The Elliot Legal Group, P.A. Offices | Fort Lauderdale and Miami

3101 N. Federal Hwy., Suite 609,
Oakland Park, Florida 33306

*Licensed in England and Wales, Florida and Washington D.C.

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Fort Lauderdale

754-332-2101

Miami

305-399-3832

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Sunrise bankruptcy attorney

When your credit card bills begin to build up and your pockets are feeling empty, you may be unsure of how to handle the situation. Debt can accumulate quickly, and without additional income coming in, you may not be able to pay off your debts by the date that your creditors are requesting. Filing for bankruptcy may be in the back of your mind, but you are likely considering your other options before fully making your decision. There are a number of bankruptcy alternatives, many of which do not fully solve your problems. Debt settlement companies are often considered by those who are deeply in debt and are avoiding filing for bankruptcy. While you may be avoiding bankruptcy, the risks of debt settlement companies are rarely worth taking.

What Is a Debt Settlement Company?

Debt settlement companies have the same goal as bankruptcy -- helping you rid yourself of insurmountable debt. However, these debt settlement programs are typically for-profit companies. The company or program will attempt to negotiate with your creditors to allow you to pay a “settlement” to resolve your debt. This settlement will typically be a lump sum payment that is less than the total amount that you owe. In order to build up this lump sum, the company will request that you set aside money each month into an account that holds your funds for paying off your debt. This savings account will eventually build up to the settlement that the company negotiated for you and you will pay off the debt with that saved money.

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Surfside bankruptcy attorney asset protection

Everyone’s biggest fear with filing for bankruptcy is losing everything -- your house, vehicles, savings, and more. What many do not know is that filing for bankruptcy does not mean that everything is taken away from you. There are a number of exemptions that Florida allows its residents to keep their assets even after filing for bankruptcy. In order to classify for such exemptions, you must be a Florida resident, not a recently relocated individual. You must have lived in Florida for the past two years to qualify, and if not, you will have to follow your previous state’s exemption requirements. Although it is always best to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer, you should be aware of possible exemptions available to you.

Homestead Exemption

If you are a Florida homeowner, you will likely be able to keep your home after filing for bankruptcy. Most states limit the amount of equity you can have in your house, but Florida is slightly more lenient. As long as you bought and have owned your property 1,215 days (a little less than 3.5 years) before filing, and your property does not exceed a half-acre in size, you qualify for Florida’s homestead exemption.

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Miami bankruptcy attorney homestead exemption

If your home or property is considered a “homestead,” there are numerous legal protections available to you. It is important to know the qualifications of a homestead if you are a Florida resident. For example, the benefits can save you thousands of dollars each year, as well as protect your home if you are on the verge of bankruptcy. In order to apply for homestead exemption, you must have the legal or beneficial title to your home on January 1 of the year in question. So, if you applied this year, you must have had the title by January 1, 2020. You must also permanently reside at this home—those with Florida vacation homes do not apply. The application for homestead exemption must be submitted between January 1 and March 1 at the property appraiser’s office in your respective county. This application need only be done once, as the homestead status will remain active unless you inform the property appraiser’s office otherwise.

Creditor Protection

If you find yourself in a significant amount of debt, you may be considering filing for bankruptcy. You likely feel pressured by your waiting creditors to sell your home and provide them with the proceeds to pay off your cumulative debts. While selling your home is an option, Florida law states that you cannot be forced to sell your home to pay off a debt if you are sued by a creditor. If you live in an unincorporated area, you can protect your home and up to half an acre of land from any forced sale. This protection also extends to anyone who inherits your home or property after you pass away. You should note that this homestead protection does not apply to those facing foreclosure, contractors’ liens, or past-due association fees. You may also be forced to sell your property in order to collect late property taxes.

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Surfside bankruptcy and repossession attorney

Having your belongings taken from you is a frightening situation to imagine. If this occurs, it typically involves your most valuable assets, such as your home or car. Most people have heard the term foreclosure and understand that this means having your home taken away from you. What many may not realize is that any items you have purchased with the help of a loan can be repossessed by the lender if you fail to make payments. This can be a terrifying thought, especially if you rely on your car to get to and from work. Luckily, there are actions that you can take with the help of a skilled bankruptcy attorney to avoid such drastic measures.

How Does Repossession Work?

The term “repossession” refers to the lender reclaiming ownership over the object for which they have helped pay. This can include a house, vehicle, jewelry, furniture, or any other tangible asset that you may be in the process of paying off. Home foreclosures take a period of time and require a number of notices to be made to the owner before repossession can occur. However, vehicle repossession is not always so drawn out. Lenders are technically able to repossess items as soon as a payment is missed and do not need a court order to do so. This often involves a tow truck appearing on your driveway to take your car away. This is typically not the best option for lenders since the value of the car is less than what they would receive from you as you continue to make your payments. However, if you are delayed on multiple payments, it is not out of the question for your lender to seek payment in some form, even if that means repossessing the vehicle.

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Sunrise bankruptcy attorney

Filing for bankruptcy is often the last thing that a person wants to do, which is why many people only consider bankruptcy if they feel they have no other options. Many people may falsely believe that filing for bankruptcy means handing over everything they have. Luckily, there are two types of bankruptcy which allow individuals to choose which one works best for them and avoid losing all of their assets to pay off their debts. Since filing for bankruptcy is often a last resort, you may not be educated on the topic. If you find yourself facing financial difficulty, it is important to understand which type of bankruptcy fits your unique situation.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

This type of bankruptcy is the more well-known of the two options. Also known as liquidation bankruptcy, Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows individuals to discharge or eliminate their outstanding debts after their bankruptcy trustee sells their property or assets to pay off as much of their debts as possible. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is typically only used by those who have little to no disposable income. In other words, if you do not have enough income left over after paying ongoing expenses to repay some or all of your debts, you should consider filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The court will use a Chapter 7 means test to see if you are eligible to file for this form of bankruptcy, and if you qualify, you can report the income you earn and the assets you own. Non-exempt assets will be turned over to the bankruptcy trustee to be liquidated, but there are a variety of exemptions that will allow you to keep certain property, and once the bankruptcy process is complete, you will no longer be required to pay your debts. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy should be done with the help of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who can ensure that you report all income and assets properly and that your debts are fully discharged.

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