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

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Broward County real estate attorney foreclosure

Since COVID-19 shut down the U.S. economy in March of 2020, the state and federal governments have been trying to pick up the pieces. The virus’s high rate of contagion forced businesses to close their doors and citizens to remain in their households. For some businesses, this meant working remotely for the time being, while others were hit especially hard and have had to make difficult decisions regarding layoffs, furloughs, and even closing their doors for good. Without a steady income, Americans everywhere have struggled to make ends meet, especially when it comes to paying costly rent and mortgage bills.

Flash-forward six months later and legislation is continuing to be made to avoid mass homelessness across the country. Florida has seen an exceedingly high number of positive cases and the state has closed and reopened a few times since March. With 623,471 positive cases and 11,331 deaths in Florida alone at the time of this writing, Governor DeSantis has recognized and addressed Floridians’ financial difficulties in the midst of the pandemic. Foreclosures and evictions are on the horizon for many Floridians, but Gov. DeSantis continues to put off the inevitable for many.

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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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