Dealing with Creditors and Debt Collectors While Filing for Bankruptcy in Florida
One of the reasons that many people file for bankruptcy is that they are being harassed by debt collectors, or are facing wage garnishment and foreclosure, and they know they cannot turn around their financial situations without help. Filing bankruptcy stops all collection actions, including home foreclosure, but while people are in the process of filing a bankruptcy petition, they are often still dealing with creditors. Following some simple steps can reduce the stress of debt collectors bothering a person filing for bankruptcy.
One of the most attractive benefits of bankruptcy is the stay of all foreclosure, garnishment, repossession and utility shut-off actions by creditors. Once a person files a bankruptcy petition, all of the person’s assets become part of the bankruptcy estate for the trustee to distribute to the creditors according to their priority under the law. Creditors cannot try to take money or other assets from the bankruptcy estate because it would potentially be “cutting in line” in front other creditors who have a higher priority.
Tips for Dealing with Creditors While Filing Bankruptcy
If a creditor is harassing a debtor with phone calls and letters during the time the debtor is filing the bankruptcy petition, the best course of action for the debtor is to inform the creditor that he or she is in the process of filing bankruptcy and that any actions to collect will be in vain.
It is advisable to keep all communications with the debt collector brief and only inform them of the upcoming bankruptcy petition. Many debt collectors will say things that are upsetting to the debtor or try to get the debtor to say things contrary to his or her interest. Writing a letter to the creditor is one possible way of ensuring that the communication is limited.
However, if a creditor has already obtained a judgment against a debtor against the debtor, the creditor may be motivated to act even more aggressively upon hearing the news that the debtor is filing bankruptcy by garnishing wages or bank accounts. The creditor cannot take more than $600 or the bankruptcy court will likely call that a “preference” and make the creditor return it. However, creditors may rush to garnish wages or accounts and take just under $600, knowing that they will likely be able to keep it and that is possibly the only payment they will ever see on the debt. In such a situation, the only remedy is to file the bankruptcy petition as quickly as possible.
If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of all of your options.