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protect-money-umbrellaAs 2016 comes to an end, the 2017 Tax Season will begin. Federal law requires that all employers provide their employees with their W2s no later than January 31st, so that federal income taxes may be filed by April 18th. Bankrate predicted in 2015 that thirty percent of the public who would receive a 2014 tax refund would use that refund to assist them with lowering their debt and that many of this thirty percent would use their tax refund to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. This statistic has remained unchanged for many years.

The most advantageous benefit to using your tax return to help you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is that using your tax refund to fund your bankruptcy allows you to use your refund in an essential and reasonable manner. When you use your tax refund in an essential and reasonable manner such as filing bankruptcy, then your tax refund most likely will be protected from your creditors and well spent. Continue reading →

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home-in-foreclosure-thumb-250x166-2941When the foreclosure crisis began, many Jacksonville Foreclosure Defense Attorney’s argued that a mortgage foreclosure action must be brought within five years after the borrower defaulted on their mortgage payments. However, time and time again the Foreclosure Judges in the Jacksonville and surrounding areas ruled that mortgage foreclosure actions were not barred by Florida’s five year statute of limitations as defined by Florida Statute 95.11(2)(c). Yet, the Florida Supreme Court had not spoken on this matter until now.

The Florida Supreme Court has finally spoken and confirmed that Florida’s five year statute of limitations, which is a question of great public importance, defined by Florida Statute 95.11(2)(c) does not apply to mortgage foreclosure actions. The decision came on November 3, 2016 in U.S. Bank v. Bartram; SC14-1265 (Fla. Nov. 3, 2016). The certified question before the Florida Supreme Court answered is as follows:

Does acceleration of payments due under a residential note and mortgage with a reinstatement provision in a foreclosure action that was dismissed pursuant to Rule 1.420(b), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, trigger application of the statute of limitations to prevent a subsequent foreclosure action by the mortgagee based on payment defaults occurring subsequent to dismissal of the first foreclosure suit?

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As a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Lawyer I have had many clients come to me to file bankruptcy with many misconceptions about bankruptcy. Because of these misconceptions, clients often put off filing bankruptcy until they have absolutely no other option. Yet most of these misunderstandings are false. Here are the most common misconceptions my clients have had about filing bankruptcy. In fact, after reading this filing bankruptcy might not seem as scary of a process.

1. Credit:

The most common misconception I have heard about filing a Jacksonville Bankruptcy is that filing bankruptcy ruins your credit and you will never be able to get credit again. This notion is absolutely false. However, it is true that a bankruptcy filing can appear on your credit report for up to 10 years. However, this does not necessarily mean the bankruptcy will hurt your credit rating. In reality, filing bankruptcy most likely will only help improve your credit score. The reason that filing bankruptcy will help improve your credit score is because your credit score is most likely already ruined by the time you file bankruptcy. Therefore, filing bankruptcy will likely not do any more damage to your credit report. Instead, filing bankruptcy helps to improve your credit report by taking away your credit card balances, stopping all of the negative credit reporting and finally giving you the opportunity to start improving your credit report.

If you file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy you can even obtain new credit during your Chapter 13 Plan. You will just have to obtain permission from the court first. If you file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, then you might find that you receive many new credit card offers in the mail in no time after receiving your Bankruptcy Discharge. This is because you no longer have any debt and are seen as a good candidate for credit by credit card companies. But, keep in mind these credit card offers aren’t going to have the best interest rates. However, over time, as long as you pay your credit card on time each month, you will improve your credit score and will be able to get a credit card with a good interest rate in the future. Continue reading →

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debtWhen thinking about filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Jacksonville, Florida, not knowing or understanding the Jacksonville Bankruptcy Process can make filing bankruptcy seem very overwhelming and scary. Not only are Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorneys asked about what to expect after filing bankruptcy; they are also asked what clients should and should not do before filing for bankruptcy. In order to help you better understand the Jacksonville Bankruptcy Process, please see below for a general timeline of events you should be familiar with.

6 to 8 Years Before Filing a Jacksonville Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:

If you filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy before AND received a discharge of your debts, then you will not be eligible to file a new Chapter 7 Bankruptcy before eight years after you filed your previous Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

If you filed a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy AND received a discharge, you might be able to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy after six years if you paid a minimum of 70% of your unsecured claims.

1 Year Before Filing:

Your Bankruptcy Trustee can look back as far as one year for debts paid back to relatives or close business partners. What this means is that a payment made to a relative or business partner could be construed as a preferential payment over your other creditors. If this should happen, the Court could take the payment back from them in order to distribute it evenly to all of your other creditors.

This same concept holds true if you have tried to hide your assets from your creditors by transferring, destroying or hiding any of your property within one year of filing Bankruptcy. In this situation, the Trustee might deny a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharge and/or recover the property.

However, your Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney may prefer that you wait two years to ensure there are no issues when you do file. Continue reading →

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One of the best benefits of declaring a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Jacksonville, Florida is the ability to “Cram Down” certain assets such as a car loan, certain real estate debts, or even some personal property. A cram down allows debtors to lower the principal balance and interest rates on debts they owe on secured debts. A Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney can help you determine if any of your debts might be eligible for a cram down through bankruptcy.

