Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t have to be scary and confusing. We provide helpful tips and resources to help you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in your state without a lawyer.
Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.
Updated September 29, 2023
Trying to dig yourself out of debt can be harder than digging for gems in the mountains of Idaho. You might be tempted to throw your bills into Hell’s Canyon, but before you do, take a close look at your bankruptcy options. Bankruptcy could be the tool you need to work your way out of debt and into a clear future. And it can happen sooner than you might expect.
Even if you can’t afford a lawyer, you can still file bankruptcy in Idaho. This guide includes the 10 steps to file on your own. Bankruptcy might be the gem you’re looking for to help you get a fresh start.
How To File Bankruptcy in Idaho for Free
The most expensive part of filing bankruptcy in Idaho is typically lawyer's fees. Luckily, you can file a Chapter 7 case without one. This guide walks you through the steps of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho without a lawyer. This is also called filing “pro se.”
Collect Your Idaho Bankruptcy Documents
The Idaho bankruptcy process requires you to list all your creditors, assets, and income on various forms. It’s not easy to keep this information in your head, so collect some documents to help you fill out the bankruptcy forms. The more information you have, the more efficient you can be.
There are a few documents you’ll need, whether you file your case with or without an attorney:
Your tax returns from the last two years,
Your paycheck stubs from the last 60 days, and
Your most recent bank statement.
To answer your questions thoroughly, you’ll also want to collect the following documents:
Bank statements from the past 6-12 months,
Statements from your creditors and debt collectors, and
A credit report from three major credit reporting bureaus.
Since the court relies on you to provide mailing addresses for all of your creditors, you should get a copy of your credit report. Your credit report will help you make a list of all your creditors and help you answer questions about your debt. Everyone is entitled to a free copy every 12 months. You can request a free credit report online or even by mail. Upsolve will pull a report for people that file bankruptcy with the Upsolve app.
Take a Credit Counseling Course
To make sure that everyone filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy knows what their debt relief options are before they file their case, the Bankruptcy Code requires all filers to take a credit counseling class. It must be taken sometimes during the six months (180 days) before you start your bankruptcy case in Idaho. If you don’t complete this course, the court will reject your bankruptcy request. It's as simple as that. The good news is that the course itself only takes 1-2 hours, and you can take it online or by phone from the comfort of your home and on your schedule.
The cost of the course varies by company, though you shouldn’t have to pay more than $50. If you can’t afford the course, you can apply for a fee waiver and request to take your course for free. You can compare prices, but you must take a course from a credit counselor approved by the Office of the United States Trustee to provide credit counseling services in Idaho.
After you complete your course, you’ll get a certificate. You must submit this to the court when you file bankruptcy. The certificate will only be valid for 180 days.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The bankruptcy forms are forms created under federal law. Everyone filing bankruptcy in Idaho or elsewhere in the U.S. has to complete and submit most of the same official forms. All the forms are available for free as fillable PDFs at USCOURTS.gov, as is a detailed instruction manual.
If you hire a lawyer, they’ll probably ask you to fill out a questionnaire to get the information needed for your bankruptcy forms. The lawyer will use the questionnaire and your bankruptcy documents to prepare paperwork for you to review and sign.
Regardless of how you complete your bankruptcy forms, you’ll be signing everything that gets filed in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho under oath and penalty of perjury. This means you need to make sure that all of the information is accurate and complete. Be sure to put “none” or “zero” in blanks that don’t apply to you. If you’re unsure about whether something is important enough to include, include it.
Get Your Filing Fee
The court filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho is $338. If your income is below a certain threshold, you can apply to have the filing fee waived. (See the Idaho Fee Waiver Eligibility table below.) The Idaho bankruptcy court accepts cash (bring exact change and no more than $5.00 of rolled coins), cashier’s check, or money order. You pay the filing fee when you file all your bankruptcy forms, which are called your bankruptcy petition.
After you file your petition, the court issues an automatic stay that immediately stops collection activity. If you’re facing wage garnishment or foreclosure and need to file in a hurry to get the protection of the automatic stay, you can fill out an application to pay the court filing fee in installments. Your fee will be divided into a payment plan of four installments, and the court must approve your suggested installment payments.
The first payment is due when you file your bankruptcy petition, and you’ll have 120 days from the day you file to pay the remainder. The local rules for Idaho’s bankruptcy court don’t specify a required down payment amount.
Although it may be necessary to pay with an installment plan, it’s better to save money to pay the filing fee in full if you can. That’s because the court can dismiss your bankruptcy case if you make a late payment or don’t stick to the installment agreement.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
It’s best to print your bankruptcy forms after you take your credit counseling class and you have your bankruptcy filing fee in hand. Much of the information on the forms is time-sensitive, so print them as close to your filing date as possible.
If you don’t have a printer at home, you can print your documents at a local office store, UPS store, or public library. When it’s time to print the forms, do so in the following format:
Print on white letter-size paper (8 ½” x 11”).
