American Bankruptcy Institute
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Fort Lauderdale Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer

Chapter 7The filing of a bankruptcy case stops all collection efforts, irrespective of the stage. The Bankruptcy automatic stay comes into effect immediately upon filing of the bankruptcy case. This stay is very powerful and it stops creditors from contacting you by phone or in writing. The stay also stops creditors from pursuing lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishing wages, seizing funds from your bank account and repossessing vehicles.

Even if a judgment has been entered against you, you may still file for Bankruptcy and stop any further collection effort.

A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy allows an individual to eliminate certain debts, such as:

  • Credit card debts
  • Collection accounts
  • Medical bills
  • Personal loans
  • Deficiencies resulting from repossessions
  • Deficiencies resulting from foreclosure
  • Debts rendered into judgments
  • Personal guarantees on business debt
  • In some instances, a second Mortgage, equity line or line of credit on real property may be eliminated – click here for more information
  • Certain debts owed to the Internal Revenue Service

A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy does not eliminate

  • Child support obligations
  • Alimony obligations
  • Generally speaking, student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy
  • Fines and penalties owed to governmental units
  • Debts incurred after the bankruptcy case was filed
  • Certain debts owed to the Internal Revenue Service
ELIGIBLITY – who may File for Chapter 7 Relief?

In order to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy relief, one must meet income criteria through an examination called “the means test”. This test is a calculation which looks back at the last 6 months of the gross income in the household. Our office will perform the means test and we will be able to tell you whether Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an alternative for you. In the event, you are not eligible to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy due to the means test, you have the option to file for relief under Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

ASSETS – do I get to Keep My Things?

A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is considered a liquidation of assets but a person is entitled to claim exemptions which protect most of a person’s belongings. The bankruptcy process was designed with the intent to rehabilitate and not punish. This means that in most circumstances a person is able to retain his or her assets and move forward with life.

In the state of Florida, a person may claim as exempt and thus protect:

  • The primary home or homestead property, subject to the following limitations:
    • If owned for less than 40 months then the exemption is limited to $155,675.00 of the equity in the property. If owned for more than 40 months then the exemption does not have a dollar limit.
    • if located within a municipality, to the extent of one-half acre of contiguous land.
    • if located outside a municipality, to the extent of one hundred sixty acres of contiguous land
  • Social Security benefits
  • Disability benefits
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Worker’s compensation benefits
  • 401(k), IRA, retirement accounts and pensions
  • Pre-paid college plan funds
  • Life insurance: cash value of policy

In the event your assets exceed the available exemptions and protections afforded by law, you have the option to file for Chapter 13 relief. In a Chapter 13 case, your assets are not liquidated or auctioned. Thus, you are entitled to retain your personal property and receive the benefit of bankruptcy protection. To read more about Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, click here.

Keep in mind that every one’s situation is different and the best way to determine the impact of filing for bankruptcy on your assets is to have a consultation with an attorney. Our initial consultation is free of charge and it will provide you with an opportunity to discuss in detail your specific circumstances and receive proper guidance from an experienced attorney.

Please contact us for your FREE consultation at (954) 327-5700 or complete our online form.

Client Reviews
Clare and all of her staff are truly amazing. Very thorough and always there for you through this difficult time. I recommend her for your bankruptcy needs. Don't go anywhere else. Andrea S.
Clare and her staff are truly amazing!! My case was prepared and closed in less than 4 months. It was a lot of work, but they helped me through it all. If you need help and guidance Attorney Clare Casas is the number one choice!! Val S.
Attorney Clare Casas and her staff were not only professional and effective during my case they were also kind and understanding. If you're considering or need an attorney for financial matters, I highly recommend contacting this office first. You'll be glad you did! R.J. T.