Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated July 28, 2020
Bankruptcy is not for everyone. If you have medical or credit card debt in excess of $10,000, it may be for you. There are four different types of bankruptcy but this information is for those considering filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Decatur is for those who have fairly low income and want to get the process completed in the shortest possible period of time. If you have a problem with a mortgage or are behind on vehicles and want to keep them, Chapter 13 might be a better choice. Filing bankruptcy in Decatur will give you a fresh start.
Should you need free legal aid help you can get it. If you just want a little helping hand in filing bankruptcy in Decatur without a lawyer, you can get that right here. We will be able to provide you with guidance for filing a Decatur bankruptcy, and so you can make certain that all of the requirements of the state of Alabama are met. If Johnny Unitas, Hall of Fame football star, or Willie Nelson, famous singer, can file for bankruptcy, you should not feel bad for considering doing the same. Even Jefferson County, Alabama, had to file bankruptcy.
Decatur Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
If you have mortgage issues, or delinquent tax problems, you may need to seek an attorney. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer can vary a lot. Some may be as low as $800, while others may charge $1,800. Some may offer a free consultation. If you need to see an attorney, take advantage of the free consult. Free is good. Attorney cost will include attorney fees for time, preparation, and attendance in court. It will also include filing fees, and the cost of classes you are required to take. Make a sound decision in choosing a lawyer. Make sure you are comfortable with them and with their staff. You may deal with the staff more than with the attorney. Decatur bankruptcy lawyer cost should include feeling confidence in your attorney.
How to File Bankruptcy in Decatur, Alabama for Free
You need to know how to file bankruptcy in Decatur. There is a process. We have listed it below. It is ten steps. If you follow them in order, you will be fine filing bankruptcy in Decatur on your own.
Collect Your Decatur Bankruptcy Documents
If you have the most recent statement from your creditors, they’ll be helpful when filling out your Decatur bankruptcy forms. If you don’t, you can download a credit report from the credit reporting agencies for free once every 12 months. You will need six months of bank statements, six months of pay stubs, and the last tax return. A copy of car titles would be helpful as well. There may be other documents you will need to put together, but these would be a good start when filing an Alabama bankruptcy.
Take Credit Counseling
When you decide on filing bankruptcy in Decatur you will need to take the first of two courses. You can do this online. The first course will take you anywhere from one hour to two hours to complete. It is best to set aside enough time to do the course in one sitting. This course must be taken in the six months before you can file your Alabama bankruptcy. If you are not a computer person, you probably know one. If necessary, get someone to sit with you while you take the course. It’s important that you take the course from a provider that has been approved by the Alabama Bankruptcy Administrator for the Northern District of Alabama. The purpose of the course is to make sure that everyone filing bankruptcy understands all of their debt relief options before doing so. When you’re done, you’ll get a certificate of completion. Make sure to hang on to that, so you can submit it to the court with your bankruptcy petition.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The bankruptcy forms will show the court who is filing and where they live. It will provide social security information to the court as well. It will be very helpful if you will gather the documents referred to in the paragraph called Collect your Decatur bankruptcy documents shown above. Your Decatur bankruptcy process will go easier by having these documents with you as you complete your bankruptcy forms, or schedules. You can print out the forms and prepare them at home or download them to your computer as fillable PDF documents that you can save and update as needed. It is very important to make sure you list all of your creditors. You can’t pick and choose. If you recently repaid money loaned to you by a friend or relative, you may have to delay filing for a while. In that case, consider talking to an Alabama bankruptcy attorney to make sure you are on the right track.
