What Are The Benefits of Declaring Bankruptcy?

Declaring bankruptcy is rarely an easy path to take — even if there isn’t a chance you’ll actually be able to pay back your debts.

Declaring bankruptcy means your credit (and credit score) take a hit, and your ability to secure credit becomes much more difficult, if not impossible. Not to mention the public perception of actually having to file for bankruptcy. It’s not an easy thing to do.

But for people who are struggling with a massive amount of debt, the advantages of declaring bankruptcy often far outweigh the disadvantages. Discharging debt through bankruptcy often eliminate stress by putting an end to relentless collection calls and the anxiety that comes from mounting bills with no solution in sight.

Declaring bankruptcy moves you past that and on the path to rebuilding your financial future the right way.

Top 10 Benefits of Declaring Bankruptcy

1) A sense of relief

The first thing that many people experience after declaring bankruptcy is a sense of relief. If you have struggled with debt for years and have recently become overwhelmed by threats from creditors, bankruptcy offers a solution to help remove those stressors and put you back on the path to financial well-being.

2) Collection agencies calls will finally stop calling you

One of the most unpleasant aspects of owing money is the constant phone calls from relentless bill collectors. Sometimes it seems they will never end – especially if you owe money to multiple creditors. Once you file for bankruptcy, creditors and collection agencies are no longer allowed to contact you regarding the money you owe.

3) Your credit score may start to rise quickly

“Within a year, you’re way better off. It’s a pretty rapid rate of recovery.” 

Jaromir Nosal, Assistant Professor of Economics, Boston College

Some people are hesitant to file bankruptcy because they are worried that their credit score will take a nose dive. But if you have already skipped payments and are facing collection efforts, your credit score is probably already in terrible shape. While your score may experience a slight dip, you may actually be better off in the long-term by filing bankruptcy and focusing your efforts on reestablishing your credit.

4) You might be able to keep your property

When you file for bankruptcy, you may be eligible for certain exemptions related to your home and other tangible assets. These exemptions allow you to go through the bankruptcy process without losing any of your property. Attempts to repossess your car will also cease. Your eligibility to keep your property will hinge on the type of bankruptcy you file, so be sure to seek the services of an experienced Tampa bankruptcy attorney to ensure that you declare the right type of bankruptcy.

5) You will receive valuable educational guidance

One of the requirements of a bankruptcy filing is to complete credit counseling. This process is designed to help you better manage your expenses and avoid frivolous spending. You will learn how to stay on top of your financial obligations, your assets, and your income to help ensure that you do not make the same financial mistakes that caused you to go deep into debt. Ideally, credit counseling will help you better manage your household budget.

6) You learn to live within your budget

As you go through the bankruptcy process, you will have to learn to live without credit cards. Many people learn how to spend more wisely and develop better savings habits. By continuing to follow these practices, you can avoid financial catastrophes in the future.

7) Creditors will stop garnishing your wages

Depending on your individual situation, one or more of your creditors might threaten to garnish your wages. They may also threaten to seize your assets. If you are facing these threats, or if your wages are currently being garnished, declaring bankruptcy will trigger an “automatic stay.” The automatic stay mandates that creditors put an end to your wage garnishments and eviction threats.

8) You can focus your energies on increasing your earnings

When you declare bankruptcy, you will no longer have to devote countless hours to responding to collection calls, letters, and threats from creditors. If you are employed, you will be able to approach your work with a clearer mind and you may find that your work performance improves. You will also have more time to devote to career development activities that will help you boost your earnings and secure your future financial position.

9) You will not be tempted to spend your retirement savings

One of the pitfalls people face when they are in deep debt is the prospect of dipping into their retirement savings or social security to try to repay creditors. This is usually not wise and can create a recipe for disaster for your future. If you successfully file for bankruptcy, your debts will be wiped away and any savings you would have applied to repaying your creditors would be lost. When you file for bankruptcy, you will not be tempted to make this financial mistake.

10) You will realize that there is life after bankruptcy

When you are deep in debt, the future can seem very bleak. But a successful bankruptcy filing will put you on the path to a brighter future. With most or all of your debts wiped away, you can regain your focus on your family, employment, and spiritual pursuits that were likely neglected when you were struggling with your debts. In short, you will discover that there is life after bankruptcy.

