Information About Filing Bankruptcy in Florida

Filing bankruptcy can relieve the stress you are feeling due to not being able to pay your bills. The average bankruptcy filer has lost significant income due to a serious medical issue, lost employment or divorce.

Bankruptcy doesn’t have to be embarrassing; it is designed to give you a new start. When you file bankruptcy, creditors will immediately stop calling or mailing you, so you can focus on getting your life back together.

When you are filing for bankruptcy, it is critical to know your legal rights and remedies. Bankruptcy laws protect consumers from financial ruin and the potential to be abused by creditors.

Let Joseph W. Lehn, a Sarasota and Port Charlotte bankruptcy attorney who has helped people eliminate millions of dollars of debt, help you.


Your home, Your car, Your Wages.

Joseph W. Lehn helps people file for Florida Bankruptcy relief under the bankruptcy code.

Your ability to rebuild credit after bankruptcy is better than it has ever been. After you get your discharge, you will receive many solicitations from lenders offering to finance homes, vehicles, and credit cards.

Here are some tips to responsibly and successfully rebuild credit:

  1. Pay your utility bills and rent on time for at least a year.
  2. Open a checking or savings account. Lenders may look at this to determine if you can responsibly handle money.
  3. Find a friend or relative to cosign for you on a loan and pay it on time.
  4. Look for car dealers and mortgage brokers that attest to be “bankruptcy friendly.”
  5. Buy a used car so you do not get hit with the depreciation that occurs during the first two years of a new car purchase.
  6. Stay away from payday loans that are high interest rates and are a “bad credit” trap.
  7. Write a letter to each credit reporting agency explaining the circumstances that lead to you filing.
  8. Live within your means. Do not unnecessarily increase your debt to income ratio by taking on credit to purchase luxury items that you do not need. Your payments on consumer debt should equal no more than 20% of your expendable income after costs for housing and a vehicle.
  9. Pay your reaffirmed, pre-bankruptcy debts on time.
  10. Apply for store and gas credit cards that you would normally pay cash.

Protect Cosigners

Your cosigners receive the same protection that you receive under Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we will protect your cosigners from collection activity, and the creditors must wait to be paid.

For instance, if your friend or relative cosigned on your vehicle, and you are having trouble affording payments, we can put your remaining balance inside a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Basics

  • What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? It is a process provided for under United States Federal Bankruptcy Law by which you are entitled to a fresh start.
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy may eliminate most kinds of unsecured debt. Some examples of unsecured debts Chapter 7 may eliminate include:
    • credit cards
    • medical bills
    • most personal loans
    • judgments resulting from car accidents
    • deficiencies on repossessed vehicles
  • In addition to getting rid of your debt, Chapter 7 allows you to typically keep all of your property. As long as your car and mortgage payments are current, and there is no significant equity in your property, we should have no problem making the arrangements for you to reaffirm the debt; that is our goal with Chapter 7.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Basics

  • Are you trying to save your home from a foreclosure? Is the “repo” man looking for your car? If so, Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan may be the answer!
  • What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy? It is an interest-free debt repayment plan through which you consolidate your debts and make a payment on your debt over a 3 to 5 year period. While in a Chapter 13 debt repayment plan, the creditors cannot collect from you, and the creditors are required by a Federal Court order to adhere to the terms of the plan.
  • One very important thing to remember about Chapter 13 bankruptcies is that you must be working or have a consistent source of income for your repayment plan to be approved by the court. Not only must you be able to pay for your monthly living expenses, but you must be able to make a payment to the court to consolidate your debts.
  • Debts that are generally consolidated in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy are:
    • mortgage arrears
    • balances on vehicle loans
    • student loans
    • credit card debts
    • other secured debts
  • All outstanding debts must be included in the Chapter 13 bankruptcy consolidation.

Stop Foreclosure Immediately

  • If your home is presently in foreclosure, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing will stop the foreclosure process any time prior to the sale, and allow you to repay your mortgage arrears through your Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • You will still be obligated to make all future mortgage payments directly to the mortgage company, but they may not foreclose to collect any outstanding mortgage payments.

Keep Your Car

  • If the repossession man is looking for your car, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will also stop the finance company from repossessing your car.
  • The past due payments and the entire balance on your vehicle loan will be consolidated, which you will pay off over the next three to five years. The vehicle finance company can no longer repossess you car, and you will no longer have to make a payment directly to the finance company.
  • Only one payment is made, and that is to the Chapter 13 trustee.
  • Under certain circumstances we can even recover your vehicle after repossession and consolidate the remaining balance.

Consolidate Student Loans

  • Student loans can be consolidated with other bills in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Beware of Refinancing

  • If you have equity in your home, you can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, protect your equity, and repay your mortgage arrears over as long as three years.
  • Refinancing or taking out a second mortgage may just create an additional mortgage payment that you cannot afford, instead of repaying your mortgage arrears through a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Why eat up your equity with another mortgage?

You should explore all of your options, and make sure you contact a bankruptcy attorney along the way so we may advise you or your legal rights.

When you have quality legal representation, you become knowledgeable about your rights, and become less vulnerable to people trying to take advantage of you in a time of distress.

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