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The Florida Economic Situation
Recently the Wall Street Journal published a summary chart depicting each state’s 2008 performance in (1) GDP, (2) home prices and (3) jobs, and Florida ranked worst over-all with respect to the three components. Bankruptcies filed in 2008 hit record levels with nearly 68,000 in Florida alone, and over 94% of those filed by consumers. It is estimated that 1.4 million consumer bankruptcies will be filed in the U.S. in 2009, the surge triggered by the foreclosure crisis and economic downturn.
Investigating the Florida Bankruptcy Process
The Federal Bankruptcy Law involves processes, procedures and evaluations which can be complex and confusing, including major revisions made in 2005. Seek the advice of an attorney/law firm with specific long-term experience in Florida bankruptcy matters. Check references, if possible. A competent attorney will help you weigh your different options, make informed decisions, help you protect the security of your family and reduce your stress, while facing the realities of the situation.
Contact your creditors to try to work out payment arrangements that you can manage. Contact the non-profit Consumer Credit Counseling service to get help with a manageable repayment plan. Sell as many assets as you can and pay down your debt to a manageable level. Debt consolidation may be considered, but approach this option with caution to make sure it actually helps your situation.
The Most Common Consumer Bankruptcy Choice in Florida
Chapter 7 is the “fresh start” chapter of the Bankruptcy Code and most commonly used. This filing results in a fair distribution of your available nonexempt property to creditors. Unsecured debts are generally discharged. Included in this process is a “means test”, used to determine your ability to pay your creditors, verifying whether Chapter 7 is appropriate or indicating that you should be filing Chapter 13. Median Family Income by Family Size and current poverty guidelines are factors evaluated when determining appropriate filing status for a given situation.
Some Debts Will Not Be Discharged in Your Florida Bankruptcy:
Next Steps for the Florida Bankruptcy Filer
Floridians continue to suffer, as the State’s economy struggles to recover. If you are considering bankruptcy, decisions you make and actions you take can have a positive or negative effect on the outcome of your bankruptcy proceedings. Although some filers elect to handle their bankruptcy on their own, The U.S. Bankruptcy Court warns that “Bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences - hiring a competent attorney is strongly recommended.” Click here to find Florida attorney resources in your area.