Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 29, 2020
If your family is experiencing difficult financial times, you may want to consider filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown. One of the reasons many people consider bankruptcy is the alarmingly high poverty rate of 27.2% in the city. For many folks in Maryland, the word bankruptcy usually carries a negative connotation. But what most individuals and families don’t understand is how filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown can help them if they’re struggling to make ends meet for various reasons, such as high medical bills and job loss.
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hagerstown can provide you with a fresh start if you can no longer pay your debts for a variety of reasons. Bankruptcy is a legal procedure where you ask the Court for protection from your creditors because you can’t pay your debts. Tools, like the liquidation of specific assetsor payment plans, could be implemented by the Hagerstown bankruptcy Trusteeto help you manage your debts in a more effective manner. If you are filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown, you have to decide whether to file for protection under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hagerstown can help you discharge most debts. Filing bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code can give you a fresh start as you can keep most of your property and assets that are exempt. Through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hagerstown, you have about three to five months for dischargeand can sell non-exempt property in order to pay back your creditors and get rid of your debt faster. On the other hand, when you file for relief under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, you (or your attorney) propose a payment plan for repaying either all or part of your debts. After your Hagerstown bankruptcy period is over under Chapter 13, your remaining debt is discharged.
There are several myths when it comes to filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown, but the truth is actually surprising. One of the common misconceptions in Hagerstown bankruptcy cases is that people believe that they can’t buy a car after filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown. This is not true as car dealers will mail you offers after you file as they know you have wiped out your debts. Some people in Maryland believe that they need money to pay a bankruptcy lawyer just to find out about bankruptcy protection. In fact, you can getfree legal help or file on your own!
Hagerstown Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer is not necessary in all cases. You may file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hagerstown on your own if your case is simple and save a lot of money. In contrast, if your Hagerstown bankruptcy case is complex, hiring an attorney is a good investment. This is because an experienced and competent bankruptcy attorney knows all the ins and outs of Hagerstown bankruptcy law and will be a great guide to help you throughout the process. Alawyer can help you fill out all the paperwork and gather all the necessary documents.
The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Hagerstown is between $899 and $3,500, depending on how complicated the case is and what type of bankruptcy you are filing. You can also benefit from a free consultation that many lawyers offer in Hagerstown.
How to File Bankruptcy in Hagerstown, Maryland for Free
Are you considering filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown but don’t have the financial resources to hire a lawyer in Maryland? Want to know how to file bankruptcy in Hagerstown for free? You have come to the right place. This City Guide and other valuable resources will give you an overview of the process so that you can get out of debt as soon as possible.
Collect Your Hagerstown Bankruptcy Documents
Collecting your bankruptcy documents is the first important step in filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown. You will have to collect documents that will give you an idea of your complete financial situation. Your bankruptcy forms report to the Bankruptcy Court information regarding your creditors, your sources of income, your property, and your monthly living expenses. These documents will support the story you’ll have to tell in your bankruptcy forms when filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hagerstown. Hagerstown bankruptcy documents include your paycheck stubs, bank statements, student loan records, your tax returns, and credit card bills. You will also need your credit report when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hagerstown.
Take Credit Counseling
The U.S. Bankruptcy laws require that you take a credit counseling course before filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown. You have to complete the first credit counseling course before filing your case because a copy of the counseling certificate has to be included with your Hagerstown bankruptcy petition. You will find a list of approved pre-bankruptcy credit counseling services on the U.S. Trustee website for Maryland helpful when filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown. This course can be easily completed online or by phone. Depending on the provider, this course costs between $10 and $50. Pioneer Credit Counseling and DebtorCC are two approved creditor counselors in the city.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown involves plenty of paperwork. The official forms that have to be filed with the Bankruptcy Court to start your Maryland bankruptcy case provide you a chance to fully explain your financial situation to the Court. You will have to disclose the details of your financial situation, such as your expenses, income, property, property transactions, and debt. Some of the forms you will have to complete are:
Various Schedules and Statements with in-depth information about your financial situation
A form for something called the “Means Test.”
It’s crucial to be diligent in completing your Hagerstown bankruptcy forms, as you’re signing everything under penalty of perjury. Avoid common mistakes that many people make when filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown, such as not listing all creditors.
