How To Find A Good Florida Bankruptcy Attorney

When you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel you may be in the market for a bankruptcy attorney in Florida. Over 930,000 people filed for bankruptcy in 2014. When you can’t make ends meet or pay your bills each month, when you keep falling behind no matter how hard you work, you may want to contact a Florida bankruptcy attorney.

You will need to decide which kind of bankruptcy you need before you begin looking for a bankruptcy attorney. Most people file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which wipes out consumer debts but not back taxes, alimony, child support, or student loans. Chapter 7 bankruptcy eliminates medical bills, civil judgments, overdue utilities, payday loans, credit card debt and various other consumer loans. Chapter 13 bankruptcy re-organizes your finances and allows you to pay off your debts in 3-5 years; the court will put a “stay” on actions from creditors so they can’t bother you or file against you. Chapter 13 protects you from foreclosure, repossessions, lawsuits, wage garnishment and harassment. You can usually keep cars and your home and you will be able to pay everyone off honorably but at a schedule more suited to your financial state.

Once you’ve decided on the type of bankruptcy you need, you must realize that bankruptcy is a complicated process and if it’s not done correctly, your application can be rejected or you can lose things you could otherwise keep if you don’t choose the right Florida bankruptcy attorney. You should first ask family, friends, and co-workers if they have a bankruptcy attorney they can recommend. Then you can look in the phone book or on the internet to acquire some names.

Once you have a list of 3-5 attorneys, you should check with the bar association to see if they are in good standing or if they have a record of disciplinary actions. Avoid those who have been reprimanded. Check their names with the American Bankruptcy Institute and the NACBA (National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys). NACBA offers a lot of resources for people who are considering bankruptcy because of debts.   These two organizations can guide you to attorneys who are specialists in bankruptcy law.

You should then do an internet search on the names and weed out those whose clients are dissatisfied or accuse them of deception. Read news articles about them; many times you can ascertain how a Tampa or St. Petersburg bankruptcy attorney treats his or her clients by how the articles read.

Another aspect of choosing a bankruptcy attorney in San Diego is deciding if you want to retain a large firm with many attorneys or a small one or two attorney office. Large firms often have their own research department and investigative departments that can help in your bankruptcy. However, a small firm can give you more individual attention, spend more time answering your questions, and be more reassuring if that’s what you need.

Once you have checked the credentials and reputations through professional organizations of a few attorneys, it’s time to make some calls and ask about consultations; most bankruptcy attorneys will gladly offer a free 15 minute or half hour consultation to see if the two of you are a good fit. You can discuss whether the fees are on an hourly basis or if they charge a flat fee. If your case involves a lot of research you may want to opt for a flat fee.

Finally, don’t feel ashamed of filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy does not mean you are lazy, a bad money manager, or dishonest. Most people who file for bankruptcy have done everything they can to live within their means and pay their obligations. The financial climate in the past few years and the prospects in the future practically ensure that millions more will be forced into bankruptcy against their will—you have plenty of company.

Finding a bankruptcy attorney in Florida is the first and most important step in recovering from financial disaster. A good bankruptcy attorney can help you get back on your feet and protect your interests, now and in the future.

At What Point Should You Decide To File For Bankruptcy?

If you are in financial distress, you have a lot of company. Many people find themselves searching for a bankruptcy attorney in Florida but at what point should you consider such a drastic step?

What Bankruptcy Will Do For You

Once your bankruptcy attorney files your papers in court you will be protected from your wages being garnished, harassment by creditors, foreclosure on your home, repossession of your property, and judgments pending against you.

Bankruptcy will not free you from your obligations to pay court ordered child support or spousal maintenance although it may provide some leverage to have those awards temporarily reduced. It will not free you of your obligation to repay student loans or back taxes.

If you’ve been trying to work with your creditors and they are unwilling to make arrangements that you can manage, bankruptcy will help settle your debts or erase them.

When Should You Consider Bankruptcy?

If you have very large debts that you can’t possibly repay, you might want to consider bankruptcy. Not everyone with massive credit card debt, the most common kind these days, is irresponsible. Most dig that particular hole during a crisis when they use their cards to get by in an emergency. They lose their job or have a medical emergency and use their credit cards to survive. Like quicksand, this survival method is more often a trap than a way out. The interest rates charged by credit cards almost guarantees that you’ll spend decades paying off a debt that, without interest, would take 5-7 years!

Generally, the older you are the more likely it is that bankruptcy will help solve your financial problems. The more dependents you have, the greater the amount of non-dischargeable debt, or if you have little in the way of retirement accounts or savings the greater the indication that you will benefit from retaining a Florida bankruptcy attorney.

Is Bankruptcy My Best Option?

Bankruptcy has some pretty harsh consequences. It can ruin your credit rating but if you have been struggling with meeting your obligations, chances are good that your credit score has suffered drastically anyway. The bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for seven years and affect your rating.

Sometimes you can pay off your debts without bankruptcy if your creditors will work with you. Begin by adding up all your monthly expenses like mortgage, car, utilities, food, etc. Do you have enough to live on? If so, you should then total up your debts like credit cards, medical bills you’re paying, and other obligations. Could you pay all of it off within 3 years with the money you have available after living expenses? Be sure to figure in the interest on those debts if applicable such as credit card interest.

Can you increase your income, reduce expenses, or sell assets other than retirement funds to help pay your debts? (You should never liquidate your retirement funds!) If not you might consider going to a consumer credit counselor that is endorsed by the BBB. They can often intervene with creditors and negotiate low or no interest rates, affordable payments.

If these preventative steps are impossible, you should contact a good bankruptcy attorney. He or she can present your options and help you file if that’s what you decide to do. A bankruptcy attorney can help you through the process so that you can come out of bankruptcy with a fresh start.