Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated November 27, 2019
The people of The Last Frontier believe in the value of hard work, and many of Alaska’s citizens work in strenuous industries like fishing and energy. However, even hard workers doing their part to save for their future can find themselves in over their head and can need a helping hand. This doesn’t just mean people – even large natural gas companies like Furie find themselves in need of a fresh start. When the help needs to be financial, and alternative solutions just won’t cut it, sometimes filing an Anchorage bankruptcy is the best option to reset someone’s financial future. Bankruptcy is designed for honest people who find themselves in an unexpected, unfortunate situation for whatever reason. Bankruptcy can provide different levels of relief, but Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Anchorage will eliminate most or all of a person’s debts if they qualify to file for it. While it can be a stressful time to find yourself in financial trouble and consider bankruptcy as a solution, an Anchorage bankruptcy doesn’t have to be a stressful process at all. Actually, 96% of Chapter 7 filers can keep all of their assets – things they own – and if there are no unprotected assets involved, the process can take less than 4 months from start to finish! Even better, because money is obviously an issue if bankruptcy is on the table, you can even complete the process by yourself instead of spending money hiring a lawyer. If tackling the process seems overwhelming to do on your own you can also seek free help from legal aid groups or from Upsolve.
Anchorage Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Costs
Even though you can complete your Anchorage bankruptcy on your own, sometimes hiring a lawyer is a good idea if you need to protect assets or have a complicated situation. Bankruptcy lawyers often offer free initial consultations so you can get a recommended course of action and decide if you need their help. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer varies from person to person, but you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,500 for their help. The Anchorage bankruptcy lawyer cost usually includes completing and filing your bankruptcy forms with the Court as well as going with you to your mandatory 341 Meeting. However, if money is too tight and you still need help, Upsolve may also be able to help you if you qualify.
How to File Bankruptcy in Anchorage, Alaska for Free
It’s not uncommon on The Last Frontier for people to worry about how they can afford their Alaska bankruptcy if money is already a problem. This is not surprising because people don’t file bankruptcy if they don’t have financial issues. The good news is there are ways to make Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Anchorage more affordable both through the Courts as well as with the help of companies like Upsolve.
Collect Your Anchorage Bankruptcy Documents
When learning how to file bankruptcy in Anchorage, start by knowing that you’ll need a lot of information to provide the court. To give the Anchorage Bankruptcy Court the information they need, you’ll need to collect a lot of financial documents. So, be sure to set aside a lot of time to collect your Anchorage bankruptcy documents now to save yourself headaches later. The Court wants information on your income, debts, and expenses, so there are a few documents you should always get. You need to have paystubs and documentation of income received from other sources in the last 6 months, as well as your most recent tax returns (which the IRS can give you). You should also get a copy of your credit report - you can request a free copy every year. But, go through any collection notices you’ve received in the last few months as well, because these may be so recent they don’t show up on your annual credit report. If there is anything else showing income or assets – bank account statements, vehicle registration, retirement accounts, property appraisals – it will be helpful to gather those as well.
Take Credit Counseling
Bankruptcy laws say that you can’t even file your Anchorage bankruptcy until you take a credit counseling course. The course is there to explain your options – including alternatives to filing bankruptcy – to make sure you are aware they exist. A course completion certificate needs to be filed with your bankruptcy forms for your case to begin. The certificate is only valid for 180 days, so don’t take the class more than 6 months before filing bankruptcy in Anchorage. The course can be taken in person, online, or over the phone from an approved provider with a brick and mortar course provider located in Anchorage. There is usually a fee between $10 and $50 for the course, but you can ask for a waiver if your income falls below a certain level.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Completing all the forms you’ll need to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Anchorage will be the most time-consuming step, but if you’ve done a good job collecting documents earlier in the process, it will go more smoothly. Alaska bankruptcy law and procedure will have you fill out nearly two dozen forms you’ll give to the Court. The good news, if you hired a lawyer, is they will usually fill out the forms for you. However, if you’re working alone, the forms are available for free online and the government has even created a free instruction manual to help you complete them. If you need more help than this, there is inexpensive bankruptcy software you can purchase to help, and you can always complete Upsolve’s screening to see if you qualify for our help.
