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Has debt got you down? Learn about your options.

Did an accident or serious illness burdened you with medical debt? Has an extended layoff made it impossible to keep up with your financial obligations?

In years past, Florida was ranked as one of five states with the highest number of personal bankruptcy filings. While the state's rank has come down in recent years, it is still in the top 20. You have worked hard to put away money to protect yourself financially. However, unforeseen events can lead you and your family to a point where you can no longer cover your living expenses and pay your debts. There is hope.

Explore your bankruptcy options with the help of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Qualifying filers under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code can wipe out debts in exchange for surrendering certain assets. Assets that are not exempt are sold, and the funds distributed to creditors. Some assets are exempt and can include:

  • Real estate
  • Personal items
  • Motor vehicles
  • Workers' compensation and veteran's benefits
  • Alimony and child support

Chapter 12 bankruptcy

Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings are less common because they are used only by family farmers and fishermen. It allows people in these industries to restructure finances with the goal of avoiding liquidation or foreclosure on assets. To qualify, farmers and fishermen must generate "regular annual income" from the business. The statute accounts for the seasonality of these industries. The businesses must be a primary source of income, and 50 percent must be owned by a single family.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Sometimes called a wage earners plan, Chapter 13 helps individuals with steady incomes to create a repayment plan for part or all of their debts. Debtors generally present a proposal outlining how installment payments will be made to creditors. Unlike Chapter 7, debts are not cancelled. Instead, they are addressed over time, often allowing filers to keep their homes. The key to Chapter 13 eligibility is demonstrating to a court that you have a sufficient revenue stream to make repayment.

Find answers to your bankruptcy questions

While bankruptcy is not the best option for everyone who finds themselves in a financial bind, it is often a lifesaver, and it may be the only way to stop freefalling deeper into debt. In Florida, it's important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can help you make an informed decision about which bankruptcy option to choose and how to proceed. The Law Offices of George Castrataro will help you make a fresh financial start.

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