Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 29, 2020
Are you an individual who is facing serious problems with property foreclosure, unpaid bills, or wage garnishments? Are you paying most of your basic living expenses with your credit card because of an unexpected illness, a death in your family, divorce, or inadequate wages at work? We know that high interest rates and other fees can easily mount, making it almost impossible to dig your way out of overwhelming debt. Also, Lewiston has a high poverty rate of 21.4%. However, there’s a solution for your problems. By filing bankruptcy in Lewiston, you can get debt relief. Lewiston bankruptcy is one of the quickest and most effective ways to eliminate your loans and credit card debt.
The filing of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston automatically stops collection as well as other legal proceedings pending against you. The Maine Bankruptcy Court will send a notice to all your creditors and order them to refrain from any further action against you. Although there are some assets which may be offered to pay off your creditors, this does not typically happen. Lewiston bankruptcy under Chapter 7 allows you to keep most of your assets. On the other hand, in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, you will file a plan with your Maine Bankruptcy Court for the payment of all or a certain portion of your debt over a three to five year period. The repayment plan has to be approved by the Bankruptcy Court to become effective. The first step when filing bankruptcy is to determine which type of bankruptcy suits you best.
Search the words “Lewiston bankruptcy,” or “filing for Maine bankruptcy”, online and you’ll discover a subject surrounded by plenty of confusion and misinformation. If you’re drowning in debt, it is crucial to separate fiction from facts. A common misconception that people in Maine have when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston is that if they file for bankruptcy, they will lose everything they own. However, nothing could be further from the truth; many people who file Maine bankruptcy don't lose anything. Some people think that those who file bankruptcy are bad people. On the contrary, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a sign of financial responsibility. Also, you don’t need a bankruptcy attorney for filing bankruptcy in Lewiston as you can get free legal help. So, don’t stay in the dark and get the help you need.
Lewiston Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Maine bankruptcy attorneys understand the financial burden you are under. This is why many of them offer a free consultation. The costs of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston depend on a variety of factors including the complexity of your case. Many Lewiston bankruptcy lawyers charge a flat fee to assist clients and also offer a free consultation. The typical cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Lewiston ranges from $1,200 to $1,500. If you are low on cash, you can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston on your own as it is not mandatory to hire a bankruptcy lawyer and the process is simpler than you may expect.
How to File Bankruptcy in Lewiston, Maine for Free
If life’s curve-balls did not even leave enough in your bank to initiate your bankruptcy proceedings, don’t worry as you can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston for free. If you want to know how to file bankruptcy in Lewiston for free, you have come to the right place. This City Guide will give you an overview of the Lewiston bankruptcy process so that you can get debt relief without incurring high attorney fees.
Collect Your Lewiston Bankruptcy Documents
Everyone filing bankruptcy in Lewiston must use the official bankruptcy forms in order to provide all the required information to the Maine Bankruptcy Court. To complete these Lewiston bankruptcy forms, you should take some time to collect certain documents before getting started. Some documents, such as your paycheck stubs, bank statements, collection letters you have received from your creditors, and a copy of the credit report will be very useful when completing your bankruptcy forms. You should be as organized as possible when collecting the bankruptcy documents for your Lewiston bankruptcy. While it might take you a little longer to put everything together, when you’re ready to take the next step, you’ll feel more confident and prepared.
Take Credit Counseling
Before filing bankruptcy in Lewiston, you have to complete a credit counseling course. You must complete this counseling course from an approved agency within 180 days of filing your Maine bankruptcy. Your pre-bankruptcy credit counseling will usually begin with a comprehensive review of your personal finances. It will include an evaluation of your current income and a list of all your unsecured debts. A credit counseling session typically lasts about an hour or so. And it can be completed online, in person, or over the phone. The costs for this credit class vary, so you should shop around a bit. DebtorCC is an approved creditor counselor in Maine.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
This is one of the most time-consuming steps in the process. If you hired a bankruptcy lawyer, they’ll fill the bankruptcy forms for you once you complete a simple and tailored questionnaire from their office, providing them with your Lewiston bankruptcy documents. If you are filing bankruptcy in Lewiston without a lawyer ("pro se"), you can download this instruction manual for free. This manual will help guide you through all the Maine bankruptcy forms. It is very important to carefully read and review all your bankruptcy forms to make sure you do not accidentally miss anything. You have to paint a truthful and complete picture of your financial situation with these forms.
