According to the United States Bankruptcy Code there are 6 types of bankruptcies, called chapters :

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1 FAQ Bankruptcy What does bankruptcy mean? Bankruptcy is a legal procedure that allows people to legally avoid their debts or reorganize their financial obligations through a payment plan. How many bankruptcy types are there? According to the United States Bankruptcy Code there are 6 types of bankruptcies, called chapters : Chapter 7 (Liquidation); Chapter 9 (Adjustment of debts of a municipality); Chapter 11 (Reorganization); Chapter 12 (Adjustment of debts of a family farmer or fisherman with regular annual income); Chapter 13 (Adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income); Chapter 15 (Ancillary and other cross-border cases). The types that are most frequently declared are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. How do I know what type of bankruptcy I should file: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13? The answer depends on the financial situation of each individual. Chapter 7 consists of debt liquidations; this means that the person filing for Chapter 7 will liquidate all of his or her debts. Chapter 13 consists of an adjustment of debts of an individual; the difference between Chapter 7 is that one are obligated to pay one s secured debts (i.e. mortgage) and occasionally a portion of one s unsecured debts (i.e. credit cards), by entering into a 3 or 5 year payment plan approved by the court. In general, most people qualifies to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy; however, not everybody qualifies to file a Chapter 13, because one must have a regular and sufficient income to pay at least one s secured debts according to the payment plan. How do I know if I need to file bankruptcy? It is difficult to know what the appropriate moment to file bankruptcy is. However, there are some important signs that could be telling you that you need to file for bankruptcy. Some of these signs are: You cannot make the minimum payment on your credit cards. You are behind on your mortgage and/or car monthly payments. Creditors and collection agencies are harassing you to collect money you owe them. One or more of your creditors have filed a lawsuit against you.

2 A final judgment has been entered against you. A wage or money garnishment has been ordered against you by a court. You cannot pay your medical bills. You are unemployed and cannot pay your living expenses. You have been through a divorce, and you are paying alimony and/or child support. If you are experiencing one or more of the above referenced circumstances, bankruptcy is most likely going to be the best option for you. Do I qualify to file for bankruptcy? Actually, most people that file bankruptcy get a discharge without major difficulties. However, this discharge can be denied in some circumstances established by law. For example, if one has previously filed bankruptcy and the time period necessary to file again, has not passed; or if one has been dishonest in the process or one has used any form of fraud against one s creditors; or one has not collaborated with the trustee; or one s income is higher than the allowed limit (Chapter 7); or one s income is not enough (Chapter 13). Therefore, if you are thinking of filing for bankruptcy, do not make any transactions that could be considered as fraud against your creditors, in the future. Declare to the court all your assets and liabilities, and all information required; be honest with your lawyer; provide all required documentation by the trustee. In this way, you will not have problems in the future and your bankruptcy will be discharged without problems. Can I stop a foreclosure process and/or a foreclosure sale by filing bankruptcy? YES, you can. Once the bankruptcy is filed in court and a case number is assigned, your attorney should immediately notify the foreclosure court and your lender s attorney that you have filed bankruptcy. Automatically, the foreclosure process and the foreclosure sale will be suspended, until the lender is authorized by the bankruptcy court to continue with the procedure. Can my creditors keep calling me after I have filed for bankruptcy? NO, they cannot. Once you have filed for bankruptcy, your creditors must stop calling you and stop all efforts to collect any assets you may have. Should my spouse file for bankruptcy with me? Not necessarily. The State of Florida allows married people to file individually. The most important thing is to verify that your liabilities are under your name only, because if you have joint debts with your spouse you should file together. If you have

3 joint debts and you do not file together, your spouse will be responsible for those debts even after the other spouse has filed bankruptcy. It is convenient to run both credit reports and review all debts carefully before taking a decision. If you do not have joint liabilities, good news, the spouse with bad credit can file for bankruptcy and the other can save the credit while the one filing builds up his or her credit again. However, if both are behind with their creditors and cannot pay them, the bankruptcy can be filed jointly even when joint liabilities do not exist, and you will court and attorney s fees once. Debts that are not discharged in bankruptcy Some of the common types of debts which are not discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case are: Debts for most taxes; Debts incurred to pay no dischargeable taxes; Debts that are domestic support obligations; Debts for most student loans; Debts for most fines, penalties, forfeitures, or criminal restitution obligations; Debts for personal injuries or death caused by the debtor's operation of a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft, while intoxicated; Some debts which were not properly listed by the debtor; Debts that the bankruptcy court specifically has decided or will decide in a bankruptcy case are not discharged; Debts for which the debtor has given up the discharge protections by signing a reaffirmation agreement in compliance with the Bankruptcy Code requirements for reaffirmation of debts; and Debts owed to certain pension, profit sharing, stock bonus, other retirement plans, or to the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees for certain types of loans from these plans. Myths about bankruptcy Do I have to be behind on my bills? Most people think that they have to be behind on payments to file bankruptcy. Actually, this is not necessary, the knowledge of the fact that you will not be able to make your debts payments or will be too difficult for you, is enough. It is not recommended to get to the point that your creditors are knocking on your door or making embarrassing phone calls to your home or work place, or even worst are suing you in court. Will bankruptcy ruin my credit score? No, it will have the opposite effect. Once the bankruptcy is reported in your credit, your score will begin to improve. Every time you make a late payment or you fail to make the payment your score

