See what the following clients that it has been my great privilege to serve have to say about their experiences.
I just want to say that Mr. Garris is one of the nicest most down to earth persons I have ever met. I went into the whole the case having a ton of questions that Mr. Garris answered and was patient enough to spend a lot of his time to make sure I understood. I would recommend him to anyone that needs help on the matter of bankruptcy. I was worried about the case but in the end the process was smooth and straight forward and Mr. Garris was more than helpful no matter what time of the day it was I was even able to speak to him about my case after hours and that was very kind of him. He is a very kind person and cares about your life.
Kevin Garris helped me through one of the most difficult times of my life. He is a highly knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney. Whenever I had a question or needed advice during my case he was always there to lend a hand no matter the time of day or night. He made the process very easy to understand and the transitions from step to step seamless. I would highly recommend Kevin Garris to anybody who is going through the difficult and sometimes very confusing problem of bankruptcy. He helped me get my life back on track, and he can help you too.
Since the first moment I contacted Kevin until the very end to the closure of our bankruptcy case. Kevin has always been there working late hours, overtime and even weekends to make sure everything went smoothly! He was a great help. Answered every question in depth and never left us confused. We would not hesitate in using Kevin again for any legal matter that is within his reach. If you want someone that you can trust to be there every step of the way, contact Kevin. Thanks again Kevin for everything you did for us and all of your help and for multiple calls from us and long conversations! 🙂
I was a little hesitant at first, using a lawyer and not even meeting him, but Mr. Garris was more than professional. He was very prompt answering emails and returning phone calls. We had some unexpected issues come up and Mr. Garris went above and beyond to help us get the problem resolved. I would certainly recommend his services to anybody. It was a pleasure working with him to get our bankruptcy completed.
I want to tell you what a wonderful experience I had working with Kevin, he was recommended by a friend who had used his services. My only concern at the time was it was all done remotely. After talking with him the first time you will know he only has your best interest at heart.
You will have lots of questions and just to let you know, you can always get a hold of him, he always answers his phone you never have to go through anyone else. I enjoyed talking with Kevin so much that I still stay in touch with him since my bankruptcy last June. I have never met him but it feels like I have known him for ever. I recommend him very highly, very good at what he does.
Chapter ‘7 Client
Grateful and Impressive! Two words that best describe how we feel about Kevin Garris. We lost our house to a short sale in 2010. From the very first phone call to the final court date, Kevin was literally a phone call away! It did not matter what time we called him, a return call immediately followed. He provided great insight as to what would be expected during the process of the short sale and the bankruptcy.
We found Kevin through the Florida Bar Association. We never met with him in person. All contact was done at a distance but his services were always consistent and he has a very human side to him, so much more than any legal counsel we could have received in a lawyer. We would retain him again in a heartbeat.
Mrs RA Fuentes
Chapter 7 Clients
I never thought I could deal with legal matters via phone, email and internet! However, Kevin Garris did a wonderful job representing me, I would highly recommend him to anyone in need of a lawyer
Chapter 7 Client
My wife and I found ourselves in a situation that required assistance from an attorney and were referred to Kevin Garris, Kevin was Very efficient and thorough and We were completely satisfied with his professionalism. We would highly recommend him to anyone that needs an attorney.
Kevin went above and beyond the call of duty for us. My wife and I are very grateful for Kevin’s assistance. He handled our affairs with great kindness.
William and Melissa
Chapter 7 Clients
I have to admit that I was totally overwhelmed when I finally decided that personal bankruptcy was the only financial option that I had due to being laid off and having a much lower paying position to merely survive.
I was always so proud of accomplishing my perfect credit score but just as thousands of others in this dwindling economic time found myself unable to survive and pay my credit card bills.
From the moment that Attorney Garris took my bankruptcy case, I felt as if literally a friend had lifted the world off my shoulders. Not only did he walk me through the process gently step by step, explaining each level to me patiently, and many times more than once, in great detail and not overloading me with everything that had to be produced all at once. In the-process, he also became a friend. Attorney Garris not only knows how you are feeling throughout the entire process and spends as much time as you need to reassure you. He actually cares about you and it shows.
Chapter ‘7 Client
Kevin Garris is terrific. I was underwater with credit card debt, trying to get myself out. I was upside down on my mortgage and trying to get a modification. Then one day out of the blue the company I worked for went out of business and I found myself in a serious financial hardship. After much consideration and thought, I decided my only hope was to file bankruptcy. A friend of mine had recently gone through the process, so I called for a reference. She spoke very highly of Kevin so I gave him a call.
