City of Jacksonville Florida

Should I file for bankruptcy?

Should I file for bankruptcy?

“Should I file for bankruptcy?” is a question more and more Floridians are asking themselves.  This is true even though recent reports indicate that unemployment figures are lowest since the market crashed in 2008.  CNN, FOXNews, and Bureau of Labor Statistics are all reporting that unemployment rate has finally fallen to below 6%.

This is a shock to many Floridians because many are still struggling from unemployment or under-employment.  The years of 2008 – 2013 saw an unprecedented spike in bankruptcy filings.  Many Floridians just decided to “bite the bullet” and go ahead and file bankruptcy because they knew or felt that they could not get a fresh start otherwise.

Yet other Floridians persevered and continued to look for jobs and find a way out of the financial mess that the market crash left them in.  These Floridians spent their entire life savings, cashed out retirement accounts, and sold off assets – all in an effort to bounce back.  Unfortunately, for most of these Floridians, they were just “putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg.”  Job prospects didn’t turn around.  Mortgage and credit card companies didn’t work with you.  And now they are left further behind and left with less than those Floridians who filed during the crash.

Filing a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy may allow you to get the fresh start you’ve been putting off.  The Law Offices of Keith D. Collier offer some of the lowest fees in the state of Florida for each chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Call or email the Orlando, Jacksonville, or Daytona Law Offices of Keith D. Collier today for your free phone or in-office consultation to file bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Security Clearance

Bankruptcy Security Clearance

Will I lose my security clearance if I file bankruptcy?

Can you lose your clearance? Yes. Will you? Likely not.

I have practice bankruptcy law here in Florida since 2003 and in Florida we have a lot of military bases and military personnel. These personnel either are active military or work directly for the government or through a company that has been hired by the government. Each has a security clearance of some sort. In this time I have never had a client who filed chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy lose their clearance by filing a bankruptcy. Most clients tell me that they have no chose. They either file bankruptcy and discharge the debt or reorganize their debt under chapter 13 or they are sure that with all the negative things they have on their credit and the amount of debt they have they will surely lose their clearance.

The circumstance leading up to the bankrupt have a lot to do with your ability to keep the clearance. During the background check / security clearance review you need to explain the circumstances that lead to the filing. This is your chance to show that they circumstances were beyond your control such as spousal job lose unexpected medical expenses. Click here for a related article.

General Rule: Bankruptcy Security Clearance & Background Checks

The general rule that I have followed is bankruptcy security clearance is long as you are filing the bankruptcy before the security clearings background check has started you will likely not lose your security clearance. Now I’m not telling you to file a few days before the security clearance starts. In a perfect world I would say file chapter 7 and get a discharge before it starts. Chapter 7 general takes 3-6 months to complete. In chapter 13 you are in for 3-5 years so I advise filing the bankruptcy at least 3 months before the security clearance background check begins so that you can show you have reorganized and taken care of the issues.

The Government just wants people working for them that are not stressed out and worried about their financial problems. If you file chapter 7 you take the worry away. In chapter 13 the worry is also taken away and under control. Happy employee = productive employee.

The best advice I can give is to talk to the JAG department, your superior officer or HR department before filing. Then if you feel comfortable about filing do it before the background checks start.

Ask Yourself these 2 Questions?

Would you want to hire or work with someone who owed over $30,000.00 in debt plus had a looming foreclosure about to take place or a person who just filed and completed a chapter 7 bankruptcy and was debt and worry free?

Do you think you have a better chance of passing the background check with a bankruptcy or with your current financial situation?

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

What can Chapter 13 Bankruptcy do for you?

Stop Repossession / Stop Foreclosure / Modify a Mortgage

Chapter 13 bankruptcy has several different variations to it depending on your facts. Each case is generally different and the results or options available for every client can vary. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is generally referred to a reorganization of your debts. In short it takes each debt and categorizes it into different groups. Each group has different rights and can be treated differently.

Priority debts have to be paid in full during the term of the chapter 13 bankruptcy. The chapter 13 bankruptcy can be between 36 and 60 months long. Examples are child support, state and federal taxes / IRS, alimony and wages.

Secured creditors are either paid in full, paid at a reduced value, surrendered back to the creditor or left alone depending on the type of debt, if you are in default and terms. Examples are car, home or furniture loans.

General unsecured are debts that are not priority or secured. Examples are medical, credit cards and signature loans.

 Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Mortgages

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is most commonly used to save homes from foreclosure. It allows a person to stop the lawsuit / foreclosure and reorganize the loan. It does this by stopping all penalties and interest on the back payments or arrearages and allowing a person to pay this arrearage current over a 3 to 5 year period while making your regular monthly mortgage payments.

