Our commitment is to you…
When the burden of debt becomes overwhelming, bankruptcy may help…
The stress caused by a debt problem can affect your health, your relationships, your sleep, and your job performance. Whether it’s a house that’s upside down, the crushing burden of medical expenses, a wage garnishment, or credit cards with outrageous interest rates, bankruptcy may be the solution.
Or, maybe you or your business is owed money by a person or corporation that has filed for bankruptcy and you want to know what you can do to get paid back the monies you are owed.
Mr. Radeline has been practicing in bankruptcy law in the Tampa Bay area for nearly 15 years. He has represented corporations in Chapter 11 and individuals in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. He has represented both debtors and creditors.
If you are considering filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the initial consultation is without charge. We will need you to fully complete our Bankruptcy Questionnaire prior to your consultation, and to bring it with you. Mr. Radeline will need to review the completed questionnaire with you in order to give you the best advice about your potential bankruptcy case. Please contact our office so that we can send you the questionnaire via email.
To help make the process more familiar to you, Mr. Radeline has prepared a summary of what happens in most Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases and the differences between the two types of bankruptcy.
When most people think of “bankruptcy,” they are thinking about Chapter 7. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, once the case is filed, none of your creditors are legally able to contact you any further (unless they receive permission from the Court to do so). If someone is suing you, the lawsuit stops in its tracks. If a company is garnishing your wages, the garnishment will stop.
Most types of unsecured debt, such as credit card debt, medical bills, signature loans, payday loans, and the like, will be discharged in a Chapter 7. If you have secured debt, such as a home loan or car loan, that can be discharged so long as you intend to surrender (or, give back) the house or car securing the loan. If you want to keep the car or home, that’s fine– there’s a way we can keep the loan at its current terms and you keep the car or house like bankruptcy never happened.
A very few types of debt generally do not get discharged, or have very stringent rules as to whether they can be discharged. These include tax debt, student loans, damages caused by a DUI, child support and alimony, and restitution ordered in a criminal case.
In a Chapter 7, you normally only need to go to “court” one time. It’s not really court, but it’s a proceeding called a 341 Meeting (or Meeting of Creditors”). The Chapter 7 panel trustee assigned to your case is in charge of the 341 Meeting. Mr. Radeline or his associate will be there with you, and the trustee will ask you questions about your finances, your earnings from work, your assets, the reason you have filed bankruptcy, and the like. Most people are questioned for about 10 minutes or less. You may spend much more time waiting for your case to be called than for the actual questions. Mr. Radeline will discuss the 341 Meeting with you after the case is filed and well in advance of the date for the 341 Meeting, so you will know exactly what to expect.
There is a downside to Chapter 7. Part of the trustee’s job is to check and see if the value of your assets (your home, cars, furniture, bank accounts, jewelry, electronics, etc.) is higher than the limit allowed by law. If it is, the trustee can request that some of your property be sold at auction and the proceeds go to your creditors. When you bring your completed Bankruptcy Questionnaire to your consultation with Mr. Radeline, he will go over this with you in detail. If you own a house that is your homestead, you get to keep 100% of the equity in the house. Also, in every case, you get assigned other exemptions, including 100% of the value of your IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, whole life insurance, and pensions.
Another downside of Chapter 7 is that you might make too much money to qualify for a Chapter 7. If you do, then you will need to file under Chapter 13 if you decide to proceed with bankruptcy. Mr. Radeline can evaluate this for you at your consultation.
After the 341 Meeting, most clients receive their Discharge in the mail from the Court in 3 to 6 months. The Discharge is a court order that wipes out your debt. But, remember that none of the creditors can contact you from the day we file your case. That makes life a lot more peaceful when the nasty letters and phone calls end right away.
Finally, there are two bankruptcy classes that you are required to take. A number of different companies offer them, and you can take them online. One you will take before filing the case, and the second you will take right after we file your case. The cost for these classes is very low. We have recently seen prices range from $8 to $15 for the class.
Unlike a Chapter 7, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a 5-year (sometimes 3-year) payment plan with the bankruptcy court. The amount of your monthly payment will vary depending upon the specifics of your case, and will depend upon your income, your expenses, and your debts. In most cases, all of your disposable income must be paid to the bankruptcy trustee each month pursuant to a document called a Chapter 13 Plan.
If you are behind on payments for your house or car, a Chapter 13 (unlike Chapter 7) can allow you to catch up the missed payments over the life of the plan (usually over 5 years). This can be really helpful if you have run into a rough patch due to job loss or illness and are having problems getting caught back up.
A bonus that comes with Chapter 13 is that in most cases you get to keep all of your property, including your home, cars, furniture, bank accounts, jewelry, electronics, and so forth. So, in most cases you don’t have to worry about the trustee trying to sell any of your property at auction.
Another good thing about Chapter 13 is that it is open to anyone regardless of income. If you earn too much for a Chapter 7, you can always file under Chapter 13.
In a Chapter 13, you—the client– normally only need to go to “court” one time. It’s not really court, but it’s a proceeding called a 341 Meeting (or Meeting of Creditors”). The Chapter 13 panel trustee assigned to your case is in charge of the 341 Meeting. Mr. Radeline or his associate will be there with you, and the trustee will ask you questions about your finances, your earnings from work, your assets, the reason you have filed bankruptcy, and the like. Most people are questioned for about 10 minutes or less. You may spend much more time waiting for your case to be called than for the actual questions. Mr. Radeline will discuss the 341 Meeting with you after the case is filed and well in advance of the date for the 341 Meeting, so you will know exactly what to expect.
Other actual court dates do occur in a Chapter 13, and Mr. Radeline or his associate will attend these court dates for you so that you do not need to attend.
One downside of a Chapter 13 is that it lasts for so long, sometimes life changes during the Chapter 13. If you start earning more or less money while the case is pending, you may have your monthly payments adjusted. If you need to get any kind of loan during the case, or want to sell your house, you may need to go to court and get permission from the judge to do so.
What makes Radeline Law Firm different? One of the most important distinctions is that Mr. Radeline will personally handle your case. He will be your attorney. Unlike many of the firms that advertise heavily, your case will not be handled by someone different than who appears in the billboard. Mr. Radeline has nearly 15 years’ experience handling bankruptcy cases.
Mr. Radeline holds the highest possible rating– AV Preeminent® – from Martindale-Hubbell for the highest level of both ethical standards and legal ability. Martindale-Hubbell has objectively rated attorneys since 1896, and the rating is a reflection of Mr. Radeline’s legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communication skills, legal experience, integrity, and overall professional excellence as reported by judges and other attorneys.
Mr. Radeline will personally handle your case and will be personally available for your questions and concerns every step of the way. To better serve you, and to provide you with the level of service available in the largest of law firms, we have an entire team dedicated to helping you achieve your legal goals.
Backed by the support of legal assistants, notaries, law clerks, researchers, private investigators, receptionists, and a team of available expert witnesses for consultation or for trial, we deliver on our commitment to providing all available resources to your case while allowing you the convenience and efficiency of one primary contact person: Attorney Radeline.
When it matters most, choose wisely.
Experience, personal service, and integrity: our commitment to you.