Johnson Law Firm, P.A.
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Bankruptcy Related Q&A

Will I Lose My Primary Residence Or My Personal Property If I File Chapter 7?
Not necessarily. As explained on the Chapter 7 page, if you are current on your mortgage and agree to continue making your mortgage payment, then you can likely keep your primary residence.While bankruptcy is a federal law, state law determines what personal property you can keep in a bankruptcy. To that end, the State of Florida has generous exemptions. In most Chapter 7’s, the debtor is able to keep all of his or her personal property. However, analyzing your exemptions and determining what property you can keep is complicated and should be done with the assistance of an attorney.

Can You Stop A Foreclosure?
In most cases, yes. The foreclosure process can be complicated and confusing. Having an experienced foreclosure attorney can help you exercise your legal rights. The foreclosure process starts with a notice of default. If you do nothing, the mortgage company will likely file a lawsuit. Once you are properly served with notice of the lawsuit, you will have 20 days to answer the complaint. If you fail to answer the complaint, the mortgage company may take a default judgment against you. Once judgment has been entered, your property can be scheduled for auction.We can stop most foreclosures at any time up to the auction date by filing a bankruptcy. In fact, Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to stop foreclosure altogether by allowing you months or even years to cure the arrearages on your mortgage. So long as you remain current on your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan payments, the mortgage company cannot foreclose your property. However, because of recent changes in the law, you should contact an attorney well in advance of the proposed auction date to avoid timing conflicts which could prevent you from saving your property.

Can You Stop Harassing Phone Calls And Correspondence?
Being in debt is a difficult enough without having to worry about harassing collection calls. If retain us to file your bankruptcy, you can immediately begin referring all creditor calls and correspondence to our office. We deal with your creditors for you so you don’t have to. Once your creditors are on notice that you are represented by counsel, the calls and correspondence should cease.
After filing for bankruptcy relief, your creditors will receive notice of the automatic stay. The automatic stay prevents your creditors from taking any action against you to collect a debt. These actions include calling your home or workplace, sending threatening letters, continuing to mail bills or notices, foreclosing real property, repossessing personal property, and garnishing your wages.

Does My Spouse Have To File?
Not necessarily. Because each situation is different, we undertake a comprehensive review of you and your spouse’s financial situation. Sometimes it may not make sense for one spouse to file. For example, if one spouse has good credit, minimal debt, and a reliable job, they may not need to file. However, if you have significant joint debts, and your spouse has little or no income, it may make sense for both of you to file. These are difficult issues, but with our assistance, we can help you make these all important decisions. 

What Are The Credit Counseling And Debtor Education Requirements?
The 2005 Amendments to the bankruptcy code require that, with limited exceptions, people who plan to file for bankruptcy protection must obtain credit counseling from an approved organization within 180 days before they file the bankruptcy. The pre-bankruptcy credit counseling session will include an evaluation of your personal financial situation, a discussion of alternatives to bankruptcy, and a personal budget plan. Typically, the credit counseling session lasts anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. The session can take place in person, on the phone, or online. There is a small fee, usually $40, for the credit counseling. However, the fee can be waived if you cannot afford to pay.
The 2005 Amendments to the Bankruptcy also require that you undergo a debtor education course prior to obtaining a discharge. The debtor education course will include information on developing a budget, managing money, using credit wisely, and other resources. Similar to the credit counseling class, there is a small fee to take the course and it may be done in person, on the phone, or online. The debtor education course usually lasts longer than the credit course, roughly one to two hours, and the typical fee is $40. As with pre-bankruptcy credit counseling, the fee can be waived if you are unable to pay.
Keep in mind that while the agencies providing the counseling are approved by the Office of the United States Trustee Program, they are not attorneys. You should consult an attorney to properly evaluate whether bankruptcy is right for you.

What Should I Bring To The Free Consultation?
In order to determine whether bankruptcy is right for you and if so, what type of bankruptcy is right, we need to learn as much as possible about your financial situation. Prior to visiting our office, we will provide you with a link to a secure website where you can enter in information from the comfort of your own home. If you are not comfortable providing information over the internet, we can e-mail, fax or mail you hard copies of the forms. Once you complete the forms, you can send them back by mail or fax or, you can simply bring them with you to your free consultation.
When visiting our office for your initial consultation, it is also important that you bring several documents with you. We will need to review these documents with you to determine your eligibility for Bankruptcy. We will tell you which documents to bring with you. At a minimum, these documents include a recent paystub and proof of all other forms of income.

What Documents Will I Need To File For Bankruptcy?
Before you file for bankruptcy, many legal documents must be collected and reviewed by the attorney. At the initial consultation we will tell you everything we need to review prior to filing your bankruptcy. We accept copies by mail, fax, or e-mail. Originals will be given back to you at the completion of your case. We can assist you with obtaining some or all of the documents, which include:

  • Paystubs for the 7 months preceding the filing of the case
  • Life insurance policies
  • 401K, Pension, Retirement, IRA statements
  • The Deed and Mortgages to all real property
  • Titles to your motor vehicles
  • Complaints or other court documents filed against you
  • Tax returns (from the previous 2 years if filing for Chapter 7; from the previous 4 years if filing Chapter 13)
  • A copy of your credit report
  • Copies of all insurance policies
  • Any other statements or documents requested by the office

To find out whether a Bankruptcy is right for you, take our free online evaluation or call (904) 652-2400 to schedule a free consultation.

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.