What to do if you are considering declaring bankruptcy?

If you are facing insurmountable debts and have thought about declaring bankruptcy, the best step you can take is to seek the guidance of an experienced Tampa bankruptcy attorney. Make sure that you do not procrastinate, as you could be draining your retirement account or other protected assets to take care of debts that would be eliminated through a bankruptcy filing.

We invite you to contact us at Florida Law Advisers, P.A. to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled bankruptcy lawyers. During your consultation, we will review your current financial situation and review the specific ways that declaring bankruptcy will benefit you and your family. We look forward to serving as your trusted bankruptcy attorney.

8 Telltale Signs It’s Time to File for Bankruptcy If You Live In Florida

Knowing when it is time to file for bankruptcy is not always easy. If you are like many people who proceed with bankruptcy, there will not be one single clear sign that propels you to reach out to a bankruptcy attorney. Instead, you will likely base your decision on a combination of two or more of the indicators outlined below. Below are eight telltale signs it’s time to file for bankruptcy.

How You Know When It’s Time to File for Bankruptcy

1) Phone calls from bill collectors are out of control

One of the most frustrating parts of being in debt is contending with the constant phone calls from creditors. While creditors are forbidden from calling you after 9:00 pm and before 8:00 am, it is legal for collectors to call you between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm. If you are behind on payments to multiple creditors, then it may seem that your phone is constantly ringing.

2) It would take longer than two years to pay off your debts

An effective way to decide whether bankruptcy is a viable option is to determine whether you would be able to pay off all of your creditors within a two-year time frame. You can use this simple, three-step process to assess your ability to resolve your debts in 24 months:

  • Step One: Sit down and make a list of all of the dischargeable debt that you currently owe to your creditors.
  • Step Two: Add up the total debt from Step One and divide that number by 24 (the maximum number of monthly payments to consider).
  • Step Three: Look at your monthly income to determine whether you can afford to pay the amount calculated in Step Two each month.

If you find that the monthly payment that you calculate is far larger than your after-tax income, then you should seriously consider filing for bankruptcy. Otherwise, your debt situation could actually worsen over the next 12-24 months.

3) You are losing sleep at night

Nearly two-thirds of Americans are losing sleep due to financial strain. While minor sleep disturbances will not severely impact your ability to function, prolonged episodes of insomnia can wreak havoc on your physical and mental health. If worries about your mounting debts are preventing you from sleeping at night, then it might be time to file for bankruptcy.

4) The pros of bankruptcy far outweigh the cons

It is no secret that bankruptcy is associated with a host of unpleasant consequences. Your bankruptcy will become a public matter, enabling virtually anyone to be able to access your filing. Additionally, filing fees can cost several hundred dollars and attorney fees will also apply if you seek legal guidance. You will also be more likely to encounter difficulty securing credit in the future because your bankruptcy will appeal on your credit report.

As unpalatable as these factors may seem, they may pale in comparison to your current financial situation. If your total debt is increasing by the day because you can no longer make the required payments, the financial strain may become unbearable and impossible to resolve in under two years with your current income. When you get to this point, the benefits of bankruptcy will begin to far outweigh the cons and bankruptcy becomes a viable option.

5) Your work performance is suffering

The last thing you need when you are struggling with debt is to lose your job. But insurmountable debt can take such a heavy toll on your everyday life that your work performance may begin to suffer. After all, it can be difficult to focus on your job if you are losing sleep and creditors are constantly calling your cell phone and place of employment. If your mounting debts are interfering with your work, then you need to take action and seek professional assistance with an experienced Tampa bankruptcy attorney.

6) Creditors are garnishing your paychecks

If you fail to repay your debts, your creditors may sue you for nonpayment. And if they win in court, they can garnish your wages and force your employer to turn over a portion of your wages to pay down your debts. While federal law prohibits creditors from taking more than 25 percent of your disposable income, this type of reduction in income can be devastating. Additionally, the situation can be embarrassing because your employer will know about your financial difficulties.

7) Your creditors refuse to consider a settlement

Some creditors are willing to accept a repayment amount that is lower than the total amount that you owe. If you are unable to repay your debts to your creditors and have been unable to get them to budge on the total amount that you owe them, then bankruptcy should be an option that you consider.

