Tampa Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
Sinking into debt is one of the worst financial crises any person could ever face, especially when the remaining option for you is to use your properties to pay for your dues.
When it comes to filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will need all the help that you can get.
Oldham & Smith is a leading bankruptcy firm serving people in Tampa from all walks of life. We understand the gravity of overwhelming debt is on a person’s life.
If you can’t wait to get rid of your debt and get your life back on track, we are ready to provide the best Tampa, FL Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney at your service.
Call Oldham & Smith at (352) 747-8681 for your Free Consultation.
Understanding Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a legal court process typically involving the discharge of an individual’s debts, generally through the liquidation of their nonexempt properties. The general goal of people who file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to have a fresh start for their lives by getting rid of their debts in contrast with other bankruptcy chapters wherein an individual still has to pay the money he owes to settle his remaining debt.
Depending on the case, people may lose certain assets in the process as they are used to paying for outstanding debts. The types of property that can (nonexempt) and cannot (exempt) be taken away are indicated in Tampa’s exemption laws. The court assigns a trustee to assess your property and determine which and how many of your properties can be sold to reach a value that can pay back your debts.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Process
The rigorous process of Chapter 7 bankruptcy will cost money, time, and effort. At Oldham & Smith, we highly recommend getting a bankruptcy attorney to help you deal with the entire filing process with an expert on your side. From the means test to your 341 meetings, we are here to provide you with excellent legal services.
Eligibility: Means Test
The filing process begins by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy at one of Tampa’s three bankruptcy districts—northern, middle, or southern—depending on where you live. But for the court to decide that you are eligible to file for bankruptcy, you must pass the means test. This test intends to sort those who need to file for bankruptcy and those who do not.
Before the means test, the court and the trustee will check if your average salary is above or below the national median. Several factors are considered alongside the average salary, primarily your family size and your spouse’s salary in some cases. If your income is below the median, you are eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. Otherwise, you will need to continue with the means test.
The means test involves rechecking your income with allowable deductions and investigating any fraudulent intentions on your part. A complex process of computation must be done on your income statement. If you have an experienced attorney specializing in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your chances of passing the test can increase, as they can use several sources of information, such as bankruptcy laws, census data, or the IRS code, to help your case before the court.
If your income still goes beyond the median, you can still pass the test by providing sufficient evidence that you have no presumption of abuse. This can be in the form of certain financial situations like a recent one-time bonus or a job loss. In any case, your Tampa Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney from Oldham & Smith is dedicated to helping you get the bankruptcy filing that you deserve.
1. Credit Counseling Course
The first step is completing and receiving a certificate from an approved credit counseling agency 180 days before filing your bankruptcy. The U.S. trustee’s website lists all approved credit counseling agencies, including the ones in Tampa.
The official filing process begins by submitting a formal petition accompanied by a compilation of required documents, including your assets, liabilities, debts, income, and expenses, among others.
Specific information includes, but are not limited to, a list of your creditors, the amount of each debt you have, the amount and frequency of both you and your spouse’s income streams, a list of all your properties including personal objects, and a list of all your family’s reasonable and necessary expenses every month.
Listing and compiling your documents can be a very painstaking process. To avoid being prone to mistakes and missed information, Oldham & Smith’s Tampa Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys can guide you through this entire grueling process.
Once the petition is approved, and the bankruptcy is filed, the court will grant an automatic stay on all your debts and properties. An automatic stay is an order that prohibits creditors from pursuing any debt collection process on the debtor, including all foreclosures, phone calls, lawsuits, and salary garnishments, even if they are already scheduled to happen.
3. Meeting of Creditors
Also called the 341 meeting, the meeting of creditors is a scheduled appointment typically involving only the debtor and the trustee. Under oath, the debtor must answer all the trustee’s questions regarding his financial situation truthfully. Within 90 days, the creditors must then file proof of claims to the court.
After every document has been filed and settled, the trustee will begin collecting your nonexempt properties to sell or auction them. The proceeds will go to the repayment of your debts. To have a grasp on which properties are considered exempt and to have them protected, it is ideal to get a Tampa Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney who can focus on your case and get the best results for you. Oldham & Smith can offer lawyers who specialize in Chapter 7 bankruptcy and all its technicalities, providing stellar legal services to get your life back on track in no time.
Top-Notch Legal Services for Bankruptcy Filing
It is perfectly allowed to handle bankruptcy cases as a Pro Se Debtor or a person who files bankruptcy without a lawyer. However, 2019 numbers show that the amount of people who handle their bankruptcy cases without an attorney is low, and the success rate for those who do it is also not ideal. A bona fide Tampa Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney from Oldham & Smith can provide great advantages to your case.
With a bankruptcy lawyer by your side, you can expect to have better, smoother, and faster handling of your case. The paperwork in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be overwhelming, considering that you need to carefully account for all your financial information and properties in front of the court with a risk of perjury.
An attorney can also handle creditors whenever necessary. They can represent you in negotiating with your creditors or trustee to ensure that your properties are well-valued in the market. Whenever certain creditors fail to cease their collection, your attorney can also handle the demand for compliance or even ask the court to hold the creditor in contempt.
All in all, your Tampa Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney from Oldham & Smith will make sure that each move you make in your bankruptcy case is the best one for your interests. We are ready to thoroughly explain your filing’s current situation so you can decide the best options. We can even provide options for you other than a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in case our assessment concludes that another type of bankruptcy is a better fit for you. With our top-notch legal services, your bankruptcy case can be very much smoother and yield better results.
Let’s Talk – Free Consultation
Are you interested in our services? Or perhaps you have specific questions and concerns? At Oldham & Smith, we begin our services with a free consultation with one of our top Tampa Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys. We want to hear your case closely and together, we can decide which steps would be the best for you to take. Call us today and let us help you get your life back on track.
Call Oldham & Smith at (352) 747-8681 for your Free Consultation!