Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz.
Updated September 3, 2020
Filing bankruptcy in the Choice City may seem like a last resort. However, Fort Collins, the model for Disney’s Main Street, USA is just that, a place to live the American dream. When the legal minds who drafted the bankruptcy laws were creating the Bankruptcy Code (the body of laws that contain bankruptcy law and procedure), they wanted those who came into debt to have an option to get past it. In the days before bankruptcy, in places like England, debtors would be thrown in debtor’s prison if they did not pay the money they owed. American legal minds did not want this for when it came to dealing with debts. They adapted a different model. Chapter 7 bankruptcy was designed to give those in debt with no realistic way of getting out of it a fresh start. It’s ideal for those who don’t make a lot of money and have mostly unsecured debts, like credit cards and medical debt. What Chapter 7 bankruptcy does is eliminate those debts so that you don’t have to pay them back in the future. There is also relief available for those who bring in a higher income through Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides for the discharge of most debts after paying at least as much as reasonably possible for a period of 3 - 5 years.
A few things may be holding you back from filing for bankruptcy. Perhaps, it’s the cost. Well, here’s the good news- you can file your Fort Collins bankruptcy for free using this guide. And, if you do need the help of an attorney, Upsolve can help you with that and with finding free legal aid options in your area, too. You also may be thinking that bankruptcy will ruin your credit forever; not true! Bankruptcy is simply a mark on your credit report, not a bar to getting credit. Once you receive your discharge you will be able to rebuild your credit through secured credit cards and other credit mechanisms such as loans. You also may be thinking, I don’t even know what to do to get started. That is where this guide comes in; it will walk you through the steps you need to take to discharge your debt and start a new life in one of the best beer scene cities in the nation.
Fort Collins Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Now, we did say that you can file bankruptcy absolutely free, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to get help from a professional. If you are seeking help filing your Fort Collins bankruptcy, advice and guidance from a bankruptcy lawyer could be very beneficial. First, bankruptcy attorneys are seasoned professionals when it comes to knowing and understanding local and federal bankruptcy law. They know what information is needed to successfully fill out the bankruptcy forms and will do so for you. Bankruptcy lawyers have also developed a working understanding of the trustees and judges in the Bankruptcy Court. If you think your case might require the help of a bankruptcy attorney, a Fort Collins bankruptcy lawyer costs between $599 and $1,200.
How to File Bankruptcy in Fort Collins, Colorado for Free
Filing bankruptcy in Fort Collins is a four to six month process. In that time you will gather your financial documents, fill out the bankruptcy forms, file them with the court and have your case examined by the trustee.
Collect Your Fort Collins Bankruptcy Documents
Before you complete your Fort Collins bankruptcy forms you will need to gather certain financial documents to help you fill them out. These documents include your pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements. If you do not have access to your pay stubs, consult with your employer so that you may obtain a paper or electronic copy. You can visit your human resources representative or reach out to your employer’s payroll servicer, if you know it. If you don’t have your tax returns, you can request a tax transcript online or by mail via the IRS website. Lastly, now would be a good a time as any to sign up for online banking, if possible. Ease of reference to your bank statements will come in handy when your filling out your bankruptcy forms, and for when you need to submit them to the trustee after filing bankruptcy in Fort Collins.
Take Credit Counseling
Completion of the credit counseling course is required before filing bankruptcy in Fort Collins. This one-hour, U.S. trustee approved course will educate you on the different options you have for dealing with your debt, including bankruptcy. You have the option for taking this course remotely, either online or over the telephone. Unfortunately, there is no in-person option to take this class in Fort Collins. Once you have completed the course, you will submit a completion certificate with your bankruptcy forms to the court.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
You can complete the Fort Collins bankruptcy forms for free, at your leisure on your own computer. The Bankruptcy Court’s website provides the form in fillable pdf format, so that you may download the forms to your computer and fill them out at your own pace. The best approach to filling out the bankruptcy forms for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Collins is to gather your bankruptcy documents ahead of time. Your pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements will have a lot of the information you need to fill out the bankruptcy forms. Another helpful resource is your monthly bills or collection notices and a recent credit report. These resources will help you figure out how much you owe and to whom.
