Have you lost your job or had a decrease in hours due to the Coronavirus pandemic? You are not alone. Since the middle of March 2020, we have had an increase of potential clients from across the Tampa Bay and across the state including Brandon, Orlando, Bradenton, Sarasota, Fort Myers, and many other cities who have been laid off, furloughed, or had their hours cut. A majority were employed in the service-industry (wait staff, bartenders, cooks, etc.) and retail industry (clothing stores, mall employees, movie theaters, etc.). In some cases, they were able to go back to work once their employer was able to reopen. In most other cases, the employer closed their doors for good, the position was terminated altogether, or the employer had to cut the size of their staff.
Because of the decrease in available jobs due to the closing or downsizing of businesses, the search for a job is more difficult than ever before. A lot of people are relying on things like the stimulus check from the CARES Act or unemployment wages. Some people have had to begin to prioritize what bills they pay and when. The most important debts to continue paying are your secured debts, like your mortgage or your vehicle, as well as priority debts, like IRS back taxes, child support, or alimony. If your mortgage is federally backed, the CARES Act has provided assistance in the form of payment forbearance. If your mortgage is not federally backed, reach out to your mortgage company, or your vehicle lender, to see if they are offering any assistance at this time. Many credit card companies, loan companies, and banks are also providing assistance at this time. You should continue paying your utilities like electric and water. If you cannot afford to pay your unsecured debt, like credit cards, personal loans, and store cards, you may be a good candidate for bankruptcy.
If you are considering filing bankruptcy, there are some simple things that you can do and others to avoid before your consultation with our firm:
- If you receive unemployment or social security, open a separate bank account and have those funds deposited in that new account. Do not put any other funds in that account. You can utilize funds from this account but do not commingle the social security or unemployment wages with any other income like job wages, pension, dividends, etc.
- Do not transfer any property out of your name. For example, do not transfer your vehicle to a family member in order to get that asset out of your name. Keep everything how it is currently titled/assigned.
- Do not pay back friends or family any money that you may owe them.
- Do not take any money from your retirement accounts; 401k, 403b, IRA, etc.
- Do not incur additional debt. Do not obtain any personal loans. Do not continue using credit cards, unless necessary. If you have to use credit cards, only use on necessary living expenses, i.e. gas, groceries, utilities, etc.
A lot of our clients feel that filing bankruptcy will ruin their credit forever. To the contrary, bankruptcy could help you get a fresh start by relieving you of your unsecured debt and help you rebuild your credit quickly and effectively. We provide our clients with a credit rebuilding program once your bankruptcy is complete. We not only want to help you lift the weight of your debt from your shoulders, but we also want to help you regrow and rebuild your credit. If you would like to speak with one of our bankruptcy attorneys, please contact our office to schedule your free consultation.