4 goes down. But when you file bankruptcy, all your accounts are going to show $0 balance, which in return improve your score. Of course you will have to build up your credit with new accounts. Will I lose my homestead property? Some people have their homes paid in full and are afraid to lose them if they file for bankruptcy. However, the State of Florida allows debtors filing bankruptcy to keep their homes even if they are paid. In the case that your home is not paid, you can keep your homestead property, too, if you keep making your mortgage monthly payments. Can I use my credit cards prior to filing for bankruptcy? NO, you cannot. This is wrong and it could bring you serious problems. If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, do not use your credit cards at least 90 days prior to the filing date. You can only use your credit cards during the 90-day period, if you need to pay for your basic needs such as food, medicines, gasoline; however, try to keep the use to a minimum. How long does the bankruptcy process take? It depends on the chapter that you file. If you file a Chapter 7, the process usually takes 90 days. If you are filing a Chapter 13, the process will take 3 to 5 years. In both cases you will attend a meeting of creditors around 30 days after the filing. Required documentation for bankruptcy preparation Identification document (i.e. driver s license) Social Security Card or ITIN Credit Report Last statement of all creditors and collection accounts Two years of income tax returns Last three bank statements of all bank accounts Six months of pay stubs and any other proof of income Steps to prepare your bankruptcy Bankruptcy preparation includes some important steps that you should comply with. Some of them are: Recollection and revision of your financial records: income tax returns, credit report, bank statements, etc. Exploration of the legal consequences of your financial situation. Do not use your credit lines 90 days prior to filing. Review the last six months of all your sources of income. Take the time to collect the money to pay all expenses that the bankruptcy process will generate: court fee, counseling fee, attorney fee.

5 If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you must schedule an appointment with an attorney to have enough time to organize your case. Will I lose my principal residence if I file for bankruptcy? This matter will depend firstly on your own decision, and secondarily on a variety of external circumstances. Florida Law allows you to keep your principal residence even if you have equity on it or if it is paid in full. However, there are some external factors that you should consider. For example, if you have one or more mortgages; if you are paying them on time or are behind in payments; if you can or cannot afford your mortgage(s); if you are or are not employed. If you decide to keep your home, which has a mortgage that you have been paying on time and can remain paying, through a Chapter 7 you could keep your property and get out from the rest of your debts. But if you are behind in your mortgage payments, you could file a Chapter 13 if you can afford the payment plan. If you cannot afford the payments you should surrender the property in a Chapter 7 and get out of that mortgage obligation. You are thinking of filing for bankruptcy, but you are in a loan modification process. If you are planning to file for bankruptcy, it is very important that you decide before if you will keep your real estate property or not, and specially, you should determine if you really can afford your mortgage payments. At this moment there are a lot of people trying to reach a loan modification with their lenders. This process takes around six months and sometimes longer. Some of these people think that even when they are in a loan modification process, they are ready to file for bankruptcy because they have financial problems and cannot pay their other creditors. However, if you are one of these people, it is essential that you are clear about your economic situation and the advantages and disadvantages of maintaining your real estate property (can you pay the mortgage, insurances, and taxes? The mortgage has a variable interest rate; the property has equity; the property needs repairs and many other aspects that should be evaluated).

6 The decision about keeping or not keeping your real estate property is fundamental when you file for bankruptcy, because you will have to declare to the court your intention for keeping or not keeping your property. This is your opportunity to get out from that debt if you cannot pay your mortgage, even if the bank is modifying it. Therefore, it is very important that you finish your loan modification process before filing for bankruptcy. In that way, you will make a better decision about it if you can afford your property or not, and make the correct declaration in court about it. Cancellation of the second mortgage through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy In the current real estate market, most of the properties that were bought in the past have less value than they used to have. This situation left properties with not equity, and homeowners with one or more mortgages that are not worth paying for. Some of these homeowners have two mortgages, and here is the interesting part about Chapter 13 bankruptcies. This chapter allows these homeowners to keep their real estate property, paying the first mortgage and canceling the second mortgage in total. For example, if your property is worth $200,000, and the actual market value is $100,000, and you have two mortgages, one for $120,000 and the other one for $50,000, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will cancel this second mortgage of $50,000 and you will only pay the first mortgage. This is a good option for those people that are having financial problems and cannot pay both mortgages. What is the minimum debt amount required to file for bankruptcy? This is a very frequent question asked by people who are thinking about filing for bankruptcy. The answer is very simple: there is no minimum debt. Now, the real dilemma is if you should file with a small amount of debt. The answer depends on your personal situation. For example a final judgment of $5,000 that has ordered a wage garnishment on a person that earns $20,000 a year, can be overwhelming. However, if that same situation applies to a person who earns $100,000 a year, the perception is going to be very different. This means that each one has to analyze their personal and financial situation and establish what the best option is. The good news is that the law does not impose a

7 minimum amount. For this reason, it is your personal decision when an amount is high and when it is low, which is another advantage of the bankruptcy process.

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