Get Your Filing Fee
In order to get your case in front of the Judge, you will need to file your bankruptcy forms with the court and pay the filing fee. Whether you are filing individually or with your spouse, the fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fort Collins is $335. It’s understandable that at this stage in your financial journey that fee can be a lot to bear. The court gives you two options: to make an application for a fee waiver or installment plan. Both applications will require you to provide information regarding your income and expenses. A judge will decide if your application is granted. If your fee waiver application is denied, the judge may offer you an installment plan so you can make payments after filing your Colorado bankruptcy case.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When you have your Fort Collins bankruptcy forms in final format, it’s time to print them so you can sign them and submit them to the court. You will need to print two single-sided copies: one for the court and one for your records. If you can’t print at home, consider using a printing service like Kinkos or Staples. If you need a minimal cost printing option, consider using a friend’s printer or a local library.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Once you have printed your Fort Collins bankruptcy forms, it is time to file them with the court. The Denver courthouse is located at 721 19th Street, however, this is quite the trek. So, your best bet is to file your forms online or by mail. Conveniently, the Denver bankruptcy court has an electronic filing system, called I-file, so that you may file your forms online. If you prefer to send a paper copy, you can mail your forms to the bankruptcy clerk at the below address:
United States Bankruptcy Court
721 19th St.
Denver, CO 80202
It is always a good idea to mail your forms certified mail, return receipt requested or by Fedex or UPS with tracking, so that you may confirm receipt by the bankruptcy clerk.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After you have filed your Fort Collins bankruptcy with the court, you will need to send certain documents for the trustee for their review. At least ten days before your 341 meeting, you will need to send the trustee your pay stubs, recent bank statements, and tax returns from the last two years. The trustee will review your documents for accuracy and compare the information provided with that on your bankruptcy forms. The next time you will interact with the trustee is at the 341 meeting, where they’ll go over your forms, ask you any questions, and allow you to provide any supplemental information you left off of your bankruptcy forms.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Before you can receive your discharge, you will need to take a financial management course. Like the credit counseling course, this is a U.S. trustee approved course. Lasting approximately one-hour, this course will prepare you for life after your Colorado bankruptcy case, teaching you financial management strategies and ways to deal with hard financial situations so that you may avoid unnecessary debt. This course is offered over the phone or online. There is no in-person option available for the Fort Collins area. Once you have completed the course, you will file your certificate of completion with the court and be eligible for a discharge of your Fort Collins bankruptcy.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Your first and typically only court appearance in your Fort Collins bankruptcy is the 341 meeting. Here, you will meet with your trustee to go over your bankruptcy forms and the documents you provided to him. The trustee will raise any flags and ask any questions he may have about what you filed with the Court or provided to him. Typically, this meeting lasts about 10-15 minutes. If you live in the Fort Collins area, your 341 meeting will take place here:
Loveland Police Department
N. Institute Conference Room
810 E. 10th Street
Loveland, CO 80537
Be sure to bring your driver’s license and original social security card to this meeting.
Dealing with Your Car
The most important asset to all debtors is usually their car. Before filing for Fort Collins bankruptcy, most people are worried that they will have to give up their car. But, there are a few options to keep your car during and after the process. First, if you own your car, you can utilize one of the state exemptions to protect it. To learn more about exemptions, skip to the Colorado Exemptions section at the bottom of this guide. Second, if you still owe money on your car, you have two options. If you want to continue making payments on your obligation, you can sign a reaffirmation agreement. This is a commitment to keep making payments with the condition that if you don’t your lender can repossess your car and sue you for the remaining balance. The second is to redeem your car, which is when you buy your car out for its value. The rest of the loan is eliminated as part of your Colorado bankruptcy case.
Colorado Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Fort Collins
Colorado Means Test
The Colorado bankruptcy Means Test is a preventative measure against fraud in the Fort Collins bankruptcy system. The income-based test will measure your income in comparison with the median income of a family of the same size in your state and determine if you have the ability to pay back your debts over a period of time.
Median Income Levels for Colorado
Colorado Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Colorado
Colorado 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)|
Colorado Bankruptcy Forms
The Colorado bankruptcy forms are by far the most time consuming and challenging part of the Fort Collins bankruptcy process. As mentioned earlier, to expedite this process, you will need you pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, and monthly bills to help you complete them. The best advice is to keep your answers honest and detailed. Withholding information may result in a delay or dismissal of your case.
The Colorado bankruptcy exemptions are meant to help you preserve your personal property and most prized possessions, at least up to a certain amount. The exemptions will allow those who have filed a Fort Collins bankruptcy to protect their homes, cars, and personal possessions. Unfortunately, Colorado does not subscribe to federal bankruptcy exemptions. So, make sure to choose your exemptions at the outset of your case in order to get the most out of them.