Debt Legal Defense and Debt Settlement

We help get you in control of your debt with an affordable payment plan by asserting your legal rights

Whether you have been sued on a debt or you just can’t keep up, get in control of your debt with an affordable payment plan without need for bankruptcy.

6 reasons to negotiate out of debt instead of going bankrupt

Bankruptcy is an unmatched tool for getting debt under control.

Watch This Video

Having an Experienced Attorney Debt Negotiator Makes a Difference

Negotiate or reduce your debt down

You want to reduce your debt so you can make payments that will actually pay off the debt

Credit report on track

You want to get your credit report improved so you can borrow money again

Relief from debt collectors

We can help stop the harassment by a debt collection agency. They are not entitled to take an emotional toll on you, endanger their employment, create stress on family relationships or cause health issues because of their collection process.

Rebuild your
life

With you debt under control you will have the ability to start planning for your financial future again. Start living your life with stress, anxiety or the control of debt you can’t pay off.

Negotiate Affordable
Terms

  • Creditors take the Debt Fighters seriously because they know we go to court. 
  • We know the court rules, we know the legal protection, and we know the leverage points that can often move a debt settlement in your favor.
  • While the creditors will always try to get you to pay as much as they can, our job is to look out for your interest and your budget

Have Someone else manage the stress and the Courts

  • One of the hardest parts of dealing with debt is the stress.  While  you are trying to focus on your job and your family, debt collectors will push you toward anxiety and frustration.
  • The stress is even higher when the collection process moves to court.  There are a number of rules that can take a long time to learn, and if you mess up any of the deadlines, you can lose a case automatically.  Then your wages and bank account could be at risk of getting garnished.  
  • You may have to take time off from work and place your job at risk to deal with the court hearings
  • When we come in, we take over the communications with the debt collectors so you can focus on what matters most.
  • We deal with the court requirements and deadlines, and put the creditor on the litigation defensive.

Avoid
bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is an option of last resort.  But also, what most bankruptcy law firms won’t tell you is that bankruptcy isn’t always the right fit for everyone.  Particularly if:

  • Your debt balance is too low in proportion to income to justify bankruptcy
  • Bankruptcy is a bad solution because under the bankruptcy rules, the you would have to contribute more in money or assets than would make sense
  • The credit impact of bankruptcy is prohibitive, particularly if it impacts employment (like someone in the financial services industry) or housing (particularly in the first couple of years, bankruptcy limit qualification for some residential leases
  • You do not desire to file for bankruptcy because you don’t like the bankruptcy stigma, and/or you don’t want to feel like you are “giving up.”

We help people who don’t want to go bankrupt

If you don’t want to go bankrupt then we can help you reduce your debt so you can pay it off sooner

Business Owners

Debt problem-solving can be difficult for a business owner who wants to maintain their business. By filing bankruptcy, you could tie the business up in added legal obligations or risk losing the business all together. Debt negotiation can be an avenue to get business and personal debt on track, even if you have been sued.

Investors

Investors look to lending (directly or indirectly) to create their assets. But what do you do when some investments are performing, and some are not. Bankruptcy or forced-collection may result in you having to give up all of the performing investments to clear the debt. Debt negotiation may be able to offer another path.

Earners in a Family Building a Nest Egg

You and your spouse earn a decent living. But supporting a family is expensive and for whatever the reason, the debt got away from you. Bankruptcy may not be the right solution if you’d have to give up too many assets or if you’d have to commit to an expensive payment plan. There is another option.

The professional who hit a bump in the road

You have developed a career and assets, but the debt got away from you. Bankruptcy isn’t a good option – because of your income you’d be locked into an expensive Chapter 13 payment plan and it might even hurt your career. There is another option to allow you to get the debt under control.
Dear Friend:

Your debt has gotten away from you. They may have even filed a lawsuit. You feel frustrated because you can pay something toward it, but not what they are asking.

And there is something about the collection calls – when they tell you they are trying to “help you” you, you feel like they are trying to get one over on you.

Going bankrupt may be an option, but it may not be the best decision for you.

My name is Mike Ziegler. So many of the clients we have worked with have felt the same way. My firm is unusual in that we help consumers solve their debt problems both with and without bankruptcy. That’s why I want you to know there are 6 reasons why bankruptcy may be a bad option to solve your debts.

Sometimes, an affordable, professionally negotiated payment plan can be the right option to get your debts under control without affecting a job, your future living plans, or important assets.

We are experienced in helping our clients make the right decision and then follow through to implement that decision for them.

If you want to speak to someone who understands, cares and can help you solve your problem, then book a call with one of our attorney’s today.

We can help.

Mike Zieglar

The Debt Fighter Freedom Plan

Debt Reduction Analysis

We protect your consumer rights and by forcing your creditors to communicate exclusively with us. We eliminate all the calls that are causing stress in your life.

Stop the Calls!

