Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 29, 2020
If you are considering filing bankruptcy in Bowling Green, this guide can help you get a better picture of what bankruptcy is, and how it can help you and your family. First of all, before resorting to bankruptcy, you should make sure you have explored other alternatives that may help you overcome a short term financial crisis. Many of the credit counseling agencies that can counsel you regarding bankruptcy, can also help you pursue an alternative. Some of the most common alternatives are debt forgiveness and debt settlement. Debt forgiveness is when your creditor forgives or cancels the debt you owe them and agrees not to pursue you in collections. Instead, the creditor prepares a 1099-C for the amount charged off and sends it to you. You must then include the amount charged off as “income” or a “gift” on your income tax return. Make sure you get this forgiveness in writing, however, as the “charge off” notation on your account and the 1099-C are not enough to show that the debt has in fact been forgiven. Debt settlement is when your creditor agrees to take less money than you owe them to settle your account with them. In addition, they will also send you a 1099-C. The difference between debt forgiveness and debt settlement is with debt settlement you repay a portion of what you owe, and with debt forgiveness you do not. Unfortunately, very few lenders are willing to simply forgive your debt or take less money than you owe them. Further, if you are in trouble with more than one creditor, simply getting one or two of them to forgive or settle your debt, may not improve your financial situation. Chapter 7 bankruptcy eliminates your debts! Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a powerful legal tool that not only stops your creditors from harassing you or taking you to court, it also eliminates your debt without you having to pay any of it back or worry about having to pay taxes on debt that’s been forgiven. Even if you don’t qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will also eliminate your debt under a court-approved repayment plan that reduces the amount owed to each of your creditors and consolidates all of your debt into one monthly payment. Most consumers prefer Chapter 7 over Chapter 13 because Chapter 7 is less expensive, does not require you to make any payments, and allows you to obtain your discharge sooner. Best of all, Upsolve can help you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bowling Green for free!
Bowling Green Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
The average Bowling Green bankruptcy lawyer cost is $1,100 to $1,200 for a Chapter 7 case. For a complicated case or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, hiring a bankruptcy attorney is a good investment. But if you want to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bowling Green, on your own, there is no need to pay $1,100 or $1,200 for an attorney. You can file bankruptcy in Bowling Green for free!
How to File Bankruptcy in Bowling Green, Kentucky for Free
Upsolve has condensed the process of filing bankruptcy in Bowling Green down to nine detailed steps. We will begin with what you need to do “before you file,” then discuss what you have to do “to file” your Bowling Green bankruptcy and finally conclude with what you are required to do “after filing” your case. Along the way, we will discuss what to do with your car and how to keep almost all, if not all, of your property! In addition, each of the steps is explained in plain English, avoiding confusing legal jargon whenever possible, and accompanied by helpful links to forms and other helpful information.
Collect Your Bowling Green Bankruptcy Documents
Filling out a Bowling Green bankruptcy petition is similar in many ways to completing a loan application for a credit card, automobile or new home. You will need some of the same documents to complete all of your bankruptcy forms. These documents will typically include, your pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, a W-2, insurance records, 401k or pension statements, and documents regarding any alimony or child support you may receive. You will also need all your bills. This includes credit card statements, automobile loan statements, medical bills, grocery bills, cable bills, phone bills, utility bills, rent payments and any other monthly expenses you incur such as childcare, prescription medicine or dry cleaning. If you don’t have receipts for expenses such as your groceries and dry cleaning, try to go back and recreate what you paid for these items using your bank records or family budget.
Take Credit Counseling
In between collecting your Bowling Green bankruptcy documents and completing your bankruptcy forms, you will need to set aside time to complete a mandatory credit counseling course. This course is required to be completed before you file your Bowling Green bankruptcy, and you must submit the certificate of completion you’ll get at the end to the Court. Commonly referred to as the Pre-Petition Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Course, it is one of two bankruptcy-related credit counseling courses you will have to complete to obtain your Chapter 7 discharge. “Pre-petition” means before you file. You can take the course in-person through a local credit counseling agency, like Consumer Credit Counseling Services on 1725 Ashley Cir # 107, Bowling Green, KY 42104. You can also obtain a list of approved credit counseling agencies that offer the course for Kentucky bankruptcy cases online, over the telephone, or in-person. You should expect to pay between $15 and $35 for the course.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
When you begin completing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms you may begin to despair that you have so many forms to fill out and the forms are asking for so much information. Don’t look at this way! Instead, realize that every form you complete puts you one step closer to realizing your goal of getting back on your financial feet. While it’s important to complete your forms as quickly and as accurately as possible so the financial information you provide is still current when you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bowling Green, it’s also important to take your time and be thorough. While the bankruptcy clerk will not check every one of your forms for completeness, once you file your Bowling Green bankruptcy the Trustee will. If you have left portions of forms blank or not provided information where requested, when you appear for your creditors’ meeting, the Trustee could reschedule the meeting until a later date so that you can provide the information you have omitted. You should not rely on that, however, especially because it may make the Trustee wonder if you’re trying to hide something.
