Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated July 27, 2020
Are you buried in debt and cannot seem to find your way out? Are you facing repossession? Have you lost your job recently and are worried that you will not be able to pay your mortgage or make your bills every month? These are common problems that many folks in Fort Smith face because of the high poverty rate of 25.8% in the city. You are not alone if you are concerned about your finances. There are many solutions available to you that you might not be aware of and filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith is one of them. Arkansas bankruptcy allows people to repay or eliminate their debts under the protection of the bankruptcy Court.
The two most common types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Fort Smith is typically filed by individuals and usually lasts three to six months. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as property liquidation, is a method that allows you to sell your non-exempt propertyin order to pay your debts. On the other hand, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization of debts where you and your creditors must agree on new terms for debt repayment. To file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you must have a consistent income to repay a portion of your debt. By filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Smith you can stop creditor harassment, wipe out medical debt, stop foreclosures, and more. The first step when filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith is to determine which type of Fort Smith bankruptcy suits you best.
Despite many myths associated with Arkansas bankruptcy, the reality is that filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith is a sensible and practical path used by people every year. A common misconception that people have is that bankruptcy will destroy their reputation. However, unless you tell someone about your Forth Smith bankruptcy, there is a good possibility that nobody besides your bankruptcy attorney, debt collectors, and Trusteewill know about your bankruptcy. Many people in think that bankruptcy is a complicated and drawn-out process. This is not true as most Arkansas bankruptcy cases are actually quite straightforward and simple. You can get free legal help or file bankruptcy in Fort Smith on your own!
Fort Smith Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
It would be much simpler if bankruptcy attorneys in Arkansas all charged the same amount to handle a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case; however, that doesn't happen. If you decide to work with a Fort Smith bankruptcy lawyer, their fees will usually account for the biggest chunk of your total bankruptcy costs. The typical cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Fort Smith ranges from $595 to $1,500. Some bankruptcy chapters are more complicated to file than others, and as they need more work, they tend to cost more. You can, however, file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Smith on your own as it is not required to hire a lawyer.
How to File Bankruptcy in Fort Smith, Arkansas for Free
It’s ironic in a way but filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith can seem like an expensive undertaking. However, if you take some time to think about it, filing Fort Smith bankruptcy will save you thousands of dollars. If you can’t afford to hire a bankruptcy lawyer, this City Guide will give you an overview of the how to file bankruptcy in Fort Smith so that you can get out of debt soon.
Collect Your Fort Smith Bankruptcy Documents
You’ll know exactly what your financial life and history looks like by the time you are ready to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Smith. However, as no one actually has all that information in their head, you have to collect certain documents in preparation for filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith. In fact, making sure that you have everything you need, such as your pay stubs and tax returns, must be your first step in preparing for a successful Arkansas bankruptcy. As giving proper notice to all parties you owe money to is important in any bankruptcy, you can start by getting your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies.
Take Credit Counseling
A person must obtain credit counseling before filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith. You should take this course from an approved provider in Arkansas as they can issue a valid completion certificate that you have to file with the Arkansas Bankruptcy Court. Credit counseling is usually one and a half hours and may also be provided online, in person or by telephone. During the counseling session you’ll be asked about your expenses and income. Your family budget will be analyzed followed by a detailed discussion of the various options to resolve your debt problems, including a comprehensive debt management program, self-help, debt settlement, and Fort Smith bankruptcy. Pulse America is an approved creditor counselor in Arkansas.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
As a lot of the information that you need to include in your Fort Smith bankruptcy forms is time sensitive, you should start this process after collecting your documents and completing your credit course. It is important that you take your time with this, as your bankruptcy forms will be your best chance to make a good first impression on the Trustee and Court handling your case. If you’re handling all the legwork on your own, don’t worry as you can find detailed instructions and the official Court forms you will need for filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith, for free, online.
