Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated November 27, 2019
Residents of Alaska are hardy people working and living in some of the most extreme conditions in the country. The Last Frontier has may traditions like dog mushing that don’t translate most places, but their state flower, the Forget Me Not, certainly does. Not only to Alaskans not forget their traditions, for unlucky residents in financial trouble, their debt does not forget let them forget it’s there – as much as they might like to forget about it. Even the hardest working, most well-intentioned people can suffer unexpected circumstances such as large medical expenses that leave them in over their head and struggling to pay bills and make ends meet on their paycheck. Sometimes, the best way to get back on your feet is simply by filing a Fairbanks bankruptcy to get a fresh start with the help of the government. Depending on your financial situation, there are different types of bankruptcy that can help you in different ways. However, if you need a truly clean slate a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fairbanks is the best option because it allows eligible people eliminate most or all of their debts in a relatively short period of time.
It can be stressful to think about filing for bankruptcy but waiting can make your situation worse and lead to legal actions from creditors like wage garnishment and foreclosing on property you own. The truth is a Fairbanks bankruptcy is probably much easier than you think to complete successfully. If you don’t have many assets, a bankruptcy can move from start to finish in under 4 months. Also, if you’re concerned about the cost of hiring a lawyer to help? Don’t be. You can easily complete the process on your own. If that sounds too intimidating, though? There is lots of help available from legal aid groups or, for qualified individuals, from nonprofit groups like Upsolve.
Fairbanks Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Costs
Sometimes hiring a lawyer can be a wise choice even though you can complete the process yourself. Situations involving complex finances or assets you are concerned you can’t protect might be good reasons to have a lawyer on your side. If you aren’t sure, many bankruptcy lawyers will give you a free initial consultation in order to understand your situation, recommend a plan, and help you figure out if you really need a lawyer after all. Depending on the lawyer and the complexity of your case, the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer usually varies from $1,000 and $1,500 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fairbanks. It may seem like a lot of money, but remember the Fairbanks bankruptcy lawyer cost includes completing and filing your many bankruptcy forms with the Court and going with you to your 341 Meeting in most cases. If you just can’t afford the price tag for a lawyer but don’t want to go it alone, complete our screener to see if you can get free help from Upsolve.
How to File Bankruptcy in Fairbanks, Alaska for Free
When money is tight, the thought of spending more can produce a lot of anxiety. It’s no wonder then that Alaskans filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fairbanks worry about how they can afford the fees that come with getting help from the Court. Though there is a fee involved to file your Alaska bankruptcy, there are forms you can file and requests you can make to have your fees waived if your income is under 150% of the federal poverty guidelines. Also, if you qualify, Upsolve can help with the process of making your bankruptcy as affordable as possible.
Collect Your Fairbanks Bankruptcy Documents
As you learn about how to file bankruptcy in Fairbanks, you’ll see you have to provide certain documents about your income, expenses, and debts to the Court to move begin your case. The bankruptcy forms you have to complete will need information found on other documents. These documents can take time to get, so it’s important that you start early and set aside time to collect your Fairbanks bankruptcy documents. You need the last 6 months of your pay stubs, a copy of your credit report which you can get for free each year, your two most recent federal income tax returns – which you can get from the IRS, and you should check every collection notice you received in the last 90 days to make sure you account for all your debts. If it’s not listed on your forms, it may not be discharged! You should also look for documents reflecting income or assets like bank account statements, because they may help with the forms and your Trustee may ask for them later.
Take Credit Counseling
You’re not able to file your Fairbanks bankruptcy until you complete a credit counseling course and submit the completion certificate along with your bankruptcy forms to the Court. The course educates you on options for debt repayment and other ways to avoid bankruptcy to make sure you are know they exist. Once you complete the course the certificate is only good for 180 days, so you should take the class 6 months or less before filing bankruptcy in Fairbanks. The course can be taken in person, online, or over the phone from an approved provider but only Anchorage has a location where you can attend in person. The course lasts less than 2 hours and only costs between $10 and $50.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Now that you’ve collected your documents and have gotten credit counseling out of the way, the next step before filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fairbanks is completing your bankruptcy forms. The forms are available online for free, but there are nearly 2 dozen of them. Unless you hired an attorney, you have to complete these forms yourself. If you need help, the government has free instructions online to help, and if you qualify Upsolve can help as well. Be careful filling out the forms and be truthful, because you have to sign your forms under penalty of perjury. Not providing truthful and complete information when filing bankruptcy in Fairbanks can carry serious legal consequences.