Print with black ink only.
Print one-sided pages.
Don’t staple the forms.
You must also make sure your forms are complete. Put “none” or “not applicable” for questions that don’t apply. Double-check that you signed your forms on every line that requires a signature.
Make sure you check the printer settings before you print and give yourself enough time to print and review your documents. There will be several similar-looking documents. It can be confusing to keep track of all the different forms, but using a checklist can help you stay organized.
If you qualify to use Upsolve’s free tool to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho, you’ll find the bankruptcy process a little easier. Upsolve users get all their completed forms as one PDF document, and the signature pages are flagged.
File Your Forms With the Idaho Bankruptcy Court
If you’re filing bankruptcy in Idaho without a lawyer, you can file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case by either mailing everything to the court or by going to the court to personally hand in your documents. Since mail can be delayed, it’s better to drop the forms off at court. This way, if there are any issues with your paperwork, you’ll know right away. You may even be able to fix whatever needs fixing right then and there.
At this time, only lawyers and creditors can e-file online using the Electronic Court Filing (ECF) system.
If you can’t drop off your forms in person, call the court clerk to see if someone else can drop off the forms for you. When you get to the courthouse you’ll pass through building security, so make sure you leave metal objects at home.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After you file your bankruptcy petition, the court assigns a trustee to handle your bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy trustee's job is to make sure you’re following all applicable Idaho bankruptcy laws, review and verify the information in your bankruptcy forms, and sell non-exempt property (unprotected property) for the benefit of your creditors. (We’ll talk about exemptions more below.) The trustee does this by reviewing certain information, then meeting with you.
Everyone filing Chapter 7 in Idaho must provide a copy of their two most recent federal and state income tax returns to their trustee at least one week before they meet with their trustee in what’s called a creditors' meeting or 341 meeting. If you don’t submit your tax returns, your bankruptcy case can be dismissed. You’ll also need to submit your bank statements that cover the date you filed your bankruptcy petition.
If you didn’t receive any paycheck stubs in the 60 days before your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho was filed, you must file a separate document with the court explaining why. You must also give a copy of this statement to both your bankruptcy trustee and the office of the local U.S. Trustee.
You may receive a letter from your trustee asking you to send in other documents as well. If you do, make sure to follow the instructions in the letter carefully and submit everything on time so you don’t risk having your case dismissed.
Take a Debtor Education Course
Now that you’ve filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho and you’re headed toward your discharge, you’re ready to take your debtor education course. You can't take this course until after you've filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. This course is about financial management, and it’s required to complete the bankruptcy process. If you don’t take the course, your case could be dismissed, and you won’t be eligible for the bankruptcy discharge that gets rid of your debt.
Just like you did with the first course, you have to take this course from an Idaho-approved provider. When you’re done with the course, you’ll get a certificate of completion, which you must file with the court within 60 days after your 341 meeting. Some debtor education course providers will file the certificate for you.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting is also known as the meeting of creditors or creditors’ meeting. The court will schedule it between 20 and 40 days after you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Creditors can come to the meeting and ask you questions, but that rarely happens. If you review your copies of the bankruptcy forms you submitted to the court when you filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the 341 meeting should go smoothly, and it will be over before you know it.
As of January 2022, 341 meetings are being held via telephone or video conference as a COVID-19 precaution, although Idaho does allow judges to make an exception. Prior to this, you’d have your meeting in person and a few cases would be scheduled for the same time. That meant other people were in the room with you. This process may resume at some point.
Once your bankruptcy case is called, your trustee will check your picture ID and will want to see acceptable proof of your Social Security number. Then they’ll put you under oath to ask you a few questions. The trustees ask everyone filing Chapter 7 in Idaho the same standard questions about their paperwork, but if there’s anything unusual about your case, they may ask you about that as well. Just give the facts — be honest, give short answers, and stick to the point.
Dealing With Your Car
When you file bankruptcy in Idaho, you have a few different ways to deal with your car. If you own your car free and clear, you can keep it if it’s protected by a motor vehicle exemption. The Idaho vehicle exemption is $10,000, so if your car is worth that or less, you can keep it without issue.
If you have a car loan, you’ll want to consider your monthly payments and how much you owe as you decide what to do with your car.
If you like your car and you’ve been making payments on time, you can enter into a reaffirmation agreement to keep your car and keep the existing loan agreement in place. Keep in mind, the lender will still have the right to repossess your vehicle if you don’t make the payments going forward.
If you like the car, but the balance left on the loan is higher than what it's worth, you can buy the car for its actual value and discharge what's left on the loan through a process called redemption.
If you lease a car and your payments are current, you can keep making payments and “assume” the lease, or you can end your lease and save yourself some money. You get to choose the option that’s best for you.
If you’re struggling with your car loan payments, you can surrender your car to the creditor and the remaining amount of the loan will be discharged in bankruptcy. This lets you walk away from it all and gives you a clean slate. You can work on getting a better deal to buy a car after bankruptcy.