Get Your Filing Fee
The Arkansas Bankruptcy Court requires that all people filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Smith either pay the $335 filing fee or, if they’re eligible, file an application to have their Court filing fee waived. Bankruptcy Court fees for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing are set at $310. If you aren’t eligible for a fee waiver, then you should wait to file your Arkansas bankruptcy case until you have had the chance to save up the full $335 fee. If you can’t wait, because a creditor is about to garnish your wages, you can ask the Court for permissionto make payments after filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith. The Court accepts only money orders and cash, so don’t bring a personal check; as the Bankruptcy Court will not accept that.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Although bankruptcy lawyers who assist folks filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith have to submit all the documents through the Court's electronic filing system, people who are representing themselves must provide everything to the Bankruptcy Court in paper. You must provide a signed paper version of all the required Arkansas bankruptcy documents. While filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Smith is a legal proceeding, all bankruptcy forms should be printed on regular 8.5" x 11" paper. You should not use the legal-sized paper. If you don’t have a printer at home or work, you should go to a local store dealing in paper goods, like Docuprint, to get everything printed.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Although you have the option to file all of your Arkansas bankruptcy documents by mailing them to the Court, if it’s not a hardship, it is better to do it in person instead. This way the clerk's office will be able to assist you face to face while letting you know if there are any missing documents or issues. Also, you'll know that your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Smith has been officially filed when you come out of the courthouse with a stamped copy of all documents in your hands. The automatic stay will go into effect when you file your bankruptcy paperwork. The Western District of Arkansas has a federal courthouse right in the heart of Fort Smith, on 6th Street near the national cemetery. Since that is not a Bankruptcy Court specifically, make sure to call the Court to confirm you visit that location for the purpose of filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
In a Chapter 7 case, the Trustee’s main function is to review the bankruptcy petitionand schedules and other documents you must provide their office. They also conduct the creditors’ meeting, identify any assets that is not protected and, if appropriate sell those assets to the highest bidder to pay your unsecured creditors. Everything you own is an asset, though chances are most or all of them are protected by exemptions, which are discussed in more detail below. Everyone filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Smith has a duty to cooperate with their bankruptcy Trustee. The good news is that in most Chapter 7 cases in Arkansas, no assets are sold for the benefit of creditors. At minimum, be prepared to provide your pay stubs and tax returns to your Trustee within a couple of weeks of filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
After filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith, you must participate in Financial Management Education so that you can obtain a discharge of debts from your Arkansas Bankruptcy Court. Some of the things you will get help with include budgeting, money management, and how to devise and stick to a financial plan that leads you to a brighter future. The course lasts one hour and can be taken by telephone, online, or in person. There are many approved debtor education providers in Arkansas. People who don’t take this course will learn the hard way that there’s no way around this bankruptcy requirement when their Fort Smith bankruptcy case is closed without a discharge.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
After you or your Arkansas bankruptcy attorney has filed your bankruptcy petition, you’ll be required to attend a mandatory meeting of your creditors. This meeting of creditors is also called a "341 meeting" after the section in the federal Bankruptcy Code that requires it. In most cases, the meeting of creditors is scheduled about 20 to 40 days after you file your Fort Smith bankruptcy case. Attendance at the 341 meeting is required and failure to appear will likely result in your bankruptcy case being dismissed. To avoid this, make sure you get there thirty minutes before your meeting time and bring along your social security card and driver’s license.
Dealing with Your Car
For people filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith, one of the foremost thoughts is whether they will be able to keep their cars. For a vast majority of people in Arkansas, owning a vehicle is an absolute necessity. Your first option when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Smith is to enter into a reaffirmation agreement with the car lender. You should contact your car lender if you would like to pursue a reaffirmation agreement. If you own your car free and clear of any liens, you can protect the car from your Arkansas bankruptcy Trustee by claiming a suitable
Arkansas Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Fort Smith
Arkansas Means Test
If you would like to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Smith, you will first have to pass theArkansas bankruptcy Means Test. Most people in Arkansas who are considering Fort Smith bankruptcy can pass the Means Test simply because their income is less than the “median income” for their family size in Arkansas. The Arkansas Means Test was instituted in order to more closely scrutinize bankruptcy cases to ensure creditors get back some money and filers don’t abuse the system. Find out about theChapter 7 income limits to make sure you are filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith under the proper Chapter.
Median Income Levels for Arkansas
Arkansas Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Arkansas
Arkansas 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)|
Arkansas Bankruptcy Forms
The Arkansas bankruptcy forms are comprised of the official national forms; anyone who files for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Smith uses these forms. The first Arkansas bankruptcy form you will have to file is a Voluntary Petition. You can find all the Fort Smith bankruptcy forms, and instructions about how to create the creditor matrix, on the Bankruptcy Court's website. The Court has put together this in-depth listing of the filing requirements, which includes all required forms, for people thinking about filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith. All of the bankruptcy forms are available for free online. You shouldn’t purchase blank forms from anyone.
If you are considering filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith, you will probably have questions about Arkansas bankruptcy exemptions. You might be worried about losing your car, home, and other personal property. However, if you strategically utilize Arkansas bankruptcy exemptions, you may be able to keep your valued possessions. Arkansas law allows filers to use the exemptions mentioned in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or the bankruptcy exemptions provided under the Arkansas law when filing bankruptcy in Fort Smith. Keep in mind that spouses who file a joint bankruptcy petition must choose the same set of bankruptcy exemptions. Individuals in Fort Smith usually keep exempt property when they file a Chapter 7 case.