From the first phone call all the way through my discharge, Kevin was literally a phone call or email away. I was amazed that this whole process could be handled through technology without ever stepping foot in his office. He was extremely thorough and thoughtful. He understood what was going through at a very difficult time. There were times when I would call late at night just to leave a message for the next day, and he would actually answer the phone and guide me through whatever questions I had.
Sometimes he would go over specific terminology or rule, 2, 3, or 4 times until I had a full understanding. Kevin would typically reply within a few hours to emails. In order to keep his promise to my case before the new year, he actually scheduled an appointment with me on Christmas Eve.
The ease of remotely filing for bankruptcy astounded me. He even scheduled someone to come to my home and appraise my vehicle. I never had to leave the house until a brief 5 minute appearance at my creditors meeting where I was accompanied by a really friendly and kind attorney associated with his office.
I am grateful to have found Kevin Garris and would recommend him to anyone.
chapter 7 Client
My Wife and I needed the services of a bankruptcy attorney and We were refened to Kevin Garris. Mr. Garris guided us through the process during this diücult time with the utmost professionalism and sensitivity. Every step of the process was explained thoroughly from the initial Visit t0 the final healing.
I would highly recommend Mr. Garris’ office to family and friends without hesitation.
WSC & SCC
Chapter 7 Clients
Kevin made everything extremely easy, and handled problems in an effìcient manner. I am very busy and appreciated Kevin’s willingness to do everything by email, internet and telephone. This enabled me to focus on my work. A few of my friends have used his services and my experiences and were equally pleased.
Chapter 7 Client
What made me choose Mr. Garris to help me with my bankruptcy over other attorneys with whom I had consulted was the fact that he was always there to answer my many questions. He responded to each phone call and email. His knowledge, ability, competence and experience were what really helped me through the intimidating and daunting steps of bankruptcy.
I cannot thank him enough for the amazing care he invested in making sure I understood and felt comfortable with every part of the procedure.
Chapter 7 Client
A few years ago after moving from NY to Florida, We found ourselves in financial debt. Not ever wanting to renege on our responsibilities, we sold many of our stock investments, borrowed from credit cards and depleted our 401(K). We also tried to borrow against our home. The loan representative was very honest with us and stated that she “did not see any light at the end of the tunnel”. She suggested we meet with a lawyer to discuss bankruptcy. This had never occurred to us since we were always able to meet our deadlines to pay bills.
We were new to Florida and knew nothing about bankruptcy or bankruptcy lawyers so we randomly chose Kevin Garris. We were truly blessed to find him! Mr. Garris is knowledgeable, compassionate, patient, kind and very friendly. We were never belittled or made to feel ashamed.
Mr. Garris made the process smooth and swift. He was available to answer our calls and if unavailable, the calls were always returned rapidly. If you yourself needing a lawyer now or in the future, Kevin Garris would be your ideal choice. He was a godsend for us and might be for you also!
M1′ and Mrs. Ruiz
Chapter 7 Clients
(4) My creditors are contacting me several times each day. Will the phone calls stop after I retain your office and file bankruptcy?
Yes. Something called an “automatic stay” takes effect immediately upon the filing of a bankruptcy case that requires creditors to cease all collection efforts and discontinue contacting the debtor. However, we recognize that some individuals will not be able to pay for their cases in a lump sum, we therefore offer liberal payment plans that enable you to get started with as little as $250.00 down. After paying the initial retainer, we ask you to select a payment plan suitable for your circumstances. As long as you continue to make the payments that you have selected, you are welcome to refer your creditors to our office. Due to your rights under the The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), it will be unlawful for your creditors to contact you once they are made aware of your representation by an attorney. (see the overview of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act section)
(5) Will I lose my home, car and personal property if I file for bankruptcy?
You don’t need to be concerned with losing property when filing under Chapter 13. If you have assets that exceed your exemptions in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, the excess value is paid to your unsecured creditors through your plan. Even in a Chapter 7 case, the average person is able to keep his property because of the exemptions that are available in Florida. In most instances, Florida debtors are able to protect 100% of the value in their homes as homestead. They are also able to protect 100% of the value in such assets as retirement accounts, annuities and cash value in insurance policies. The Florida Constitution provides a separate $1,000 exemption for personal property and the Florida Statutes have a provision protecting $1000.00 of a vehicle’s value. A debtor who is a non-homeowner, owns a mobile home on leased land, or who voluntarily surrenders his home in the bankruptcy is entitled to the above exemptions in addition to a separate $4,000 of personal property exemption.
