Common Bankruptcy Questions
As a leading bankruptcy firm in South Florida, we regularly field questions from members of the public. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has certainly strained the resources of many people, and we have seen an uptick in people contacting us. Below, we highlight some of the most common questions we have received.
I Lost My Job; Should I File for Bankruptcy?
This is an individualized decision. Certainly, not having income coming in the door is very stressful. Like millions of Floridians, you probably are finding it hard to prioritize which expenses to pay with your unemployment benefits.
Whether you should file for bankruptcy depends on many things. For one, bankruptcy can only eliminate certain debts. If you have a home and are in default, then bankruptcy won’t wipe out your mortgage. Instead, you should contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss whether you can modify your mortgage. Bankruptcy is good at eliminating credit card debt, medical debt, and personal loans.
Also assess the likelihood that your job will come back. If you think the odds are good, call your creditors and work out a temporary reduction or suspension in debt payment. If you are not sure if or when you’ll find work again, then you might consider bankruptcy.
Why Does the Timing Matter of when I File for Bankruptcy?
Unfortunately, people can’t file for bankruptcy every year. If you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is the quickest, you’ll need to wait at least 8 years before you can go through the process again.
Let’s say you have $10,000 in credit card bills you want to eliminate. If you file for Chapter 7 protection on June 1, 2020, you won’t be able to include the $25,000 in medical bills you might incur in July or August. If you need a personal loan after June 1, you won’t be able to include that either.
When meeting with one of our lawyers, we carefully review your past, present, and likely future debts to get a sense of when it is most advantageous to file. Believe it or not, some people should wait until they find a new job before filing. At that point, their debts are usually maxed out. However, others might benefit from filing earlier.
Won’t Bankruptcy Kill My Credit?
Generally, we see a drop of around 200 points on a person’s credit score. And a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 10 years.
Still, you need to weigh this drop in credit against the benefits: peace of mind and likely more money freed up that does not have to go to debt payment. Also, many of our clients have managed to increase their credit score remarkably in as little as 18 months.
Can Bankruptcy Save My Home?
Though bankruptcy cannot eliminate a mortgage, it can stop a foreclosure in its tracks. You also might use a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to catch up on overdue mortgage payments. Our law firm has extensive experience with mortgage modifications and foreclosure defense. Let us guide you through your options.
Contact Nowack & Olson today. You can meet with a Plantation bankruptcy lawyer for a free consultation.