Live in Indiana and need help filing for bankruptcy and can't afford an attorney? Our legal aid nonprofit guides Indiana debtors through the chapter 7 process.
Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.
Updated July 30, 2020
Whether you are finding yourself with more medical bills than you could ever hope to pay back, or realize you have to start from scratch after the most recent storm tore through your town, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Indiana can help you get back on your feet. The important thing to remember is that a Hoosier's ability to seek relief under the nation's bankruptcy laws goes back all the way to the U.S. Constitution. While no one thinks it's fun to seek the bankruptcy protections available pursuant to Indiana bankruptcy laws, they are there to help you take care of yourself and your family.
How to File Bankruptcy in Indiana for Free
Worrying about money and filing bankruptcy in Indiana normally go hand in hand. The biggest cost associated with a bankruptcy is attorneys fees. The first thing you have to determine is whether you need to file Chapter 13 to reorganize your household debts (or take advantage of Chapter 12 to restructure your family farm's finances). Trying to file Chapter 12 or 13 without the assistance of experienced bankruptcy counsel, may cost you more in the long run. Folks looking to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Indiana, on the other hand, can often navigate the system without an attorney ("pro se") and may even be able to have the court filing fee waived, making their Indiana bankruptcy virtually free.
Collect Your Indiana Bankruptcy Documents
The most time consuming aspect of figuring out how to file bankruptcy in Indiana is collecting the documents you need to get started. Some of them will come in handy when preparing the forms you have to file with the court. You should get a copy of your credit reportas that is a great starting point for collecting the names and addresses of everyone you owe money to. When your Indiana bankruptcy is filed, notice is provided to all of your creditors, so having their mailing information correct in your schedules is an important detail. Other documents you need to collect are your paycheck stubs from the last 6 months, your most recent federal income tax return, and title documents for your vehicles and real property, if any. Filing Chapter 7 in Indiana relieves you from the obligation to pay your unsecured debts, but in exchange for this relief you are expected to be forthcoming and truthful, and collecting all the necessary documents will make it much easier not to forget anything important.
Take Credit Counseling
The Bankruptcy Code requires that you complete a credit counseling course no more than 180 days before you file your Indiana bankruptcy case. This course has to be taken from one of the providers approved to offer it in your state and failure to do so can result in your case being thrown out of court. Once you have taken credit counseling, you will receive a certificate of completion. Make sure to put this document in a safe location with the rest of your bankruptcy documents as you will need it when filing bankruptcy in Indiana. Several of the course providers are non-profit organizations, while others are part of larger for-profit companies. The average cost to take credit counseling ranges between $10 - $50 and often depends on whether you are taking the course online, over the phone, or in person. Even though you can take the course before you have collected your bankruptcy documents, those documents often contain helpful information to reference while taking the course.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Another reason for completing your credit counseling early is that it will give you an idea of your overall financial situation before you start filling in your bankruptcy forms. If you are filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Indiana without an attorney, you can get all required forms for free online. If you do have an attorney assisting you, they will complete the forms for you based on information you provide to them. If you are comfortable going through the process without an attorney, but would like help with filling out the forms, you may want to see if you qualify to have Upsolve help you with your forms and also guide you through your Indiana bankruptcy case.
