Written by Attorney Amelia Niemi.
Updated July 28, 2020
There is no shame in having money difficulties. Even Shreveport’s own Sookie Stackhouse, heroine of the True Blood franchise, had trouble making ends meet at one point. Filing bankruptcy in Shreveport is one option that can help give families a fresh start if they are suffering from crippling debt. Even our local casino owners know that sometimes you just need to cut your losses, like when the Shreveport-Bossier City gaming market lost Horseshoe Casino and Harrah’s Louisiana Downs when Caesars Entertainment filed for bankruptcy in 2011.
If you have a significant amount of debt from credit card or medical bills, a Shreveport bankruptcy might be the right answer for you. It won’t get rid of your student loan debt or recent back taxes, but it can put you on the right path moving forward. Even though bankruptcy stays on your credit report for up to a decade, one the process is finished, your credit can improve. This can help you get a house or a car loan in the future.
Most people who file bankruptcy need to choose between a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport gives people breathing room by wiping out their debt in as little as 4 months. Some people need to sell some of their property to pay their debts as part of the process, but most people walk away from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport with everything they own. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy helps people repay their debt over a 3- or 5-year period. Most people who file bankruptcy in the United States will go through the Chapter 7 process because it lets them move on with their lives much quicker.
If you are considering a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport, you aren’t alone. You can hire an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to walk you through the process. If you can’t afford a lawyer, there are many free legal aid organizations helping people get out of debt. You can also see if you qualify for Upsolve’s free services to help you through the bankruptcy process without a lawyer (“pro se”). Here is an overview of what a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport, Louisiana looks like.
Shreveport Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Many people who go through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport will hire a bankruptcy lawyer to help them with the process. The Shreveport bankruptcy lawyer cost is between $1,450 and $1,800. The average cost of a bankruptcy lawyer here is $1,625. This fee is similar to other Pelican State cities like Shreveport and New Orleans. Most Shreveport bankruptcy lawyers offer free consultations. This lets you meet the lawyer and decide if you want to hire them. Attorneys know your money is valuable. They want you to feel confident in them before you hire them. When you meet with the attorney, ask them to explain how the process works. You can take notes and ask questions. If you have any specific concerns, bring them up! The right attorney will make you feel comfortable even before you pick them.
How to File Bankruptcy in Shreveport, Louisiana for Free
Bankruptcy lawyers aren’t necessary for every Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport. Every year, hundreds of people filing bankruptcy in Shreveport work through the Chapter 7 process pro se, or on their own. Here is an overview of how to file bankruptcy in Shreveport.
Collect Your Shreveport Bankruptcy Documents
The first thing you will find out about a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport is that it involves a lot of paperwork. You can make this process a lot easier by getting your papers organized at the beginning. Start by getting together pay stubs and bank statements from the past 6 months. You’ll also need your most recent federal tax return. If you can’t find it, you can ask the IRS for a copy. When you fill out your Shreveport bankruptcy forms, you need to list everyone you owe money to. Even if you haven’t kept track of these accounts, they’re listed on your credit report. If you ask for a copy of your credit reports, you’ll have this information at your fingertips.
Take Credit Counseling
Everyone filing bankruptcy in Shreveport needs to take a credit counseling class. Make sure the class provider is approved by the Western District of Louisiana, so you get credit for your time! Most people will take the class online or over the phone. Unfortunately, there are no companies based in Shreveport, but MMI has a location in Bossier City. Your first credit counseling class costs around $10 - $50. The class helps you figure out if a Louisiana bankruptcy is the right option for you. You can finish in an afternoon or evening. After finishing, you will get a certificate that you need to include when you file your bankruptcy forms. The certificate is valid for 180 days.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
You’d probably rather spend time at Splash Kingdom Waterpark than filling out the paperwork needed for your Louisiana bankruptcy case. These forms can be complicated and difficult to understand. This is why many people decide to hire a local bankruptcy lawyer or ask Upsolve for help. If you are working through these forms by yourself, tackle them one by one. Use the documents you collected earlier to help. Be honest and specific. This isn’t the time to guess or gamble. You need to give the Louisiana Bankruptcy Court your entire financial picture. This will let you complete your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport successfully and on time so you can move on with your life sooner rather than later.