Get Your Filing Fee
Most people don’t know that the money you pay to a bankruptcy attorney does not include the filing fee due to the Court when your bankruptcy petition is filed. The same is true if you file your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bowling Green. There is a $338 fee that must be paid to the clerk of the bankruptcy court when you file your Bowling Green bankruptcy. This fee can be paid all at once, in cash, or you can request to pay the fee in installments. If you ask to pay it in installments you must include your request in the petition you submit to the Court when you file your Bowling Green bankruptcy. The Court will typically grant these requests automatically provided you ask for no more than four payments, and the last payment will be paid no later than 120 days after your petition is filed. But be aware, you will not receive a discharge until you have made all your payments. If you feel you can’t afford to pay the filing fee at all, or you will have to postpone your bankruptcy for a long time until you can save up enough for the filing fee, you can ask the Court to waive the filing fee. If you have no income or earn less than 150% of the poverty level, the Court can grant you a fee waiver if you are unable to pay the filing fee in installments after filing bankruptcy in Bowling Green.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
If you have been diligently working on completing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms, in no time at all you’ll be ready to print your Bowling Green bankruptcy petition. Before you do, make sure you have completed all the sections in all the forms in your Bowling Green bankruptcy petition. If you skipped a section because you were waiting for documents to fill it in, then go back now and complete those sections. Once done, you are ready to print your petition. You need to print a total of two copies. You will sign one copy and file it with the Court and keep the other copy for yourself. You will bring it with you to your upcoming creditor's meeting. Print both copies one side per page. While it may be cheaper to print a copy for yourself double-sided, don’t do this. During your creditors’ meeting, your Trustee may ask you to refer to a page in your bankruptcy petition and your petition should be numbered and paginated exactly like theirs. You can print your petition at home if you have a quality printer capable of printing 60 to 100 pages without skipping or smearing. If any of your pages are smeared or unreadable, the bankruptcy clerk will reject you petition. To be safe, you can print your petition at the Warren County Public Library located on 1225 State Street, Bowling Green, KY 42101 for only $0.10 per page. The main library also offers Mobile Printing, so you can print everything needed to file bankruptcy in Bowling Green from home and pick it up later.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Unfortunately, the federal courthouse in Bowling Green is not staffed with personnel from the Bankruptcy Clerk’s office, so you must file your Bowling Green bankruptcy petition in Louisville. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Kentucky in Louisville is about an hour and forty-five-minute drive from downtown Bowling Green. The court is located at 601 W. Broadway, Suite 450, Louisville, Kentucky and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Court is not open on federal holidays. You may also mail your bankruptcy petition, together with your filing fee to that same location. If you mail your petition you must make sure you have signed all the forms in all the locations where your signature is required. You must also make sure to include a signed request to pay your filing fee in installments or a signed request to waive the filing fee if you’re asking the Court for either of those accommodations. If you prefer to file your Kentucky bankruptcy case in person, you should also make sure you bring personal identification such as a driver’s license or state identification card to enter the courthouse. In addition, you should dress appropriately so you are not turned away at the door. Halter tops, soiled work clothing, miniskirts, spandex, athletic wear, and hats are not allowed. Finally, be sure to arrive at least two hours before the Court closes if you want your petition filed on the same day.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Whether you mail your Bowling Green bankruptcy petition to the Court or file it in person, you must mail a copy of your supporting documents to your court-appointed Trustee. Your supporting documents are the financial records you used to complete your bankruptcy forms. This includes your pay stub, tax returns, bank statements and so forth. It does not include copies of your bills. It also does not include your bankruptcy forms. Most Trustees will receive a copy of your forms directly from the Court. A Trustee is an individual, usually an attorney, who has been appointed by the Court to review your bankruptcy forms and let the Court know whether you have any unprotected assets that can be sold to pay your creditors. If the Trustee determines you do not, which happens in almost every Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bowling Green, they will inform the Court that you have a “no-asset” case. A “no-asset” case means you have nothing that the Trustee could sell to pay creditors because all of your assets are exempt. This determination is made after they meet with you for your creditors’ meeting.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Between the time you meet with your Kentucky bankruptcy Trustee and they submit their determination to the Court, you will need to take your second bankruptcy course. The second bankruptcy course is known as the “Post-Petition Credit Counseling Bankruptcy Course” or “Debtor Education.” This course focuses on financial planning and handling your finances after filing bankruptcy in Bowling Green. The course is designed to give you strategies and techniques for managing and handling your finances to avoid having to file bankruptcy again in the future. The Debtor Education course can take up to three hours to complete and costs up to $50. This course is mandatory, and you will not receive your discharge until you have completed it and filed your certificate of completion with the Court. You can take this course with the same agency that administered your first course, as long as they are on the list of approved providers for the second course as well.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Before you will be issued a discharge, you are required to attend a 341 meeting of creditors. The 341 meeting of creditors is an informal meeting between you, the Trustee and any creditors who choose to appear. Creditors are not required to attend however, and most do not. This meeting is intended to allow the Trustee to discuss your Kentucky bankruptcy case with you and ask you questions concerning the information you provided in your bankruptcy forms. When you arrive, the Trustee will ask to see your personal identification and social security card. If any of your creditors do appear, they will also be allowed to ask you questions about your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bowling Green. For Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases originating in Bowling Green, the creditors’ meeting will be held at the William Natcher Courthouse, 241 East Main Street, on the third 3rd Floor. This is not the same location where you filed your Bowling Green bankruptcy. You will receive the date and time of the meeting in your Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case. Be sure to bring a copy of your bankruptcy forms with you, along with your supporting documents, your driver’s license or other personal identification and your original social security card. Your meeting with the Trustee usually lasts between ten and fifteen minutes. However, you may be there longer waiting on the Trustee to conclude earlier meetings.