We protect your consumer rights and by forcing your creditors to communicate exclusively with us. We eliminate all the calls that are causing stress in your life.

Fight the Debts

Get back in control of your debt when our Debt Fighter team negotiates your debt to an affordable payment plan. Hold creditors accountable if they violate your rights.

Debt Free!

The calls are over. You can rebuild your credit and your life.
Logo for Debt Fighters

What our clients say about us

Book a call with an attorney today

If you want to create a plan to solve your financial problems then book a call today and take the first step

FAQ's

Can I keep my car when I file

The short answer is “it depends, but usually yes.” Here is the longer answer: In a chapter 7 case, the trade-off for eliminating your debts is that you are limited on the stuff you can start over with. In other words, fresh start debt side, fresh start asset side. For those using Florida allowances (called “exemptions”), you are allowed to hold onto your home, $1,000 in equity in a vehicle, $1,000 in personal property, retirement accounts, and a few other categories of assets. Also if you don’t own your home, you get a $4,000 wildcard allowance. So if your vehicle equity (after substracking any loan on it) is less than the allowances, you can keep it. If its more than the allowances, you can still keep it, but you may have to pay extra.

In a chapter 13 case, you can keep all of your assets, but you commit to a payment plan.

Can I keep a credit card when I file

You have to list all of your debts when you file. You can’t selectively leave a debt off of the forms, even if you want to pay the debt. Any credit card listed is going to be closed.

If you have a card that is totally paid off, it may not have to be listed, but in most instances it will be closed anyway by the credit card company. I do not recommend making a big payment to $0 out a card right before bankruptcy in hopes that you can keep the card. A big payment on a debt shortly before a case can create complications within the bankruptcy.

When do I get my credit back?

Let me start with the bad news – bankruptcy stays on a credit report for up to 10 years.  But keep in mind that a credit report is about a lot more than bankruptcy, and when the bankruptcy process clears your debt, it gives you an opportunity to rebuild instead of being stuck with accounts that have a late balance.  

 

While each credit profile is unique, here is what we generally find:

  • Most clients have the opportunity to get better credit scores than when they started bankruptcy within 2 years, particularly if you are proactive in credit building.
  • You can get a car almost immediately after bankruptcy (but maybe with rough loan terms), you can get a credit card approximately after a year, and a mortgage after 2 years (however, these timelines vary based on income and other factors).
  • We help support the path to credit recovery by reviewing your credit report after the discharge to make sure it is accurate, and by including a subscription to a credit education class after the process is over to help identify opportunities to improve your score.

How do I know what chapter I qualify for?

While there are a number of factors that help guide us on what chapter is appropriate, the two most common are the “means test” and looking at what types of debts you are looking to address.

The means test looks at your household income as compared to the statewide median income for your household size. Its government’s way of saying that if you make enough money, you should pay at least a portion of what you owe. Particularly for married individuals, the means test is usually calculated off of both spouses’ income, even if only one spouse has the debt complications. Sometimes this rule can make for difficulties in bankruptcy options, and we might look at debt consolidation as an alternative.

The second factor we look at is what debt-problems we are solving. Chapter 7 does very little to assist with problems with secured debt, like a car loan or a mortgage that is behind.

Can I be denied a bankruptcy discharge?

Generally, for someone who meets the basic bankruptcy requirements and is filing in good faith, they will be granted the discharge unless they have done something to disqualify themselves – for example, if they committed fraud

FAQ's

The short answer is “it depends, but usually yes.” Here is the longer answer: In a chapter 7 case, the trade-off for eliminating your debts is that you are limited on the stuff you can start over with. In other words, fresh start debt side, fresh start asset side. For those using Florida allowances (called “exemptions”), you are allowed to hold onto your home, $1,000 in equity in a vehicle, $1,000 in personal property, retirement accounts, and a few other categories of assets. Also if you don’t own your home, you get a $4,000 wildcard allowance. So if your vehicle equity (after substracking any loan on it) is less than the allowances, you can keep it. If its more than the allowances, you can still keep it, but you may have to pay extra.

In a chapter 13 case, you can keep all of your assets, but you commit to a payment plan.

You have to list all of your debts when you file. You can’t selectively leave a debt off of the forms, even if you want to pay the debt. Any credit card listed is going to be closed.

If you have a card that is totally paid off, it may not have to be listed, but in most instances it will be closed anyway by the credit card company. I do not recommend making a big payment to $0 out a card right before bankruptcy in hopes that you can keep the card. A big payment on a debt shortly before a case can create complications within the bankruptcy.