(6) I’ve been hearing commercials lately stating that the new bankruptcy laws require me to repay my debt. Is that true?
Misleading statements such as these are sometimes used to persuade you that bankruptcy is no longer available as an option for discharging debt. The shred of truth in this statement is that the purpose of the new bankruptcy law is to cause more people to repay some of their debt in a chapter 13 case. However, these changes in the law actually exclude very few people from filing chapter 7 bankruptcy who would have qualified under the prior law.
(7) Are there any debts that will not be discharged in bankruptcy?
Yes, the Federal Bankruptcy Code contains an extensive listing of non-dischargeable debts including but not limited to: most taxes, domestic support obligations, student loans, fines, penalties, forfeitures, criminal restitution obligations, personal injury or death caused by the operation of a vehicle, vessel or aircraft while intoxicated; debts for which a reaffirmation agreement has been signed.
(8) Are my federal income taxes ever dischargeable in bankruptcy?
The short answer is yes, (but it can involve complex determinations and it is advisable to seek professional assistance). Various bankruptcy code sections establish five (5) rules that must be satisfied in order for tax debts to be dischargeable in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. These are as follows (1) The most recent due date for filing the return is more than three years ago; (2) The tax return for the year in question was filed more than 2 years ago; (3) The IRS assessed (established the liability owed) more than 240 days ago; (4) the tax return was not fraudulent and (5) the taxpayer was not guilty of engaging in an attempt to evade or defeat payment of the tax
(9) What is the difference between a secured debt and an unsecured debt?
A debt is said to be secured when the creditor to whom the debt is owed has the right to claim an item of collateral in the event of non-payment. There are two types of secured debts: (1) purchase money security – a transaction wherein the item purchased serves as collateral for the debt. A common example would be the financing of a vehicle. (2) non-purchase money security – a transaction wherein a loan is extended to a borrower using as collateral an item already in the borrower’s possession. A common example would be pledging household items (i.e., tv, stereo, etc.) as collateral for a loan from a finance company. A debt is said to be unsecured when a creditor extends a loan or performs services without requiring any collateral to protect against non payment. Common examples would be credit card charges or receiving medical treatment for which you will later be billed.
(10) I’m married, is my spouse required to file with me?
No. You may file individually, but if your spouse has significant debt, a joint filing may relieve her debt as well at a fraction of the cost of two individual cases. You should also be aware that you are required to provide the Court with certain financial information concerning your non-filing spouse. This is because your non-filing spouses’ income does have some bearing on your ability to repay debt.
(11) How do I value my personal property for bankruptcy purposes?
The bankruptcy code requires you to list your property at its replacement value, defined as the price that a retail merchant would charge for property of the same kind, considering the age and condition of the property at the time its value is determined. It is important to emphasize that the replacement cost is not the cost of a new item. Retail outlets that sell secondhand merchandise such as electronics, household furnishings and clothing tend to price these items at deeply discounted yard sale values or values comparable to what you might find on craigslist. (www.craigslist.com) You should be guided by values found on sites like craig’s list and yard sales that you have attended in determining the value of your items. Several published guides are available for vehicles. Bankruptcy trustees usually rely upon values determined by the National Association of Auto Dealers (www.Nada.com) or Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com) It is important to note, however, that values found in these guides may be based on certain assumptions that do not hold true for your vehicle. If the value of your vehicle appears to exceed your allowable exemption, it may be advisable to have a certified appraisal performed. (*I tend to only use appraisers who regularly perform appraisals for the bankruptcy court and would be happy to share contact information for any of these appraisers with anyone who is interested)
(12) How do I value real property for bankruptcy purposes?
When the real estate market was more stable, increasing the tax assessed value by 15%-20% would usually yield a fairly accurate estimate. Today, I would recommend visiting web sites such as www.homegain.com or www.zillow.com if you do not have a recent appraisal.
(13) When I am listing my personal property am I required to include items that I received by gift?
Yes. The court does not take into consideration how you acquired an asset. You are required to list its’ replacement value as you would for any other item.
(14) Am I required to retain an attorney in order to file bankruptcy?
No. You always have the right to file bankruptcy on your own without the assistance of an attorney. However, bankruptcy law has become quite complex. Many of the issues addressed in a bankruptcy petition have legal significance that would not be apparent to someone unfamiliar with bankruptcy law and may cause unexpected results in your case. Even if you are able to obtain the Official Forms from a paralegal typing service, you will not have any guidance as to the consequences of the information that you provide to the court and may suffer the unnecessary, avoidable (with proper advice) loss of your property or dismissal of your case.
