Tallahassee Bankruptcy Lawyer

 Bankruptcy Questions?

Call 850-270-6977 or Submit Our Form.

BRYAN HESSER, J.D.

Tallahassee Bankruptcy Lawyer

The term “Bankruptcy” has a received some negative publicity lately. I know, it sounds ominous. But it’s not! It is not embarrassing; it is not scary; and it is absolutely not something to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s quite common, with over 770,000 individuals filing for Bankruptcy in 2016. As a Tallahassee bankruptcy lawyer, Bryan Hesser represents individuals who owe more debt than they are able to pay. He assists individuals in Tallahassee obtain a discharge from their debts by filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. If you are only able to make minimum payments on your credit cards, have bill collectors constantly contacting and badgering you, or are concerned with being able to keep your house, car or other personal property due to liens, foreclosures, and lawsuits, contact us for a free consultation with our Bankruptcy lawyer Tallahassee. We are a debt relief agency and can help relieve your debt under the Bankruptcy Code.

 What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy provides a Debtor (an individual who owes debts to a Creditor) with a “fresh start” from their debts. By filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (also commonly known as “Liquidation Bankruptcy”), certain debts are discharged and, in exchange for the sale of your non-exempt assets, you are released from having to repay those debts. Once you file for Bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect, which keeps Creditors from being allowed to contact or harass you during the course of your Bankruptcy case. If the Judge rules that you are bankrupt, and the debt that you owe a Creditor is discharged, then that Creditor may never take any action to collect payment for that debt from you again, including sending you letters and emails, calling you, taking legal action against you, and contacting you in-person. If you live in North Florida and are overwhelmed or burdened by debt, our Tallahassee Bankruptcy lawyer can help you file for Bankruptcy and prepare you for every step that comes with filing for Bankruptcy.

 Can all of my debts be discharged in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Only unsecured debts may be discharged in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Secured debts, on the other hand, cannot be discharged. Other debts that may not be discharged include debts to Creditors that were not listed in the Bankruptcy Petition, sales taxes, most income taxes, payroll taxes, tax penalties and interest owed to the State and federal government, child and spousal support, most student loans, most fraud judgments from any Court, criminal restitution and fines, punitive damages, most judgments for malicious and willful conduct, and any money that you owe as a result of being sued for drunk driving.

What are “exemptions” and how do they affect my assets?

If the Judge rules that you are bankrupt, you will be able to keep certain basic assets deemed to be “necessary” for your “fresh start” after your debts are discharged. These assets are called “exemptions.” Exemptions differ from state to state: the Federal Bankruptcy Code distinguishes certain federal exemptions created by Congress, but the states have the right to prohibit their residents from using those federal exemptions in favor of their own State exemptions. Some states require their residents to use only their exemptions, while other states allow their residents to use a combination of federal and State exemptions. Florida requires that their residents only use the Florida exemptions. Florida’s exemptions are very favorable to its residents, including unlimited exemptions for homestead, annuities, and the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy. Your other assets that are not exempt will be sold by the Chapter 7 Trustee, with the proceeds used to pay back parts of your debts.

It is quite common for almost all of your assets to be exempt in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case, since there are many different types of exempt assets, such as household goods and furnishings, clothes, equity in your home and vehicle, most retirement plans and pensions, and up to $750 per week of the head of household’s wages. All-in-all, Florida does not want you to have to spend money on items necessary to lead a normal life after you are ruled Bankrupt and given your “fresh start.” Our Tallahassee Bankruptcy lawyer is uniquely prepared to answer your questions regarding which assets you will be able to keep after being ruled Bankrupt, and which of your assets might be sold by the Chapter 7 Trustee.

Which state’s exemptions must I follow?

Which state’s exemption laws you use depends on where you lived for the 2 years before filing your Bankruptcy Petition. If you haven’t lived in the same state for the 2 years before filing for Bankruptcy, then you must use the exemptions of the state that you lived in for the 6 months prior to the 2-year “look-back period.” If you are still unable to use a State’s exemptions, then you must use the Federal exemptions. If you live in Tallahassee or the surrounding North Florida areas and you believe that you are eligible to use the Florida exemptions, our Tallahassee Bankruptcy lawyer can help you file for Bankruptcy and determine and explain which of your assets are exempt.

Which Florida District should I file my case in?

The district that you file your Bankruptcy case in depends on where you have lived for the majority of the last 6 months before filing for Bankruptcy. If you have lived in Tallahassee, Panama City, Pensacola, or Gainesville for the majority of the last 6 months, then your Bankruptcy case would be filed in the Northern District of Florida and our Tallahassee Bankruptcy lawyer can assist you.

What must I do to prepare for filing my Bankruptcy Petition?

The only action that is required prior to filing your Bankruptcy Petition is the completion of a credit counseling course. There are many Credit Counseling Agencies that offer courses online that have been approved by the Northern District of Florida. You do not need to complete this course before meeting with our Tallahassee Bankruptcy attorney, but must complete it before the attorney files your Bankruptcy case.