So how does an asset qualify for a cram down? First, the debt must be a secured loan. A debt is a secured loan when a lender has a security interest in the asset or collateral. This interest grants the lender certain rights to the asset, such as the right of repossession of the item if the debtor defaults on his or her payments. The most common type of security interests are found in cars and houses.

A cram down can occur when a person declares a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Unlike a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, this type of bankruptcy requires that the debtor pays back his or her debts through a repayment program, which lasts 3 to 5 years.   It is important to note that a person’s homestead property does not qualify for this benefit. Continue reading →

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Police are currently investigating a loan modification and debt consolidation business in Florida. The owners supposedly presented themselves to clients as attorneys but were not licensed attorneys at all. The Boca Raton company claimed to be an industry leader in foreclosure and pre-foreclosure litigation in South Florida.

According to authorities, the two men convinced homeowners to stop paying their mortgages and to ignore notices from their mortgage holders to let them negotiate with the lenders. The scheme tricked homeowners into paying high upfront monthly legal fees for legal services that were not performed or supervised by a Florida attorney.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has also filed a lawsuit against these networks of fraudulent attorneys for the unlicensed practice of law.   Bondi claims the network, which held itself out to be a group of 100 attorneys, posed as lawyers to take advantage of vulnerable clients.   The people behind the scheme also duped inexperienced young attorneys into working for them, and the defendants even used real names of actual Florida attorneys without their knowledge. Continue reading →

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Law bookAgainst common belief, filing bankruptcy can be a very easy process; especially if you are filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Knowing what to expect when filing bankruptcy as well as hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney are the keys to making it as easy of a process as possible. The goal of this article is to inform you of what to expect when filing bankruptcy.

Regardless of whether you are planning to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the beginning of the process is very similar. If you choose to hire an attorney, which I strongly encourage you to do, the process begins with an initial consultation in which you and your attorney discuss your reasons for filing bankruptcy, your income and household size, as well as your assets. Depending on your goals, income and assets, you and your attorney will discuss the pros and cons of filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy verses a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and together come up with a plan that is unique to your specific set of circumstances.

Once you have decided which type of bankruptcy you will be filing, the next step is to gather the documentation your attorney will need in order to prepare your bankruptcy petition. Your attorney will let you know what he or she will need, which differs depending on your specific set of circumstances. Once your attorney has all the documentation he or she will need for your petition, an appointment is set for you to meet with your attorney again in order to review your bankruptcy petition for completeness and accuracy. Once the petition has been reviewed and signed by you, your attorney will file it with the court and you are then automatically assigned a bankruptcy case number. Continue reading →

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To begin, it is important to point out that there are some very important differences between an individual bankruptcy and a corporation bankruptcy. When a corporation files a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the corporation WILL NOT receive a bankruptcy discharge. The bankruptcy discharge is what tells your creditors you are no longer liable for the debt you owed them. This means that the corporation will still be liable for all debts not paid off when the bankruptcy estate has been fully administered and closed. The other major difference to take note of is that corporations are not allowed any exemptions. This means a corporation cannot protect any of its property like an individual can. An individual is afforded very specific exemptions, or protections, for certain types of property or assets up to a specified dollar amount.

You are now probably wondering why a corporation would ever file for bankruptcy? Well, under certain circumstances, it may make a lot of sense for a corporation to become bankrupt. Continue reading →

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Protect_thumbSection 529 of the Internal Revenue Code allows parents to set up education savings accounts for their child’s future college expenses. In Florida, these educational savings accounts are most commonly known as Florida’s Prepaid College Fund or Florida’s 529 Savings Plan. These types of plans can only be established for a child, stepchild, grandchild or step-grandchild and set up in the name of the person establishing the account (for example the parent or grandparent of the child) and the funds belong to that person.

When filing bankruptcy, this means the person who established the prepaid college fund for must disclose the fund in their bankruptcy petition as an asset. I am sure you are now wondering whether or not you will loose the prepaid college fund if you have to file bankruptcy, since it must be disclosed. The answer is, it depends. There are Federal and Florida specific exemptions for these types of accounts. If the exemption applies, then the funds should be safe from your creditors and you will get to keep it if you find yourself in the dire position of having to file for bankruptcy.

In Florida, Florida Statute 222.2 defines Florida’s exemption of assets in qualified tuition programs as:
Continue reading →

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Many people who are considering filing for bankruptcy have life insurance policies and do not want to loose them by filing bankruptcy. However, your life insurance policy may not actually be considered a part of your bankruptcy estate or, if it is considered a part of your bankruptcy estate, there might be an exemption that will allow you to protect it. Whether your life insurance policy will be considered a part of your bankruptcy estate first depends on what type of life insurance policy you have. The second big consideration is who the beneficiary is on your life insurance policy. There are two main types of life insurance polices, Term Life Insurance and Whole Life Insurance, which we will discuss in turn.

Term Life Insurance:

Term Life insurance is life insurance that does not have any cash value while you are alive. Instead, upon your death it will provide proceeds to your designated beneficiary. In other words, it does not mature until your death. Thus, Term Life Insurance is not considered a part of your bankruptcy estate, because there is no “cash value” for your bankruptcy trustee to administer and provide to your creditors.

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