In Tampa, 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 heavily 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 Tampa, 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 Tampa bankruptcy attorney cannot be replaced.
Types of Bankruptcy in Tampa, Florida
In Tampa, 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 Tampa, Florida will be roughly the same as everywhere else in America. 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 verified, and the proceeds handed over to the creditors, the debt is perceived 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.
Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Tampa, 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 longer period of time, thereby 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. Although it can be used by individuals, Chapter 11 bankruptcy is used almost always 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.
During the Chapter 11 process, a business can usually continue its operations, and the stock can be traded, even if it is de-listed from a major stock exchange.
How Can a Tampa Bankruptcy Lawyer Help?
The decision to file for bankruptcy in Tampa is not one to be made easily, and it definitely should not be made without first obtaining the advice of an experienced Tampa bankruptcy attorney.