Let me start with the bad news – bankruptcy stays on a credit report for up to 10 years.  But keep in mind that a credit report is about a lot more than bankruptcy, and when the bankruptcy process clears your debt, it gives you an opportunity to rebuild instead of being stuck with accounts that have a late balance. While each credit profile is unique, here is what we generally find:
  • Most clients have the opportunity to get better credit scores than when they started bankruptcy within 2 years, particularly if you are proactive in credit building.
  • You can get a car almost immediately after bankruptcy (but maybe with rough loan terms), you can get a credit card approximately after a year, and a mortgage after 2 years (however, these timelines vary based on income and other factors).
  • We help support the path to credit recovery by reviewing your credit report after the discharge to make sure it is accurate, and by including a subscription to a credit education class after the process is over to help identify opportunities to improve your score.
While there are a number of factors that help guide us on what chapter is appropriate, the two most common are the “means test” and looking at what types of debts you are looking to address.

The means test looks at your household income as compared to the statewide median income for your household size. Its government’s way of saying that if you make enough money, you should pay at least a portion of what you owe. Particularly for married individuals, the means test is usually calculated off of both spouses’ income, even if only one spouse has the debt complications. Sometimes this rule can make for difficulties in bankruptcy options, and we might look at debt consolidation as an alternative.

The second factor we look at is what debt-problems we are solving. Chapter 7 does very little to assist with problems with secured debt, like a car loan or a mortgage that is behind.

Generally, for someone who meets the basic bankruptcy requirements and is filing in good faith, they will be granted the discharge unless they have done something to disqualify themselves – for example, if they committed fraud
If you need to know when the right time to file for bankruptcy is, then we suggest meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer from The Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, PL. Under the supervision of the Federal Courts, bankruptcy can be used to dramatically restructure a consumer’s loans or eliminate them altogether. The goal of a Clearwater bankruptcy attorney is to give the consumer a fresh start to better manage their finances. Our goal is to help our clients reach financial stability.
When you find yourself in a financial crisis, you may be wondering what you can do to plan ahead. Should you sell your house? Should you move in with a friend? Would filing for bankruptcy help your situation? Many people are hesitant to file for bankruptcy because it can feel like personal and financial failure. However, bankruptcy is a great tool to use when you need to eliminate and/or reorganize debt.

Our bankruptcy lawyers at The Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, PL understand the hesitation you may have when it comes to filing for bankruptcy, but it is possible for you to plan ahead to get more comfortable and understand how the process works. We can work with you to determine how you should be budgeting, how you should time your bankruptcy filing, and to see what kind of exemptions there may be.

This may sound like something you would not need to do. Shouldn’t bankruptcy pull you out of debt once you file? However, it takes more planning than that. If you have been able to pay off some of your debt to creditors and are still actively making payments, you may no longer be required to do this after filing for bankruptcy. That now leaves you extra money to budget for yourself each month. When a creditor’s debt will be discharged, such as medical bills and credit card debts, we may encourage you to stop payments.

You may think it is good that you can pay off as much debt as possible. However, once we determine which debt will be discharged it is, frankly, a waste of your money. It is better to use that money to pay off any child support payments you may have missed or your mortgage.

  • Moving. If you are planning to move to another state, the timing for filing bankruptcy is important. If a certain state will allow you to use exemptions to keep more property when you file for bankruptcy, you want to make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for the opposite by moving to another state.
  • Bills. When you file for bankruptcy, it does not eliminate your future debt. Instead, it eliminates the debt that you have already accrued. So, if you are hoping to wipe out your medical bills but know that you still have thousands of dollars of medical bills coming in the future, you will still need to pay those. It is best to discuss any future debt you know you will have with your bankruptcy lawyer so that we can advise you on the best timing. 
Filing for bankruptcy can be beneficial if used appropriately, such as when:

  • A consumer has multiple debts that are behind
  • A consumer has lost the income to support the payments due on their loans
  • A consumer is upside down on their home loan or other secured debts
  • A consumer is being garnished
  • A consumer is on the verge of losing their home to foreclosure
While bankruptcy can provide tremendous benefits, filing without the proper guidance from a bankruptcy lawyer at The Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, PLcan be devastating. In fact, without the help of a bankruptcy lawyer in Clearwater, consumers might find themselves worse off than before!

Bankruptcy has numerous requirements under State and Federal law. Additionally, a bankruptcy petition requires a substantial amount of documentation. If the paperwork is not properly completed, a consumer may be forced to turn their property over to the bankruptcy court when they may not otherwise have been required to do so. Even worse, the consumer’s case may simply be dismissed.

Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer helps ensure your rights are upheld. You stand the best possible chance of securing financial stability with the assistance of a professional.

We have filed bankruptcy cases under both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. With years of experience as lawyers for bankruptcy, we have adequate knowledge of both state and federal regulations. During the initial meeting, we’ll determine if you meet the bankruptcy qualifications.

The content of this page is general information for educational purposes only and does not constitute as advice for bankruptcy. You can reach our law firm at (727) 538-4188. To meet with a qualified lawyer for bankruptcy insight at The Law Office of Michael A. Ziegler, PL simply fill out the form to the right or give us a call.