Get Your Filing Fee
Even though the idea of needing to pay for help when you’re struggling financially seems a little strange, it’s very real. The filing fee for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $335 payable in exact cash or a money order due when you file your Anchorage bankruptcy case. If a lump sum payment will be challenging, you can ask the Court to let you pay the fee in up to 4 installment payments within 120 days of filing. Make sure your installment payments are on time – the Court can throw out your Alaska bankruptcy case if even one is late. If paying at all will cause you serious financial difficulties, this fee waiver application will ask the Court to see if your income is low enough to avoid paying it. The Court can decide to either waive your fee or pay installment payments. The Court will review your application and either tell you that your filing fee is waived, or else order you to pay the fee in up to 4 installments.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Unless you hired a lawyer to handle your Anchorage bankruptcy, you’ll have to print all your forms in order to submit them to the Court. You’ll need one single-sided copy for the Court, and these can be printed on regular 8.5” x 11” paper on any home or office printer, or at a print shop or your local library. If you’re getting help from Upsolve, we’ll email you a PDF document containing all your completed forms you can print as one large document – just make sure you have enough paper. If you completed everything on your own, you should probably use a checklist so you don’t accidentally forget a document. Be sure to sign on each form where it’s required. Also, even though the Alaska Bankruptcy Court only needs one copy of the signed forms, it’s a good idea to print or make a copy of what you’re giving to the Court for your own records.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
You can file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Anchorage either by bringing your signed forms, counseling course certificate, and filing fee (or waiver request) to the Court in person or mail them in. If you’re mailing everything in, note the Court will not accept cash for your filing fee – only a money order. If you include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a copy of your petition, they’ll send it back to you with a stamp indicating it has been accepted by the Court. The Last Frontier has three locations – Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks. However, only Anchorage and Fairbanks will accept in-person bankruptcy filings. Filing bankruptcy in Anchorage in person is recommended if it’s not too far of a trip there. You will know that day you have completed all the requirements correctly and your case has been filed. Once you go through security at the Court entrance, go to the Clerk’s office, give them your forms, certificate, and fee, and tell them you’re filing bankruptcy. They will process your forms, and in about 15 minutes (unless they are busy) they should give you back a stamped copy of your forms that includes important information about your case, your Trustee, and your 341 Meeting.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
The Court Clerk should have given you the name of the Trustee assigned to supervise your Anchorage bankruptcy case and verify the information you included in your forms. They also oversee your 341 or “Creditors’ Meeting. If they ask for additional information, make sure you cooperate quickly and completely – they can recommend the Court not discharge your debt if they feel you are not complying with bankruptcy procedure. Even if you don’t hear from your Trustee, you received their contact information when you filed bankruptcy. Make sure to send them your most recent federal tax return no less than a week before your scheduled 341 Meeting.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
There is a second bankruptcy course you must take when filing bankruptcy in Anchorage in order to be eligible for a discharge of your debts. It’s a Debtor Education Course, and it’s meant to teach you responsible financial decision making and keep you from needing bankruptcy relief again. This course is not offered in-person in Alaska, but may be taken online or over the phone in about 2 hours through an approved company. You or the company providing the course needs to file a certificate of completion with the Court, so check with them to see if they will file it for you. Courses usually have a small fee ranging from $10 to $50, but you may qualify for waiver if your income is under 150% of the federal poverty line.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy , your 341 Meeting is usually scheduled about a month after filing bankruptcy in Anchorage. These meetings usually only take about 5 minutes, and even though your creditors can attend (along with you, the Trustee, and your attorney if you have one) they usually don’t. The meeting is supposed to confirm the information you have provided the Trustee and make sure you have disclosed all your assets truthfully – essentially, that you’re not trying to keep valuable things away from your creditors and cheat the process. Preparing for the meeting is a simple process, but all that preparation won’t help if you don’t show up to the meeting or forget your to bring the appropriate government documents so the Trustee can verify your identity and Social Security Number in order to hold the meeting! Once the meeting is done and you’ve completed the second counseling course, you can expect an order from the Court discharging your eligible debt 2 months later.
Dealing with Your Car
There’s one final step in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Anchorage if you own a car or have a car loan you are still paying. If you own your car, the exemption limit will tell you if you can keep your car. If your car is worth more than the car exemption limit – the value of a vehicle you’re allowed to keep – a Trustee can sell it and use the profit over that limit to pay your creditors. If you’re using federal bankruptcy exemptions and it’s worth less than $4,000, you can keep it outright.
If you are still paying on a car loan, you have a couple of choices, but you’ll still have to pay for the car to hold on to it. If it’s in your budget and you can keep paying your monthly car payment, the lender can decide to enter a reaffirmation agreement where you’re expected to keep making payments as originally agreed under the loan terms before your Anchorage bankruptcy until you’ve paid off the balance of the loan. If, however, your loan balance is a lot more than the current value of your car, you can avoid paying the loan balance if you can afford one large lump sum payment for the current value of the car to redeem it. If neither of these are an option or you are facing expensive repairs worth more than the value of the car, it may be the best choice to surrender the car and give it back to the lender so you are not responsible for payments or the loan balance anymore.
Alaska Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Anchorage
Alaska Means Test
To make sure everyone doesn’t simply use Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Anchorage as an escape hatch to walk away from debts even if they can afford to pay them, filers have to pass the Alaska bankruptcy Means Test to be able to file a petition. Your income can’t be above a certain level for the size of your household, or you may not qualify for Chapter 7 relief. Upsolve also has a Chapter 7 Means Test calculator to help you figure out your eligibility.
Median Income Levels for Alaska
Alaska Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Alaska
Alaska Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
Alaska Bankruptcy Forms
When filing an Alaska bankruptcy, it’s critical to use the right forms when filing your case. Fortunately for Alaskans, the state uses all the federal bankruptcy forms created by the United States government with no state specific variations. This means you have no Alaska bankruptcy forms you need to complete when filing your bankruptcy with the Court. The only exception to this is a local form you must file if you didn’t submit any proof of income such as pay stubs at the time you filed your forms with the Court to begin your case. Remember if you are confused or overwhelmed, you can always see if you qualify for help from Upsolve.
You may think you lose all your property when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Anchorage, but in 96% of cases filers lose nothing. There are a number of protections under bankruptcy law, called exemptions, that keep some categories of assets (either up to a certain value or with no value limit) from being sold by the Trustee to pay your creditors. If you are filing bankruptcy in Anchorage and have resided in the Last Frontier state at least 2 years before filing your case, you can elect to use federal bankruptcy exemptions or Alaska bankruptcy exemptions when completing your bankruptcy forms. Some categories, such as unemployment benefits, have no limit as to how much of their value is protected.