Get Your Filing Fee
The purpose of a filing fee is to cover the cost related to filing bankruptcy in Decatur. It also includes a payment to the bankruptcy trustee for conducting the 341 hearing, sometimes called the meeting of creditors. When filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Decatur the filing fee is $338. It’s the same amount in the entire United States and it’s not based on the number of people in the household, or on income. It is possible to get a waiver of the filing fee if it would create an undue hardship. The court makes that decision based on the filers ability to afford the payments after filing bankruptcy in Decatur. In many cases the court may deny a waiver but allow the filing fee to be paid in installment payments. If you know that you’re not eligible for a fee waiver because you make more than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, you can ask the court to pay the fee in installments after filing your case. Your first payment of at least $83.75 will be due within 30 days of filing.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
If you can print your forms on your own printer, be sure to print at least two copies of everything. Should you not have a printer, you can always go to your local public library. Should you prefer, or if it is closer, you might go to an office supply store. Please keep in mind that you will need to have one copy to file with the court and should have a second one for yourself as a record of what you submitted to the court for your Alabama bankruptcy. Your Decatur bankruptcy forms must be printed on one side of the sheets only. Never print on both sides.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
When filing bankruptcy in Decatur you can mail your documents to the court to start your case. It’s better, however, if you hand deliver them. When you enter the building, you will have to pass through security. Do not carry any sharp objects, such as nail files, knives, or screw drivers on you or in a purse. Many federal buildings will not allow you to bring in a phone or a laptop. You might save yourself some time by leaving such items at home or in your car. While it is possible to mail your petition to the clerk, it’s not recommended. If you overlook a signature line or need to provide additional information you will lose precious time while documents are mailed back and forth. It would be good to take an extra copy of the forms and ask the clerk if they will time stamp it for you in case you need it. The clerk’s office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 4:00. It will be closed on all federal holidays and on weekends.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
The trustee is a person randomly selected from a panel of trustees who represent the bankruptcy estate. Any time you file bankruptcy an estate is created. The trustee will decide whether you need to purchase any personal property from the estate based on the type of property you own and the available exemptions. Make certain that you always open any mail from the court or from your trustee. In a Decatur bankruptcy, there are time limits on when you must provide requested documents to your trustee. You don’t want to push your luck by taking too much time to provide requested information. A couple of days after filing bankruptcy in Decatur, you’ll receive the Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy from the court. This notice will tell you the name and contact information for your trustee.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
If you are satisfied with the service you received while doing your first course, you should probably use the same company, provided they’re approved to offer it for Decatur bankruptcy cases. The second course tends to take a little longer to complete. It will deal a lot with budget issues. You should get some excellent pointers to keep in mind for the future handling of funds. Just as with the first course, you will likely do this one online. You need to remember to do this course after your case is filed. Otherwise, you can end up having your case closed without a discharge being entered. We suggest doing it before your 341 meeting. That will keep you from falling into the trap of forgetting about it altogether because once it’s out of sight, out of mind.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Your attendance at the 341 meeting is mandatory. In theory, creditors have the right to show up and ask you questions. In most simple Chapter 7 cases they do not bother to show up. Your meeting will be short if you have provided everything the trustee has requested. The average 341 meeting is less than 10 minutes. You need to dress respectfully. Don’t show up in flip flops and cutoffs. Understand that you are under oath. You must be truthful. If you are not truthful there could be negative consequences for your Decatur bankruptcy. Avoid this by simply telling the truth. If you have more personal property than you are allowed to keep, the trustee may offer to buy it from you at the meeting. Make sure you bring a picture ID and your social security card to the meeting.
Dealing with Your Car
If you have no equity in your car because it’s worth less than what you still owe on it, or the equity is less than the available exemption, the trustee will not want it. Any time you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Decatur you need to decide whether to keep the car through a reaffirmation agreement, or to surrenderit to the creditor. A reaffirmation agreement is a document wherein you promise to honor the original agreement with the creditor. Make sure you can afford to do a reaffirmation before agreeing to it. If making the car payments will continue to be a struggle, you may want to surrender the car. Don’t wait until your Decatur bankruptcy is completed and then try to surrender it. You could end up responsible for the creditor’s losses. Make the decision early in the process. If you have a lease car you have to decide whether to honor the lease or surrender the vehicle. If you are way over on the allowed mileage, you should definitely consider surrendering the car to avoid expensive lease-end charges.
Alabama Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms and Exemptions for Decatur
Alabama Means Test
You are subject to the Alabama bankruptcy means test. The Alabama bankruptcy Means Test is based on total household income. It is also based on how many people reside in the home. The income limits determine whether you have to complete part two of the Means Test to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Decatur.
Median Income Levels for Alabama
Alabama Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
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Poverty Levels for Alabama
Alabama Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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Alabama Bankruptcy Forms
Alabama bankruptcy forms can be obtained from the bankruptcy clerk handling Decatur bankruptcy cases or from the US court’s website. There are certain local forms created by the court, though no specific local forms are needed when first filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Decatur.
Alabama does not allow you to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions. You are required to use the Alabama bankruptcy exemptions to determine what assets you’re able to protect after filing bankruptcy in Decatur.