Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
Living on the East Coast is simultaneously enjoyable and expensive, stimulating and stressful. When times get tough and families can’t make ends meet and pay their bills at the same time, many think about moving to a less expensive area of the country. Sometimes, moving to an area that has a lower cost of living allows a family’s finances to be transformed enough that their problems are solved. But this is often not the case, even for people who can manage to move. If you’re running out of creative solutions to solve your family’s money issues, know that filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate your eligible debts in as little as 90 days. Also, if you don’t have much valuable property, you’ll likely be allowed to keep what you own, even though selling your stuff could give you resources to pay your creditors back. Therefore, depending on your circumstances, filing bankruptcy in Hartford could benefit your family’s financial situation even more than moving or selling all your possessions could.
There are two primary kinds of Hartford bankruptcy for filers who don’t own a business. Chapter 13 restructures your debt so that it’s easier to make your monthly debt payments. Filing bankruptcy under Chapter 7 eliminates many kinds of debt so that they no longer have to be paid back. If you don’t earn much income and you don’t own many unusually expensive possessions, you may especially benefit from filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hartford because this option frees you from the obligation of paying your eligible debts back. The process is also straightforward enough that you’ll likely be able to complete this process without a lawyer’s help. Since the Great Recession of 2008, bankruptcy has all but lost its stigma because Americans now understand that even the most responsible adults are usually only one significant life event away from financial disaster. If bankruptcy could help your family regain its financial footing, there’s no longer any reason to avoid considering this option.
Hartford Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
Some people resist the idea of filing bankruptcy in Hartford because they’re worried about adding legal fees to their growing list of debts. This is understandable. However, “How much does a Hartford bankruptcy lawyer cost?” is an important question for some, but not all filers. The process of filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 is so straightforward that unless you have unusually complex finances, you should be able to file on your own. If you feel more comfortable hiring an attorney, just know that the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Hartford is generally between $800 - $2,400 for a Chapter 7 case.
How to File Bankruptcy in Hartford, Connecticut for Free
Only you can know whether filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hartford is the best choice given your financial circumstances. Before making a decision either way, consider reviewing the following information about each step of the Connecticut bankruptcy process so that you can make an informed decision that best reflects your needs at this time.
Collect Your Hartford Bankruptcy Documents
Before you follow a recipe, you need to make sure you have all your ingredients on hand. Before filing bankruptcy in Hartford, you need to make sure you have all your financial information ready to reference as you fill out your bankruptcy paperwork. When filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hartford, you’ll be asked about your income, expenses, assets, and debts. To give the Court accurate answers to its questions, you’ll need to reference recent pay stubs, bank statements, credit card bills, and your most recent tax return. Also, you’ll want to request a free copy of your current credit report to help you make an accurate list of your debts and creditors.
Take Credit Counseling
Are you the kind of person who mulls over major life decisions before coming to a conclusion or do you like to “go with your gut”? Filing for Hartford bankruptcy requires a bit of a mixed approach. Most low-income filers find themselves in such a dire financial situation that they often can’t take as long as they’d like to become comfortable with the idea of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hartford. However, the Court does try to make sure that your decision to file for bankruptcy is informed and not overly rushed. At any time during the six months before you submit your paperwork to the Court, you’ll need to participate in a credit counseling course that has been approved by the Department of Justice for filers residing in Connecticut. This course will help you determine whether bankruptcy is the best debt relief solution for your circumstance.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
When thinking about how to file bankruptcy in Hartford, certain aspects of the process are relatively obvious. For example, you can expect that the Court will ask you about how much income you make and what kinds of debt you owe. But other aspects of the process are not as intuitive. For example, you’ll be required to make lists of your property and attend a meeting with your creditors. Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer does take some pressure off your shoulders when it comes to understanding every step of this process. However, you can save a significant amount of money by filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hartford yourself. It’s therefore important to understand that while not every aspect of the bankruptcy process is intuitive, each step comes with clear directions, even the forms. If you follow them carefully, you should be able to successfully file on your own without paying for the services of an attorney.
