One of the first questions a bankruptcy client asks us is how long does it take – “what is the timeline for a bankruptcy in Florida?” Although every client and every case is different, we can provide some answers to this question.
In bankruptcy you are required to file written disclosures of your financial history, assets, liabilities, debts, income, assets, etc. Our staff will guide you in completing the intake form, and collecting the financial documents and records that are required. Then, utilizing this data, we will prepare your bankruptcy filings. It usually takes a few weeks for a client to provide us with the completed intake form, and to send us the documents and records that we use to analyze the data and prepare the required bankruptcy forms. Todd reviews the bankruptcy schedules with you prior to filing the petition.
Emergency Bankruptcy Filings In South Florida
In emergency situations we can move as fast as necessary. For instance, in filing a bankruptcy case to stop a foreclosure sale, we file a “Minimum Requirements Filing,” sometimes called a “skeletal filing.” This abbreviated filing can be prepared very quickly if necessary, and will stop a foreclosure sale.
We are required to file the remainder of the bankruptcy schedules, etc. within 15 days of the original filing. In either case, you must complete credit counseling prior to filing bankruptcy. We can help you schedule credit counseling.
Chapter 7 Cases
The first key date is the filing of your bankruptcy case, also known as the filing of the petition. You are immediately protected by a federal injunction called the “automatic stay.” This stay protects you from the filing or continuation of lawsuits against you. It also prohibits creditors from either calling you or sending demand letters.
Your case is assigned to a Chapter 7 Trustee. We assist you in providing financial records required by the Trustee. These records include
- tax returns
- bank account records
- retirement account records
- rent, mortgage and utility bills
- etc (we’ll advise you)
Meeting of Creditors
About 5 weeks from the filing of the petition you must attend the Meeting Of Creditors. Todd attends this meeting with you. At this meeting the Chapter 7 Trustee asks you questions about your bankruptcy filings, financial records, and financial history. Most of these meetings do not take very long.
Required Course in Financial Management
You are also required to complete an internet course in personal financial management in order to receive your Chapter 7 Discharge. We can help you schedule this course. In the great majority of cases your work is then done!
The court will issue your Chapter 7 Discharge showing that you have cancelled your pre-bankruptcy debt! Some cases may be more complicated, and in those instances Todd will guide you. For instance, the Chapter 7 Trustee (or a creditor) can file an objection to your exempt property. In addition, the Chapter 7 Trustee (or a creditor) can object to your discharge. These challenges must be filed by certain deadlines, and Todd will guide and defend you in the event that any such challenges are filed.
Chapter 13 Cases
Chapter 13 Cases (Adjustment Of Debts Of An Individual With Regular Income; sometimes call wage earner plans) have several similarities to Chapter 7 Cases.
- You receive the protection of the automatic stay, and are required to by provide specific financial records to the Chapter 13 Trustee.
- You are required to complete credit counseling, and the course in personal financial management.
- In addition to filing the same schedules that are filed in Chapter 7, you must file a Chapter 13 Plan.
- In this plan you disclose the payments that you will make to your creditors, including your mortgage lender, car payments, the IRS, credit cards, etc.
Duration of a Chapter 13 Plan
Most Chapter 13 Plans have a duration of either 3 years or 5 years.
Meeting of Creditors
Like Chapter 7 cases, you must attend a Meeting Of Creditors about 5 weeks after the bankruptcy case is filed. Objections to the confirmation (approval) of your Chapter 13 Plan must be raised at or before the Meeting Of Creditors. Objections to exempt property must be filed within 30 days of the Meeting Of Creditors. Objections to your discharge, or the dischargeability of certain debts, must be filed within 60 days of the Meeting Of Creditors.
The Confirmation Hearing takes place about 45 days after the creditors meeting. Todd attends this meeting; you are not required to attend. Many Chapter 13 Plans must be amended to address the objections of the Chapter 13 Trustee and/or creditors, so it is not uncommon for the Confirmation Hearing to be continued at least one time.
In some cases we seek to modify a mortgage in the context of a Chapter 13 Case (Mortgage Modification Mediation). If the modification is achieved it must be approved by the court, and the Chapter 13 Plan must be amended to reflect the modification of the mortgage. Some Chapter 13 plans must be amended even after confirmation by the court. This is known as “modification of the Chapter 13 Plan.” One example of the need to modify a confirmed plan is when a mortgage payment is changed due to either a change in the interest rate, or the escrow. You do not receive a Chapter 13 Discharge until you complete all the plan payments.