Written by Attorney Karra Kingston.
Updated August 17, 2020
If you are walking along the Idaho Falls River Walk and can’t focus on the scenic attraction because you are stressed about your credit cards and bills, then filing an Idaho Falls bankruptcy may be a good option. When it comes to filing bankruptcy in Idaho Falls, the process can seem daunting especially if you believe all the myths you hear about filing for bankruptcy. Some myths that you may have heard about filing bankruptcy are that you won’t get credit again or your property will be taken away. This is not true. Bankruptcy laws were enacted to help people who fell into a financial crisis through no fault of their own. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can allow you to legally not pay your creditors back. A typical Chapter 7 Idaho Falls bankruptcy can eliminate your debt in as little as ninety days! Many people believe that they have to have an attorney to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho Falls but you don’t. If you follow the specific steps outlined in this City Guide you will be able to file for bankruptcy, successfully obtain your discharge, and start your life over!
Idaho Falls Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
If you are worried that you won’t be able to do this on your own, then hiring an attorney may be a good option for you. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Idaho Falls ranges from $800 to $1,500. If you are unsure if you want to hire an attorney, take advantage of free consultations that bankruptcy attorneys offer. A bankruptcy attorney can make sure that you are filing the right type of bankruptcy and assess your financial situation. A bankruptcy attorney can also help prepare you for Court, prepare all your bankruptcy forms and file them with the Court. It’s important that you find a lawyer you are comfortable with. You wouldn’t hire a real estate lawyer to handle your criminal case, right? It's important that you find a bankruptcy attorney that primarily practices bankruptcy law. If, like many, you can’t afford to hire a bankruptcy lawyer you can file your bankruptcy on your own (“pro se”).
How to File Bankruptcy in Idaho Falls, Idaho for Free
If you have been thinking of filing bankruptcy in Idaho Falls and you can’t afford to hire a bankruptcy attorney to help you, then we hope you will follow the steps below. It's important that you follow each step carefully, do you don’t miss anything. If you pay close attention to each step you will soon be on your way to enjoying life in the Gem State again!
Collect Your Idaho Falls Bankruptcy Documents
To file your Idaho Falls bankruptcy, you will need to collect a lot of your financial documents. Some of these documents include your pay stubs, your tax returns, your mortgage statement, your bank statements, your vehicle titles, your home deed, your credit card bills, medical bills, student loan records, judgments, and lawsuits. While going through the bankruptcy forms you will see that there will be questions pertaining to such documents. The forms may seem long and tedious but it's important to answer all of the questions honestly. One rule of thumb is to make sure you don’t guess on any answers. If you are unsure, get any paperwork necessary that will help you answer the question without playing any guessing games.
Take Credit Counseling
You will be required to take an approved credit counseling course. This course is known as the Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Course and is one of two credit counseling courses you will have to complete as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho Falls. The courses are provided by an approved credit counseling agency and can be conveniently taken in the convenience of your own home. The course typically lasts about an hour and will help to determine if bankruptcy is your best option. Once you complete the course you will get a certificate that will need to be filed with the Court. It’s important to take this course in the 180 days before filing bankruptcy in Idaho Falls, as the certificate is only valid for that long.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The most important step in filing bankruptcy in Idaho Falls is completing all of your bankruptcy forms. Your bankruptcy forms are what you will be submitting to the Court so they must be completed properly. Bankruptcy attorneys charge a lot of money to complete these forms, and without an attorney, you will need to complete them on your own. In order to complete the forms you will need to make sure you gather all of the documents from above. You should also stay organized and make sure that you have everything you need before you complete them. Make sure that you fill out the forms in order so that you do not forget anything. Some of the most basic documentation you should have with you are your taxes, paystubs, vehicle valuations, real property valuations, pay off statements and bank statements. If any advice can be offered, it would be to take your time. Don’t guess, if it takes you longer to find information because you need to request it from a financial institution then wait to fill out the forms until you have what you need in hand. Any of your answers on your petition the Trustee can ask you about at Court or provide proof of such. If you don’t answer the forms correctly your Idaho Falls bankruptcy can be dismissed.
