Bankruptcy Attorney in Orlando, FL

upset couple sitting on the couch at home

Filing for personal or business bankruptcy can be more beneficial than it might seem at first glance. It can provide you with an opportunity to get your finances in order and start fresh. After all, paying your debts while covering your expenses can be challenging if they far exceed your monthly income. Determining how to afford everything without falling farther behind on payments can be overwhelming.

The experienced Orlando bankruptcy attorneys at Florida Law Advisers, P.A., can help you make the best financial decisions so you can move forward with your life. We can review your situation and advise you on rebuilding your financial standing. Call us for a free consultation with an experienced Orlando bankruptcy attorney to learn more.

How Do I Declare Bankruptcy?

You must complete multiple steps to declare bankruptcy in Florida.

Gather Documents

Before initiating the bankruptcy process, gathering relevant documentation and information is essential. You should be prepared with the following information:

  • A list of your creditors, the nature of the debt, the amount owed to each, and their mailing addresses
  • Income information, including your salary or pay rate, which can be found on your tax returns or paycheck stubs
  • A list of all the property you own, including real estate and valuable personal items
  • A detailed list of your reasonable and necessary monthly living expenses, such as your mortgage, utility costs, groceries, car payments, medications, and so on

You might find that referring to the following documents while completing the bankruptcy forms is helpful:

  • Creditor statements and bills
  • Bank statements from the last six to 12 months
  • Collection agency and third-party debt collector letters
  • Your credit report

Complete a Credit Counseling Course

You must take a credit counseling course before filing for bankruptcy in Florida. The following requirements apply to a credit counseling course:

  • You must pay a fee unless you can get it waived by submitting a specific request
  • You must complete the course within 180 days before filing for bankruptcy
  • The course must be with an approved credit counseling provider
  • The certificate of completion must be filed with the necessary bankruptcy forms

Pass the Means Test

You must take the Chapter 7 means test to determine whether you are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Generally, your average monthly household income must be less than the median income for similar households as determined by the U.S. Census to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, there may be exceptions, so it’s essential to speak to an Orlando bankruptcy lawyer who can ensure that you calculate your income correctly. Your eligibility for Chapter 7 is less likely the higher your disposable income is. If you don’t qualify for Chapter 7, consider filing for Chapter 13 instead.

Complete and File the Bankruptcy Forms

If you pass the means test, you can fill out the necessary forms and file them with the court. The court will assign a Chapter 7 trustee to your case. The trustee will verify your provided information and manage the rest of the bankruptcy process. You will likely need to provide your trustee with various financial documents, such as your tax returns and bank statements.

Take Another Course

You must take a debtor education course after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There, you will learn skills to manage your finances, such as budgeting. You must complete the course and submit your certificate of completion to the court before your debt is discharged.

Pros and Cons of Filing for Bankruptcy

You should carefully consider whether filing for bankruptcy is right for you. Although there are multiple benefits, some drawbacks might deter you from proceeding.

The potential advantages of filing for bankruptcy include the following:

  • You might keep some assets if you file for Chapter 13.
  • Creditors can’t contact you or pursue collections actions.
  • Your credit score may increase after discharging your debt.
  • A trustee handles your case for you.
  • You could pay less than what you owe.
  • Bankruptcy alleviates your responsibility over most unsecured consumer debt.

The possible disadvantages of filing for bankruptcy include the following:

  • Discharging all debt is not possible, such as taxes, court orders, and alimony.
  • Your trustee might have to sell your assets to repay the creditors.
  • People you know might discover your case because the information is public.
  • Bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for as long as 10 years.
  • You can face legal action if you provide false or inconsistent information when you file.
  • Your credit score could plummet depending on what it is before filing.
  • Bankruptcy requires upfront payment of service fees and other expenses.