In the most unfortunate event that you have to file for bankruptcy, it would be wise to know in advance what you would be getting into. As of 2005 the rules governing this circumstance have changed and what is required now is:
a) Credit Counseling and financial management.
All individuals that need to file for bankruptcy have to undergo credit counseling within a period of six months BEFORE filing, and to complete a financial management course AFTER filing.
b) Means Test.
Your income and expenses will be analyzed in comparison with Florida’s median income. If the analysis determines that your income is greater, then the difference will determine if you can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies.
c) Required paperwork.
You need to produce all your financial records for the past two years. These must include:
1) Your current income sources itemized
2) Your major financial transactions
3) Your monthly living expenses
4) Your secured and unsecured debts
5) All the assets you own including the deeds to real estate
6) Your tax returns
7) The documentation pertaining to any loans you may have
After gathering all the aforementioned paperwork, either on your own or with the assistance of an attorney, will need to determine which property may fall under the Florida Bankruptcy Exemptions Act and may be excluded from seizure. Then you will need to actually file the petition yourself or through your attorney.
The petition is two pages long and is escorted by several other forms which are called the schedules and pertain to your current financial status. All of them must be submitted to the Florida district bankruptcy court. At this point it is of no use to hide anything, as if either your creditors or the judges find out that you have not been entirely honest, it may put your petition in danger.
Filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy entails a fee of $306, while the cost to file a Chapter 13 one is $281. These fees cannot be waived but it may be possible to pay it in installments.
After filing the paperwork, an automatic stay of your debts is put in effect. Your creditors cannot have direct contact with you and cannot stake a claim on your estate. They also cannot proceed to any foreclosure.
Savvy attorneys like Widerman and Malek are always at your disposal to provide all the help that you will need to prepare an envelope as complete as possible and with the greatest chances of success.