In Fort Myers, Florida, bankruptcy is a court procedure in which a person or business has some or all of their debts cleared (or "discharged"), theoretically allowing them to begin with a clean slate, and move on with their lives no longer drowning in debt (and hopefully having learned to better manage their use of credit in the process). However, bankruptcy should not be treated as a way to avoid debt that one simply doesn't feel like paying. It is meant to be a safety net for people or businesses who are honestly unable to pay off their debts. Because bankruptcy is not without negative consequences (such as a heavily damaged credit rating for many years afterward), it should be viewed as an option of last resort.
Accordingly, you should speak with a good Fort Myers, Florida bankruptcy lawyer. Your Fort Myers bankruptcy lawyer can inform you of the costs and benefits of filing for bankruptcy, and give his or her professional advice as to whether or not it's a good option, given your individual circumstances.
Types of Bankruptcy in Fort Myers, Florida
In Fort Myers, Florida, 3 types of bankruptcy procedures are in common use: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. Being governed by federal law, the procedures involved in filing for bankruptcy in Fort Myers, Florida will be roughly the same as everywhere else in America. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidation of many of the debtor's assets in order to pay off as much of the debt as possible. This sounds harsh, but there is an upside: once the liquidation is complete, the debts are legally viewed as having been paid in full, whether or not the full amount was covered by the liquidation. Liquidation involves selling some personal property, and using the funds to pay off debt. Varied types of property are exempt from liqudiation, and therefore may not need to be sold. They include homes, cars, and insurance policies, among others. You should know that some types of debt cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including taxes, student loans, and child support.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Fort Myers, most of the debtor's debt is not discharged. Instead, the bankruptcy court, working with the debtor and participating creditors, work out a payment plan that allows the debtor to pay off most of his or her debts over a prolonged period of time, thus theoretically making the debt far more manageable. Once a payment plan is approved by the court, creditors are prohibited from attempting to collect payment under their original agreements that gave rise to the debt in the first place. Though accessible to individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is generally used by businesses. Like Chapter 13, Chapter 11 requires the restructuring of debts. Under this system, the debtor must come up with a plan to reduce debt, cut costs, and improve operations. Once this plan is presented, it is submitted to the participating creditors, who must approve it by a majority vote before it can be implemented.
One major advantage of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it allows businesses to continue their operations while the process plays out. Additionally, their stock can still be bought and sold.
How Can a Fort Myers Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The need to consider all the options and consider the costs and benefits of applying for bankruptcy in Fort Myers cannot be overstated. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it would be a good idea to speak with a Fort Myers bankruptcy attorney beforehand.