Get Your Filing Fee
Alaska Bankruptcy Courts, like all other Bankruptcy Courts, have a $335 filing fee due in exact cash, cashier’s check, or money order when you file your Fairbanks bankruptcy case under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. You can ask the Court to let you pay the fee in up to 4 installment payments within 120 days of filing if a lump sum will cause financial hardship, but the Court can toss your case if even one of your payments is not on time, so be careful. If you believe installment payments are still too difficult, a fee waiver application asks the Court to allow you not to pay at all. The Court will evaluate your income level, then either waive the fee or order you to make installment payments.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
You’ll must print all your Fairbanks bankruptcy forms to give them to the Court – unless you hired a lawyer, who will submit them for you. The Court accepts single-sided, signed forms printed on regular 8.5” x 11” paper compatible with a printer at home, your office, a print shop, or a library. If Upsolve is helping you, expect an email with a PDF document that has all your forms together as one document to print. You’re going to need a lot of paper! If you’re filing bankruptcy in Fairbanks completely on your own, using a checklist is smart to make sure you print all the documents you need. Nobody wants to get to the Court and realize they can’t file their case because they forgot one document! Make one copy for the Court and you should make another for your records. Review the forms and sign them where required – the Court will not accept unsigned documents.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Once you’ve printed all your Fairbanks bankruptcy forms, have your counseling certificate completion, and have your filing fee ready (or the request for fee waiver or installment payments), it’s time to file those documents! You can file in person or through the mail. If you’re mailing, note you can only send a money order to pay the filing fee. There are three bankruptcy Court locations in Alaska, but only Fairbanks and Anchorage accept in-person filings, so your best option is in your home city at 101 12th Avenue. Pass through security at the Court entrance, find the Court Clerk’s office, then tell them you’d like to file bankruptcy and give them your forms, certificate, and fees. Once they process your forms, you should get a stamped copy back that tells you important information like your case number, your Trustee and their contact information, and the date and time of your 341 Meeting. Congratulations – you just filed your Alaska bankruptcy case!
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When you filed your Fairbanks bankruptcy, the Clerk should have given you the name of the Trustee assigned to your case in the same document telling you the date and time of your 341 Meeting. The Trustee is there to review information you provided to the Court and ask for any additional information they feel they need. If they make a request, send in documents quickly and be thorough – it’s part of your job as a debtor to cooperate with requests the Trustee makes. Even if your Trustee makes no requests for extra documents, you must send them your most recent federal tax return at least 7 days before the Creditors’ Meeting takes place.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
After filing bankruptcy in Fairbanks, there is a second bankruptcy course you need to complete before the Court will enter a discharge of your debts, which the entire point of your filing bankruptcy in the first place. The course is on financial management and making smart choices to avoid another bankruptcy. This course is available in Alaska online and over the phone, but must be taken with an approved company. After paying a nominal fee – usually no more than $50 – and spending a couple hours of your day, you’ll receive a completion certificate you need to file with the Court to avoid delay in getting your discharge.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fairbanks, you are required to attend a 341 Meeting before you can qualify for a discharge of debt. It will take place about a month after you filed your case. There isn’t much you need to do to prepare for it, but the biggest things you need to do are show up and bring appropriate documents to verify your identity and Social Security Number so the meeting can happen! Be on time and dress appropriately – even though there isn’t a judge, you’re still in Court and under oath. The meetings rarely last longer than 10 minutes – mostly the Trustee will just verify your identity and ask basic questions about your paperwork and certain events leading up to filing bankruptcy in Fairbanks. That’s it!
Dealing with Your Car
If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fairbanks and own a car (a valuable asset), there are options to help you deal with your car in a sensible way. You can keep your car if you own it and the value is worth less than the allowed exemption. If you’re still making payments, you’re in charge of what happens to the loan and the car – but you still have to pay for the car to keep it! If you want to keep the car and it makes sense for your budget, you and the lender can enter a reaffirmation agreement where keep making the same payments as when you began. You will have to pay the full loan amount, though! If you owe more on the loan than your car is currently worth, however, you can redeem it and buy the car for its current value. However, if these options don’t make sense for you, you can always surrender the car by giving it back to the lender and not have to pay the loan balance.
Alaska Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Fairbanks
Alaska Means Test
Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fairbanks is meant to provide financial relief to truly deserving people – not anyone who just doesn’t feel like paying back what they owe. To prevent abuse of the system, people who want to file Chapter 7 must take and pass the Alaska bankruptcy Means Test to determine if they are eligible for Chapter 7 relief. To pass the Means Test, your household income can’t be higher than a threshold related to your expenses as set by the government. If you’re not sure whether you will be able to qualify, Upsolve has a Chapter 7 Means Test calculator you can use to get that answer.
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
It’s important with your Fairbanks bankruptcy, as with any bankruptcy in Alaska, that you use the right forms when filing your case to make sure the Court accepts them and the case proceeds without delay. Alaska, thankfully, has decided to use all the federal bankruptcy forms as their acceptable set of forms. This simplifies your life, because you won’t find dozens of additional Alaska bankruptcy forms to complete during your case. There is one local form you must file, but that is only for you to explain yourself if you didn’t submit any paystubs or proof (which are required by the Court) filed your bankruptcy forms and started your case.
A lot of people believe that Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fairbanks means creditors are going to take all their possessions, but this is not true. In fact, only 4% of Chapter 7 filers have any assets taken to pay their creditors. Bankruptcy law has a number of built-in shelters for different kinds of assets, called exemptions, that keep certain things safe from creditors. Some categories, like retirement accounts, are protected no matter how valuable they are. Other categories, like vehicles, have a limit on how valuable they can be before they lose their protected status and can be taken to satisfy your debts. Both federal bankruptcy exemptions and Alaska bankruptcy exemptions exist, and if you have been a resident of Alaska for 2 years before you file bankruptcy in Fairbanks, you can pick which exemptions to use – depending on your situation one set may be more beneficial for you than the other.