Courtney D. Durham understands that issues relating to overwhelming debt and prospective bankruptcy can be stressful and leave you with feelings of guilt or embarrassment. We want you to know that there is nothing to feel ashamed about when you’re dealing with debt. You can trust in our skill and experience to help you settle your debts with your creditors and reach a resolution that will help you achieve a fresh start.
What Are the Three Types of Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, the court places an automatic temporary stay on your current debts, stopping creditors from collecting payments, foreclosing your home, reclaiming property, shutting off your utilities, or evicting you. Courtney Durham helps you through this process.
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
When a business needs to reorganize its debts, it may resort to Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This provides the business with the breathing room to develop a plan to succeed with a new balance sheet. Courtney Durham can help with your Chapter 11 reorganization.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy creates a plan of payments over a period of time where the debtor pays off some or all of their creditors. With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will need to demonstrate that you have a steady income. Courtney Durham understands the intricacies of Chapter 13 bankruptcy and can help you with all the requirements.
How We Help When You Are Faced With Financial Difficulty:
When debt hits you may find yourself facing troubles that seem insurmountable, but Courtney Durham can help you overcome them!
We can help you when you’ve been threatened with repossession.
If you have been threatened with car repossession, a bankruptcy lawyer can provide you with legal advice. We might be able to help you prevent the repossession and eliminate late fees and penalties. There are options, but it is essential to handle them right away. Courtney Durham can help you with an automatic stay, a bankruptcy filing, a payment plan, or one of the other options available.
When you face foreclosure, we have answers.
When you are facing foreclosure, there are answers. While each foreclosure case is unique, Courtney Durham can help you decide your best course of action, whether it be through Chapter 13 bankruptcy or loan modification, refinance, forbearance agreement, or short sale. Trust us to help.
We can help protect your income from garnishments.
Wage garnishment happens when a creditor gets a judgment from the court to deduct part of your income and use it to pay off your debt. There are some exemptions that can help protect part of your income from garnishment, and Courtney Durham knows how to protect your rights when you are affected by wage garnishment.
How much does it cost?
Chapter 7: $1,950 plus $338 filing fee for individuals and $2,600 plus $338 filing fee for couples.
Chapter 13: $2,500 plus filing fee upfront, then an additional $30 per month and $1,500 to be paid during the plan.
What is the difference between a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?
Generally, Chapter 7 is a liquidation – disposal of non-exempt property to creditors. The Trustee will take your property that is not exempt and apply it to paying your creditors. To determine if Chapter 7 would apply to your case, the attorney will review your income level, assets, debt amounts, and other issues. It is important that you have accurate records of your income via bank statements, paystubs, receipts, as well as comprehensive list of your assets — home, vehicles, real property in other states, home furnishings, collectibles, etc. to assist her in making that determination. You will need to have filed your income taxes for the last two years, unless your income is below the minimum threshold IRS deduction, before you can file your bankruptcy case.
Chapter 13 is not a liquidation and clients usually have assets beyond the exemptions that they do not want to liquidate or income above the Chapter 7 threshold. In a Chapter 13, you will be seeking to enter into a plan to make monthly payments, based on your disposable income, for a period of either 36 months or 60 months, to the creditors through the Trustee appointed to your case.
Who is the Trustee?
When you file a bankruptcy case, an “estate” is created that consists of the property and funds as listed on your documents. A Trustee is appointed to your case as soon as it is filed. Your assets and funds become the property over which the Trustee has control. If you have filed a bankruptcy case, the attorney will tell you not to sell or transfer any assets without checking with her first. If you sell an asset that the Trustee deems is not exempt, you may be required to pay into the estate the value of that asset. That is why the attorney will also ask if you have transferred or sold any assets within the last year, especially to family members or close friends — “insiders.” The Trustee can go back in time for three years to recapture an asset if it was not sold for market value or transferred to any insider.
The Trustees that serve the Bankruptcy Court have contracted through the United States Department of Justice Bankruptcy Trustee Division to serve in the different jurisdictions. They are not representatives of the creditors, but act as referees in the bankruptcy case to ensure that the debtor has complied with the law and fully disclosed his or her financial status in order to make sure that creditors receive available funds and property of the estate. The Trustees generally receive a ten percent payment for funds that are included in the bankruptcy estate.
What property is exempt?
Social Security income, homestead within certain threshold values, vehicles within certain threshold values ($1,500 for one car), personal property ($1,000 if you do own your home or $4,000 if you do not own your home), Pension income, Annuities, child support payments to you, and others. Once you provide the attorney with information on your assets and income, she can explain the exemptions for your particular situation.
Your tax refund for the year in which you filed is part of the bankruptcy estate and your attorney will probably instruct you not to spend the refund when you receive it.
What debts are not dischargeable?