Get Your Filing Fee
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Indiana costs $335 per case. This is true if you are married and filing with your spouse, or single filing by yourself. Typically, the court will require this fee to be paid when your case is first filed, usually in the form of a money order or cashier's check. If you earn less than 150% of federal poverty guidelines and cannot come up with the filing fee even after your Indiana bankruptcy is filed, you can ask the court to waive the fee. Since the application for such a waiver has to be filed at the same time as your other documents, it's helpful to prepare this beforehand and have it with you when you go to court. If you do not qualify for a fee waiver, but cannot get the filing fee in advance of filing bankruptcy in Indiana (due to a garnishment, for example), you can request permission to pay the filing fee in installments. If you do that, make sure to calendar all payment due dates carefully, as missing just one of them can lead to your case being thrown out.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When you are ready to get your case filed, make sure you set aside enough time to print and sign everything before going to the courthouse. Filing Chapter 7 in Indiana is very document intensive and your case will be off to a better start if you get everything filed in one go. Many find a checklist helpful to keep track of the various schedules and statements that are necessary under Indiana bankruptcy laws. This is especially true if you completed the forms on a computer and have them saved as a number of different files. To save time at the courthouse, carefully review each page and sign your name in pen wherever necessary. Finally, since you will be giving your signed documents to the court for their files, it's a good idea to make (or print) a second copy of everything for your own records.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
As soon as you have completed all of the above steps, you can go to the courthouse to file your forms. This step - actually filing the documents required for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Indiana - will start the case, and prohibit future creditor collection actions. In other words, once this part is done, if a creditor calls you to collect on a debt they say you owe, you can simply tell them that you have filed bankruptcy and request they stop contacting you as that would violate the automatic stay that now protects you. When filing bankruptcy in Indiana, remember to bring along the second copy of everything with you and have the clerk of the court endorse or stamp it. This way, your file copy will tell you everything you need to know about when your case was filed.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
If you have made it this far, your Indiana bankruptcy is officially underway. A Chapter 7 trustee will be assigned to handle your case and ensure that everything is being done according to Indiana bankruptcy laws and procedures. The trustee will want to review your most recent federal income tax return so make sure you send a copy of that to their office. Additionally, you should be prepared to provide the trustee your two most recent paycheck stubs and bank statements for all bank accounts that cover the filing date. If your case was filed in the Southern District, your trustee will ask for the documents and information required by the Uniform Document Production checklist the local trustees have agreed to use for anyone filing Chapter 7 in Indiana's Southern District.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
The primary goal of anyone filing Chapter 7 in Indiana is to obtain a discharge. In order for the court to grant you a discharge, you are required to complete a course on financial management after filing your case. This is different from the course you took before you went to court to file your Indiana bankruptcy. It is important to take this course from a provider approved by the United States Trustee.. Once done, you will receive a certificate of completion to file with the bankruptcy court. Even though you don't have to complete this course until after your 341 meeting, if you complete the course beforehand, you know that, other than any follow up requests your trustee may have down the road, you have done everything you need to do to get your discharge.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Your 341 meeting, or "meeting of creditors" will most likely be the only formal proceeding you have to attend as part of your Indiana bankruptcy. It's helpful to prepare for your 341 meeting, so you know what to expect. Creditors can attend this meeting to ask you questions about the information in your petition, schedules and statements, but it is rare for them to do so. Filing Chapter 7 in Indiana includes a process for creditors to seek payment on their claims from your bankruptcy estate that is automatic, so it rarely makes sense for them to ask you questions at your 341 meeting. Since the trustee has to verify your identity at your 341 meeting, you have to bring a valid picture ID and acceptable proof of your social security number. Without it, the trustee will likely be unable to conduct the meeting, which means you have to come back for another meeting at a later time. This is not only unnecessary and inconvenient, it may also delay the entry of your discharge.
Dealing with Your Car
The family car is often the most expensive and most used assetthat folks filing Chapter 7 in Indiana have. That is why it is important that you understand your options when it comes to dealing with your car. If your vehicle is paid off, then Indiana bankruptcy laws provide you with a "wildcard" exemption to protect the value of your vehicle up to a certain amount. If you are still making payments on your car, you can choose whether to keep it or surrender it without fear of having to pay any balance left owing. In order to keep the car, you will either have to enter into a reaffirmation agreement and keep making the payments, or redeem the vehicle by paying its current value to the bank.
Indiana Bankruptcy Means Test
The Indiana means test for bankruptcy first looks at your household income in the 6 months before your bankruptcy is filed. If your average annual income based on that timeframe is less than the median income for a household of your size in Indiana, you qualify for Chapter 7 relief. If your income is greater than that, the means test calculation allows you to take certain deductions based on your living expenses which may make you eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Indiana even though you technically “failed” the first part of the means test.
Data on Median income levels for Indiana
Indiana Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Data on Poverty levels for Indiana
Indiana Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
Northern District of Indiana Requirements
Indiana's Northern District covers northern Indiana and has offices in South Bend, Fort Wayne, Hammond and Lafayette. The court's website has a tool to determine where to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Indiana based on your zip code. If you file in the Northern District after a creditor has sued you in state court, local rules require that you give written notice to the state court once your case has been filed.
