Written by Attorney Karra Kingston.
Updated August 17, 2020
If you live in the urban hub of Wilmington and are drowning in debt you have come to the right place. This guide will help you follow steps to filing bankruptcy if you can’t sleep at night. If creditors are harassing you every day and you want to throw your phone out the window, then it may be time to consider filing bankruptcy in Wilmington to help you get back on track. Filing for bankruptcy is a way to start over and get rid of (almost) all your debts. There are many misconceptions about filing bankruptcy. We can tell you that you will get credit again and you will be able to keep most of your property. Congress enacted bankruptcy laws to help the honest but unfortunate debtor. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can erase your debts so that you can start enjoying your life again. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is pretty straightforward, and our guide will walk you through how the process works. There are two types of consumer bankruptcies to choose from, Chapter 13 or Chapter 7. To determine which kind of bankruptcy you should file you will need to look at your income, expenses, debts, and assets. If your income is lower than the median household income for you state, you will qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you are above the median income you may have to consider looking into filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Upsolve provides individuals with free information so that you can stay up to date on the bankruptcy process.
Wilmington Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
If you live in the corporate hub of America and are thinking about filing bankruptcy in Wilmington, you don’t need to hire a bankruptcy lawyer to help you. However, there are advantages to hiring a lawyer. Bankruptcy lawyers are knowledgeable in the field, they most likely have formed some sort of relationship with the local bankruptcy trustees, they know what documents to send to court and they will help you fill out all of your information. If you are wondering “How much does a Wilmington bankruptcy lawyer cost?” You will probably spend around $955-$1,450. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer will depend on the complexity of your case and what kinds of assets you have. The process to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is pretty straight forward and can be done on your own. If you choose to move ahead without the help of a lawyer we recommend you at least take advantage of the free consultations most bankruptcy lawyers provide.
How to File Bankruptcy in Wilmington, Delaware for Free
To file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Wilmington there are a few steps that you will need to follow. Until your bankruptcy case is over, this guide should be used as a reference on how to file bankruptcy in Wilmington to make sure that you stay on track.
Collect Your Wilmington Bankruptcy Documents
You will want to get copies of all of your bank statements, taxes, paystubs, vehicle titles, property valuations etc. in order to fill out your Wilmington bankruptcy forms. Collecting your documents may cause you stress because there is so much paperwork you will need to gather. It is important to stay calm and organize your documents one at a time - it will save you from some stress down the road. You will need these documents to complete your bankruptcy forms. These documents will be used to explain to the court what happened to cause you to file bankruptcy. The court wants to make sure that you did not go out and frivolously charge up all your credit cards, then decide to file bankruptcy the next day. The forms will go into great detail about you, your income, assets, debts, creditors and expenses. Be prepared to have these documents handy when you fill out your forms.
Take Credit Counseling
You will need to complete a bankruptcy course with a credit counseling agency to complete your Wilmington bankruptcy. This course is required to be taken before you file your paperwork with Delaware Bankruptcy Court. While taking the course, you should have a list of your monthly household expenses and your income. This course is to help you determine if bankruptcy is the right option for you. The one-hour course will have to be completed within six months before filing your bankruptcy petition. You can complete this course at over the phone or online. Make sure you choose a course that is approved by the Department of Justice.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
When thinking about how to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Wilmington, you will have to complete a packet of forms. This includes the bankruptcy petition, which will ask you to provide information about you and your case; the schedules, where you will list all of your property, debts, and creditors; and other forms that the court deems necessary. Whether you are filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the forms will be mostly the same. The forms are straightforward and easy to prepare. Make sure to follow the directions carefully. Upsolve can help you determine if you are eligible for a Delaware bankruptcy with our screener tool.
