A bank has forced us to file Bankrupsy and the lawyer has sent papers for us to sign pertaining to "Relief From the Automatic Stay" the was verified by the bank, what exactly does this mean (before we sign the papers)?
Under the bankruptcy code, the filing of a petition for relief (i.e., filing for bankruptcy) triggers what's called an "automatic stay" which stops creditors from trying to collect money from you. Creditors can ask the Bankruptcy Court to let them proceed to enforce their rights to collect anyway, and they do this by seeking "relief from the automatic stay."
You should consult a bankruptcy lawyer to explain your rights and obligations to you as a debtor.
I'm not licensed to practice law in Florida so don't take the above as legal advice. It's simply general information about what the "automatic stay" is. If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer who holds Florida licensure.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
What attorney, whose attorney? I can tell you that generally you would not be required to sign anything with respect to a Relief from Stay. If this was sent by your attorney, then you should question your attorney as to what it is that you are signing and why you should sign it. You are entitled to know and understand this information.
If you are representing yourself in bankruptcy, and the papers were sent to you by a creditor's lawyer, then the creditor is asking the court to let them proceed against property that they have a lien on, either by repossession and sale (for an automobile) or by foreclosure (for a home). There are circumstances in which such requests may be defeated and the Courts will not lift the stay, such as "equity in the property" (value in excess of the debt) or "adequate protection" (payments to the creditor to protect them). These defenses are technical legally and you will likely need an attorney to asset these defenses.
Representing yourself in a bankruptcy is like playing cricket if you have never seen the game or played it before. You have very little chance of making a point, let alone winning.
Patrick M. Hunter
Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
One of the reasons individuals file for bankruptcy is obtain an "automatic stay." This stay means that litigation and other collection activity is put on hold, at least temporarily. There are excepts to this rule, such as may occur in a second bankruptcy filing, and oftentimes the stay is only temporary and can be lifted with court approval even without your consent.
One of the reasons your bank may be raising this issue with you is in an attempt to press forward with a foreclosure or other collection action. By agreeing to lift the stay, you are waiving one of your basic bankruptcy protections, and allowing actions to move forward against you while you are still in bankruptcy.
Sometimes there is no harm in agreeing to lift the stay, as it may help you get an asset that you no longer want taken out of your name faster. But other times, you are giving up valuable time to find another place to live or to accumulate money in order to save an asset.
Every case is different, so you would have to examine all the facts of your unique situation in order to determine whether agreeing to lift the stay is in your best interest. Best wishes.