Preparing for Your Initial Consultation with Your Bankruptcy Attorney

Bankruptcy Lawyer St. PetersburgIf you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, the first step is to schedule a consultation with an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy law. Come prepared so that the meeting is as productive and as informative as possible. Your preparation will also help the attorney can give you the best advice possible. This means that you will want to be able to provide a great deal of information to the attorney, and will require that you come with copies of various documents.

Prepare to Discuss the Big Picture

First, you want to give your attorney a broad overview of your situation and why you are considering filing for bankruptcy. Before arriving at the office, think through the following questions and prepare notes if necessary:

  • Have you recently lost your job or other income? Have you recently experienced some kind of major life-changing event that has created a financial hardship?
  • Have any of your creditors brought legal action against you, such as a lawsuit or a garnishment? Are they threatening to proceed with legal action? Are there any judgments against you?
  • Have you received a foreclosure notice? Are you in the eviction process?
  • Is your car being repossessed?
  • Are you going through a divorce?

Drilling Down Into the Details

From there, you will want to give a more detailed picture of your current situation. Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Your marital status and number of children or other dependents
  • Your income and your total household income
  • The total amount owed to various creditors
  • The total value of the assets you own (house, cars, boats, etc.)

This should also include a discussion of what you want to achieve by filing for bankruptcy.

Assemble Your Documents

The next step is the most burdensome, but if you gave serious thought to the steps noted above, you’ve already got a head start. You should arrive at the consultation with copies of the following documents:

  • Tax returns for the last two years.
  • Seven months of bank statements and pay stubs.
  • Copies of your mortgage and any other loan documents for cars or other property.
  • Any and all paperwork related to foreclosure, eviction, lawsuits, garnishments, or other legal actions.
  • Copies of any investment statements, including your 401(k) or other retirement accounts.
  • A copy of your driver’s license and Social Security card.
  • A list of all your debts, including credit cards, medical bills, auto loans, mortgages, etc. If possible, identify the creditor and how much you owe. Provide current account statements for each.

If you can’t find all of these documents, that’s okay—just make an honest effort, and indicate which documents you are unable to find. The attorney may suggest other ways to obtain the same information.

Contact a St. Petersburg Bankruptcy Attorney

We can help you sort through the options to get your life back on track. To schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office at (727) 344-0123 or send us an email through our online contact form.

Basics of Chapter 13—What You Need to Know

While many people are familiar with the term “bankruptcy,” significantly fewer understand what exactly bankruptcy is and what it entails. The information below is intended to help people who are just beginning to explore bankruptcy as a path to financial freedom better understand the things that they are reading. The best way to find out whether bankruptcy is right for you, however, is to discuss the matter with one of the St. Petersburg bankruptcy lawyers at Berkowitz & Myer as soon as you can.

Bankruptcy Petition

A bankruptcy proceeding begins when an individual or a business files a bankruptcy petition, which basically informs the court that the debtor is attempting avail himself or herself (or itself) of the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. A bankruptcy petition will contain a variety of information, including the debtor’s name, address, the chapter under which the bankruptcy is being filed, the debts that are to be included in the bankruptcy, and the debtor’s income.

The Automatic Stay

The automatic stay is a court order that goes into effect the moment a debtor files for bankruptcy. It prevents creditors from taking actions to collect on a debt, including making phone calls, sending letters, repossessing property, foreclosing on a mortgage, or initiating a lawsuit. In addition, any lawsuits against the debtor will be put on hold for the pendency of the bankruptcy, unless the other party successfully moves to have the stay lifted with regard to a particular lawsuit.

Discharge

Discharge is generally the most obvious benefit of filing for bankruptcy. When debts are discharged, it means that the debtor is no longer under any obligation to pay them back. Many types of debts are regularly discharged in bankruptcy, including credit card bills, medical debt, unpaid rent, utility bills, certain tax debts, personal loans, business loans, and civil judgments.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 is the most common type of consumer bankruptcy. It is known as a liquidation bankruptcy because it involves the liquidation of all of a debtor’s non-exempt assets in order to pay back creditors. In many cases, however, Chapter 7 bankruptcies are “zero asset,” meaning that debtors do not have any non-exempt property which can be sold. In cases like these, debtors are able to obtain a discharge without having to give up any of their assets.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 is another type of consumer bankruptcy. Under Chapter 13, a debtor enters into a court-approved repayment plan that will last anywhere from three to five years. At the conclusion of the bankruptcy, most (if not all) remaining debts will be discharged. Importantly, in Chapter 13, debtors are protected from any collection attempts while they are making payments. For this reason, many individuals use Chapter 13 to keep their homes or other valuable assets while managing their debt.

