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Orlando Bankruptcy Law Blog

Florida developer files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Florida residents may at times find themselves facing difficult financial situations. They are often overwhelmed by debt and struggle to make ends meet each month. Many consider filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a means to regain financial stability in their lives. A former Orlando developer in such a situation recently filed for personal bankruptcy.

The developer, who now claims almost $23 million in liabilities, once rose to success in 2007 when he started buying numerous properties in Orlando. His business acquisitions soon expanded into other areas in Florida, as well as Georgia and Louisiana. He employed 70 people at one time.

Home foreclosure activity in Florida highest in U. S.

According to a recent report, Florida is tops in the nation. However, in this report, first place was not the ranking Floridians would have chosen for their state. In the past year, Florida led the nation in home foreclosure activity. Studies show that 12 percent of all foreclosures completed in the country occurred in Florida. While Florida had the highest level, the number of foreclosures actually declined in the last 12 months.

Foreclosure activity is declining nationally as well. Experts attribute this trend in part to steady growth in home prices. This appreciation in home prices has increased the amount of equity owners have in their homes. This has resulted in more stable financial positions for homeowners and, subsequently, fewer defaults in their mortgages.

Interest can hurt as much as the actual credit card debt

Florida ranked fifth in the nation in a recent financial survey. According to the survey, consumers in the state have the fifth largest average balances for credit card debt in the country. In addition to the high balance levels, the amount of interest associated with a credit card can often be staggering.

To help consumers control debt and better manage interest payments, financial experts have offered advice. One of the first steps they suggest is to research the cards available and understand the terms and conditions. Many consumers have a sense of obligation to their financial institution, but they may miss out on a lower interest rate elsewhere.

Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be turning point for some

Some Florida residents may be struggling with the decision to file for bankruptcy. As they do so, it may help to understand that there is a potential "bright side" to filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to the author of a 2016 book. The author, a consultant and small business owner, filed for both personal and business bankruptcy. but chose to focus on what she could learn from the process and making positive changes to her life.

In the book, the author does not shy away from sharing the struggles she experienced through her divorce and financial failure. However, she deemed the ordeal to be a hidden blessing. As a result of her filing, she says she became much more familiar with economic issues and business matters in general.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy one option for debtors

Bankruptcy laws in some form or fashion have been in place in the United States for over 200 years. Our Constitution even addresses the subject of bankruptcy, and Congress has passed the Bankruptcy Code. Florida and every other state has at least one judicial district established for bankruptcy. While the law details six basic types of bankruptcy, two types are more common for individuals in the midst of financial difficulties. These are Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also referred to as a liquidation proceeding since the non-exempt assets in a filer's estate are liquidated into cash, then distributed to creditors. Certain exempt assets may be retained, according to the laws of the state where the filer resides. However,  a "means test" must first be passed in order to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Relief may not be available if the filer's income level is over a certain level.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees could be watching your Facebook

Many Florida residents post pictures of themselves on Facebook that put them in an exotic location or in front of a flashy car. Some appear to be wearing expensive jewelry and sporting wads of cash. These photos might make for a good joke, but if an individual filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, the photos could cause trouble with the court.

Part of a Chapter 7 trustee's duties is to ensure that a filer is not hiding assets that he or she does not want sold to pay creditors. Thanks to social media sites like Facebook, the job got much easier. However, what some trustees do not count on is that the individual sometimes fakes the pictures.

Florida ranks 5th in credit card debt burden

While the reasons are many, the result is often the same. Loss of income, medical bills or inattention to the family budget can skyrocket the family's credit card debt. This excessive credit card debt has become a serious problem for many Florida families.

Recent reports indicate that Florida currently maintains fifth place when looking at which states carry the greatest debt burden. The average Florida resident carries a credit card balance in excess of $5,500. With a median state income of just over $28,000, this credit balance amount is concerning. If one were to pay 15 percent of his or her income towards this debt, it would take an estimated 18 months to pay it off. However, if one were to only make the minimum monthly payments, it would take over 12 years to pay off.

Should you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy jointly if you are married?

Of all the questions you and your spouse might ask prior to filing, this is more than likely not one of them. Like many Florida residents, you might not even be aware that you and your spouse are not required to file jointly. Where it is true that there are numerous advantages to filing with your spouse, you might receive more benefit from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy by filing individually.

Filing together saves money on filing fees, but it also provides certain protections to your spouse as well. Filing individually when you have joint debts opens up your spouse to owe the entire amount of the debt. If you took out the debt with your spouse, creditors do not care that you no longer owe the debt. They will expect payment from your spouse if he or she did not file bankruptcy as well.

How to recognize and stop creditor harassment

Have you accumulated enough debt for collectors to come after you? Do they call you repeatedly and threaten you? You may think that your level of debt makes you deserving of such abusive behavior. The truth is that no matter how much you owe and to how many lenders, there are certain actions you should not have to endure and that are also outright illegal. Learn how to recognize and eliminate creditor harassment so you can resolve your credit issues in peace.

Repossession: The ultimate harassment by your creditors

Like many other Florida residents, you could be experiencing financial difficulties that make it nearly impossible to pay your bills each month. You are more than likely enduring harassment by your creditors for payment. If a creditor is threatening to repossess an asset such as your car or motorcycle, it might be time to file for bankruptcy.

The automatic stay put into place upon filing a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition stops all collection activities of your creditors, including repossession. However, it only does so temporarily. If you want to keep the asset, you will need to become current on your payments and enter into a reaffirmation agreement with the creditor.

Paul Urich
Orlando Office

Law Office of Paul L. Urich, P.A.
1510 East Colonial Drive
Suite 204
Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: 407-896-3077
Fax: 407-896-3041

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