Get Your Filing Fee
Filing bankruptcy in Hartford requires your time and mental energy but not necessarily your hard-earned money. Ordinarily, the filing fee associated with Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hartford is $335. However, low-income filers who live below 150% of the poverty line may ask the Court for a fee waiver. If you meet these income limits, your request will likely be granted unless it seems like you can afford to pay the fee in installments once you no longer have to make debt payments to your creditors. If you earn too much to meet these income limits, you can submit a request to the Court that you be allowed to pay the fee in installments so that your payments are more manageable. That’s because it will be after filing bankruptcy in Hartford, when the automatic stay protects you from your creditors.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When filing for Hartford bankruptcy, you may be surprised to learn that the Court has yet to (significantly) join the digital age. While you can fill out most required forms online, you won’t be able to file your completed forms this way. Instead, you’ll need to physically print your forms and either turn them in to the Court in person or send them through postal mail. If you don’t have easy access to a printer, know that there are many locations around Hartford where you can print these documents. In addition to commercial service providers like Kinkos, you can visit one of the seven local branches of the Hartford Public Library to print your forms for a minimal fee.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
From the Mark Twain House to the Connecticut Science Center, chances are that you enjoy exploring all that Hartford has to offer. One of the benefits of living in or near Hartford is that it offers an easy way to file your bankruptcy documents in person. Hartford is part of the District of Connecticut which boasts a courthouse located at 450 Main Street. The Court even provides driving directions to the courthouse for those who are filing from out of town. Don’t forget to bring an ID and an extra copy of your forms for filing bankruptcy in Hartford so that the clerk can stamp a copy for your personal records.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hartford, the most influential person overseeing your case is the judge assigned to make a decision about your petition. However, the second most influential person overseeing your case is the Trustee the Court will assign after your Connecticut bankruptcy paperwork has been submitted. This individual receives a minor fee for overseeing parts of your case, including a short meeting between you and your creditors. Before your Trustee can prepare for this meeting, you’ll need to send them copies of specific documents so they can learn about your finances. You’ll be given instructions on which documents to send to your Trustee once an individual has been assigned to your case. You’ll likely be asked to send copies of recent pay stubs and your most recent tax return, among others.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
In addition to fulfilling your pre-filing credit counseling requirement, you’ll need to participate in a so-called debtor education course before your Hartford bankruptcy case can be finalized. This course in personal financial management must also be approved by the Department of Justice for filers in the District of Connecticut or your participation won’t fulfill this requirement. Just like your credit counseling course, this educational requirement may be conveniently taken online. But while your first course helped you decide that type of bankruptcy was right for you, this course helps to ensure that your financial situation will be stronger in the future so that you’re at a lesser risk of ever having to file for bankruptcy again.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
It’s important to dress semi-professionally for your 341 meeting and to bring both an official photo ID and an official copy of your Social Security card to this meeting. Your aim during this meeting with your Trustee is to tell the truth while under oath, but a strong first impression won’t hurt either. Although the meeting will probably only last 10-20 minutes and your creditors likely won’t show up for it, it’s a good idea to treat the Trustee with respect. By dressing semi-professionally and having your necessary identification documents ready, you’ll make a good first impression. Be prepared to answer questions about why you’re filing bankruptcy in Hartford and about your finances generally. Don’t leave out any information, lie or respond in misleading ways as you may get in trouble for such responses given while you’re under oath.
Dealing with Your Car
If you own your car and are no longer responsible for a car payment, the Court will let you keep your vehicle as long as an exemption covers its full value. However, your situation becomes more complex when filing bankruptcy in Hartford if you’re still responsible for car payments. If you surrender your car (give it back to your lender), you’ll no longer be burdened by the responsibility of making car payments. But if you want to keep your car, you’ll need to do one of two things. If you have the resources to redeem the car, you’ll be allowed to pay off the rest of your loan (calculated by the car’s current market value) in one lump sum. The difference between your loan balance and the car’s value is forgiven as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hartford. If you can’t or don’t want to take this path and you want to keep your car, you’ll need to gain the Court’s permission to reaffirm your debt. The Court will likely allow you to keep making payments per the terms of your loan if you can prove that you can make these payments reliably and per the terms of your loan moving forward.
Connecticut Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Hartford
Connecticut Bankruptcy Means Test
If you’re eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hartford, you’re part of a relatively exclusive “club.” Not everyone can pass the eligibility requirements tied to the Connecticut bankruptcy Means Test. Only low-income filers can pass the Connecticut bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7, as filing for bankruptcy under this Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code is subject to strict income limits and relatively limited eligibility-related exemptions. Those who don’t pass this test often benefit from seeking the assistance of an attorney who can help them figure out why they don’t qualify for Chapter 7 relief and what to do instead.
Median Income Levels for Connecticut
Connecticut Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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Poverty Levels for Connecticut
Connecticut 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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Connecticut Bankruptcy Forms
One of the many reasons why you’re lucky to be filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hartford is that the Constitution State doesn’t require filers to submit any local Connecticut bankruptcy forms as a matter of course. While you can opt to take advantage of some local templates, you don’t have to submit any local forms in addition to the standard forms required of all Chapter 7 filers across the nation.
Anyone who has lived in Connecticut for a minimum of 2 years before filing for Hartford bankruptcy is permitted to use either Connecticut bankruptcy exemptions or federal bankruptcy exemptions when protecting their property. Exemptions allow filers to keep eligible property safe from the risk that their Trustee will attempt to sell it to pay back outstanding debt. Thankfully, most low-income households will be able to keep most or all of their property safe from this risk whether they use Connecticut bankruptcy exemptions or the federal model. Generally, only luxury items and particularly expensive property aren’t covered by exemptions.