Please watch the above 12 minute informative video covering the basics of bankruptcy. For more detailed information, please click here to read Chris Smith’s in-depth guide for Consumer Debtors.

For more information, go to Bankruptcy FAQ

We live in unprecedented times, where the real estate collapse, credit restraints, and high unemployment have combined to create a perfect storm of misery for families and small businesses. More than ever, decent, hard-working people are finding their financial lives in disarray, resulting not from their poor judgment but rather from events outside their control.

When facing an underwater home, lack of credit, escalating bills, and a difficult employment environment, bankruptcy could be the best legal option to obtain a fresh start. Christopher Smith is a Florida bankruptcy attorney with significant experience in this field, and he can help you.

There are many types of bankruptcy filings. It is important to look at your situation objectively, and determine which type of bankruptcy filing is best suited to your needs. For your convenience, we have created a quick comparison guide. Of course, we don’t expect you to navigate these waters alone. Please contact us to schedule your free bankruptcy consultation to evaluate your needs.

Chapter 7 Chapter 11 Chapter 13
Who can File Individuals and Businesses Individuals or Businesses Individuals only
Best Suited to Individuals with low to moderate income or the recently unemployed, with high credit card debt and/or medical bills. People facing a foreclosure who do NOT want to keep their home. Or persons with a significant amount of business debt. Businesses seeking to shut their doors and terminate operations. Businesses that seek to continue operations but have a significant amount of unsecured or junior secured debt. Individuals in the middle to upper income range that do not qualify for a Chapter 7 or 13 because of ineligibility due to excessive income or excessive assets/liabilities. Individuals in the middle to upper-middle income range. Homeowners with multiple mortgages and a home that is severely upside-down in value. Persons with significant debt AND significant non-exempt personal property, such as paid-off cars or expensive jewelry.
Pros Generally less expensive and faster. No debt limit or long-term payment plans. Effective at eliminating unsecured debt (credit cards, deficiency from foreclosure, and medical bills). Very flexible. No debt limits, no income requirements. Usually the debtor will retain the property as debtor-in-possession. Gives the Debtor some “breathing room” to reorganize. Very effective at stopping foreclosures, and allows the homeowner several years to “catch up” on any mortgage arrearage. Debtors are allowed to keep non-exempt assets in most cases. Debtors can stop foreclosure, and can eliminate certain second mortgages (such as home equity loans) if their house is worth less than the first mortgage balance. Debtors can restructure car loans to lower interest rate, and in some cases, can lower the principal balance on older car loans.
Cons Not available to high earners. Difficult to keep high-value non-exempt personal property (like paid-off vehicles or expensive jewelry). Slows down but does not stop a foreclosure. Expensive and complicated, and requires a significant commitment of time from the attorney and the debtor. Involves numerous court filings. Will require the employment of professionals to assist in the administration of the case. There are debt limits. Debtors must show regular income. More expensive than chapter 7. Requires a repayment period over multiple years.
Attorney Fee $3,000 (basic consumer case) to $10,000 (complex business case) $15,000+ (depending on time incurred) $4,500 plus $50/m maintenance fee (post-confirmation)
Filing Fee $338 $1,717 $310
Expenses Included in fee Varies Included in fee
Financing Options No, the fee must be paid in advance Yes, part of the accrued fees can be paid with future income Yes, part of the fee can be financed through the plan

SmithLaw offers Florida bankruptcy attorneys with extensive experience in debt relief proceedings.  We understand the sensitive nature of our clients’ needs regarding this legal measure, and will make sure that this process goes smoothly with as little discomfort as possible.  Christopher Smith is your local Sarasota bankruptcy lawyer.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.