In order to assist our Bankruptcy lawyer with the filing of your case, you should also begin to collect all of your bank statements, pay stubs, and documents showing your financial history for the last 6 months, along with lists of all of your assets and debts (and who exactly you owe those debts to). This will ease the process of filing the many Schedules, calculating the Means Test, and creating the Creditor Matrix necessary for filing your Bankruptcy Petition.

Once you complete the credit counseling course, provide our Tallahassee Bankruptcy lawyer with the requisite financial and personal information necessary for filing the Bankruptcy Petition, and meet with our Bankruptcy lawyer to review all information being provided in the Bankruptcy Petition, your Bankruptcy Petition is then filed with the Court.

What happens after I’ve filed for Bankruptcy?

The immediate effect of filing for Bankruptcy is the automatic stay which keeps Creditors from being allowed to contact or harass you during the course of your Bankruptcy case. The Court then appoints a Chapter 7 Trustee and gives notice to all of your Creditors that are listed in the Creditor Matrix filed as part of your Bankruptcy Petition.

Next is the Section 341 Meeting (also known as the First Meeting of Creditors), where the Chapter 7 Trustee asks you questions under oath about your assets and debts. Creditors may also appear at this meeting and ask you questions. This meeting usually only lasts about 5-10 minutes. Our Tallahassee Bankruptcy lawyer will meet with you to prepare you for your Section 341 Meeting by reviewing your Bankruptcy Petition and going over the typical questions asked during most Section 341 Meetings.

The Chapter 7 Trustee and Creditors then have 60 days after the Section 341 Meeting to challenge your right to a discharge of the debts. This usually happens when there is fraudulent information in your Bankruptcy Petition or if you answered questions in the Section 341 Meeting fraudulently.

The final requirement that you must complete after filing your Bankruptcy Petition, but before the Judge can make a Bankruptcy ruling, is the completion of a post-filing financial management course (which is different from the pre-filing credit counseling course). If you do not complete this financial management course in a timely manner after filing for Bankruptcy, your case may be closed, and the Court will charge a new filing fee to reopen your case.

Once all of these steps have been completed after filing your Bankruptcy Petition, the Judge will then either rule you bankrupt (and discharge your dischargeable debts) or not bankrupt. The full process from filing to discharge typically takes about 4 months.

Which Florida District should I file my case in?

The district that you file your Bankruptcy case in depends on where you have lived for the majority of the last 6 months before filing for Bankruptcy. If you have lived in Tallahassee, Panama City, Pensacola, or Gainesville for the majority of the last 6 months, then your Bankruptcy case would be filed in the Northern District of Florida and our Tallahassee Bankruptcy attorney can assist you.

What must I do to prepare for filing my Bankruptcy Petition?

The only action that is required prior to filing your Bankruptcy Petition is the completion of a credit counseling course. There are many Credit Counseling Agencies that offer courses online that have been approved by the Northern District of Florida. You do not need to complete this course before meeting with our Tallahassee Bankruptcy attorney, but must complete it before the attorney files your Bankruptcy case.

In order to assist our Bankruptcy lawyer with the filing of your case, you should also begin to collect all of your bank statements, pay stubs, and documents showing your financial history for the last 6 months, along with lists of all of your assets and debts (and who exactly you owe those debts to). This will ease the process of filing the many Schedules, calculating the Means Test, and creating the Creditor Matrix necessary for filing your Bankruptcy Petition.

Once you complete the credit counseling course, provide our Tallahassee Bankruptcy lawyer with the requisite financial and personal information necessary for filing the Bankruptcy Petition, and meet with our Tallahassee Bankruptcy lawyer to review all information being provided in the Bankruptcy Petition, your Bankruptcy Petition is then filed with the Court.

What happens after I’ve filed for Bankruptcy?

The immediate effect of filing for Bankruptcy is the automatic stay which keeps Creditors from being allowed to contact or harass you during the course of your Bankruptcy case. The Court then appoints a Chapter 7 Trustee and gives notice to all of your Creditors that are listed in the Creditor Matrix filed as part of your Bankruptcy Petition.

Next is the Section 341 Meeting (also known as the First Meeting of Creditors), where the Chapter 7 Trustee asks you questions under oath about your assets and debts. Creditors may also appear at this meeting and ask you questions. This meeting usually only lasts about 5-10 minutes. Our Tallahassee Bankruptcy lawyer will meet with you to prepare you for your Section 341 Meeting by reviewing your Bankruptcy Petition and going over the typical questions asked during most Section 341 Meetings.

The Chapter 7 Trustee and Creditors then have 60 days after the Section 341 Meeting to challenge your right to a discharge of the debts. This usually happens when there is fraudulent information in your Bankruptcy Petition or if you answered questions in the Section 341 Meeting fraudulently.

The final requirement that you must complete after filing your Bankruptcy Petition, but before the Judge can make a Bankruptcy ruling, is the completion of a post-filing financial management course (which is different from the pre-filing credit counseling course). If you do not complete this financial management course in a timely manner after filing for Bankruptcy, your case may be closed, and the Court will charge a new filing fee to reopen your case.

Once all of these steps have been completed after filing your Bankruptcy Petition, the Judge will then either rule you bankrupt (and discharge your dischargeable debts) or not bankrupt. The full process from filing to discharge typically takes about 4 months.