Tampa Chapter 7 Lawyer
Eliminating Debt without Repayment
Facing financial difficulty is overwhelming and people often don’t know where to turn for help. For some Florida debtors, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a way to find relief, stop harassment from creditors, end wage garnishments, and regain control of their finances.
At Sandra L. Hibsch, P.A., our Tampa Chapter 7 lawyer is compassionate, experienced, and accomplished. She has devoted her practice entirely to bankruptcy law and has enjoyed helping clients find debt relief options for more than 20 years.
Contact us at (813) 446-5761 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your debt relief options.
What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, makes it possible to eliminate unsecured debt without repayment through liquidating nonexempt assets. This form of bankruptcy is typically best for individuals with lots of unsecured debts, such as medical bills or credit cards.
The process for filing Chapter 7 involves filing a petition with the court, attending a hearing, and having your debts discharged. In most cases, your debts will be discharged approximately 120 days from the time you file the petition.
The advantages of Chapter 7 include:
- Putting an end to creditor harassment
- Stopping wage garnishment
- Allowing you to completely eliminate most debt
- Providing a shorter bankruptcy process
- Enabling you to move on and rebuild your credit
Chapter 7 Exemptions in Florida
Certain assets are exempt from liquidation in Chapter 7, meaning you will be able to keep these assets. While the bankruptcy code does have federal exemptions, the state of Florida only allows debtors in Chapter 7 proceedings to use state exemptions. You must have been a resident of Florida for at least 730 days before filing your bankruptcy petition to use Florida's exemptions.
Florida's Chapter 7 exemptions include exemptions for your:
- Homestead, for property owned at least 1215 days before you file
- Personal Property, including furniture, certain savings, prescribed health aids, and tax refunds
- Motor vehicle, up to $1000 in equity, or more if you are filing with your spouse
- Wages and certain federal government employee pension payments
- Pensions, including ERISA retirement plans, retirement benefits for state and county officers, and retirement benefits for firefighters, police, and teachers
- Public Benefits, including veterans benefits, worker's compensation, and crime victims' compensation
- Alimony and Child Support
- Insurance Policies, including disability income benefits
Debtors who don't use the available homestead exemption can also opt for a Wildcard Exemption of up to $4,000 of personal property. Our Tampa Chapter 7 attorney can help you determine the best debt relief options for your situation and future financial goals.
The Chapter 7 Means Test
In 2005, amendments to federal bankruptcy law included the requirement for a means test to determine eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The means test compares your monthly income to Florida's median income for a household of your size. If your current income is less than the median, you automatically pass and can file for Chapter 7. Otherwise, the test will take into account your allowed monthly expenses and payments for unsecured debts to determine if your disposable income is low enough to qualify.
If you do not pass the Chapter 7 means test, you have the option to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
The Complexities of Chapter 7 Require a Skilled Attorney
The bankruptcy process can be complex and involves an assessment of your assets and debts. We can help you create a list of exempt assets that you are able to keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Non-exempt assets will have to be sold or retained through a buy-back from the Trustee. We can help you determine which assets are exempt, regarding your personal property, IRA, 401(k), and other pension accounts.
Every situation is unique. Discuss your case with Sandra L. Hibsch, P.A. by calling (813) 446-5761.