Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz.
Updated October 15, 2020
Being in debt can make you feel like you just ate a Pueblo green chile. But Upsolve has the answers you need to cool you down. Debt does not have to be a permanent situation. In fact, in as little as four to six months, you can eliminate your debt completely. By filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pueblo, you can pave the way for a very bright and debt-free future.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to discharge your debts, meaning you will not have to pay them back in the future. Some have been misguided that bankruptcy ruins your credit forever, but that is untrue. Bankruptcy is a mark on your credit report, and that’s it! Once you have filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your debt will be wiped clean and you will be able to start building your credit from scratch.
Typically, those who qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy do not make enough money to repay at least some of their debts. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is geared towards those who have medical and credit card debts. If you can afford to pay back some of your debts, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the right avenue for you. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is geared towards individuals who have a certain income and can pay back some of their debts, over time, through a repayment plan.
If it sounds like Chapter 7 bankruptcy is for you, this guide will help you navigate the process for free! This guide will walk you through the most difficult part of filing bankruptcy in Pueblo, the bankruptcy forms. It will also address important points such as taking the necessary credit counseling and financial management courses, as well as how to file your bankruptcy forms with the court. After the hard work is over and you have filed your case, it will take approximately four to six months to receive your discharge and be on your way to a debt free and stress free life.
Pueblo Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Even though this guide will provide you everything you need to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pueblo for free, you may consider consulting a bankruptcy attorney to help you navigate through the process. Bankruptcy lawyers are seasoned in state and federal bankruptcy law. They have successfully completed the bankruptcy forms for past clients and are familiar with the filing processes. Bankruptcy attorneys have also prepared and counseled their clients in preparation for their 341 meetings, and are therefore familiar with the Chapter 7 Trustees. In short, bankruptcy attorneys know bankruptcy, and are a good investment if you can afford it. On average, a Pueblo bankruptcy lawyer costs $599 – $1,200. Although the cost may put you off, a bankruptcy attorney is a built in confidante, that will be there every step of the way, seeing you through your discharge.
How to File Bankruptcy in Pueblo, Colorado for Free
The most challenging part of your Pueblo bankruptcy will be completing your bankruptcy forms. Having your bankruptcy documents handy as well as staying organized throughout the process will help you stay on track to a speedy discharge!
Collect Your Pueblo Bankruptcy Documents
To help complete your Pueblo bankruptcy forms, you will need the following financial documents: paystubs, bank statements, and tax returns. These documents will help you fill out the bankruptcy forms and any fee waiver/installment plan applications when you go to file your forms with the court. If you do not have your pay stubs, you can request them from your HR representative, employer, or employer’s payroll service provider. If you do not have your tax returns, you may request a transcript by mail or online through the IRS website. And now is as good a time as any to sign up for online banking if you have not already. Having instant access to your bank statements will save you time and trips to your bank during this process.
Take Credit Counseling
Before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pueblo, you will need to complete the credit counseling course. This course must be successfully completed 180 days before you file your Pueblo bankruptcy. The credit counseling course is an approved course by the US Trustee’s office. It will educate you on the options you have to deal with your debt, including bankruptcy. The course lasts approximately one hour and can be taken in-person, over the phone, or online. Unfortunately, this course is only given remotely in the Pueblo area, as there is no local in-person option. Once you have completed the course, you will receive a certificate of completion, which must be filed with your bankruptcy forms.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The Pueblo bankruptcy forms give a detailed description of your finances. The forms will require you to answer questions and give information about your income, expenses, the property you own, and most importantly, your debts. To make this process as smooth as possible, you should gather and keep in a safe place, the documents mentioned earlier (pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns). Most of the information you need to fill out the bankruptcy forms will come from these documents. For your ease, the forms are available for free on the Court’s website. They are in fillable-PDF format, so that you may fill them out at your leisure on your home computer. This also gives you the opportunity to make corrections and edits.