Get Your Filing Fee
Recognizing that many people filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston don’t have the means to raise the mandatory $335 Court fee, the Maine Bankruptcy Court will grant a fee waiver to people that qualify for the waiver. On the other hand, if your average income is too high to qualify for a filing fee waiver, then make sure you save up your fee. Filing Chapter 13 in Maine will cost you $310. You have to pay the fee in either cash or in the form of a money order. Since not everyone filing bankruptcy in Lewiston will qualify for a fee waiver, the Maine Bankruptcy Court also allows you to pay your fee in installments after your case is filed.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Once you have at least the first installment payment for the filing fee ready, it’s time to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston. You would like things to proceed smoothly when you are at the bankruptcy courthouse, so you should be methodical and take some time to put together your packet, paying due attention to Maine bankruptcy laws. If you are filing without an attorney, print all documents on standard-sized paper in black and white and sign each signature page where indicated. If you don’t have access to a printer at home or work, you can go to a local print shop, like Penmor Lithographers.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
When you go to the Maine Bankruptcy Court to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is important to bring your government-issued picture ID. This is because the building you’re going to is a federal courthouse, so you will have to pass through security on your way in. You can go to the Federal Courthouse at Portland to submit your Lewiston bankruptcy paperwork. If you’re driving to the courthouse but are not familiar with the part of town it is in, take some time before you leave in order to check out the available parking options in the area.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston, the Court will appoint a bankruptcy Trustee to handle your case. The Trustee is primarily charged with administering the Lewiston bankruptcy case and selling your unprotected propertyfor the benefit of your creditors. Everyone filing bankruptcy in Lewiston has a duty to cooperate with their bankruptcy Trustee to get their discharge. Keep in mind that the Trustee's impression of your bankruptcy case might make a difference as to how your case will be handled. The bankruptcy Trustee might also try to recover property or money under their “avoiding powers.” The Trustee is an independent contractor for the US Department of Justice.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Debtor education is an instructional course you can take on the internet, in person or over the phone, like the credit counseling course that you completed before your Maine bankruptcy case was filed. This debtor education course is about how to budget properly and manage your money after filing bankruptcy in Lewiston. There are many approved debtor education providers in Maine. The main purpose of this course is to set financial goals as well as learn how to cut down your expenses. When you complete this course, you’ll get a certificate verifying that you have completed the course. You have to file that certificate of completion with the Maine Bankruptcy Court to have your debts discharged.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston is often a quick process, taking just about 6 months on average. You will only need to appear in the Bankruptcy Court once, for a brief meeting with your Lewiston bankruptcy Trustee and your creditors. A 341 meeting, also known as the meeting of creditors, takes place after your Maine bankruptcy Trustee has already reviewed your bankruptcy paperwork and other financial records. At this meeting of creditors, you have to prove your identity, income, and assets with official documents and by answering questions. Attendance at this meeting is mandatory, and if you and your spouse filed Lewiston bankruptcy jointly, both of you must attend this meeting.
Dealing with Your Car
It is important to determine whether you will be permitted to keep your vehicle before filing bankruptcy in Lewiston. In most cases, the answer to this question will depend upon a number of different factors, such as what type of Maine bankruptcy you file, and whether the car is leased, financed, or owned. If the car is paid off, you may keep it provided it’s worth less than the available exemption. If you don’t want to keep your car for whatever reason, then filing bankruptcy in Lewiston gives you the opportunity to surrender the car without worrying about the balance left on your auto loan.
Maine Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Lewiston
Maine Means Test
To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston, you have to first pass the Maine bankruptcy Means Test. The Chapter 7 Means Test might seem confusing to you at first, but it is easier and quicker to understand if you break it down. The Maine bankruptcy Means Test was designed to prevent folks from abusing the Lewiston bankruptcy process by requiring them to establish that they have insufficient income in order to repay their debts. The higher your disposable income, the less likely you are to get approved to file under Chapter 7. Nearly all your income is included in the means test – including gifts and gambling winnings.
Median Income Levels for Maine
Maine Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Maine
Maine 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)|
Maine Bankruptcy Forms
The Maine bankruptcy forms are the specific forms that people filing bankruptcy in Lewiston submit to the Maine Bankruptcy Court during the course of their case. Keep in mind that the official national forms comprise a majority of the forms when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston. All of the online Maine bankruptcy forms can be easily downloaded for free for use in your Lewiston bankruptcy case, so you don’t have to buy them from anyone. The Bankruptcy Court organized the Maine bankruptcy forms by the type of information that you will disclose on each form. When you file your Maine bankruptcy case, you’ll have to file this certification about your creditors' addresses with all your national bankruptcy forms.
Many people understand that filing bankruptcy in Lewiston won’t leave them destitute. They might not, however, fully understand how it is or why it is that they can keep some property and assets and not other property. Note that it all comes down to Maine bankruptcy exemptions and "exempt property." It is the property that the Maine bankruptcy law specifically allows you to keep after filing a bankruptcy case. Exemptions in Maine allow you to protect a minimum level of assets from your creditors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lewiston. You will find Maine’s bankruptcy exemption scheme at 14 M.R.S.A. Sec. 4422.