If you’re considering filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you should consider hiring a Florida bankruptcy lawyer to help in the process. Some people mistakenly think, “Well, I am already deeply in debt, so why should I pay a lawyer a bunch of money and put me deeper into a hole?” The three benefits below are just a few reasons why it makes sense to retain an experienced Florida bankruptcy lawyer like those working at Hoffman, Larin, & Agnetti, P.A.
1. Bankruptcy Can Be an Extremely Complicated Process
Filing for bankruptcy is not as simple as it sounds. It is not just filing a document with a court and all of a sudden you’re free of your debts. It’s a multi-step process requiring a detailed accounting of your debts, your assets, and any property that may be protected from your creditors. It’s best to let an experienced professional help guide you through the complicated web of bankruptcy laws found in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 of the Florida bankruptcy code.
2. You Should Spend Your Time Putting Your Life Back Together
For most people, going bankrupt is a traumatic, overwhelming, and frustrating experience. Most people don’t ever plan on having to go bankrupt in their life. It can be emotionally draining, especially if your financial difficulties affect your spouse, your children, and your family. Hiring a Florida bankruptcy lawyer takes a large portion of the burden of the bankruptcy process off your shoulders so you can focus on getting your life back together and on track.
3. A Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help Protect Some of Your Assets
Many people have the mistaken belief that if they file for bankruptcy, they literally lose everything. They envision walking into a courthouse, then walking out with only change in their pockets. This is not true. In fact, if you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you do not lose property. Your income will be utilized to fund a Chapter 13 repayment plan.
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have the right to keep certain property shielded from your creditors. The following property, generally, can be protected in Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
- Equity in your home (i.e. the homestead exemption) – Yes, that is correct: you do not simply lose your home the moment you file for bankruptcy. You can exempt up to $4,000 of equity in your home.
- Your vehicle – In Florida, you can keep up to $1,000 in equity in your car, truck, or other motor vehicle. So, if you file for bankruptcy, you won’t lose your car after driving to the courthouse.
- Personal property – You do not lose all of your personal goods because of bankruptcy. The following personal property is exempt: items up to $1,000 in value such as furniture, art, and electronics. Furthermore, Florida has a “wild card” provision allowing a debtor to claim up to $4,000 of personal property as exempt. However, this is only available if you do not use the aforementioned homestead exemption.
- Social safety net benefits – If you access benefits like Social Security, welfare, and/or unemployment insurance, those benefits are exempt from bankruptcy.
- Wages – In Florida, if you are your family’s primary breadwinner, your wages are exempt up to $750 per week. This exemption applies to both paid and unpaid wages. The exemption also includes wages deposited in a bank account during the last six months prior to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
As you can see, bankruptcy can get complicated and the bankruptcy code is filled with various exemptions, loopholes, and little known provisions. Speaking to an experienced Florida bankruptcy attorney with Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. today to get advice on your legal options will result in your keeping the maximum while stopping harassment from aggressive creditors.