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How to File Bankruptcy Yourself

It's no secret that as our economy dangles through the doldrums; individuals will continue to seek financial solutions to troubled-times - such as how to file bankruptcy. Thousands of Americans are turning to bankruptcy and many of those who do choose are choosing to file bankruptcy for themselves. "How to File Bankruptcy" is a popular subject on the Internet, libraries, and elsewhere. "How to File Bankruptcy Yourself" is also a popular topic among consumers who are seeking to save money by filing bankruptcy themselves.

To review debt relief alternatives to bankruptcy in Florida and to get a free debt relief analysis and savings estimate, simply answer a few online questions. It's free and there's no obligation.

This article addresses these important - money saving, finance saving topics. It will share the basic ins and outs of self-directed bankruptcy filing, the various dynamics to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, and will touch briefly on Chapter 11 Bankruptcy - which is generally applies to businesses rather than individuals.

As bankruptcy becomes a viable alternative - in some cases the only alternative - for many financially-strapped Americans, it's important now more than ever - for those choosing to go it themselves - to take all the proper steps. Failure to do so could be costly - in time, money, and peace of mind.

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The Bankruptcy Means Test

Beginning in 2005, and following the passage of new bankruptcy laws, came the Bankruptcy Means Test. Favored and lobbied by credit card companies who believed many people were choosing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - not out of real desperation and need - but more because choosing not to pay debt seemed easier and less problematic. Lawmakers, in turn, came-up the Means Test - an 8-page questionnaire regarding income and expenses - aimed at determining whether individuals had enough money, resources and the ultimate means to actually pay off their debt - not to simply declare and/or choose bankruptcy.

The Bankruptcy Means Test also functions as a measurement tool which helps to determine the potential -- on a case-by-case basis -- of bankruptcy system abuse. Its objective and aim seeks to mitigate or lessen such abuse system-wide. If a person fails to meet the eligibility requirements as determined by the Means Test, they can be directed towards Chapter 13 re-organization, which as we'll address below, allows creditors to receive a partial payment of monies and debt-owed.

Means Testing begins with Form 22A for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filers and 22C for Chapter 13 filers. Calculations will need to be made on both forms deriving information from personal records, Census Bureau and IRS-sourced data. Instructions and directives when filling out any government form must be followed exactly. Failure to do so could result in timely and potentially expensive delays.

For a review of debt relief alternatives to bankruptcy in Florida and to get a free debt relief analysis and savings estimate, simply answer a few questions online.

Bankruptcy Forms

Paperwork is part of life and part of bankruptcy. Twenty forms make up the total bankruptcy mix and it is feasible for you to navigate these forms yourself, if you're properly prepared. Being organized is paramount, so having the available personal and financial information handy and complete will make the process measurably easier, less time consuming and complete. A bankruptcy petition consists of the petition itself and the various schedules which define to the court a person's debts, assets, income, expenses and possible plans for the property and assets in question. In addition to the Means Test discussed above, here's the remaining forms you'll need to have handy.

  • Voluntary Petition
  • Mandatory Credit Counseling
  • Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments
  • Summary of Bankruptcy Schedules
  • Schedule A - Real Property
  • Schedule B - Personal Property
  • Schedule C - Exemptions
  • Schedule D - Secured Debts
  • Schedule E - Priority Debts
  • Schedule F - Unsecured Non-Priority Debts
  • Schedule G - Executory Contracts & Unexpired Leases
  • Schedule H - Co-Debtors
  • Schedule I - Current Income of Individual Debtor(s)
  • Schedule J - Current Expenses of Debtor(s)
  • Debtor's Statement of Intention: (Chapter 7)
  • Statement of Financial Affairs
  • Creditor Matrix
  • Statement of Social Security Number
  • Certification of Personal Financial Management Course

To download the above bankruptcy forms, visit: Bankruptcy Forms

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - How to File

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is best suited for individuals with a large amount of unsecured debt. The bulk of debt will be paid through a trustee, using available non-exempt assets which qualify. Pending successful procedural flow, all remaining debt is positioned for and subject to discharge. When a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed, creditors are stopped from all collection efforts. Bankruptcy laws vary from state to state. So if you're filing Chapter 7, 11 or 13 in Florida, exemptions and certain procedures will vary from that of other states. It's important to note that Federal bankruptcy exemptions are not available in Florida.