If the mortgage has ballooned or come due it will allow you to pay the entire loan of over a 5 year period.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Mortgage Modifications

Chapter 13 bankruptcy has also been modified in recent years to allow a person to stop a foreclosure and force the mortgage company into a mediation program set up by the courts. This also a person to present income and expenses to the mortgage company and try and work out a medication of the loan. The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can’t force the mortgage company into a medication it can only force them into mediation. This has been very successful and even though result may vary we have seen everything form principle and interest rate reductions to 40 year mortgage created under the modification program. even for mortgage that are behind 2-4 years. The best results are seen when a client actively participates in the modification program and supplying the documents and information in a reasonable time period. Most denials are caused by the client just not participating or loosing income.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Vehicles

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is also use to save vehicles that are behind. It allows a person to stop the repossession and start paying the lender back for the car over a 3-5 year period generally at a reduced interest rate. If the car was purchased more than 2.5 years before filing the chapter 13 bankruptcy it can be crammed dawn to the NADA replacement value or if it was refinanced at any time.




Payment Plans For Attorneys Fees In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Payment Plans For Attorneys Fees In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Most Bankruptcy Law Firms will not allow clients to make payments on the fees and cost of a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Our firm will. We allow the client to pay a portion of the fees and cost prior to filing. Other firms claim to allow payment plans but they will hold the case until all the fees and cost are paid.  Please see our fee section

Also when we quote fees we are including the actual cost to file. A lot of firms give quotes that include only their fees and not the actual court filing fee. Which is $335.00 and goes up every couple of years. We also include credit reports and credit scores in our fees.

Rebuilding Credit

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Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Save Home

Save Your Home with Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Now that the housing market is rebounding and home prices are on the rise, it’s time to think about saving that house that you might have given up on.  MSN is reporting that home prices around the country are uniformly rising.  This is good news for homeowners EVEN IF YOU ARE BEHIND IN PAYMENTS OR EVEN IN FORECLOSURE.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy with the Law Offices of Keith D. Collier can help you to save your house from foreclosure and turn it back into an investment.  Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is what is referred to as “Reorganization” Bankruptcy.  In a Chapter 13, you have one monthly payment that usually covers:  your monthly mortgage payment, any back payments on your mortgage, past due homeowner association dues, your car payments, any back taxes or child support.  You may even be able to obtain a modification of your current mortgage.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

As compared with Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy typically results in better treatment from potential creditors/lenders in the future.  After all, who would you rather lend money to?  Someone who discharged all their debt in Chapter 7 OR someone who paid back some of their debt in a Chapter 13?  That’s not to say that Chapter 7 is not without its benefits – it all depends on your specific situation.

That is what the Law Offices of Keith D. Collier can offer you – a specific solution tailored to your individual situation.  We are not a “one size fits all firm”.  We perform a careful analysis of your facts and desired goals and then recommend a realistic, cost-effective course of action that will lead you to success.  Call the Law Offices of Keith D. Collier today for a free in-office or phone consultation.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Unprotected Property

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Unprotected Property

Keeping Your Unprotected Property in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

While the majority of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases filed by the Law Offices of Keith D. Collier contain assets that are completely protected, occasionally a case arises where there are not enough “exemptions” or asset protections to fully protect the asset from the Chapter 7 Trustee. These asset remain unprotected by any exemptions. = Unprotected Property

For example, you have the following property that you own outright:

2010 Ford F-150 valued at $10,000.00 (per N.A.D.A.)

Household Goods and Furnishings valued at $1,000.00

Clothing valued at $500.00

Bank of America checking account valued at $250.00

Total Assets – $11,750.00

Minus Your Exemptions – $6,000.00

Equals $5,750.00 in unprotected assets.

This $5,750.00 is not lost. We negotiate what is referred to as your “buyback” of your unprotected property.  Instead of the Chapter 7 Trustee coming to your house to load up $5,750.00 worth of unprotected assets, they will usually allow you to just get on a payment plan with them to all you to keep your non-exempt assets.

The Trustee is a person appointed by the court to liquidate your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Unprotected Property.

Depending on how much debt you stand to eliminate, whether you are being sued by a creditor or having your wages garnished, this may be the deal of the century.

At the Law Offices of Keith D. Collier, we use the most advantageous asset protections available to you to maximize your property protection.  Then, if there’s any unprotected property, we fight hard for you to minimize the amount of your buyback with the Chapter 7 Trustee.  Call the Law Offices of Keith D. Collier today for a free in-office or phone consultation to discuss how we can help you.

