Debt happens to people from all walks of life. You are not a bad person or a failure if you find yourself deep in debt. Many people encounter situations in which they lack good options, and debt can accumulate quickly. It can be difficult to formulate a plan to get yourself out of debt and back to a place of financial stability.
If you are deep in debt and constantly harassed by creditors, you may feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Bankruptcy can lift a great weight off your shoulders and give you a new start. Many people are able to rebuild their lives with better financial practices and more understanding of their finances after filing for bankruptcy. Though many people see bankruptcy as a negative thing, it can actually be a positive new start for you and your family. However, it’s important to know that bankruptcy does have drawbacks, including some consequences that may linger for years.
The best way to handle bankruptcy is to find an experienced attorney to help you and your family navigate this difficult time. Bankruptcy is complicated and has surprising consequences. When you have a bankruptcy attorney on your side, the process can feel more manageable and less intimidating.
At Badgley Law Group, we can help you explore bankruptcy for true and lasting relief from debts and creditor harassment. We can also pursue other remedies short of bankruptcy, such as direct negotiations with your creditors or lenders to repay debts or modify the terms of your loan. We have enabled clients in Orlando and throughout central Florida to get their lives back on track through Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Our team has been working in this industry for many years. We understand the unique challenges of families in the Orlando area, which gives you an advantage in the courtroom. Our firm is passionate about helping families pursue all their options when it comes to bankruptcy and financial rehaul. When you work with us, you can be sure that you are giving yourself the best possible resources in the Orlando area.
Take advantage of a free bankruptcy consultation. Call us at 407-781-0420 to make an appointment with our experienced lawyer.
If you are in a place where bankruptcy is a possibility, it’s important to understand your options. Not all bankruptcy cases are the same, and you may have some flexibility with how you proceed. By familiarizing yourself with different bankruptcy styles, you can make empowered decisions about your financial future.
There are two major types of bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. They are vastly different and provide distinct advantages and disadvantages for your family.
Chapter 7 is a more commonly understood form of bankruptcy, but this doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone. Chapter 7 uses asset liquidation to pay off debts and give the filer a fresh start. The trustee of the process can sell all nonexempt property and assets during this time. This means that your home, car, and other valuables will be sold by the trustee to pay back some of the debts that you owe.
This is not to say that you will have nothing when the process is finished. Bankruptcy exemptions allow you to keep a reasonable amount of clothing, furniture, and personal items under a certain value. If your car is old and paid off, you may be allowed to keep that as well.
However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy generally takes most of what you own. You will no longer be in debt after the process is over, but you will not have very much left with which to start over. The process usually only takes 3-5 months, after which most of your debt will be discharged, and you can begin to build your new life quickly. The main drawback to this option is losing most of your possessions without the opportunity to retain them.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is distinct. It may not be for everyone, but it has different advantages and disadvantages than Chapter 7.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is viewed as more of a reorganization strategy, and not all people are eligible. You can only file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you have more than $419,275 of unsecured debt or $1,257,850 of secured debt. The trustee in your case will help you to set up a payment plan to pay back your debts, and you may be able to negotiate a smaller amount than you owe. You will work with this payment plan for however long it takes to pay off your debts, with 3-5 years being the normal timeframe.
Fortunately, with Chapter 13, you get to keep most of your assets, including your home. When you file for Chapter 13, debtors will stop harassing you as you are taking action to pay back what you owe. However, unlike Chapter 7, Chapter 13 does not give you a clean break or a fresh start. Chapter 13 is simply a way to get you out of your financial situation with help from a trustee.
This may not seem like a traditional bankruptcy filing, but it’s helpful for individuals who are in deep debt but want to keep their assets and are able to pay some of what they owe. However, many people want a faster solution, and Chapter 13 takes a long while to resolve.
Bankruptcy can offer immediate and long-term benefits, including:
If you are able to pay some of your debts but you are falling farther behind on house or car payments, you may be a candidate for a Chapter 13 repayment bankruptcy. Through a monthly payment plan, you can get caught up over time while getting immediate relief from creditor actions.
See our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information and a list of common Bankruptcy terminology to better understand your options.
Bankruptcy is not the only means of being protected from credit collections. However, in instances where bankruptcy is the best path, it is crucial that you move with speed. Some legal rights will be in jeopardy the longer you wait. One example is asset repossession or a home foreclosure. A bankruptcy filing can prevent these from happening, but only before the sale has been completed. Once the confiscated asset is sold, the debtor loses their legal interest in it and cannot reverse the process. The caveat is that recent purchases will not qualify for bankruptcy protection, so you cannot go on a spending spree in anticipation of filing bankruptcy. Our attorneys will explain bankruptcy law and the bankruptcy process, including any assets that you might have to forfeit in exchange for eliminating debts.
Not everyone with debt problems needs or wants to file bankruptcy. We can explore other remedies, such as a loan workout or loan modification program to rework the terms of your home mortgage. We can negotiate with your credit card companies, medical providers and other creditors to settle your debts for part of what you owe to avoid collection actions, garnishment, liens and the black marks on your credit score. Debt consolidation can also be a solution, but there are many unscrupulous companies that will charge big fees without shrinking your debt. Whatever the solution is – be it bankruptcy or an alternative – you can trust that we have your best interests in mind at Badgley Law Group.
Remember, creditors do not have a blank check in their quest to collect their debts from you. State law (Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act) and federal law (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) provide clear guidelines on what creditors can and cannot do even before you file bankruptcy. Actions that fail to adhere to these acts are illegal, and you should approach Badgley Law Group for assistance.
Many people believe that they cannot afford a bankruptcy lawyer or wish to navigate the process alone. This is not wise. The bankruptcy process is much more complicated than many people realize. Families lose their way during bankruptcy proceedings all the time, and many people lose assets that they could have retained. Because there are so many available options, it’s best to work with an expert attorney to determine which path is right for you. Legal help can ensure that you make the very best decisions for your family and explore all your options before making any irreversible decisions.
Many people worry about their credit score after filing for bankruptcy. This is a valid concern. It’s true that bankruptcy will negatively affect your score, but it’s not true that it will stop you from rebuilding your life. There are options for those who have filed for bankruptcy, and many people are able to rebuild good credit over time. Bankruptcy filing does not mean death to your credit; you may simply have to be more strategic when building your credit back to normal levels.
A bankruptcy filing does not even stay on your credit report forever. Chapter 7 filings remain on your report for ten years, while Chapter 13 filings remain for only seven years. As you build new habits and practices, you’ll find your score increases. It’s worth noting that most people in deep debt don’t have very good credit to begin with. Bankruptcy may be a way to fix your credit in the long run.
Jeffrey Badgley has practiced law for 35 years and represented thousands of individuals and couples on the path to debt relief. At Badgley Law Group, we have won several major victories in bankruptcy court and have distinguished ourselves in our singular pursuit of our clients’ interests. We have helped families break the shackles of debt, cut monthly debt payments by hundreds of dollars, rescue their homes, keep their cars and start new lives on confident footing.
Nothing legally prevents you from representing yourself in a bankruptcy proceeding, but it is a complex process with many rules and restrictions. A few wrong moves and you could emerge from bankruptcy in a much worse state than you had anticipated.
It is therefore important to consult with an affordable bankruptcy lawyer who can determine if the filing is a good idea, what chapter to file under, how to leverage exemption provisions and what protections bankruptcy will provide. You need a trained and objective eye to take a look at your assets, liabilities, income and expenses to file your petition properly.