Social Security income, homestead within certain threshold values,
Criminal fines or penalties, child support, student loans, debts arising from breach of a fiduciary duty, taxes, and others. It is important to be sure that your attorney has a full list of your debts, judgment, or other legal proceedings before the case is filed.
Fiduciary duties may include appointment as a Personal Representative in a Decedent’s estate, financial duties for a company, acting under a power-of-attorney for another person, and others. Be sure to inform your attorney if you have acted in a position that required holding other people’s property or directing someone’s financial affairs.
You can review online through your county clerk of court’s website whether there are court cases or judgments in the official records through inputting your name.
How long does a bankruptcy case take to be resolved?
Once your case is filed, a meeting of creditors will be set for some time within six weeks of filing. At this time, the meetings of creditors are being held by telephone due to the COVID guidelines, but that option may be discontinued in the future at which point you will need to appear at the courthouse. Your attorney will also be present.
The Trustee will ask you questions about your documents that were prepared, so be sure to have them handy when your meeting is held. Creditors are allowed to be at the meeting and ask you questions as well. Be sure to speak to your attorney prior to the meeting of any concerns that you may have so that she may help you prepare and alleviate any fears.
After the meeting of creditors, in a Chapter 7, the Trustee has thirty days to make a report from the information on your documents filed and answers to the questions at the Meeting of Creditors. What the recommendations are from that report/decision, may affect the length of the case. Generally, a Chapter 7 proceeding takes about four months.
What if I just moved to Florida?
There are requirements that you need to have resided in Florida for the majority of the time over the last three years. Be sure to provide your attorney with your addresses for the last three years and times during which you lived at each. If the computation results in your having resided in another state longer than Florida, you may still file bankruptcy in Florida, but the law of another state may apply.
Can I file on my own?
Yes, the documents are available from the United States District Court of the Middle District Bankruptcy Division website under the caption The Source: http://www.flmb.uscourts.gov/
Do you deal with my creditors?
This office does not provide credit work out services or try to negotiate with your creditors. However, you can ask the creditors to stop calling you and advise them that this office has been retained to file a bankruptcy case for you after full payment of the attorney’s fees and filing fee.
Will it prevent a judgment from being entered against me?
If you have been served with papers for a court case in which a creditor is seeking collection, once a bankruptcy case is filed for you, the court and creditor will be informed that a bankruptcy case has been filed and the proceedings should be stayed. If a judgment has already been entered, the filing of the bankruptcy case will prevent further collection efforts outside of the state court action. There are some judgments and obligations that will not be discharged by your bankruptcy.
What documents does the attorney need from me?
Here is a partial list of the documents that will be required in general:
- Tax returns for the last two years;
- Current statements of income – last six (6) months of pay stubs, Social Security disability statement, trust receipts;
- All bank account statements for the last three (3) months, including those of which you are listed as guardian and/or joint;
- Bank account information on any accounts closed within the past year;
- Copies of billing statements from your creditors for the last three (3) months;
- Credit Reports from all three credit reporting agencies for this year – you can obtain a free credit report from all three credit reporting bureaus once a year at https://annualcreditreport.com;
- Copies of titles and/or registration statements to motor vehicles and/or boats owned outright or under a lien (This includes any titles or registrations for vehicles that you believe yourself to be a co-signor or co-owner.);
- Copy of insurance cards for motor vehicles and/or boats;
- Name and address of recipient of any child support obligation, if applicable;
- Copy of final judgment and property settlements for any dissolution of marriage entered in the preceding three (3) years;
- List of monthly expenses – difference between amount of income and outgoing expenses should be either a negative number or very close to zero;
- List of personal property with an estimate of value based on yard sale prices – household furnishings, electronics, hobby/sports equipment, jewelry, pets, and collectibles/pictures/knick knacks;
- List of addresses at which you lived for the last three years;
- Information on any pension, 401(k), IRA, or other savings vehicle and of any of same cashed within the last year;
- Copy of Social Security card and drivers license;
- Information on any pending claims that you may have — i.e. Social Security disability or workers’ compensation claims, motor vehicle or personal injury accident settlements/claims, or similar;
- Pending or concluded court cases in the last year; and
- Information on any life insurance policies.
How long will the bankruptcy be on my credit report?
A Chapter 7 will be on your credit report for ten years.
Chapter 13 for seven years. Usually, creditors will start to advance you credit within two to three years of your bankruptcy discharge, but the interest rate will be higher than that offered to someone with better credit.
Know Your Rights
You can’t go to jail for failing to pay a debt or a judgment, but if you don’t pay the debt, your credit score will be affected. This can affect your life for up to seven years. If a judgment is obtained against you, it can last up to 20 years. This means the person who obtained the judgment on you can collect on it until it’s fully paid for up to 20 years after it is filed with the clerk and recorded. On top of this, interest accrues on the debt. There are exemptions that you can obtain. Courtney Durham cares about you and your rights and will help you protect your assets.