8) You are experiencing depression or anxiety

People who are struggling with debt are two times more likely to develop mental health problems. Depression and anxiety top the list of mental health issues that plague people who are overburdened by debt. If not properly treated, depression and anxiety can evolve into serious health problems, such as suicide or major depressive disorder. Bankruptcy may help relieve some of your symptoms simply by eliminating the constant phone calls and letters from creditors.

Ready to file for bankruptcy?

If crushing debt is causing problems for you at home and at work, bankruptcy can offer you a new financial beginning. If you are considering bankruptcy, the best step to take is to seek the expertise of a reputable Tampa bankruptcy attorney.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.

During your consultation, we will outline how filing bankruptcy can put an end to the incessant collection calls, sleepless nights, and constant financial worries. We will walk you through the filing process and the discuss the many ways we can provide guidance and support to you as you prepare for bankruptcy. Finally, we are known for delivering long-term support to our clients. We look forward to helping you regain your financial footing!

Debt Settlement vs. Bankruptcy: Which is Right for You?

Excessive debt can take its toll on your mental and physical health. If you have a lot of debt you may find yourself considering one of two options: debt settlement or bankruptcy. Choosing between these two options is a process that should be done with care, as your decision could have a long-term impact on your ability to secure credit. Below is a look at debt settlement vs. bankruptcy and the factors you should consider when choosing the best option for your situation.

What are the two main types of bankruptcy?

When deciding between bankruptcy and debt settlement, it is helpful to understand that there are different types of personal bankruptcy. The two most common types are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Here are some of the key features of each type:

  • Chapter 7: Also known as a liquidation bankruptcy, Chapter 7 involves selling your property to repay your debts. There are income limits associated with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as it is designed for people with low to modest incomes who are unable to repay their debts.
  • Chapter 13: Commonly called a reorganization bankruptcy, this type of bankruptcy takes the form of a payment plan in which you take three to five years to pay off your debts. Your property is typically not sold and you might be able to keep your property if you comply with the repayment play mandated by the court.

How does debt settlement differ from bankruptcy?

Debt settlement is a process in which you negotiate with your creditors to agree to pay an amount that is less than the total amount you owe. In order to explore debt settlement, you need to have an income stream that will enable you to repay your creditors the amount of money you have agreed upon in your negotiations.

If your creditors agree to settle your debts, they will not continue to push you to pay the total amount you owed. Debt settlement also helps to eliminate worries that creditors could sue you for failure to pay your debts.

How does each option impact your credit report?

Bankruptcy is typically the most damaging to your credit report. You can expect a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to appear on your credit report for seven years from the date of your filing. A Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for 10 years from the date of your filing. The accounts linked to your bankruptcy also remain on your account, though they remain for seven years from the initial delinquency date.

Debt settlement is not quite as damaging to your credit report. When you work with a creditor to settle a debt, the payment status for that account will change from “Unpaid” to “Settled” or “Paid Settled.” While a “Settled” or “Paid Settled” status represents an improvement from an “Unpaid” status, lenders may refrain from extending credit because there is not a “Paid in full” or “Paid as agreed” status on your report.

Is a lawyer required for bankruptcy or debt settlement?

While an attorney is not required for all bankruptcy cases, it is highly recommended – especially for more complex cases that involve multiple properties and sizable amounts of money. Even if you have little property or your income is below average, your chances of a successful bankruptcy filing are much greater when an experienced attorney is handling the bankruptcy process.

Debt settlement can usually be handled without an attorney because a court filing is not required. While you can enlist the help of an attorney if you wish, you can work directly with your creditors or work through a third party debt settlement agency to negotiate with your creditors.

Which option offers the fastest way to get out of debt?

Bankruptcy can help you resolve your debts faster. However, it is important to remember that bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years. This will likely impact your ability to secure credit.

The debt settlement process takes significantly longer on the front end, often averaging between 6 and 24 months. This includes the time taken to negotiate the settlement and time required to pay off the debts. The settlement process can take even longer if you work with a firm that will agree to extend the process. While there are also isolated instances in which you can reach a settlement with creditors in a few weeks, this is not common – especially if multiple creditors are involved.