Get Your Filing Fee
To make your case official with the court, you will need to pay the filing fee at the time of filing. The filing fee for Chapter 7 cases is $335. This cost is the same for those filing individually or those filing with their spouse. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you can apply for a fee waiver. This application will ask for the same financial information you supplied in your Pueblo bankruptcy forms: your income, expenses, etc. The fee waiver application will be submitted to a judge who will make a decision. If you can pay the filing fee, but not all at once, you can apply for an installment plan. The same information will be required as the fee waiver application, and it will also be decided upon by a judge.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Once you are satisfied with the final draft of your Pueblo bankruptcy forms, it is time to print your forms and file them with the Court. It may not be the right time to run off to the State Fair, but you may consider a trip to nearby Shamrock Brewing Co. once you’re done. If you have a printer at home, great! You will need to print your forms single-sided; consider printing two copies, one for your records and one for submission to the court. If you do not have a printer at home, you may consider visiting your local library or printing at Kinkos or Staples.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
It is time to bring your printed version of your Pueblo bankruptcy forms to the court for filing. More specifically, you will file your bankruptcy forms with the bankruptcy clerk at the courthouse located at 721 19th St. in Denver. When you arrive at the courthouse, be aware that it is a secure government building and that you will need to go through security. Electronic devices are prohibited, so it is best to leave your cell phone in the car or at home. The court is open Monday through Friday and closed on weekends and government holidays.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Once your Pueblo bankruptcy forms have been filed with the Court, you will need to submit your pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns the Chapter 7 trustee assigned to your case. The trustee is a representative of your unsecured creditors and works as an independent contractor to the U.S. Trustee’s office. They will review your bankruptcy documents to ensure that you are complying with the law by supplying truthful and accurate information. The trustee will also be in charge of selling any eligible property you have to pay creditors and going after any funds you paid to creditors after you filed for bankruptcy. The first and typically only time you will meet your trustee is at your 341 meeting, where the trustee will have the opportunity to ask you questions about your bankruptcy documents.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
After you have filed bankruptcy in Pueblo, you will need to complete the financial management course. This is a US Trustee approved course designed to prepare you for life after bankruptcy. It will give you the tools you need to create healthy financial practices once you are freed from your past debt. This course is approximately one hour, and like the credit counseling course it is only available remotely by phone or online. You will receive a certificate of completion at the end of your course, which you will need to submit to the court to receive your discharge.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting is typically the only court appearance you will have in your Pueblo bankruptcy case. In Pueblo, 341 meetings are held here:
Pueblo Municipal Justice Center
200 S. main St., 1st Floor, Courtroom 2
Pueblo, CO 81003
The 341 meeting is the opportunity for your trustee and creditors to ask you questions about your bankruptcy forms, although rarely do creditors ever show up. It is best to dress business casual for this meeting, because after all, it is a court appearance. You should avoid any fancy jewelry or accessories. You will need your driver’s license and original social security card to verify your identity. The meeting lasts approximately 10-15 minutes.
Dealing with Your Car
If you are filing bankruptcy in Pueblo, one of your first questions was probably, “can I keep my car?” The answer, almost always, is yes, with the caveat that there are different strategies to do so. If you own your car, you will need to claim an exemption to protect its value. If you have a car loan you can redeem your car, which means you can buy your car out for its value, or reaffirm your loan and continue making payments. In the event that you do not want to keep your car, you do have the option of surrendering your car. This option works best when your owe more than your car is worth but lack the funds to redeem the car.
Colorado Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Pueblo
Colorado Means Test
The Colorado bankruptcy means test is a “means” (no pun intended) to protect the Pueblo bankruptcy system from abuse. It is a calculation of your income, expenses, and debts that determine if you are able to pay your debts back 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
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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.
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Colorado Bankruptcy Forms
The Colorado bankruptcy forms are by far the biggest hurdle you have between your debts and your discharge. The easiest way to get over this hump is get organized. Gather your Pueblo bankruptcy documents from the outset of your case and do your best to be truthful and accurate in completing the forms. Also, be sure to check the Court’s website to confirm if you need to fill out any local forms.
The Colorado bankruptcy exemptions are designed to protect your “stuff.” Bankruptcy exemptions are designed to help you protect everything from your home, car, and personal items from bankruptcy, helping you live with dignity during this difficult time.
Colorado does not subscribe to the federal bankruptcy exemptions, so you must utilize the state exemptions. In planning for your Pueblo bankruptcy you should take the exemptions into account early on in order to protect your most valued possessions.