• Chapter 7 Bankruptcy FAQ

    • Do I have to list all of my credit card debt in my bankruptcy or can I can leave out a credit card?

      You must list all of your debts in your bankruptcy schedules. You may not use credit cards while you are in bankruptcy.

    • Can I keep my car after I file?

      It depends. If your car has equity or is paid off, you are entitled to claim a $1000 exemption for one vehicle. In addition, you may be able to claim additional exemption allowances for personal property. In Florida, some debtors, particularly those who do not own a homestead, may be eligible to claim additional exemptions for a vehicle. If the value/equity in your vehicle exceeds the exemption allowance, you may have to turn over the vehicle to the chapter 7 trustee or "buy back" the non-exempt value.

    • How will my credit be affected if I file Chapter 7?

      Generally, the bankruptcy filing (which is a public record) will appear on your credit report for up to ten (10) years. However, after your bankruptcy discharge occurs, it is not uncommon for creditors to offer new credit to you. Keep in mind if you decide to accept these offers, do so judiciously. In some cases, you may be able to obtain a new mortgage two (2) years after your discharge, provided you can comply with all other lending requirements.

    • Can I discharge my student loans in bankruptcy?

      At the present time, student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. However, if an "undue hardship" is proven through the filing of an adversary action (lawsuit) in the bankruptcy court and a trial before a bankruptcy judge, a discharge may be allowed. There are other non-bankruptcy options to relieve the burden of student loan debt. Discuss those with your attorney.

    • How do I know if I qualify for Chapter 7?

      To qualify for Chapter 7, you must pass the "means test." The United States Trustee has established median income criteria for all regions of the country which take into account the size of your household and your average gross monthly income for the six (6) months preceding the month of your filing. This is referred to as the "commitment period." If you are living with your spouse, his/her income will also be factored into the calculation. Other sources of income, such as rent or business income are counted, however, social security income and social security disability benefits are not. As long as your calculated income is at or below the median income, you will qualify for Chapter 7.

    • Is there a limit to how much debt I can have to stay in Chapter 7?

      No. In Chapter 7 there are no debt limits.

    • What happens at the Meeting of Creditors?

      You will appear and testify under oath before a Chapter 7 trustee as to the accuracy and truthfulness of information appearing in your bankruptcy schedules. Your creditors are permitted to appear to inquire as well.

  • Estate Planning FAQ

    • What is estate planning?

      Estate planning includes a variety of things that all of us need to consider in order to make things easy for our family members in the event of our demise or incapacity.

    • When should I start the process of planning my estate?

      You should start the process of planning your estate when you own property of any kind or have minor children you should start the process.

    • What are the key aspects or parts of an estate?

      There are three main aspects of estate planning:

      • First, planning for our incapacity.

      • Second, planning for end-of-life decisions.

      • Third, planning for our death.

    • What happens if I die without a will?

      If you die without a will in the state of Florida and you own property in your individual name the property will be distributed to your next of kin in a manner required by Florida law. Therefore, your assets may or may not end up in the hands of the people you intended it for.

    • What is a power of attorney?

      A power of attorney is a document that you allows you to appoint someone who can sign legal or financial documents (within limits) on your behalf, or make legal or financial decisions on your behalf.

    • Are there different types of powers of attorney?

      Yes, there are different types of powers of attorney. For example:

      A durable power of attorney is typically used when an individual is suffering from a mental or physical incapacity that prohibits them from signing documents or understanding documents that require their signature.

      A limited power of attorney is typically used for a single transaction, such as a court appearance, or real estate closing and can be given regardless of incapacity.

    • Do I need a declaration of healthcare surrogate?

      Yes, you need a declaration of healthcare surrogate. If you become incapacitated to the extent that you cannot give informed consent to medical treatment or procedures, the declaration of healthcare directive surrogate allows an individual, who you appoint in advance of your incapacity, who make those decisions for you as well as have access to your medical records.