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Law Offices of Stephen Orchard Law Offices of Stephen Orchard

Boca Raton Debt Lawyer

Most people encounter debt problems because of job loss, divorce, serious illness, or other developments which are at least mostly beyond their control. In these situations, some families are forced to live off credit cards. Credit card interest rate is so high that this approach isn’t sustainable for more than a few weeks. Other families pull money away from secured obligations and use it to pay other bills. Lenders can legally foreclose on a house, car, or other loan after one missed payment, at least in most cases.

These families usually have lots of questions. The diligent Boca Raton debt lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Orchard have answers. Chapter 7 quickly eliminates most credit cards, medical bills, and other unsecured debt, so you quickly get a fresh start. Chapter 13 gives families up to five years to pay off excessive debt on their own terms. At your free consultation, we thoroughly review your situation and lay out your legal options.

Preliminary Matters

Most debtors qualify for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The means test applies in Chapter 7 bankruptcies. These debtors must meet income requirements. A debt ceiling could apply in a Chapter 13 case. Both kinds of debtors must complete two brief financial management seminars. These classes are usually available online.

As soon as debtors file, bankruptcy’s Automatic Stay immediately stops all forms of adverse creditor action, including:

  • Foreclosure,
  • Creditor harassment,
  • Repossession,
  • Wage garnishment,
  • Eviction, and
  • Collection lawsuits.

Creditors may only bypass the Automatic Stay in very limited situations. Usually, the debtor must directly threaten the collateral in some way (e.g. I’m going to burn the house down). The amount of delinquency, no matter how high it is, usually doesn’t allow creditors to get around the Stay.

Meeting with the Trustee

The 341 meeting usually happens about six weeks after debtors file their voluntary petitions. In a Chapter 7, the meeting with the trustee (person who manages the bankruptcy for the judge) is usually brief. The trustee verifies the debtor’s identity and addresses any possible fraud issues, such as significant year-to-year income changes or property exemption matters.

A Chapter 13 trustee’s job is much more involved. The trustee usually takes the monthly income/expense data from Schedules I and J and uses it to set up a monthly debt consolidation payment. These payments must retire all allowed claims before the judge closes the bankruptcy. Allowed claims usually include most secured debt delinquency, some unsecured debt delinquency, and administrative costs.

This meeting also gives a Boca Raton debt attorney a chance to work out possible issues with the trustee before these disputes lead to an adversarial action in court.

Bankruptcy Endgame

At the end of the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, the judge usually discharges (eliminates) most unsecured debt. The discharge order applies to the obligation, but it doesn’t affect the collateral consequences of debt.

For example, if State U is withholding Adam’s transcript because he owed tuition, State U may continue to do so, even if the judge discharges the tuition debt. Adam’s attorney must address this issue separately.

Rebuilding your credit score is an important component of a successful bankruptcy. We give former debtors the tools they need to responsibly manage credit, so their scores climb higher  month after month.

Count On a Diligent Palm Beach County Debt Lawyer

If crushing debt is a problem, legal solutions are available. For a free consultation with an experienced Boca Raton debt attorney, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Orchard. Home, virtual, and after-hours visits are available.

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