Get Your Filing Fee
If you aren’t eligible to have the Courtfiling fee waived, you should plan ahead to make sure you face no problems arranging the full fee when it is time to file your Hagerstown bankruptcy case. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hagerstown requires a $335 filing fee, which has to be paid to the Bankruptcy Court in person. If you do not have the money to pay your filing fee now, you have the option to complete a special form, which allows you to pay your filing fee in installments. It’s worth noting that the Court can increase these fees from time to time.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Only bankruptcy lawyers filing Hagerstown bankruptcy cases on behalf of their clients can file the case electronically. If you are filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown without a lawyer, you have to submit the documents to the Court in paper. You can either mail them to the clerk's office or, drop them off in person, which is better. As the Court won’t accept double-sided pages, you must print them single-sided. It’s essential to ensure that all the information you have provided is complete, accurate, and up to date. Although it can be tempting to keep a digital copy on your laptop or computer, note that a hardcopy is better, as it can't be accidentally changed.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
You may file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hagerstown by mailing all your necessary documents with your filing fee to the Court. However, it's always better to personally visit the courthouse to take care of this. You can file your Hagerstown bankruptcy case with the local U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland. You will go to the federal courthouse in Greenbelt, which serves Washington county cases and is open from Monday through Friday. Make sure you bring a valid picture ID with you when you visit the courthouse. A picture ID is required to enter the building. After processing your bankruptcy forms, the clerk will give you your bankruptcy case number so you can let the next creditor that calls you know that you’re protected by the automatic stayright away.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When your bankruptcy case is filed, it will be assigned to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy Trustee. Your Trustee will review your Hagerstown bankruptcy petition and documents submitted to determine if you are eligible for relief under the Chapter you have filed. You will have to provide certain financial documents to your Trustee, like pay stubs, and tax returns. This will help confirm the information you have provided in your paperwork. After filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hagerstown, you may get a letter from your bankruptcy Trustee requesting some other documents, like your bank statements. You will have to cooperate with your Trustee to make sure your case proceeds smoothly.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
After filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown, you will have to take a Financial Management Course from any of the approved debtor education providers on the U.S. Trustee’s website. This post-filing counseling course has to be completed after you file your case, but must be completed before receiving your bankruptcy discharge. Note that even if your Hagerstown bankruptcy was due to something completely outside your control, you still have to take this financial management class. Once you complete the counseling, you will have to file a certification form with the Court to let the judge know you’ve complied with this requirement. If you or your provider don’t submit the certificate to the Court, your bankruptcy discharge won’t be entered.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
There’s a Meeting of Creditors, also known as a 341 Meeting, which will take place about twenty to forty days after your Hagerstown bankruptcy case is filed. Note that this is the meeting where your bankruptcy Trustee meets with you and, if you have one, your attorney. You will receive notice of the date, time, and location of your 341 meeting usually by mail within one week of the filing of your bankruptcy case. Creditors aren’t required to attend this meeting but might choose to do so to ask you about your assets and liabilities, so make sure you are well prepared. Bring your picture ID and original social security card to make sure everything goes smoothly. If possible, you shouldn’t bring any small children to the 341 meeting with you.
Dealing with Your Car
A car is an important asset for a lot of people in Maryland. Most people want to keep their vehicle after filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown. If you are the outright owner of the car, then everything will stay the same provided your car's value is lower than the exemption you may claim on the Schedule C. Maryland has a wild card exemption that allows you to protect as much as $6,000 in cash or other property as well as up to $5,000 in personal property. You can apply this exemption to your car. If you have a car loan when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hagerstown, and a review of your budget indicates that you will not be able to afford the car, then you should surrender the vehicle.
Maryland Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Hagerstown
Maryland Means Test
The Maryland bankruptcy Means Test compares a filer’s average income to the median income of a household of the same size in Maryland. Note that your average income is based on your household income from all your sources within the last six months. If your average income is more than the median income in Maryland, you will “fail” the Maryland Means Test calculation. You have, however, another chance to pass this test to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7. Find out about the Chapter 7 income limits to make sure you are filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown under the proper Chapter. You are exempt from the Maryland bankruptcy Means Test if you are a disabled military veteran and incurred your debt mainly during active duty.
Median Income Levels for Maryland
Maryland Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Maryland
Maryland 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)|
Maryland Bankruptcy Forms
It is important to complete all Maryland bankruptcy forms accurately. There are about 23 federal bankruptcy forms involved in a Hagerstown bankruptcy filing. You will have to complete these national forms when filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown. All of the forms are available for free online. If you are feeling overwhelmed or need assistance, then you should check out our free bankruptcy assistance to see if you are a good fit for the service. You should use this Maryland bankruptcy form to notify all other Courts of your pending bankruptcy case if you were sued before the case was filed.
Major Maryland bankruptcy exemptions available when filing bankruptcy in Hagerstown are the homestead and personal property exemptions. Maryland has opted against allowing its residents to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions; so, you can only use Maryland statutes that define and list the exemptions. The Maryland bankruptcy exemptions determine the property you can protect from creditors under Maryland law when you are filing bankruptcy in Maryland. Exempt property can’t be used to pay debts. If you have an asset that is not fully protected, then that asset may be sold. You will receive the protected amount, but the rest of the proceeds will be distributed among your creditors.