One of the biggest reasons people facing financial turmoil avoid bankruptcy is because they are concerned about losing their assets. Fortunately, it is possible to retain ownership of your home, your vehicle, and protect your assets when you file for bankruptcy.
Choosing the Right Type of Bankruptcy to Protect Your Assets
The key is to choose the right type of bankruptcy for your situation and work with an experienced attorney that understands bankruptcy laws. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to retain ownership of certain exempt property, such as retirement accounts, household items, clothing, and your vehicle. Chapter 13 bankruptcy shields all of your property from bankruptcy, provided you repay your debt through an organized repayment plan within a three to five year period.
The first thing a bankruptcy attorney does to help you with your case is to review your debts and assets. This makes it possible to determine if Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the better option for you. He or she will review the property you own that can be considered exempt in your case and will help you fill out the paperwork for your bankruptcy and file your official petition. In Florida, your primary residence is considered exempt property, regardless of its value.
Know the Consequences of Illegally Shielding Property during Bankruptcy
Keep in mind, especially if you consider filing for bankruptcy without attorney support, illegally shielding assets can lead to criminal charges. If the court believes you are shielding assets in a bankruptcy, your petition will be denied and you might end up in a worse situation than before. Examples of shielding assets include not listing information about those assets on your petition or transferring ownership of the assets to someone else shortly before you file.
Another thing people sometimes try to do is transfer assets prior to filing a bankruptcy. This action can be a big mistake. While an individual may be able to keep the asset had they not transferred it, once the asset is transferred it is no longer exempt and could be lost to creditors.
Understanding bankruptcy law is essential to filing a successful petition. Unfortunately, bankruptcy law is complicated and without professional support, your petition can be rejected or denied.
If you are considering bankruptcy or you have questions about protecting your assets during a bankruptcy filing, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller at 813.254.5696 to help you sort through the complicated process of filing for bankruptcy.