Live in Kentucky and need help filing for bankruptcy and can't afford an attorney? Our legal aid nonprofit guides Kentucky debtors through the chapter 7 process.
Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.
Updated July 30, 2020
While Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky may not be a topic you ever thought you would want to learn more about, remember that bankruptcy relief is available to everyone who needs it, without judgment of how they got there. The fact that you are looking up your options should make you feel better already, as there is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing what you are doing, even if it's just the basics. The key thing to remember, always, is that the Kentucky bankruptcy laws are designed to help you, while treating everyone fairly. For example, a bankruptcy cannot be used to get out of child support obligations or certain government fines or fees, but it can help you restructure your financial situation and get rid of medical bills and credit card balances that would otherwise take up most of your disposable income.
How to File Bankruptcy in Kentucky for Free
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a relatively quick process to eliminate debts while keeping property the Kentucky bankruptcy laws protect from your creditors. Since you do not have to have a lawyer help you, you can keep the costs down by filing without one, either with Upsolve's help or without it. Folks making less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines may even be able to have their court filing fee and credit counseling costs waived.
Collect Your Kentucky Bankruptcy Documents
Kentucky bankruptcy laws and procedures require you to provide certain documents to the court for filing, and to your trustee after your case is filed. Additionally, filling out the bankruptcy forms will require you to rely on certain other documents. That’s why it makes sense to start by collecting your bankruptcy documents first. You will need a copy of your credit report, to make sure you have a complete listing of all creditors, all the paycheck stubs you have received in the last 6 months (7 if you plan on filing before this month ends), and your two most recent federal income tax returns. The trustee may also ask for your bank statements, so make sure you keep those handy as you prepare everything. While this may seem like an awful lot of work to go through just to get started filing Chapter 7 in Kentucky, it will be worth it in the long run.
Take Credit Counseling
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky is a serious step and Congress says you have to take credit counseling before you can actually make your way down to the courthouse to take this step. The course usually takes less than two hours and as long as you are comfortable doing so, you can complete it online, through one of the approved providers. If you are more comfortable completing this course in person, Goodwill offers the course in the Ashland area, and this nonprofit has in-person options in Florence, Frankfort and Lexington. Typically, there is a small cost associated with this class, though most folks find they can get it done for less than $15 online. The certificate of completion, which is filed with your bankruptcy petition, is valid for only 180 days, so make sure you get ready to file your Kentucky bankruptcy case within that time frame.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Now that you have collected your documents and completed the required credit counseling course, it is time to tackle your bankruptcy forms. These forms are what you need to bring to the courthouse to kick off your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky. All forms are available online for free. If you are working with an attorney, they will complete the forms based on the information (and documents) that they collect from you before filing bankruptcy in Kentucky. If you are filing without an attorney ("pro se"), you will have to complete the official forms yourself. In that case, Upsolve may be able to help you complete everything you need. Keep in mind that you have to sign all of your bankruptcy documents under penalty of perjury, so it is important to pay close attention and answer all questions truthfully. Anything else can get you in serious legal trouble, and may cause you to forfeit your bankruptcy discharge.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Even though filing Chapter 7 in Kentucky can be accomplished by filing only the voluntary petition and paying your court filing fee, it's better to complete and print all of your bankruptcy forms all at once. Otherwise, the court may throw out your case if you miss just one of the deadlines for filing the rest of the documents. If that happens, you will have to start from scratch (and pay the fee all over again). Instead, once you have completed the forms, go ahead and print two copies of everything. The Kentucky bankruptcy court will keep the original as your official case documents; the second copy is for you to keep in your own files. If you are headed to the print store to get your bankruptcy forms printed, make sure they do not print on both sides of the paper as the court will not accept double-sided print outs.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Once you have printed all your forms and gotten a money order or cashier's check to pay your filing fee (or completed your request to have the filing fee waived or paid in installments), it's time to head to court to officially file your Kentucky bankruptcy. You will be entering a federal building, so be prepared to go through security and show your ID on your way in. Once inside the courthouse, make your way to the clerk's office. There, someone will accept the forms needed for filing Chapter 7 in Kentucky and provide you with your case number. If you bring your second copy of your documents, you can ask the clerk to stamp it with your case number to confirm your case has been filed.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Upon filing Chapter 7 in Kentucky, a trustee is assigned to every case. You will be provided with the trustee's name and contact information in the court's Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case. This is the same document that tells you when and where your creditors' meeting will take place. The trustee's job is to verify the information you provided to the court when you filed your Kentucky bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy law says you have to provide a copy of your most recent federal income tax return to the trustee at least 7 days before the meeting. In addition, your trustee may request certain additional documents or information from you in preparation for the creditors' meeting. Mail all your documents to your trustee by the deadline, so you know your case is off to a good start.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Since your income, expenses, and financial needs are freshest in your mind right after you have completed and filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky, now is a good time to complete the second bankruptcy course. This course on financial management can only be taken after your case is filed. If you do not complete the course and file the certificate of completion with the court, your discharge, the main benefit of filing Chapter 7 in Kentucky, will not be entered. Just as with the first credit counseling course, it is important to make sure that you take it with a company approved by the United States Trustee to offer it in Kentucky. If you liked the company you used for the first course, you should ask if the are approved to offer this one as well. You may even get a discount that way!