Idaho Bankruptcy Means Test
To file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho, you have to pass a means test to make sure that you truly can’t pay off your debt. The idea behind the test is that if you make too much money, you won’t be eligible to file Chapter 7. The means test compares your average household income to the median income of a similar size household in Idaho. If your income is lower than the median, you pass the test and can file Chapter 7.
If your income is higher than the median, you can take the second part of the test, which takes your expenses and disposable income into account. If you don’t pass the means test because your disposable income is high enough to repay a portion of your debt, you can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. Under Chapter 13, you repay your unsecured debts over a 3-5 year repayment plan.
Data on Median income levels for Idaho
Idaho Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed In 2023
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Data on Poverty levels for Idaho
Idaho Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed In 2023
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
Idaho Bankruptcy Forms
The Idaho Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms are comprised of official federal forms and a local form requiring information on child support and alimony. Most of your forms will be official federal forms. These are the same for every state. All the documents required to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho, along with detailed instructions, are available as a downloadable packet from the court. Each one of the forms can also be. downloaded individually.
Aside from filing the official bankruptcy forms, every person filing an Idaho bankruptcy case must also file a separate Statement of Domestic Support Obligation. If you don’t owe child support, alimony, or other court-ordered support, you just check no and sign the form. If you have a court-ordered payment, you’ll need to fill in more information.
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Idaho Districts & Filing Requirements
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s District of Idaho serves the entire state, but it’s broken up into four divisions with three locations where you can file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho: Boise, Coeur d'Alene, and Pocatello. You can file your documents at any one of the locations, but the county you live in will determine which division your case will be assigned to.
The Southern Division (Boise) serves the following counties: Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley, and Washington.
The Northern Division (Coeur d’Alene) serves Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, and Shoshone counties.
The Central Division (Moscow) serves Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis, and Nez Perce counties.
The Eastern Division (Pocatello/Twin Falls) serves the following counties: Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Blaine, Bonneville, Butte, Camas, Caribou, Cassia, Clark, Custer, Franklin, Fremont, Gooding, Jefferson, Jerome, Lemhi, Lincoln, Madison, Minidoka, Oneida, Power, Teton, and Twin Falls.
The court clerk in each district can provide you with information but not legal advice. The clerks can also approve installment plans and down payments on the filing fee. Call the clerk and ask about a recommended down payment before you submit your installment plan request. You can pay with cash, money order, or cashier’s check.
Idaho Bankruptcy Exemptions
Everything you own when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho is considered an asset in your case. Exemptions keep many of those assets safe in a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Non-exempt assets are things your trustee can sell to pay your creditors, though most Chapter 7 cases are no-asset cases. If you have a no-asset case, you get to keep everything you own.
While some states allow filers to use federal exemptions, Idaho requires everyone to use the Idaho bankruptcy exemptions instead. However, if you haven’t lived in the state for at least two years when you file your Idaho bankruptcy, you can’t use the Idaho bankruptcy exemptions. Instead, you’ll likely have to use the federal exemptions.
Under Idaho state law, you can exempt a car you own free and clear up to a value of $10,000. You also have a “wildcard” exemption for $1,500 which you can apply to your choice of personal property. If you have a house, land, or mobile home in Idaho, you can protect it with an exemption if its value is no more than $175,000. This is the homestead exemption. If you have health aids, don’t worry, those are all protected from bankruptcy under state law.
Idaho Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
Bankruptcy lawyers often charge a flat fee for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Idaho ranges from $800 to $1500, on average. If your case is complicated, it’ll cost more, but this may be money well spent as a lawyer can help protect your assets and make the process of filing bankruptcy easier.
A good attorney will help you understand whether to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and how to best use Idaho exemptions under state law to protect your assets. They can also help you fill out your forms and file your documents online. If you’re facing wage garnishment or foreclosure, an attorney can help you with complications and unfriendly creditors.
Idaho Legal Aid Organizations
Not everyone who needs a lawyer can afford one. If you need a lawyer for your Idaho bankruptcy matter but you can’t pay for an attorney, contact an Idaho legal aid organization in your area. Legal aid organizations provide free or low-cost legal services to qualifying individuals. Even if they can't take your case, they may be able to refer you to another organization providing legal aid services in Idaho.
Idaho Court Locations
James A. McClure Federal Building and United States Courthouse
550 West Fort Street Boise, ID 83724
Idaho Bankruptcy Judges
|District of Idaho||Hon. Terry L. Myers|
|District of Idaho||Hon. Joseph M. Meier|
|District of Idaho||Hon. Jim D. Pappas|
|J. Ford Elsaesserfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|David P. Gardneremail@example.com|
|Noah G. Hillenfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|R. Samuel Hopkinsemail@example.com|
|Gary L. Rainsdonfirstname.lastname@example.org|