Southern District of Indiana Requirements
The Southern District of Indiana serves the 60 southernmost counties in the state and holds court in Evansville, Indianapolis, New Albany and Terre Haute. Since the next blizzard is never far off in Indiana, the Southern District also lists its policy on weather related closings on its website. If you are thinking about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Indiana without an attorney ("pro se"), make sure to check out the information about courthouse restrictions and courtroom etiquette the Southern District provides.
Indiana Bankruptcy Forms
Indiana Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms are a combination of lists, schedules and statements required to be filed in all bankruptcy cases across the country and certain local forms required by Indiana bankruptcy laws. The Southern District has prepared a Pro Se Packet, a comprehensive guide on what is needed, at minimum, to begin a case. Additionally, the Southern District provides you with a how-to guide for creating your creditors' mailing matrix that will be useful even if you are in the Northern District.
Indiana Bankruptcy Exemptions
Filing for bankruptcy can be a scary proposition, especially if you are already struggling to make life work with the things you have. Chapter 7 exemptions allow you to protect certain assets when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Indiana. After all, the idea is to give you a fresh start, and not put you even further behind the proverbial 8-ball. Indiana has opted out of federal bankruptcy exemptions and instead requires everyone use Indiana bankruptcy exemptions, which allow you to protect equity of up to $15,000 in your home, other real estate or personal property with a resale value of up to $8,000, and also provide a variety exemptions for things such as health savings accounts, tax credits and the like.
Indiana Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
While the thought of having to pay a lawyer to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Indiana (or anywhere, really) may seem like it adds insult to injury, it may be worth it depending on your specific situation. In Indiana, the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer ranges between $795 and $1,450, though more complicated cases may end up costing you more, at least in the short term.
Attorney cost estimate: $795 – $1,450
Indiana Legal Aid Organizations
If investing in a lawyer is simply not an option for your Indiana bankruptcy case, you may be able to take advantage of Indiana legal aid resources. The Southern District provides you with information on how to find low-cost or free legal help, and even allows you to make a request for assistance directly on their website. Additionally, nonprofits such as Indiana Legal Services and the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society provide assistance to low-income Hoosiers needing a fresh start.
Indiana Court Locations
Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse
46 East Ohio Street Indianapolis, IN 46204
Lee H. Hamilton Federal Building and United States Courthouse
121 West Spring Street New Albany, IN 47150
101 NW Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Evansville, IN 47708
E. Ross Adair Federal Building and United States Courthouse
1300 South Harrison Street Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Robert K. Rodibaugh United States Courthouse
401 South Michigan Street South Bend, IN 46601
Charles A. Halleck Federal Building
230 North Fourth Street Lafayette, IN 47901
Indiana Bankruptcy Judges
|Northern District of Indiana||Hon. Robert E. Grant|
|Northern District of Indiana||Hon. James R. Ahler|
|Northern District of Indiana||Hon. Harry C. Dees|
|Northern District of Indiana||Hon. Kent Lindquist|
|Hon. Robyn L. Moberly|
|Hon. James M. Carr|
|Hon. Jeffrey J. Graham|
|Hon. Basil H. Lorch III|
|Gary D. Boyn|
|Daniel L. Freeland|
|Gordon E. Gouveia|
|Jacqueline S. Homann|
|Rebecca L. Hoyt-Fischer|
|Yvette G. Kleven|
|Kenneth A. Manning||Ken@kmmglawfirm.com|
|J. Richard Ransel|
|Dustin M. Roach|
|Martin E. Seifert|
|Mark A. Warsco|
|Kimberly A. Wrightfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Stacia L. Yoon|
|Charity S. Birdemail@example.com|
|Richard E. Boston|
|Deborah J. Caruso|
|Kathryn L. Pry Coryellfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Gregory S. Fehribach|
|Joanne B. Friedmeyer|
|Jenice R. Golson-Dunlap|
|Paul D. Gresk|
|Joseph W. Hammesemail@example.com|
|Michael J. Hebenstreit|
|Thomas A. Krudyfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|R. Stephen LaPlante|
|Lou Ann Maroccoemail@example.com|
|John J. Petr|
|Gregory K. Silverfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Anastasia M. Wisselemail@example.com|
|Randall Lee Woodruff|