider filing for bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy stops pending foreclosure proceedings and will halt an imminent sale. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will reorganize your finances and get several years to bring your mortgage current.
With over 30 years of legal experience we are ready to help save your home. We have filed thousands of bankruptcy cases and knows how to use this process to bring relief to homeowners. If you are in immediate danger of losing your house or any other real property, we are prepared to assist with emergency filings and encourage you to get in touch as soon as possible.
How Foreclosure Works in Florida
Many hardworking people fall behind on their mortgages due to circumstances outside their control. A sudden loss of income or unexpected medical expenses can stretch your financial resources thin. Fortunately, your lender cannot foreclose on your home as soon as you miss a payment. The foreclosure process requires your mortgage company to file a lawsuit in the county you live.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to directly negotiate a forbearance, loan modification, or some other loss mitigation solution with your lender. Bankruptcy should be viewed as a last resort to saving your home, so you should carefully explore these options when your lender reaches out.
If a compromise with your lender is not possible, they will likely initiate a judicial foreclosure of your home. Your lender will file a lawsuit asking for permission to sell your home, and you will typically get up to 20 days to file a response. If you do nothing, the court will most likely grant a “default judgment” and allow your lender to proceed. If you do contest the lawsuit, your lender may still request a “summary judgment” if no one disputes that you are behind on your mortgage.
Once a judgment is granted against you, you will have a very limited amount of time before a sale will take place. If you have not already done so, now is the time to seek immediate legal representation: This is your last chance to stop a foreclosure sale and save your home. No matter your circumstances, our office is prepared to assist you.
Filing for bankruptcy will immediately stop most foreclosure proceedings. However, you must file before the scheduled sale of the property. You will not be able to save your home if you file after the sale has taken place.
If you want to keep your home, you will likely need to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This reorganizational process involves proposing and committing to a repayment plan. All of your debts, including your mortgage arrears, will be consolidated into a single monthly payment. The amount of this payment is determined by your current ability to pay or value of your non-exempt assets.
Chapter 13 repayment plans last between 3 and 5 years. In most cases, you will be protected from foreclosure throughout your bankruptcy so long as you continue to make plan payments.
In a Chapter 13 repayment plan, certain debts receive priority and must be addressed before other types of debt. Secured debts, including mortgage arrears, stand ahead of unsecured debts, meaning more of your monthly payment will likely go toward catching up on missed mortgage payments.
You will be required to bring your mortgage current by the end of your Chapter 13 plan. You will also generally be able to discharge all remaining unsecured debts, including credit card debt and medical debt, after you complete all plan payments. This debt elimination can give you the increased financial flexibility you need to keep up with your mortgage going forward.
Our firm is extremely familiar with the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process and can provide the tailored guidance you need. After submitting your bankruptcy filing and stopping foreclosure proceedings, we will work together to develop a plan that cures your mortgage arrears.We will work closely with you every step of the way and provide you with the resources you need to protect your home.
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.