Get Your Filing Fee
The cost to file a Chapter 7 Idaho Falls bankruptcy is $335. The filing fee is mandatory however, if the Court allows you may be able to get your fee waived or pay it in installments. To do so you will have to ask permission from the Court. If they do decide to allow you to pay in installments, then the total fee will have to be paid in no more than 4 installments. Obtaining a fee waiver is not a guarantee, and waivers are only granted to households that earn less than 150% of the poverty guidelines. If you are not able to get your fee waived, then you will need to make sure that you pay your entire filing fee within the time frame set by the Court.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When you have completed all of your Idaho Falls bankruptcy forms and checked to make sure they are complete, you will need to print them. You should always print a minimum of 2 copies, one for you and one for the Court. If you do not have ready access to a reliable printer, you can go to the Idaho Falls Public library located at 457 W Broadway Street to print your documents. If the library is not the place for you, then you can also locate a local FedEx, UPS, or Staples to print your documents.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Once you have completed all of your bankruptcy forms you will have to go to Court and file your Idaho Falls bankruptcy case. Make sure to bring money with you in case you have to pay for parking. You should expect to pass through an initial security check and cell phones are generally not allowed in federal courthouses. Once passed through security you will need to find the Clerk’s office. If you are not able to bring your bankruptcy forms to the courthouse yourself, you can mail them in. But, bringing the forms to Court is better because it allows the Clerk to review them and notify you right way if anything is missing.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Once your documents are filed a Trustee will be assigned to your case. The Trustee will review your bankruptcy forms to make sure that you are not lying or hiding anything. The Trustee does not work for the Court. When you get the notice in the mail explaining the date and time of your 341 meeting you will find the Trustee’s information on there. The Trustee will want you to provide him with certain documents to supplement the information you provided on your forms. Some Trustees ask for copies of your pay stubs, W-2, tax returns, bank statements, vehicle title, mortgage statement, deed, and insurance policies. The Trustee will request that these documents be sent to them by mail or electronically. If you are unsure which delivery method your Trustee accepts it's best to contact their office directly, if you don’t hear from them within a couple of weeks after filing bankruptcy in Idaho Falls.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Once your documents are filed you need to complete your Post-Petition Bankruptcy Course which should be completed no later than sixty days after your 341 meeting but can be done beforehand. You will not be granted a discharge until you have completed the Post-Petition Bankruptcy Course. This two hour course will give you some pointers on your new life after your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho Falls. As before, the course provider must be approved for Idaho bankruptcy cases. You will get a Certificate upon completion that has to be submitted to the Court before your discharge will be entered.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
About 3-6 weeks after filing your Idaho Falls bankruptcy, you will have to attend your 341 meeting, often called the creditors’ meeting. Creditors rarely show up to this. A 341 creditors meeting is an informal meeting between you, the Trustee and any of your creditors who decide to attend. During the meeting the Trustee will ask questions about the information you provided in your forms. Before answering the questions, you will be sworn in and asked to present your social security card and ID. The meeting is not like what you see on TV. It's informal, there is no judge and you should dress casually but respectfully. Although, the setting may seem informal, lying or being dishonest is a federal crime. Bring copies of all the documents you mailed to the Trustee in case they need to verify something, or you don’t remember something. The meeting typically last about ten minutes and you usually won’t have to go back again.
Dealing with Your Car
You will now need to decide what you want to do with your vehicle if you have one. You can reaffirm the loan on the property and keep making your payments or surrender the property and give it back. If you choose to reaffirm the property you will usually require the approval of the Bankruptcy Court. A reaffirmation agreement is a binding contract you will have to enter into with the lender where you agree to keep the debt and continue paying it even after you obtain your discharge. This means that your car loan will not be erased. If you think that you won’t be able to make the payments in the future, then it's better you don’t enter into one of these agreements. If you decide to give back your vehicle in your Idaho Falls bankruptcy, then you will not be responsible for the amount owed. Ultimately, the decision about what to do with your car rests upon you.
Idaho Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Idaho Falls
Idaho Means Test
If you are considering filing your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy you will need to make sure you qualify under the Idaho bankruptcy Means Test. The Means Test takes into account your family income, your family size and your day-to-day expenses to see if you have sufficient disposable income to be able to pay your bills. If you don’t qualify for a Chapter 7 then you will have to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy where you will repay some of your debts. Make sure that you don’t file your bankruptcy before making sure you qualify. Doing so can be grounds to have your case dismissed or converted.
Median Income Levels for Idaho
Idaho Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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Poverty Levels for Idaho
Idaho 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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Idaho Bankruptcy Forms
In order to fill out your Idaho bankruptcy forms you will need to fill out certain forms that are called schedules. These forms will ask you to list your income and expenses as well as your debts and assets. It will also ask you questions about your financial history. The Bankruptcy Court wants to get a full picture of your financial situation to understand why you are filing an Idaho Falls bankruptcy. You must know the value of your property, how much you owe and what the allowable exemption amount is in order to make sure your property is safe. Schedule E/F requires you to list all of your creditors that have unsecured claims. This is usually your credit cards and personal loans. It's important that you have your credit report with you when filling out this information to ensure all of your creditors are listed. Make sure to check that the addresses of all your creditors are correct, so they get notified of your bankruptcy filing.
Most people who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually believe that if they file all of their property will have to be given up. Generally, this is not true. There are exemptions that allow you to keep your property. The Court allows you to keep certain property that does not exceed a certain value. The property and the limits on its value are known as exemptions. Idaho allows you to use either Idaho bankruptcy exemptions or federal bankruptcy exemptions. As a result, when you file your Idaho Falls bankruptcy petition you can choose which set of exemptions you will use. Typically, you should choose whichever exemptions cover most of your property and offer you the largest exempt values for that property.