Tampa Bankruptcy Lawyers

Tampa Bankruptcy FAQs

Filing for bankruptcy in Tampa is a complicated process, and it is only reasonable that you would want to know as much as possible about what you are getting into.

We want you to be as informed as possible about your Tampa bankruptcy options. To help make this information more accessible, we have simplified the explanations to some of our most frequently asked questions.

What is the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?
Chapter 13 allows the debtor to keep a valuable asset, such as an estate, and make payments to creditors over time – usually three to five years. In Chapter 7 cases, a trustee collects the assets of the debtor's estate, reduces them to cash, and makes distribution to creditors, according to the debtor's right to retain certain exempt property and the rights of secured creditors. Because there is sometimes little or no nonexempt property in a Chapter 7 Tampa bankruptcy case, there may not be an actual liquidation of the debtor's assets.

Who can file for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?
To qualify for relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code, the debtor must be an individual, a partnership, or a corporation. Any individual, even if self-employed or operating an unincorporated business, is eligible for Chapter 13 relief as long as the individual's unsecured debts are less than $290,525 and secured debts are less than $871,550. A corporation or partnership may not be a Chapter 13 debtor. An individual is restricted from filing under any chapter, if during the preceding 180 days, a prior bankruptcy petition was dismissed due to the debtor's willful failure to comply with orders of the court or due to the debtor voluntarily dismissing the previous case after creditors sought relief from the bankruptcy court to recover property upon which they held liens.

Who can I include in my Tampa bankruptcy?
You should list every one of your creditors. This includes taxes, child support, student loans, credit cards, medical bills, utilities, mortgages, car loans, finance companies, credit unions, etc. Some may not be discharged, but you should list them all.

What is an automatic stay?
Filing a petition under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 "automatically stays" actions against the debtor and the debtor's property, such as foreclosure, repossession, garnishments, collection calls, etc. Creditors usually receive notice of the filing of the petition from the clerk, and they are restricted from trying to collect from the debtor as long as the stay is in effect.

What is a trustee?
Upon the filing of either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 petition, an impartial case trustee is appointed by the United States trustee to monitor the Tampa bankruptcy case. The Chapter 7 trustee will determine whether there are any nonexempt assets and will liquidate these assets for the benefit of creditors. The Chapter 13 trustee administers the payments under the plan.

What is the meeting of creditors?
The meeting of creditors is a required, administrative hearing which allows the Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 trustee to ask the debtor questions regarding all debts, assets, and finances.

What is the confirmation hearing?
The confirmation hearing is where the judge reviews a Chapter 13 debtor's proposed repayment plan. Following the court's approval of the plan, the trustee will begin making payments to the creditors who have filed claims in the case.

What is a discharge?
A discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for certain specified types of debts and prevents creditors from taking any form of collection action on the discharged debts. In most Chapter 7 Tampa bankruptcy cases, the debtor receives a discharge just a few months after filing for bankruptcy. In Chapter 13 Tampa bankruptcy cases, the court grants the discharge following the debtor's successful completion of all payments under the plan.

Although a debtor is relieved of personal liability for all debts that are discharged, a valid lien (i.e., a charge upon specific property to secure payment of a debt) that has not been avoided (i.e., made unenforceable) in the Tampa bankruptcy case will remain after the case. Therefore, a secured creditor may enforce the lien to recover the property secured by the lien.

Are all debts discharged?
Not all debts are discharged, and the debts that are vary under each chapter of the Tampa Bankruptcy Code. Additionally, Section 523(a) of the Code outlines the specific categories of debts that Congress has determined to be non-dischargeable for public policy reasons. Non-dischargeable debts must be repaid after bankruptcy.

Does the debtor have a right to a discharge?
In Chapter 7 cases, the debtor does not have an absolute right to a discharge. An objection to the debtor's discharge may be filed by a creditor, by the trustee in the case, or by the United States trustee. A creditor who desires to object to the debtor's discharge must do so by filing a complaint in the bankruptcy court before a specific deadline. In Chapter 13 cases, the debtor is entitled to a discharge upon completion of all payments under the plan.

May a debtor pay a discharged debt after the bankruptcy case has been concluded?
A debtor who has received a discharge may voluntarily repay any discharged debt even though it can no longer be legally enforced. Sometimes a debtor agrees to repay a debt because it is owed to a family member or because it represents an obligation to an individual for whom the debtor's reputation is important, such as a family doctor.

Will filing for bankruptcy in Tampa affect my job?
A governmental unit or private employer may not discriminate against a person solely because the person was a debtor, was insolvent before or during the case, or has not paid a debt that was discharged in the case. The law provides express prohibitions against the following forms of governmental discrimination: discrimination with respect to hiring, the termination of an employee, and the denial, cancelation, suspension, or refusal to renew a license, franchise, or similar privilege. The law also restricts private employers from discriminating with respect to employment if the discrimination is based solely upon the bankruptcy filing.

What do I need to do to be sure my Tampa bankruptcy case succeeds?
The bankruptcy laws are designed to help you, but you have to follow the rules. Failure to show up for a hearing or make all necessary payments may result in your case being discharged without completion. You must be sure to disclose all assets and income, and you will be required to complete credit counseling as well. As long as you are honest throughout the proceedings and follow the advice of your Tampa bankruptcy lawyer, you can be confident in the outcome of your case, as Clark & Washington has an extremely high success rate.

What are the court filing fees?
Presently, the court charges a fee for filing Chapter 7 of $335.00. The court's filing fee for Chapter 13 is $310.00. The final attorney’s fees for Clark & Washington will depend on the specifics of your case. We take the time to each know each client and case before determining exact pricing.

How do I get started?
Call our office at (813) 345-5954 to set up a FREE consultation with one of our Tampa bankruptcy lawyers.

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