When Can I File Bankruptcy After Moving To Florida?

When Can I File Bankruptcy After Moving To Florida?

A lot of clients call our office asking “When can I file Bankruptcy after moving to Florida? In Florida you can file bankruptcy after moving here from another state after 91 days has passed. But you will have to use the exemptions of the state you lived in the last 2 consecutive years. Generally this is a good thing because most state has better exemptions than in Florida.


Exceptions are what we use to protect assets and or property.  See our asset blog

Bankruptcy Rule


Client moved to Florida in January 2014 and it’s now August 2014. 6 months have passed or more than 91 days. They are now eligible to file in Florida. The moved from Texas and they lived in Texas for the last 3 years. This means we will use Texas State exemptions or Federal if Texas has a residency requirement.  If they had lived in Texas for less than 2 years then we would find out what state they moved from last and if they had lived in that state for 2 or more years. Keep doing this until you find a state they resided for 2 or more years and look up the exemptions for that state.

Protecting Assets in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Protecting Assets in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

“Exemptions” or asset protections are used in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases to make sure you keep as much of, if not all of, your property.  Exemptions allow you to shield your property from your creditors and the Chapter 7 Trustee.  While exemption laws are usually straightforward, filing bankruptcy after recently moving from state to state can present questions of which state’s exemption laws you are entitled to use.  Normally it doesn’t matter, but in many cases, it can be the difference between losing a home, vehicle or savings account.

At the Law Offices of Keith D. Collier, we pride ourselves on staying on the cutting edge of developments in the bankruptcy code both here at home in Florida and across the country.

For example, if you just moved here from New Jersey after having lived in New Jersey all your life, you would be entitled to use either the New Jersey exemptions OR the federal exemptions but you would NOT be entitled to use Florida exemptions.

This may not sound like a major issue at first glance, but consider the following scenario:

You have a $15,000.00 vehicle that you own outright.  If you accidentally elect to use Florida exemptions, you will have at least $9,000.00 worth of equity in that vehicle that is UNPROTECTED.  Unprotected property has to be turned over to the Chapter 7 Trustee unless you (or your attorney) can negotiate a deal to allow you keep the property.  This is referred to as a “buyback”.  Click here to learn more about “buybacks”.

However, if you use the federal exemptions that you are entitled to, not only would your entire vehicle be protected, you would still have thousand and thousands of extra dollars worth of exemptions to protect other property as well.

At the Law Offices of Keith D. Collier, we review each case to ensure that the most beneficial exemptions that are available are used.  This way, you maximize the amount of asset protection you receive so that you’re Bankruptcy process is simple and low-cost.  Call the Orlando, Jacksonville, or Daytona Law Offices of Keith D. Collier today for a free in-office or phone consultation.

Protecting Assets in Bankruptcy

Protecting Assets in Bankruptcy

When you file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, it is sometimes referred to as “Liquidation Bankruptcy”.  ”Liquidation” is when goods or assets are sold off to create cash that can then be distributed evenly among your creditors whose debt you are eliminating.  However, in most Chapter 7 Bankruptcies, the person filing the bankruptcy (the Debtor) never loses a single asset.

This is due to the use of “exemptions” or asset protections.  In Florida, you are usually allowed up $6,000.00 worth of general asset protection for assets that are owned outright.  $1,000.00 of this $6,000.00 needs to be used on a vehicle or it is lost.

That means that if you have a car that is owned outright and it is worth less than $5,000.00 (value is usually determined using the N.AD.A. guide), then you won’t even risk losing your car. However, if your car is worth more than $5,000.00, then further analysis is required.

For example:

You have a 2010 Ford F-150 valued at $10,000.00.

You still owe the folks at Ford $11,000.00 for the loan on this vehicle.

Since there is no “equity” or value that exceeds what you owe, you have nothing that you are required to protect.

Now let’s take that same vehicle but say you only owe $7,000.00 on the vehicle.

A value of $10,000.00 minus an outstanding debt of $7,000.00 leaves $3,000.00 in equity that must be protected if you are to keep that vehicle.  In this situation, you could use half of your exemptions and still have another $3,000.00 left over for the rest of your personal property.

The bottom line is that in most Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases with the Law Offices of Keith D. Collier, our clients never lose a thing.  Its all about planning and timing and making sure you’re getting the most out of the exemptions that the Bankruptcy Code allows you.  However, exemption law is not always clear and straight forward, especially if you recently moved to Florida.  For a discussion about using out-of-state exemptions, click here.

For a free in-office or phone consultation, please call the Law Offices of Keith D. Collier now.  We are here to help you.