Get Your Filing Fee
Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport costs $335. You can pay this as a lump sum upfront or you can ask the Court for an installment plan. This is broken into three monthly payments of $112, 112, and $111. If you can put together the full amount ahead of time, it’s better to pay at once. If you miss even one installment, your case can be thrown out without a refund. You should pay with a money order or cashier’s check made out to “US Bankruptcy Court.” If your household income is less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, you can ask the Louisiana Bankruptcy Court for a fee waiver. You need to fill out one more form, using information from your other Shreveport bankruptcy forms.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
After you’ve finished the Shreveport bankruptcy forms, you need to print them out and sign them. You’ll need to print everything on regular 8.5 x 11” letter paper. Make sure that you print everything single-sided and, if possible, print two copies of everything. You’ll give one to the clerk to keep. The clerk will stamp the other copy, which you’ll keep for your records. If you don’t have a printer, you can print your forms at the Shreve Memorial Library. Print shops like FedEx/Kinkos or Office Depot can also help you out. Double-check to make sure you have all the bankruptcy forms and your credit-counseling certificate before you head to the courthouse to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Once you complete and print your Shreveport bankruptcy forms, you need to submit them to the Court. It’s a good idea to go in person because the clerk can make sure you have everything you need. You don’t want your papers returned because you forgot a signature! The Western District’s courthouse is:
Tom Stagg United States Court House
300 Fannin Street
Shreveport, LA 71101
The Shreveport Bankruptcy Courthouse is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, but make sure to get there before the lobby closes at 4 p.m. Everyone needs to go through building security. Bring your photo ID and leave knives or guns behind because this is a federal building. If you have questions, you can call the courthouse toll free at (866) 721-2105.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After filing bankruptcy in Shreveport, the Court will assign a Trustee to oversee your case. The Trustee isn’t your attorney. Instead, they administer the case to make sure all the Louisiana bankruptcy rules are followed. The Trustee makes sure everything you filed is complete and accurate. Pay attention to any communication, such as a letter or email, from your Trustee. They may ask you for additional financial paperwork, like your pay stubs or more information about certain loans. You need to send these documents to the Trustee, along with your most recent federal income tax return, so they receive it at least a week before your 341 meeting.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
You need to take a second bankruptcy class before your Louisiana bankruptcy case is over. This class talks about making healthy financial choices moving forward. Now that you have a fresh start, you should take advantage of the opportunity to learn about financial management, and not just view this as one more box to check before getting your discharge. This class talks about creating and sticking to a budget, setting short- and long-term goals, and keeping accurate financial records. You can take the class online, over the phone, or in-person with MMI in Bossier City, as long as the provider you ultimately choose is approved for Shreveport bankruptcy cases. This course costs around $50. Give yourself an afternoon or evening to finish the class. You’ll get a certificate of completion, which has to be submitted to the Court before your discharge can be entered.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The only time you need to go to Court as part of your Shreveport bankruptcy is for your 341 meeting. This is usually about 30 days after filing bankruptcy in Shreveport. The Court will send you a notice of the date and time. This meeting is sometimes called a “meeting of creditors,” but usually creditors don’t come. When you go, bring your government-issued photo ID and original social security card. This lets the Louisiana bankruptcy Trustee verify your identity. You should also bring a copy of your bankruptcy paperwork, recent paystubs, and your most recent federal income tax return. You’ll meet the Trustee and other people who filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport in a conference room inside the courthouse. The Trustee will talk to you for a few minutes and might ask you about how you paid for your house or car. Don’t be nervous. This part is usually over in 5 or 10 minutes.
Dealing with Your Car
You have some options for what you can do with an outstanding car loan as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport. If you want to keep the car, you can “reaffirm” the car loan by agreeing with the lender to keep making payments as usual. You can also “redeem” the car by giving the lender a lump sum amount equal to the car’s actual value, but you might need to take out another loan to accomplish that, so make sure to carefully consider your options. Finally, if you want to “surrender” or give up the car as part of your Louisiana bankruptcy, you won’t have to make any additional payments after filing bankruptcy in Shreveport. If you own a car free and clear, you can keep it if it’s worth less than $7,500 because that means it’s protected by the available exemptions. You might need to sell a car worth more than this.
Louisiana Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Shreveport
Louisiana Means Test
An important part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport is the Louisiana bankruptcy Means Test. This Means Test limits who is eligible for Chapter 7 relief. If you make more than the income limitation, you need to work through part 2 of the Louisiana bankruptcy Means Test, which lets you subtract allowed expenses, like food and childcare, to determine if you are eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport.
Median Income Levels for Louisiana
Louisiana Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Louisiana
Louisiana 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)|
Louisiana Bankruptcy Forms
People filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport will need to complete around 24 different Louisiana bankruptcy forms. These forms give the Court detailed information about every part of your financial life. You’ll list how much you make, what you own, and how much each of your debts are. Use your pay stubs, bank account statements, and credit report to help you work through the Louisiana bankruptcy forms. You should be detailed and thorough when you fill out these forms.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Shreveport, the things you own may be sold to pay your debts. Louisiana bankruptcy exemptions let you keep some property under the state’s Chapter 7 exemptions. Most people will be able to keep everything they own, including their retirement accounts and family heirlooms, but there are some dollar amount limitations to these exemptions.