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Your 341 meeting (also called the "creditors' meeting") is probably the only time you have to go to the courthouse after filing Chapter 7 in Kentucky. It takes place about a month after your case was filed. You don't have to do much to prepare for it and as long as you bring your picture ID and appropriate proof of your social security number, it will be over before you know it. Even though you are meeting with your trustee, and not a judge, remember this is a federal court proceeding, so make sure you arrive on time and dress appropriately. While you wait for your case to be called, you may notice the other folks there. Most of them are debtors, just like you, who have their 341 meeting scheduled for the same time as you. Creditors can attend the meeting and ask you questions, but that rarely happens. More often than not, the meeting is over after the trustee checks your IDs and asks you some questions about your Kentucky bankruptcy paperwork.
Dealing with Your Car
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky will not only help get your creditors off your back, it will help you deal with your car in a way that makes sense for you. If your car or truck is paid off, then you can keep it as long as it is worth less than the available exemption. If you are making payments on your vehicle, your Kentucky bankruptcy puts you in the driver's seat on what to do about the loan. That doesn't mean that you get to keep your car without paying for it, after all, how fair would that be? It does mean that if your car and your car loan make sense for your budget, you can keep things the same by entering into a reaffirmation agreement. It also means that if your car loan is bad, but you can come up with the money to pay for the vehicle's actual current value, you can just buy it outright by doing something called a redemption. If none of that makes sense, you can simply give the car back without having to worry about paying the rest of the loan.
Kentucky Bankruptcy Means Test
Chapter 7 is a way out of debt for folks in over their head; not for those with the means to pay their debts. That's why every person who seeks Chapter 7 relief has to pass the Kentucky bankruptcy means test. You will need to calculate your household income and then compare it to the Kentucky income limits. If you make less, you pass the means test. If you make more, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky is still possible if your living regular living expenses don't leave you enough to pay your debts.
Data on Median income levels for Kentucky
Kentucky Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Data on Poverty levels for Kentucky
Kentucky Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
Eastern District of Kentucky Requirements
The Eastern District of Kentucky is divided into six divisions: Ashland, Covington, Frankfort, Lexington, London, and Pikeville. The county you live in determines which division will handle your case and where your 341 meeting will take place. If you need to make any changes, called amendments, to your bankruptcy forms after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky, the Eastern District’s website provides detailed guidance regarding amendment fees.
Western District of Kentucky Requirements
The Western District of Kentucky has offices in four locations (Louisville,Bowling Green,Owensboro, and Paducah) but only the Louisville office is staffed with personnel from the bankruptcy court. If the weather is bad when you are supposed to be at the courthouse to take the next step in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky, make sure you check the court's inclement weather policy before heading out, to make sure everything is operating as it should.
Kentucky Bankruptcy Forms
The Kentucky bankruptcy forms are the same in both the Eastern District and the Western District. Even though each district has some local forms used only within that district, these local forms appear to be limited to cases under the other chapters of the Bankruptcy Code. The Western District has published a guide to help you make sure your Kentucky Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms are all there and in the right order before you head to the courthouse for filing.
Kentucky Bankruptcy Exemptions
Kentucky bankruptcy laws are designed to set you up for the best possible start going forward, while being fair to your creditors. This means that you can keep your assets as long as they are protected by an exemption. Those things everyone needs to live (think clothes, furniture and the like) stay with you even after your case is done, regardless of how much debt is discharged. Whatever does not fall under one of the Kentucky bankruptcy exemptions can be sold by the trustee for the benefit of your creditors. Since everything you own is only worth as much as you could sell it for, in its current condition, most folks who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky find that everything they have is protected. This is especially true because Kentucky has a $1,000 wildcard exemption you can use to protect anything you want.
Kentucky Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
In Kentucky, the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer is around $1,100 - $1,200 and depending on how well your assets match the allowed exemptions, hiring a lawyer may be a good investment. Otherwise, if you make a mistake or misread one of the more technical exemption provisions under Kentucky bankruptcy laws, you may lose something worth much more to you.
Attorney cost estimate: $1,100 – $1,200
Kentucky Legal Aid Organizations
If you can't afford a lawyer to help you with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky, you may be eligible to get help from one of the four legal aid programs in the Bluegrass State. Kentucky Legal Aid covers the southwestern part of the state. If you are looking for legal aid a little closer to home, the Kentucky State Bar (the organization that governs lawyers) helps you find Kentucky legal aid options by county right on their website.
Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky
120 North Front Avenue, Prestonsburg, KY 41653
Kentucky Legal Aid
1700 Destiny Lane, Bowling Green, KY 42104
Legal Aid of the Bluegrass
104 East Seventh Street, Covington, KY 41011-1740
Legal Aid Society
416 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Suite 300, Louisville, KY 40202-2354
Nationwide Service (NYC Office)
Kentucky Court Locations
Kentucky Bankruptcy Judges
|Eastern District of Kentucky||Hon. Tracey N. Wise|
|Eastern District of Kentucky||Hon. Gregory R. Schaaf|
|Western District of Kentucky||Hon. Thomas H. Fulton|
|Western District of Kentucky||Hon. Joan A. Lloyd|
|Western District of Kentucky||Hon. Alan C. Stout|
|Michael L. Baker|
|J. Clair Edwardsfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|L. Craig Kendrickemail@example.com|
|James D. Lyonfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Mark T. Miller||Arthur100@windstream.net|
|Lori A. Schlarmanemail@example.com|
|James R. Westenhoeferfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Jerry A. Burnsemail@example.com|
|Mark H. Flener|
|Alicia Carol Johnsonfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Robert W. Keatsemail@example.com|
|William W. Lawrencefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Maurice R. Littleemail@example.com|
|Harry L. Mathison Jr.|
|W. Stephen Reiszfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Bradley S. Salyeremail@example.com|
|Michael E. Wheatleyfirstname.lastname@example.org|