Dealing with Your Car
If you have a car, your first instinct when you file bankruptcy in Bowling Green may be to do everything you can to keep your car. Keeping a car you own or are leasing is entirely possible in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, before you agree to keep paying for your car, you should at least consider the potential benefits of getting out from under a large monthly car payment or a penalty laden lease. A Bowling Green bankruptcy allows you to “surrender” a car you can no longer afford. To do this, you would simply indicate your intention to surrender the car on the Statement of Intentionsand then arrange a day, time and place for the lender to pick it up. Once you have surrendered the vehicle, you will no longer be obligated to make any payments to the lender and the debt will be discharged as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bowling Green. If you do want to keep your car, you can either reaffirm the debt you owe or redeem the car. If you reaffirm the debt, you must sign a reaffirmation agreement with the lender. A reaffirmation agreement obligates you to keep paying your car note during and after your bankruptcy and allows your lender to sue you or take other measures to collect on the loan if you default after your bankruptcy is concluded. To redeem your car, you must pay your lender the full market value of the car no matter how much you owe on the loan. The benefit is that you get to discharge the balance of your loan as part of your Kentucky bankruptcy case.
Kentucky Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Bowling Green
Kentucky Means Test
Typically, if you are considering filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bowling Green, your household income will not bar you from doing so. Primarily because if you earned enough income to exceed the limits allowed by the Kentucky bankruptcy Means Test, you probably would not need to file Chapter 7. Nonetheless, because Chapter 7 bankruptcy is such a powerful poverty-fighting tool, certain high-income individuals or families are only able to file a Chapter 13 case where they’ll be required to pay at least some of their debts over time. The Kentucky bankruptcy Means Test is used to determine if your income is considered too high for a Chapter 7. The Kentucky bankruptcy Means Test compares your household income and your family size with the median household income for a similarly sized family in Kentucky. If your income exceeds this amount, then you must overcome something known as a “presumption of abuse” before proceeding with your Chapter 7. Currently, for the State of Kentucky, the median household income of a two-person household is $54,835. This limit varies from state to state depending on what families typically earn in those states. By way of example, in California, the same two person household could earn up to $77,167! Because of this, if you do complete the Kentucky bankruptcy Means Test and it indicates there is a presumption of abuse in your case, Upsolve recommends you seek the advice of an attorney before filing your Bowling Green bankruptcy as a Chapter 7 case.
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|
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)|
Kentucky Bankruptcy Forms
The Kentucky bankruptcy forms that make up a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition can be complex and confusing at times. However, making sense of these forms is easier if you realize what the form, or schedule, is asking you and the type of information you need to fill it in. Often, the information you provide on one form can be used to answer questions on another form. For example, Schedule B asks you to list your personal property. Part 3, Paragraph 6 asks you to specifically list your household goods and furnishings. Household goods and furnishings include things like your living room set, bedroom set, and cabinets. You would not list your television or stereo here. Instead, you would list them in Paragraph 7 that asks you to list your electronics. When you are done with the entire form, you can use this information to fill in Schedule C. Schedule C asks you to list the property you claim as exempt and the amount of the exemption. Since exempting property excludes it from being sold by the bankruptcy Trustee, you want to make sure you list all the property you listed in Schedule B that can also be listed on Schedule C there as well. You also want to list the value you gave for that property in Schedule B, as the exempt amount in Schedule C, up to the available exemption amount. So, you see, by using the information in one form to complete the information in another form, you are better able to make sense of your entire Bowling Green bankruptcy petition.
The true power behind Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be found in something called “exemptions.” Exemptions are laws that allow you to keep certain property when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bowling Green. Without exemptions, the Trustee would be required to “liquidate” all of your assets by selling them for the best price they could obtain. This money would then be distributed or shared among your creditors to pay a small portion of your debt. Many people still believe a Chapter 7 bankruptcy works this way. In reality, this is almost never the case. Kentucky bankruptcy exemptions specify the property of yours that you are entitled to keep as long as it does not exceed a certain value. Kentucky’s personal property exemptions, however, don’t cover a wide selection of property and are not very high. Fortunately, Ky. Rev. Stat. § 427.170, allows individuals filing bankruptcy in Bowling Green to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions. The federal exemptions are very generous and cover a wide range of personal property. However, federal exemptions must be claimed instead of the Kentucky bankruptcy exemptions. They cannot be combined.