Call Berkowitz & Myer Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

If you are having trouble paying your bills in spite of earning a regular paycheck, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. At Berkowitz & Myer, we will review your financial situation at no cost to you in order to determine whether you may be able to benefit from filing for Chapter 13 or any other type of bankruptcy. To schedule an appointment with one of our experienced St. Petersburg bankruptcy lawyers, call our office today at (727) 344-0123 or send us an email through our online contact form.

Basics of Chapter 13—What You Need to Know

Bankruptcy Attorney St. Petersburg

While many people are familiar with the term “bankruptcy,” significantly fewer understand what exactly bankruptcy is and what it entails. The information below is intended to help people who are just beginning to explore bankruptcy as a path to financial freedom better understand the things that they are reading. The best way to find out whether bankruptcy is right for you, however, is to discuss the matter with one of the St. Petersburg bankruptcy lawyers at Berkowitz & Myer as soon as you can.

Bankruptcy Petition

A bankruptcy proceeding begins when an individual or a business files a bankruptcy petition, which basically informs the court that the debtor is attempting avail himself or herself (or itself) of the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. A bankruptcy petition will contain a variety of information, including the debtor’s name, address, the chapter under which the bankruptcy is being filed, the debts that are to be included in the bankruptcy, and the debtor’s income.

The Automatic Stay

The automatic stay is a court order that goes into effect the moment a debtor files for bankruptcy. It prevents creditors from taking actions to collect on a debt, including making phone calls, sending letters, repossessing property, foreclosing on a mortgage, or initiating a lawsuit. In addition, any lawsuits against the debtor will be put on hold for the pendency of the bankruptcy, unless the other party successfully moves to have the stay lifted with regard to a particular lawsuit.

Discharge

Discharge is generally the most obvious benefit of filing for bankruptcy. When debts are discharged, it means that the debtor is no longer under any obligation to pay them back. Many types of debts are regularly discharged in bankruptcy, including credit card bills, medical debt, unpaid rent, utility bills, certain tax debts, personal loans, business loans, and civil judgments.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 is the most common type of consumer bankruptcy. It is known as a liquidation bankruptcy because it involves the liquidation of all of a debtor’s non-exempt assets in order to pay back creditors. In many cases, however, Chapter 7 bankruptcies are “zero asset,” meaning that debtors do not have any non-exempt property which can be sold. In cases like these, debtors are able to obtain a discharge without having to give up any of their assets.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 is another type of consumer bankruptcy. Under Chapter 13, a debtor enters into a court-approved repayment plan that will last anywhere from three to five years. At the conclusion of the bankruptcy, most (if not all) remaining debts will be discharged. Importantly, in Chapter 13, debtors are protected from any collection attempts while they are making payments. For this reason, many individuals use Chapter 13 to keep their homes or other valuable assets while managing their debt.

Call Berkowitz & Myer Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

If you are having trouble paying your bills in spite of earning a regular paycheck, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. At Berkowitz & Myer, we will review your financial situation at no cost to you in order to determine whether you may be able to benefit from filing for Chapter 13 or any other type of bankruptcy. To schedule an appointment with one of our experienced St. Petersburg bankruptcy lawyers, call our office today at (727) 344-0123 or send us an email through our online contact form.

The Pros and Cons of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy Attorney St. Petersburg

There are many misconceptions about bankruptcy. Some people are worried that filing means that they have failed in life and that they will be left penniless and unable to ever secure financing or a loan again. On the other hand, others fail to recognize that bankruptcy is a major decision and file without considering the fact that doing so will likely affect them for years to come.

Chapter 13 one type of bankruptcy that is often utilized by people who earn a steady paycheck but have fallen being on their bills. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with Chapter 13 bankruptcy. For more information, call our office today to speak with a St. Petersburg bankruptcy lawyer.

