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Sunrise bankruptcy attorney

Those who are unfamiliar with the details of bankruptcy, which typically includes anyone who has not filed for bankruptcy, may incorrectly believe that all of your debts disappear upon filing. While bankruptcy is meant to help rid you of significant debt, the process will still require you to pay off most of your debts. The details of this financial breakdown vary depending on the type of bankruptcy that you file as well as the depth of your debts. Many filers do, however, get some form of a break, known as a discharge. Before moving forward with the bankruptcy filing process, it is important to understand what exactly you are responsible for and which of your debts will be forgiven without full repayment.

What Is a Bankruptcy Discharge?

A bankruptcy discharge is a legal term for debt forgiveness. In other words, a discharge releases a debtor from personal liability for a number of specified debts, not requiring him or her to pay back the discharged debts. A discharge is a permanent legal order that restricts the debtor’s creditors from taking action to obtain money for the outstanding debts. A bankruptcy discharge does not, however, cancel out any liens that a creditor may have against a property, meaning that a creditor is still able to enforce a lien and recover the associated property.

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Surfside bankruptcy attorney

For most people facing financial difficulties, the thought of filing for bankruptcy can seem out of reach. You keep thinking, “This will be the month where I get things together,” then find yourself hit with another round of unforeseen expenses. This cycle can go on for months, or even years, before people start to seriously consider filing for bankruptcy. There is a reason for this—no one actively chooses bankruptcy until it is the very last option—but this denial can allow your debt to continue building until it feels insurmountable. As a result of COVID-19, many Americans are facing the possibility of bankruptcy, which is why it is important to have the following considerations in mind before moving forward with this legal process.

Reasons You Should Consider Bankruptcy

As previously mentioned, many people do not realize that they are on the verge of bankruptcy, or that their situation is a common reason why others file for bankruptcy. If you are in the middle of any of the following scenarios, filing for bankruptcy can be a common remedy:

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Surfside bankruptcy attorney

Due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on individual families and the economy as a whole, governors across the country put up protections against evictions and foreclosures. Now seven months into the pandemic, states have begun allowing these eviction and foreclosure moratoriums to expire, Florida included. Governor Ron DeSantis’ moratorium expired on October 1, leaving many Floridians panicked about how they will make ends meet. You may be concerned about your family’s financial well-being, feeling as if you are on the brink of bankruptcy. Luckily, financial assistance is available and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have picked up where some of the states left off.

Affordable Housing Coronavirus Relief Initiative

In late June, Gov. DeSantis announced $250 million in CARES Act funding would be used as rental and mortgage assistance for families who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Known as the Affordable Housing Coronavirus Relief Initiative, the large sum of $250 million has been divided into two even pools. One was administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) as short-term rental assistance and the other half was released to counties throughout the state based on its reemployment assistance rate. According to the official press release, this second $120 million will be used for rental and homeowner assistance programs such as rehabilitation, new construction, mortgage buydowns, and more for those who have been impacted by COVID-19. The FHFC has information about the progress of the program.

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Posted on in Bankruptcy

Surfside bankruptcy attorney

Finding yourself drowning in debt is never the place that anyone expects to see themselves a few years down the road. Unfortunately, life can serve you with unforeseen circumstances—an ongoing illness that requires regular treatment or the loss of a job and regular income—and you can quickly see your debts piling up. Filing for bankruptcy is often people’s last resort; however, you may come to the realization that you actually do not qualify for bankruptcy. Depending on a number of factors, you may or may not be able to take this route when trying to get your finances under control. While it is always best to consult a bankruptcy attorney to know for sure, you may conduct your own financial analysis first to determine whether or not filing for bankruptcy is an option for you.

Passing the Means Test

There are two common ways to file for bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves the liquidation of your assets, then using these liquidated funds to pay off your debts. Not all assets are eligible, allowing you to keep a number of your assets in the process. Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides you with a financial fresh start once the legal process is complete. Sounds like a great option, right? While this type of bankruptcy is helpful for many families, not everyone qualifies to use its benefits. In 2005, a means test was created in order to make it more difficult for wealthy consumers to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The test uses Florida’s median family income for your household size as an indicator of your eligibility. In 2018, this income threshold totaled to $53,267 per household. In other words, if your household makes less than this amount, you automatically qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If, however, your household has a combined income that is higher than this amount, you will need to follow additional steps to determine your eligibility. 

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Dania Beach bankruptcy attorney

It is no secret that the economy has taken a significant hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. As stay-at-home orders initially went into effect back in March, the unpredictability of the virus has many restaurants and other businesses slowly opening as cases fall, only to reel back their services as cases rise again. The uncertainty regarding when things will go back to normal has forced many American businesses to make tough decisions about their workforce, including filing for bankruptcy. Although the entire country has taken a hit from COVID-19, Floridians are seeing some of the most significant financial distress in the country.

Looking at the Numbers

WalletHub conducted an economic analysis of all 50 states to determine who has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. According to their research, Florida ranks as the fifth-worst state when looking at the financial situation of its residents. The analysis was done by looking at credit scores; the number of people whose financial accounts are in forbearance or have deferred payments; the change in the number of bankruptcies filed in January versus July; and search trends for the term “bankruptcy” within that state. It was found that approximately 1.16 million Floridians were unemployed in July, resulting in an 11.5 percent unemployment rate for the state. The location for most of these unemployment numbers? The Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area with just over 402,000 residents unemployed that same month.

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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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Broward County real estate attorney foreclosure

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, states have begun to make their own decisions regarding reopening after months of mandatory stay-at-home orders. Florida began its reopening process earlier than most and has seen a spike in its recorded cases. The state had its record high of cases on June 16, with 2,783 COVID-19 cases confirmed in a single day. With that state’s popularity as a vacation hotspot, some say that the reopening is happening sooner than it should. Florida may have begun to reopen its public spaces, but regulations remain in place to assist those struggling to pay their rent or mortgage to avoid a high number of evictions or foreclosures in the midst of a pandemic.

Financial Assistance

Governor Ron DeSantis signed the first housing executive order in early April, with an initial timeline of 45 days. According to the order, no mortgage foreclosure actions can be made for the time being. This also extends to renters who are late on rent payments. Landlords are unable to evict you from your apartment or house due to late payments during this time. However, the order strictly states that this cannot be construed as relieving homeowners or tenants from paying their mortgage or rent. Since the pandemic has lasted much longer than the 45 days allotted by Governor DeSantis, he has extended the order to last until July 1, 2020. Although the order may not completely relieve Floridians of their housing costs, it does allow them more time to earn and produce their mortgage costs or seek out additional help through loans or other means.

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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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Pompano Beach bankruptcy attorney CARES Act

The coronavirus pandemic has been a series of unprecedented events, one after another. The effects of the pandemic have hit the United States so hard that Congress passed the largest stimulus package in U.S. history, worth more than $2 trillion. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, is a record-breaking relief package that has helped millions of Americans, small businesses, and various levels of government. The Act was so wide-reaching that it touched many areas of American society, including the Bankruptcy Code. If you are considering filing for Bankruptcy in Florida, it is imperative that you understand the impact the CARES Act may have on your case. 

The CARES Act and Bankruptcy Cases

The most well-known portion of the Act is the part that provides for economic impact payments to many American households and individuals. The Act authorized monetary payments of up to $1,200 for people who filed an individual tax return and up to $2,400 for couples who filed a joint tax return. In addition, for each child a person or a couple has under the age of 17, they will receive an additional $500. These amounts apply to single filers whose annual income is up to $75,000 and married couples filing jointly whose income is up to $150,000.

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