In Key West, Florida, bankruptcy is a court procedure in which a person or business has some or all of their debts excused (or "discharged"), theoretically allowing them to start 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 truly unable to pay off their debts. Because bankruptcy is not without negative consequences (such as a severely damaged credit rating for many years afterward), it should be viewed as an option of last resort.
Therefore, it is a good idea to talk with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Key West, Florida. They will be able to advise you on the likely legal and financial consequences of filing for bankruptcy, and help you determine if it's the right option for your. Because this determination depends heavily on the facts of each individual case, the counsel of a Key West bankruptcy attorney cannot be substituted.
Types of Bankruptcy in Key West, Florida
There are 3 bankruptcy schemes that are normally used in Key West: Chapter 7, Chapter 13, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, so the procedures in Key West, Florida are very similar to what they will be anywhere else in the United States. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the debtor to liquidate some of his or her assets in order to pay off as much debt as possible. Once the sale of the assets is complete, and the proceeds handed over to the creditors, the debt is viewed as discharged. Liquidation is basically selling assets to the highest bidder. Not all of the debtor's assets will need to be sold, and many types of property are totally or partially exempt, including homes, cars, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. This means that the debtor can keep them. It should be noted that some types of debts are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including student loans, criminal fines, taxes, and child support payments. Even when the bankruptcy process is complete, these debts will have to be paid in full.
The other normally used bankruptcy system in Key West is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This allows a debtor to repay most or all of their debts in a structured manner. It reorganizes the debt into lower periodic payments that, with a bit of frugality, the debtor should find manageable. This allows the debtor to continue to earn a living, and allows the creditors to eventually collect what they are owed. Once a repayment plan is approved by the bankruptcy court, creditors are legally barred from seeking repayment under the terms of the agreements that gave rise to the debt in the first place, and will instead have to accept payment under the new plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is usually a better option for people who have a steady income. Although it can be used by individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is used almost exclusively by businesses. Not unlike Chapter 13, Chapter 11 focuses on restructuring of debt, rather than discharging it. Chapter 11 requires that the debtor come up with a reorganization plan designed to reduce debt and cut costs. Before being implemented, this plan must be approved by a majority vote of participating creditors.
While going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a business can continue operations, and its stock can continue to be traded.
How Can a Key West Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
One should not make the decision to file for bankruptcy in Key West lightly. Before making any such decision, it would be highly advisable to contact an experienced Key West bankruptcy attorney.