Summarizing the key differences between debt settlement and bankruptcy

Debt settlement and bankruptcy offer two different paths that you can take to address your debts and turn over a new financial leaf. However, it is important to remember some key points about about bankruptcy and debt settlement. They are as follows:

  • Both processes can negatively affect your credit report, though bankruptcy has a more severe impact
  • The bankruptcy process typically addresses debts faster than debt settlement
  • While an attorney may not be required in every bankruptcy case, it is strongly recommended for a successful filing
  • Debt settlement and Chapter 13 bankruptcy require the financial ability to repay at least a portion of your debt owed

What is the best way to decide between debt settlement vs. bankruptcy?

Determining how to handle your debts is not an easy decision. It is important to evaluate each option carefully to ensure that you choose the best option. The surest way to achieve this goal is to seek the guidance of a legal expert who knows the pros and cons of debt settlement and bankruptcy. By seeking the services of an experienced Tampa bankruptcy attorney, you can help ensure that you consider every angle during the decision making process.

Florida Law Advisers, P.A. has answered thousands of questions about debt settlement and bankruptcy. As Florida’s most responsive team of bankruptcy lawyers, we have the expertise to guide you through the bankruptcy process and further explain the differences between bankruptcy and debt settlement. We invite you to contact us to discover how we can help you embark on the path to resolving your debts.

Divorce and Bankruptcy: What Happens First (And Why It Matters)

What comes first, divorce or bankruptcy? Finding yourself faced with deciding about one of these can be devastating, but when facing the prospect of both, the stress can be overwhelming. Divorce is often cited as a reason for filing bankruptcy. However, filing for divorce and bankruptcy simultaneously may not be a good idea. Before deciding about how to proceed with one or both you need to know the facts.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE FILING DIVORCE AND BANKRUPTCY.

One of the biggest factors in making the decision about when to file divorce and bankruptcy is the type of bankruptcy you anticipate filing.

Type of Bankruptcy:

  • Chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy can be completed in several months. If you qualify you and your spouse can file together, have your debts discharged and then proceed with the divorce.
  • Chapter 13 (reorganization) bankruptcy may not be good to file before the divorce. This type of bankruptcy can last several years and if divorce happens during this time you will have to go through an additional process of separating or closing the bankruptcy before you can get divorced.

Income, Debts, and Assets:

If your spouse is hostile to you and your financial interest filing bankruptcy before divorce may be more harmful to you than good. If you and your spouse are on friendly terms filing for bankruptcy first may work. This is because:

  • Filing for bankruptcy allows you to share filing fees, legal expenses, and a bankruptcy attorney. However, if your combined income is too high you may not be able to file under Chapter 7.
  • Filing together allows for all debts to be addressed under one proceeding.
  • Jointly held debt can be eliminated, and your exemption amounts may be increased. On this matter, it is best to consult an attorney to get council about the exemption laws in your district.
  • Additionally, contracts like mortgages that are more than the value of the home and car loans can be dissolved.

CAN BANKRUPTCY AFFECT YOUR DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS?

Having both legal matters proceeding at the same time can delay a divorce and any distribution of assets and liabilities. The courts will want bankruptcy to be completed before the divorce can be finalized. In a bankruptcy proceeding, the debts are tied to each person’s name and social security number so this will affect how any liabilities are handled in a divorce.

Why Is It Important to File Bankruptcy First?

Once bankruptcy is filed, either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, an automatic stay “freezes” your property and assets. The bankruptcy court then sorts through what debts are owed and what asset is available to pay these debts. The freeze will stay in effect throughout the bankruptcy. In a divorce, a major part of the proceedings is to divide the marital assets. If these assets are tied up in bankruptcy, the divorce court cannot make any asset division decisions. This leads to unnecessary emotional drain and wasting time.

Are There Exception to Filing for Bankruptcy First?

Reasons to wait to file bankruptcy until after divorce:

  • You and your spouse’s joint income is too high to qualify under Chapter 7 rules.
  • One spouse earns most of the money so the other spouse may qualify individually under Chapter 7 after divorce and avoid any repayment plans.
  • After divorce, both of you may qualify for Chapter 7.
  • Certain assets such as a home can move to one spouse and this protects the other spouse from creditors.
  • Filing divorce first gives a clearer picture of funds available for any type of support orders.

NOT ALL DEBTS WILL BE DISCHARGED BY BANKRUPTCY.

