Tampa Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorneys

Helping Floridians Find a Fresh Financial Start

No one plans to become encumbered with debt, but life can unfortunately throw us curveballs. Getting laid off, losing income, or experiencing a devastating medical injury can lead even the most financially responsible individual to a scenario where they are drowning in debt. If you are having to decide whether to pay rent and feed your family or make payments that barely put a dent in your debt load, it may be time to consider Chapter 7 bankruptcy.Chapter 7 bankruptcy tends to make the most sense when you have relatively few assets and you presently suffer from a low level of income. With the right planning, the Chapter 7 process can clear much of your debt, with minimal impact to your property, and chart you toward a fresh financial future. At Cremeens Law Group PLLC, we have helped numerous clients escape an endless cycle of debt through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Our Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers in Tampa can help determine if you are eligible, prepare your estate for liquidation, and represent you in each step of the process.

“Well, my closing check has hit my bank account, and all’s right with the world! This was such an unexpected and delightful end to my Rushmore problems!”

- Valerie R.

Qualifying for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Florida

Debtors seeking Chapter 7 bankruptcy must first qualify under the state of Florida’s Means Test. This generally occurs in one of two ways.

You will automatically qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida if your household’s current monthly income is under the state’s median level of income for your household size. If your household income exceeds the median, you will be required to go through the full Means Test process.

Undergoing the full Means Test is the second way to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and requires a more thorough evaluation of your financial circumstances. Through a complex series of formulas, you will approximate your household level of “disposable income,” or the money left over after you subtract qualifying expenses from your current level of income.

What the state of Florida is trying to determine here is whether you have a sufficient level of income to continue paying some of your debts in an effort to prevent abuse of Chapter 7. If it is determined your household’s level of disposable income is too high, you will likely still be able to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

If you pass the Means Test, you should also understand that a bankruptcy court will also consider whether you are attempting to defraud your creditors. Note they will also check if you have filed for bankruptcy within the last few years, as there are restrictions on how often you can file.

Automatic Stay and the Liquidation Process

If you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will file in the Florida bankruptcy district (Southern District, Middle District, or Northern District) in your county of residence. The court will promptly issue an “automatic stay,” which freezes collections actions against you. This means foreclosure or repossession efforts will be halted, lawsuits pursuing unpaid debts stopped, and creditors will no longer be able to contact or harass you.

Next, the liquidation process begins. This can sound scary, but it does not have to be with the right planning. All of your nonexempt assets will be transferred into a trust managed by an appointed trustee, who administers the sale (or liquidation) of the assets. The proceeds are used to pay back your creditors. Fortunately, the state of Florida has some of the most generous exemptions in the country, giving you the opportunity to retain many of your critical assets through the liquidation process.

The Florida homestead exemption allows you to exempt an unlimited amount on your home or any property covered under the homestead exemption’s terms. This is a huge boon for debtors that can help them protect their home or other property from liquidation.

Do not wait to consider bankruptcy. Call (813) 683-8688 or contact us online to start exploring your options today.

To qualify for the homestead exemption, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have equity in your home (your home’s value is greater than the debt you owe on it)
  • If in a municipality, the property must be no greater than half an acre in size
  • If not in a municipality, the property must be no greater than 160 acres
  • You must have owned the property for at least 1,215 days at the time of filing for bankruptcy

If your property does not meet the criteria above, you can still exempt $146,450 for single filers and $292,900 for joint filers under the Florida homestead exemption. If you choose not to exercise the homestead exemption at all (including in scenarios where you do not own any property), you can instead utilize Florida’s “wildcard” exemption of $4,000 for single filers and $8,000 for joint filers.

Florida also offers a personal property exemption of up to $1,000 in value for single filers and up to $2,000 for joint filers. This encompasses a wide umbrella of items, including furniture, clothing, art, and electronics, as well as certain types of savings accounts. You will also be able to protect $1,000 in equity for your car ($2,000 if joint filing), but you are also permitted to apply some or all of your personal property or wildcard exemptions toward your vehicle, if you so choose.

Again, liquidation can seem scary, but it does not have to be. Our experienced Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers in Tampa can evaluate the details of your estate and help you maximize exemptions to limit or even eliminate the impact of liquidation on your property.

Discharging Your Debts Through Chapter 7

Once the liquidation process has been completed, a bankruptcy court will permit the discharging of most of your unsecured debts, one of the key benefits of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is what effectively creates the “clean slate” that stabilizes your financial situation and helps you live more sustainably going forward.

Some of the types of unsecured debt you can typically discharge include:

  • Credit card debt
  • Medical bills
  • Utility bills
  • Personal loans

However, it is important to understand that Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not wipe out all types of debt. Debts that typically cannot be discharged include:

  • Student loans (except in specific circumstances of substantial hardship)
  • Court fines
  • Debts omitted from bankruptcy filing
  • Debts gained since bankruptcy filing
  • Child or spousal support
  • Taxes and government fines (with some limited exceptions)
  • Debt stemming from fraud, embezzlement, or larceny

Let Us Help You Find New Footing

We at Cremeens Law Group PLLC empathize with the stress and uncertainty substantial debt creates, and our goal is to transition you out of financial crisis and help you regain control over your life. Our Tampa Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys can evaluate the circumstances specific to your financial situation and determine if Chapter 7 is the most advantageous solution for you. Should you retain our services, we will help prepare your estate for liquidation and assist you in navigating each step of the process.

Find out if Chapter 7 bankruptcy might help you through a free consultation. Dial (813) 683-8688 or contact us online to schedule yours today.

Taking the Burden Off of Your Shoulders

What You Can Expect With Us
  • Experience

    Having worked with both consumers and lenders, we have unique insight for how banks work, providing you with the best strategy.

  • Results

    If you hire us, we will be the attorneys that keep you in your home.

  • Affordability

    With payment plans available and without any hidden or extra fees, our goal is to help you budget when you're dealing with financial issues.

  • Communication

    You will never be kept in the dark. From start to finish, we maintain regular communication about your case.

Ready to Discuss Your Case?

Schedule a free consultation with us today to explore your options.