Bankruptcy FAQs

This Bankruptcy FAQ will provide you the information you need to make an educated decision. If you have specific questions about when to file for bankruptcy, contact Ziegler Diamond Law today to schedule your free initial consultation with a proven Florida bankruptcy lawyer.

Q: What is bankruptcy?
A: Bankruptcy is a process wherein an individual or company legally declares that they can’t pay their debts. Depending on the type of bankruptcy, the process can include liquidating (i.e., selling) assets or financial restructuring to repay debts in part or full. In most cases, bankruptcy is the last resort for individuals facing overwhelming debt. Contact us today to learn if bankruptcy is the best option for you.
Q: What Are The Types of bankruptcy?
A: In the U.S., individuals and businesses have several bankruptcy options available to them under the federal Bankruptcy Code. These include: 

  • Chapter 7 – also known as ‘liquidation bankruptcy,’ involves selling non-exempt assets to pay off creditors
  • Chapter 11 – which allows businesses to reorganize their debt and operations
  • Chapter 13 – a type of reorganization bankruptcy for those with regular income 
  • Chapter 12 – designed specifically to help family farmers and fishermen 

These types of bankruptcies are defined by the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, administered by the federal court system. If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, it’s essential to consult with a qualified attorney or credit counselor who can review your situation and provide guidance on which chapter is right for you. 

You can find more information about the Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy process in the U.S. at the following links: The Process of Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy CaseHow to File for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

Q: What is the “means test” in bankruptcy?
A: If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy in the U.S., it’s important to understand the “means test” and how it can impact your eligibility for certain types of bankruptcy.

Essentially, the means test calculates whether an individual has the “means”(i.e., financial resources) to repay some or all of their debts. The test considers several factors, including an individual’s household income, expenses, and debts, to determine whether they are eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The means test consists of two parts. The first part compares an individual’s household income with the state median income for their family size. If an individual’s income is less than the median income, they have essentially passed the means test and may qualify to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

However, if an individual’s income is higher than the state median income, they must move on to the second part of the means test calculation. It determines their disposable income over the previous five years. If their disposable income is equal to or less than national and local standards, they may be eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

It’s important to note that the means test was designed to prevent abuse of the bankruptcy system, so not everyone will pass it. However, there are still other forms of debt relief available, such as Chapter 13 bankruptcy or other debt-relief alternatives.

Q: What happens during the bankruptcy process?
A: The bankruptcy process in the United States is a legal proceeding that provides individuals and businesses with relief from their debts. The type of bankruptcy filed and individual circumstances will determine what happens next. Generally, filing for bankruptcy initiates an automatic stay, which halts most creditor actions against the debtor. An appointed trustee then works with the debtor to develop a plan for managing their debts.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves selling the debtor’s non-exempt assets to repay creditors, while Chapter 13 restructuring allows debtors to develop a repayment plan over three to five years. Navigating the bankruptcy process can be overwhelming, but seeking professional guidance can ensure you achieve the best possible outcome for your unique situation.

Q: How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?
A: When considering bankruptcy, it’s crucial to weigh the costs and benefits of the process. The filing fees for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies in the U.S. are currently set at $338 and $313, respectively. 

However, additional costs such as attorney fees, credit counseling fees, and other administrative expenses could apply. Seeking professional guidance from an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you understand the full scope of costs associated with filing for bankruptcy and determine whether it is right for your unique financial situation. 

With careful consideration of all factors, you and your attorney can decide whether filing for bankruptcy is the right decision for your financial future.

Q: What does a bankruptcy lawyer do?
A: Bankruptcy lawyers provide guidance to those who seek federal bankruptcy protection. Bankruptcy is a process through which individuals and businesses can repay or eliminate some or all of their debts. Due to its complexity, filing for bankruptcy generally shouldn’t be attempted without the help of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. At Ziegler Diamond Law, our Florida bankruptcy lawyers have extensive bankruptcy knowledge and a background in consumer rights litigation.
Q: Is filing for bankruptcy in Florida the right solution to my debt problems?
A: Well, it depends. Though bankruptcy is a powerful tool, it isn’t always the best course of action for people with serious debt-related issues. Our experienced bankruptcy attorneys can tell you whether bankruptcy or some other strategy is warranted based on your personal goals and financial circumstances.
Q: If I file for bankruptcy, what can I expect?
A: The answer to this question largely depends on the bankruptcy “chapter” that you file under. If you file under Chapter 7, much (and possibly all) of your debt liability will be eliminated and you will obtain a fresh financial start in a matter of just a few months. If you file under Chapter 13, your debts will be reorganized and a portion of the debt will be repaid over a three-to-five year period. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is geared toward those who have regular sources of income and want to keep their homes, while Chapter 7 eligibility is limited to individuals with limited disposable income.

We hope our Bankruptcy FAQ was helpful! For more information about the bankruptcy process and about whether filing for bankruptcy is the most suitable answer to your financial problems, contact bankruptcy lawyer Mike Ziegler today. Ziegler Diamond Law: Debt Fighters is a consumer defense firm located in Clearwater, FL.

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