If you decide to proceed under the Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules, you need to know that not all your debts will be discharged. Certain debts can be determined to be “non-dischargeable” and these will not be forgiven in bankruptcy court. Types of debts that you will still be responsible to pay are:

  • Child support.
  • Spousal support.
  • Student loans.
  • Court penalties and fines.
  • Attorney fees from support and custody cases.
  • Other government agency fines.

Dischargeable debts under Chapter 7 are considered a “privilege” not necessarily a right. Because of this, the debtors must follow the rules laid out in the Bankruptcy Code. If these rules are not followed, the debtor risks denial of debt discharge. To avoid denial make sure to:

  • Proved all requested tax documents
  • Do not try to defraud creditors by hiding property.
  • Never destroy any financial records.
  • Do not lie in bankruptcy documents or court.
  • Avoid violating a court order.
  • All finish mandatory credit counseling.

WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU DECIDE TO FILE BANKRUPTCY DURING DIVORCE.

In an amicable divorce often, the spouse will share an attorney. If that is true in your case and you decide to file bankruptcy during divorce you will have to hire a new divorce attorney. Attorneys are barred from representing clients that have any type of conflicting interest so each party in a divorce and bankruptcy need their own attorney. This will create an extra burden for all parties because once the parties in the proceedings find new attorneys they need to be updated about the case. Additionally, there will be added legal fees and costs that add additional hardship to the spouses.

Whatever the reason that you are deciding to file for divorce and bankruptcy always consult an attorney. Both processes can be extremely complicated, and they will be stressful. Visions of starting over in your new life are wonderful but if the details of your court filings are not handled appropriately your new life may not be so grand. Know the facts and make informed decisions.

WHY FLORIDA LAW ADVISORS ARE THE BEST FOR YOU.

You won’t find any better attorneys than those at Florida Law Advisers, P.A. Florida Law Advisers are nationally and locally recognized for their excellent legal counsel. The firm has been featured in numerous publications throughout the country and has been rated as A+ by the Better Business Bureau. The goal at Florida Legal Advisors is to “deliver high-quality legal representation at a reasonable cost.”

Contact us today and schedule a confidential consultation with one of our divorce or bankruptcy attorneys. The first consultation is always no cost to you. We will carefully review your case and help you to determine the best course of action for your unique circumstance.

bankruptcy automatic stay

Designed by law to protect creditors, the bankruptcy automatic stay is one of the biggest benefits to consumers within the Bankruptcy Code.  This protection  ensures creditors cannot contact a consumer once bankruptcy has been filed. This includes preventing creditors from calling, sending letters, and other collection attempts. The bankruptcy automatic stay even stops garnishments and foreclosure sales. For more information about the stay or bankruptcy contact a bankruptcy lawyer in Tampa to schedule a consultation

Policy of the Bankruptcy Automatic Stay

Likely based on the legal tradition that represented parties cannot be contacted directly by the opposing party, bankruptcy law ensures that only a judge, or The Court, can lift the automatic stay. Thus, the entire time a legitimate bankruptcy proceeding is going on, your debtors can no longer call your phone, send you bills or notices, or otherwise contact you regarding your outstanding debt. Further, the automatic stay should remain in effect throughout the case. Only if a creditor obtains relief from the stay by a judge can collection actions resume.

Benefits of the Bankruptcy Automatic Stay

The benefit of the automatic stay is what entices many consumers to file for bankruptcy. For instance, if your home is scheduled for a foreclosure sale the bankruptcy automatic stay will cancel the sale. Additionally, the bankruptcy automatic stay can put an immediate end to bank and wage garnishments. However, filing for bankruptcy is an important decision and one that should not be undertaken without consulting an attorney. You’ll need to determine which chapter of the bankruptcy code is appropriate for you. Additionally, you should consider whether filing for bankruptcy will put any of your assets at risk.

Bankruptcy Law Firm

At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., we understand how important the bankruptcy automatic stay is and can help you.  We work hard to make the process as easy as possible for our clients. When you hire Florida Law Advisers, P.A., you have an experienced bankruptcy lawyer by your side throughout every phase of the bankruptcy process. We will help ensure your rights are protected and help you receive the utmost relief bankruptcy can offer. To schedule a free consultation with a Tampa bankruptcy lawyer at our firm call, email, or fill out an online inquiry on our website today.