Chapter 13: The Upsides

One of the main benefits of Chapter 13 bankruptcy (as opposed to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy) is that it allows debtors to keep their assets. In Chapter 13, you enter into a court-approved payment plan that allows you to pay all or some of your debts over the course of three to five years. Homeowners can wrap any mortgage arrears into their payment plan, meaning as long as they stay current on their mortgage during the course of the plan, they will be able to stay in their home. In addition, at the conclusion of a Chapter 13 plan, most (if not all) of a debtor’s remaining debts will be discharged, which means that they are under no obligation to pay them.

Chapter 13: The Downsides

Filing for any bankruptcy is not without cost. The fact that you filed will remain on your credit report for years and negatively affect your credit score, making it more difficult to obtain financing and increase your interest rates if you do. In addition, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy may make it more difficult to get a job, as employers who run credit checks may see a bankruptcy as a sign of irresponsibility. In addition, in some cases, filing for Chapter 7 may be able to eliminate more debt than filing for Chapter 13.

So, Should You File for Chapter 13?

The decision to file for Chapter 13 is should be carefully considered. Some of the factors that can determine whether Chapter 13 is right for you to include your total debt load, the types of debt you have, your income, and the kinds of assets that you have. The best way to determine whether it is right for you is to consult with an attorney who is familiar with bankruptcy law and will explore all of the options available to you.

Call Berkowitz & Myer Today to Speak to a St. Petersburg Bankruptcy Lawyer

The lawyers of Berkowitz & Myer will review your financial situation at no cost and let you know whether we believe that filing for bankruptcy would benefit you. To schedule a consultation with a bankruptcy attorney in St. Petersburg, call our office today at (727) 344-0123 or send us an email through our online contact form.

An Overview of the Chapter 13 Process

Bankruptcy Attorney St. Petersburg

Chapter 13 is a type of bankruptcy that is often referred to as a “reorganization” bankruptcy, as it allows debtors to reorganize their debts and make regular payments that are distributed amongst their various creditors. Chapter 13 is significantly different from a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy in that it allows debtors to keep their property while they are making payments towards their plan, which can last anywhere from three to five years. At the conclusion of the plan, many leftover debts are discharged, which means that debtors are no longer under any legal obligation to pay them back.

Here are some of the steps involved in filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy:

Determining Whether You Qualify

First, you need to determine whether you qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as not everyone does. In order to qualify, you need to be able to show the court that you will have enough income left over each month to make a payment. In addition, your debts must be under a certain threshold in order to be able to file for Chapter 13.

Complete an Approved Credit Counseling Course

In order to be able to file for Chapter 13, you must have completed a credit counseling course in the previous six months. You can see the list of agencies that offer approved courses at the United States Trustee’s website.

Prepare and File the Bankruptcy Petition

Next, you must prepare the forms that are associated with filing for Chapter 13. These forms list all of your assets and debts and must be complete in order to be accepted. Failing to account for all of your assets could result in you’re the denial of your petition—or even criminal bankruptcy fraud charges. For this reason, it is extremely important for anyone filing for bankruptcy to be extremely thorough with the information they provide to the court.

You must also file a proposed repayment plan with the court at this point. Because Chapter 13 repayment plans are extremely complicated, it is highly advisable to create one with the assistance of an experienced attorney.

The Automatic Stay and Confirmation of Your Plan

At this point, if the court approves your petition, the court will issue an automatic stay that prevents creditors from taking any collection actions, including foreclosure, repossession, filing lawsuits, or sending letters or making calls. Before your plan can be approved, there must be a meeting of creditors where they can ask you about your finances and potentially object to your plan. There will then be a confirmation hearing at which the court addresses any objections or issues.

Complete Your Repayment Plan

If confirmed, you will then enter Chapter 13 bankruptcy for the duration of your repayment plan. So long as you stay current with your payments, you will be protected from collection action from the creditors who are part of your plan.

Personal Financial Management Class and Discharge

Upon the conclusion of your repayment plan, you will need to take a debtor education class before the court closes your case. Once this has occurred, the court will discharge any eligible debt and your bankruptcy will be over.

Call Berkowitz & Myer Today to Speak with a St. Petersburg Chapter 13 Lawyer

If you are experiencing financial distress in spite of making a regular income, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be able to help you. At Berkowitz & Myer, we will take the time to fully evaluate your financial situation and let you know how we think you should proceed. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our bankruptcy attorneys in St. Petersburg, call our office today at (727) 344-0123 or send us an email through our online contact form.

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