Alachua: 352‑225‑3920 | Broward: 954‑423‑4469
Alachua: 352‑225‑3920 | Broward: 954‑423‑4469
Serving Northern, Middle & Southern Districts Of Florida

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: Saturday, April 25, 2020

Why Do I Need To Hire A Bankruptcy Attorney?

Anyone contemplating bankruptcy is already facing a dire financial crisis that causes understandable stress. Further, filing for either personal or business bankruptcy can be a complex process, which can increase such stress. Our job as your attorneys is two‑fold. First, we do our best to explain to you step‑by‑step what is and will be happening, which hopefully reduces the natural stress you may feel. Second, as experienced legal professionals, our role is to address the entire bankruptcy process (the bankruptcy court, your bankruptcy trustee and your creditors) in a methodically confident yet cautious manner. It entails much more than simply standing in front of a judge to proclaim your insolvency and that you have exhausted all other options in resolving the balances on your mortgages and credit card accounts. Missteps in this process can have dire consequences, so our knowledge and experience let us avoid the pitfalls that can befall an unrepresented debtor. At the same time, honest debtors who fully disclose the facts and circumstances that led to the bankruptcy filing are almost always treated fairly and respectfully by the courts and trustees. So as your advocate we aim to make it clear to the world you are that honest debtor, fully deserving of the relief that the bankruptcy laws can provide.

The entire objective of bankruptcy is to begin turning your life around, not to add more problems. Self‑represented petitioners put themselves in jeopardy, not only of having their case dismissed, but they also risk the forfeiture of assets that may otherwise have been protected with the guidance of a qualified, compassionate, and experienced Bankruptcy Attorney from our firm. Whether you have questions regarding a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Ms. Salkin and her staff have more than three decades worth of experience upon which to draw for the answers you need. Our firm will keep you apprised of all of your options ‑‑ as well as what to expect along the path to regaining your financial freedom.

What Is A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

This is the most commonly filed type of bankruptcy and is often called a "liquidation bankruptcy." In order for individuals to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, they usually must qualify through a means test which balances their household income and expenses. For instance, there is a maximum annual income ceiling which you must not exceed. When you sit down during your initial consultation with an attorney from The Salkin Law Firm, P.A., we will let you know the amount your salary cannot surpass ‑‑ as well as what forms of income are exempt from inclusion. Also, in cases where the majority of your debts arise from the operation of a business, the means test can be avoided altogether.

Ms. Salkin and her staff understand that it is not always the case that irresponsible spending and careless budgeting led to the need for an individual bankruptcy filing. We are tireless advocates for our clients. We never judge anyone and we know that downturns in the economy and unexpected family emergencies can quickly drain hard‑working people of their savings. If one of these scenarios sound familiar, then a Chapter 7 filing could give you the fresh start in life you so desperately need.

Filing for Chapter 7 protection results in the forgiveness of your liabilities and debts such as: credit cards balances, repossessions, foreclosures, civil judgments, personal and payday loans, and medical bills, to name just a handful. Our office has been helping people throughout the State Of Florida for more than three decades. We have the experience and legal savvy to help regain your financial freedom.

Does Filing For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Mean I'll Lose Everything?

Many people fear the worst when it comes to a bankruptcy filing, but the answer to this question is almost always "no." Florida and federal law provide a host of exemptions that protect assets in bankruptcy. Most of the clients we have counseled through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing end up retaining a vast majority (if not all) of their possessions. There are separate exemptions for both motor vehicles and personal property to which every filer is permitted to claim. Retirement funds such as IRAs and 401Ks are also subject to strong protections, as are many other assets and income streams that Florida residents may rely upon (disability and Social Security payments being just two examples).

One of our attorneys will be happy to explain these exemptions when you come to our Fort Lauderdale or Gainesville offices for your free initial consultation. Luckily, Florida has one of the most progressive laws in the country when it comes to protecting residential real estate, and we will be happy to similarly detail the exemptions to which you may be entitled if you are a homeowner. To fully understand all of the exemptions to which you may be entitled, it is critical to consult with one of our attorneys.

Only an attorney who knows all of the intricacies and minutiae of current bankruptcy law can properly guide you to ensure the very best possible outcome is achieved in your case.

How Will A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Impact My Credit Score?

Typically, people who have completed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing report that their credit scores hover in the mid‑600s within two years' time after the discharge of all of their debts. As there are three major credit bureaus, and none has ever publicly disclosed the formula they use to generate credit scores, there is no concrete answer to this question.

However, it's important to remember that all of the negative information that had been affecting your credit score will eventually disappear and your credit report will refresh with a bankruptcy filing. In the short term, a bankruptcy filing eliminates the debt load you have been carrying which can make you a more attractive borrower than the overburdened, distressed debtor you were before filing your bankruptcy case. Even with a credit score around 650, chances are very good that you will be able to secure an auto loan as well as new credit card accounts from some lenders. The best course of action is to pay off your balances every month (thereby also eliminating the accrual of any interest charges) as using a high percentage of your available credit lowers credit scores.

We want to hear from you. If there's a bankruptcy‑related question on your mind that you'd like to see the firm address on a future FAQ page, kindly e‑mail us! We'll review all submissions and try to address as many as possible to help better educate the Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville communities about the process of bankruptcy.