Get Your Filing Fee
When you file a Delaware bankruptcy you will be required to pay a filing fee. Filing bankruptcy in Wilmington under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code costs $338. If you are a low income wage earner then you may qualify for a fee waiver. If a fee waiver is granted you don’t have to pay the filing fee at all. Courts usually don’t grant waivers unless you can show you really have no ability to pay the filing fee even after your case is filed and the automatic stay in effect. If you aren’t eligible for a fee waiver, you can ask the court for permission to pay the fee in installments. A judge will ultimately look at the papers you submitted to determine what they deem reasonable as far as paying the filing fee goes.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
To file your Wilmington bankruptcy, you will need hard copies of all your bankruptcy forms to bring to court. There is no way to file your forms online. Make sure to have plenty of ink and a lot of paper when printing your forms. The forms usually tend to be around 50-60 pages and you should print at least 2 copies. If you don’t have access to a printer to print your forms, you will need to visit your local public library, FedEx or Staples to print copies for a small fee
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Once your forms are completed, you will need to go down to the court and file them. When you get there, you will need to locate the clerk’s office. The clerk will review your paperwork to ensure everything you need is there. Although, driving down to the court to file your Wilmington bankruptcy forms may seem like a pain in the neck, the advantage is you can have a clerk review everything to make sure you didn’t leave anything out. If you really don’t want to drive down to the court, you can mail your forms in. However, this may cause a delay if something is missing. Before driving down to court, you can potentially save yourself a trip by checking over the forms to make sure you signed your name in all the correct spots, bringing your identification, money for parking and your counseling certificate.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Once the trustee is appointed to your case, you will get a notice detailing the date and time of your 341 meeting and the name and contact information of your trustee. The trustee will want supplemental documentation to verify some of the information you provided to the court in your forms. Some of the documents the trustee will request are paystubs, tax returns, and, in some cases, bank statements. The trustee will carefully review all of your financial record to make sure you completed the forms honestly. Lying on your bankruptcy forms or to the bankruptcy trustee is a federal crime so make sure you tell the truth. The bankruptcy trustee will be the person you meet with in court. He will want to fact check your documents before court so make sure you send your Delaware bankruptcy documents to their office at least two weeks before your hearing. You can contact their office directly if you need more clarification as to what documents they need and how you should send them.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
You will now have to take another educational course! Although somewhat time consuming, this two hour course will help you with your financial future. This course will give you strategies to save money and get back on a financially savvy road after your Delaware bankruptcy. You will have to upload the certificate once your course is completed so that your Wilmington bankruptcy case is finalized and the court issues your bankruptcy discharge. The actual name for this course “debtor education course” or the “financial management course.” Just like the first course, make sure the course you choose has been approved by the Department of Justice.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
One of the last steps you will need to complete for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Wilmington is to attend your hearing in court. Bankruptcy hearings are not like the criminal hearings on TV. You will not be in front of a judge. Many people are extremely nervous to go to court, but bankruptcy hearings are quite informal. Although, they are important and you are under oath, they are less formal compared to other hearings. Stay calm and don’t let your nerves get the best of you. You should dress business casual and bring your identification and social security card with you. To prepare for the meeting, you should review all of your documents that you provided to the trustee after filing bankruptcy in Wilmington.
Dealing with Your Car
Most people want to know what happens with their car when they file a Delaware bankruptcy. If your car is not an old classic car worth thousands of dollars then you may be able to keep your car depending on your situation. There are exemptions that allow you to keep your property including, your car. If you don’t own your car out right you may be able to exempt the equity in your vehicle. Equity is the value of your vehicle less any loans. If you have loans on your vehicle you have options on what to do with it. One option is to enter into a reaffirmation agreement with the lender. If the court thinks you can afford to continue paying the loan then the court will approve your reaffirmation agreement. A reaffirmation agreement is a binding contract that will hold you responsible for the outstanding debt. However, if you ever fall behind in the future, the lender can collect the balance from you. Another option is to enter into an agreement with the lender to redeem the car . This can only be done by order of the court after a motion and hearing. In this situation, you will give the lender the value of the vehicle in one payment instead of paying off the loan. Lastly, you can surrender your car back to the lender. In this situation you will be saying bon voyage to your vehicle. This is a good option if you can’t afford the payments or there is no equity in the vehicle.
Delaware Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Wilmington
Delaware Bankruptcy Means Test
To qualify for a Chapter 7 under the Delaware bankruptcy Means Test, you will need to determine what the income limits are for your state. The Delaware bankruptcy Means Test allows only people who really need Chapter 7 relief to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Wilmington. This means that if you make “too” much money, the court will want you to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to repay at least some of your debts. Qualifying under the Delaware bankruptcy Means Test may seem complicated because you will need to do some calculations. If you don’t think you qualify or are having trouble calculating the numbers then you may wish to contact an attorney to help you.
Median Income Levels for Delaware
Delaware Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
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Poverty Levels for Delaware
Delaware 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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Delaware Bankruptcy Forms
Your Delaware bankruptcy forms consist of different schedules that will need to be completed. The schedules will go into great detail about your income, assets, expenses, property, and creditors. One word of advice is to go through your monthly expenses. People often forget expenses if they are only being charged for something once a month. Remember, even if you are married and your spouse is not filing, you should still include your spouse’s expenses on schedule J. Don’t get overwhelmed with the amount of forms that need to be completed. Read the directions over a few times to make sure you are filling everything out correctly.
Certain property exemptions allow you to keep your property safe from creditors. When a piece of property is not exempt the trustee can sell it for the benefit of your creditors. You are entitled to keep property that is deemed proper for a minimal standard of living. Delaware bankruptcy exemptions will help you keep your property away from creditors. Delaware is one of a few states that only allows you to use Delaware bankruptcy exemptions, not the federal bankruptcy exemptions.