Here's a list of what qualifies for exemption in Florida:

Homestead

Homestead applies to modular or mobile home with no limit on property value. The property may not exceed one-half acre in municipally (city) zoned areas, with exemption limits higher in rural areas - topping out at 160 acres. Spouses and children of a deceased owner are also permitted to claim homestead exemption. Property, deemed as a primary residence or held in tenancy, also qualifies for exemption of debts owed by only one spouse.

Automobiles

Motor vehicles are exempted up to a $1,000 maximum in value.

Wages

Head of Family is allowed a weekly maximum wage exemption of up-to $100 and up-to $500 six-month wage exemption allowed for unpaid or paid wages deposited into a bank account. Federal employees are allowed to exempt pension payments used for support and received 3-months prior.

Personal Property

Up to $1,000 is allowed for personal property exemption. Florida allows husband and wife to double the amount. Property which is considered a business partnership is also exempted.

Other

Child support, alimony, and funeral contract deposits also qualify for exemption in Florida.

To review debt relief alternatives to bankruptcy in Florida and to get a free debt relief analysis and savings estimate, simply answer a few online questions. It's free and there's no obligation.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy - How to File

Chapter 11 is primarily a re-structuring and re-organization of debt, not a discharge of debt. It has a tendency to be more complex in process than 7 & 11. Chapter 11 is intended primarily for businesses choosing to file but can be used by individuals if they meet the following criteria:

  • Business must be a corporation, partnership or LLC
  • Entity may not be a government entity.
  • Asset/liability schedule filing is submitted
  • Financial statement filing is submitted
  • Asset sales must occur prior to filing
  • Cash collateral if creditors agree. Must have court OK to do so.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy - How To File

A widely used chapter of the bankruptcy code for individuals, Chapter 13 is commonly referred to as the "wage earner's plan". It helps debtors with both secured debt - mortgages and automobiles, and un-secured debt - credit cards and other types of revolving debt. This chapter features re-organizing and re-structuring, allowing a person to pay off portions of debt. Debtors are given a period of time ranging from 36 to 60 months to satisfy a portion of debt. Essentially, the individual is allowed to "catch-up" on debt payments and can - depending on case specifics and court permission to do so - have large portions of outstanding debt discharged (forgiven). Similar to Chapter 7, once filing takes place, all collection and re-possession efforts and process initiated by creditors must - by law - cease immediately.

How to File Bankruptcy Online

If you choose not to enlist the services of an attorney, those persons opting to file bankruptcy themselves may accomplish significant amounts of the process, online. Filing itself cannot be done online, but many third-party services are available online that will speed-up the process while reducing overall bankruptcy fees and costs, normally charged by an attorney. These services typically prepare submissions and paperwork and reduce clerical time and expertise many people filing don't have. It's important to find and use a reputable service with a known track record of success.

It's important to point out that online and paralegal services are not allowed - by law - to furnish legal advice. Remember, bankruptcy can be a challenging and difficult process, so the assistance of an attorney may be advisable.

Other Debt Relief Options

Residents of the Sunshine State, choosing - even thinking about bankruptcy - should prior to filing, examine the advantages of other debt relief options. Bankruptcy is clearly not for everybody and every situation. Deciding on a correct and optimal strategy to eradicate staggering debt is a process demanding careful attention, thought and advice.

Find out what debt relief alternatives to bankruptcy are available for you and the amounts of money you could save and debt you could reduce or retire completely via a structured plan.

For a review of debt relief alternatives to bankruptcy in Florida and to get a free debt relief analysis and savings estimate, simply answer a few questions online.

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