(15) I filed bankruptcy several years ago and have incurred a great deal of credit card debt over the last few years. Am I eligible to discharge this debt with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing?
That would depend upon the chapter and filing date of your previous case. If your previous case was filed under Chapter 7, you will not be able to begin another case to receive a Chapter 7 discharge until eight (8) years have elapsed since the filing date of your previous case. If your previous case was filed under Chapter 13, you will not be able to begin another case to receive a Chapter 7 discharge until six (6) years have elapsed since the filing date of your previous case. If your previous case was filed in the State of Florida and you are uncertain as to your filing date, you may obtain this information by calling the Bankruptcy Court’s automated Voice Information Case System: (866) 879-1286 (for Middle District Cases) (866) 222-8029, press 11 (for Northern District Cases in) and (866) 222-8029, press 74 (for Southern District Cases). You may access this information using either your previous case number, if known, or your social security number.
(16) I am only considering bankruptcy to discharge my credit card debt, is it necessary for me to list the other debts that I intend to keep?
Yes, all debts must be listed. Even though you may sometimes hear someone remark that they are filing a “credit card bankruptcy” or a “medical bankruptcy”, you are not able to pick and choose the debts that you will list in your case. If there are debts that you wish to maintain, the creditor may permit you to sign a contract known as a reaffirmation agreement to remain liable for that particular debt while discharging your others.
(17) I have recently relocated to Florida from another state where I incurred quite a bit of debt, may I discharge these debts in a bankruptcy case here in Florida?
For purposes of a bankruptcy discharge, it is unimportant where the debt was incurred. A debt which meets the required conditions for discharge will be discharged in bankruptcy without regard to where it was incurred. Your question does, however, raise two other very important issues. First, in order to file bankruptcy in Florida you must satisfy certain requirements. For consumer debtors this usually means having resided here for a majority of the previous 180 days. Based on this rule, on the 91st day of residency here you would be eligible to file your case in Florida. The second important issue is which exemption law will apply? The new bankruptcy law requires you to be domiciled in a state for 730 days (2 years) before you can claim the benefit of its exemptions. Domicile is a legal term which refers to presence in a place with the intention to remain. If you have not maintained your domicile in a single place for 730 days, the court would apply the exemption law for your place of domicile during the 180 day period before the 730 day period. If you have not maintained your domicile in a single place for 180 days prior to the 730 day period, the court would apply the exemption law of the state where your were domiciled for the majority of this 180 day period. This restriction was added to avoid having individuals move into a state temporarily merely to take advantage of its favorable exemptions. The issue of which exemption law applies can literally mean the difference between losing valuable property and being able to keep it. Anyone who has recently relocated to Florida must receive competent advice regarding which state’s exemptions will apply to his case.
(18) Will the bankruptcy court take an income tax refund that I expect to receive?
If you are involved in a Chapter 13 case, and have income below the state median for your household size, your yearly refunds may be regarded by the trustee as resulting from excessive withholding that otherwise would have increased the available funds for payment to your unsecured creditors. In this instance, the trustee would require the refunds to be applied to your Chapter 13 Plan payments. In a Chapter 7 case, it is possible that you may be required to turn over all, or some portion, of your refund to the bankruptcy trustee. Some trustees will rely upon you to turn over the refund at their request, while others will notify the Internal Revenue Service to delay your refund until they authorize its release. A few of the basic principles that determine whether your refund may be at risk are as follows: First, your tax refund for next year is gradually earned month by month in the current year. For instance, by June, you have earned 6/12’s of next year’s tax refund. Your filing month will determine which portion of your tax refund is potentially at risk. The later in the year that you file, the greater the likelihood that your trustee may attempt to seize your tax refund. Second, a tax refund may result from excess withholdings from your pay, earned income credit or some other credit like the additional child tax credit. The only portion of a tax refund that a trustee is prohibited from seizing is the portion of your tax refund resulting from the earned income credit. Lastly, after determining how much of your refund you had earned as of your filing date and excluding the portion resulting from the earned income credit, the trustee will apply any remaining exemptions available to you to arrive at the amount, if any, that he will claim for your creditors.
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Law Offices Of Kevin S. Garris, P.A.
1235 Cleveland Street
Clearwater, FL, 33755
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