Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
Living in a vibrant state capital can be both empowering and expensive. There is a lot to do in and around Lansing, but if you are struggling to make ends meet, it is hard to enjoy the opportunities that this community provides. Hardworking and responsible adults sometimes just can’t find a way to pay their debts and meet their basic needs at the same time. This often happens through absolutely no fault of the adults who can’t pay all of their bills at once. According to a 2019 CNBC article, fully two-thirds of Americans cite medical issues as the primary reason they filed for bankruptcy. When illness, injury, and accidents occur, filing for filing bankruptcy in Lansing may be your best option. Michigan bankruptcy can help to erase your debts so that you can focus on your family’s immediate needs and on building a strong financial foundation for the future. You have probably done everything you could to earn more money and cut expenses. If your efforts are still not allowing you to pay all your bills on time each month, bankruptcy may be an option worth exploring.
There are two kinds of Lansing bankruptcy that families generally file for if they don’t own a business. Whether you choose to file under Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 will largely depend on how much money you make. Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganizes debt so that monthly payments become more manageable. After a 5-year repayment plan is complete, many debts will be eliminated. Lower-income households may qualify for Chapter 7 may have many kinds of debt eliminated in as few as 90 days. Therefore, if you don’t earn much income, you may benefit most significantly and immediately from filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you’re worried that filing for bankruptcy means that you’ll have to sell your property, know that most Chapter 7 filers keep most or all of their property safe from the risk of being sold during the bankruptcy process through the protection provided by exemptions.
Lansing Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
If you’re considering filing bankruptcy in Lansing, you might understandably be worried about the question, “How much does a Lansing bankruptcy lawyer cost?” In general, you can hire bankruptcy help in Lansing for just over $1,000. However, if you don’t earn much income and your financial situation isn’t terribly complicated, you might not need to concern yourself with the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in the first place. If you want to benefit from a lawyer’s assistance, you can certainly hire a bankruptcy attorney to help you. However, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing process is generally so straightforward that you should be able to complete it without a lawyer’s help.
How to File Bankruptcy in Lansing, Michigan for Free
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lansing can be a life-altering process that is strongly worth your consideration if you are low-income and struggling with debt. To learn more about whether this process might be right for you, please review the following information about Michigan bankruptcy and what filers must go through to secure its protections.
Collect Your Lansing Bankruptcy Documents
Filing bankruptcy in Lansing largely involves explaining to the Court why you can neither pay back your creditors right now nor afford to pay them back over 5 years through a Chapter 13 repayment plan. To tell this story effectively, you’ll need to gather relevant financial documents that you can reference when answering questions about your income, expenses, debts, and property. Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lansing is an official legal process, so you’ll need to be honest and accurate when filling out your paperwork, otherwise you could get in major trouble with the Court. Consider gathering recent bank statements, credit card statements, pay stubs, tax returns and request a free copy of your credit report before you begin filling out your paperwork. That way, you can easily reference accurate financial information at any time.
Take Credit Counseling
Just as the coaching staff of the Lions, Tigers, and Wolverines aim to help their players reach their athletic potential, experienced credit counselors aim to help individuals struggling with debt reach their financial potential. Before you can formally file for Lansing bankruptcy, you’ll need to enroll in a pre-filing credit counseling course that has been approved by the Department of Justice for filers in the Western District of Michigan. This course will help you determine whether filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lansing is the best possible debt-relief option for your unique circumstances. If you learn that it is the best option, you can use Chapter 7 bankruptcy to help you reach your financial potential in the future.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Whether you’re in a doctor’s office or signing a child up for school, filling out paperwork can be a drag. However, making sure you’re prepared can make the process of filling out paperwork more efficient and less time-consuming. When wondering how to file bankruptcy in Lansing, you will benefit from taking a little time to think about your income, expenses, property, and debt, as these are the areas of your finances that your paperwork will ask you about most often and most in-depth. Completing your bankruptcy forms for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lansing is a relatively straightforward process if your finances aren’t unusually complex. Although this paperwork can be intimidating at times, you should be fine as long as you follow the directions provided by the Court.
Get Your Filing Fee
As bankruptcy filers understand, very few things in life come without a cost attached. Unfortunately, filing bankruptcy in Lansing is no exception to this rule. The cost of filing a Chapter 7 Michigan bankruptcy petition with the Court is $335. However, low-income filers who live below 150% of the poverty line may be able to ask the Court for a fee waiver. Fee waivers allow the Court to process cases for free. If you aren’t eligible for a fee waiver because you earn too much income, you can ask the Court’s permission to pay your fee in installments. Sometimes, simply making payment amounts smaller makes them much more manageable.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
It’s true that filing for Lansing bankruptcy is a straightforward process and is therefore generally easy to navigate. However, there are some parts of the process that are easier than others. For example, you’ll need to find a way to physically print your bankruptcy forms out before you can file them with the Court. Frustratingly, these forms can be filled out online as PDFs but can’t be transmitted over the Internet. You can only file your physical forms via postal mail or by turning them in in-person. If you don’t have easy access to a printer, you may want to pop by one of the 14 branches of the Capital Area District Libraries to print them out on machines accessible to the public.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Although you’ll be able to attend your creditors’ meeting in Lansing at the U.S. Post Office & Courthouse Building located at 315 West Allegan, you won’t be able to file your forms at the courthouse in Lansing. Whether you’re mailing your documents or turning them in in-person, you’ll have to file bankruptcy in Grand Rapids. Lansing is part of the Western District of Michigan and the courthouse in Grand Rapids is where filers from the Lansing area have their bankruptcy cases processed by the Court. If you’ll be filing bankruptcy in Lansing by sending your documents to Grand Rapids through the postal mail, just know that you run the risk that they’ll be lost and will take longer to process than they would if you filed them in-person.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lansing, the Court appoints a Trustee to oversee specific parts of the process. Most importantly, the Trustee is tasked with conducting a meeting between you and your creditors. During this meeting, your Trustee will ask you questions about your finances. When preparing to ask you specific questions, your Trustee will reference specific financial documents that you must forward to them in advance of your meeting. Once the Michigan Bankruptcy Court appoints a Trustee to your case, you’ll be given more specific details. Generally though, you can expect that your Trustee will request copies of your most recent tax return and pay stubs from the few months before your bankruptcy petition was filed with the Court.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Before you filed for Lansing bankruptcy, you were required to participate in a pre-filing credit counseling course. This course probably helped you decide to file for bankruptcy as opposed to pursuing other debt-relief options. Now that your bankruptcy case is almost complete, the Court insists that you participate in a personal financial management course approved by the Department of Justice for filers in the Western District of Michigan. This course will help to ensure that you benefit as much as you possibly can from the fresh start that bankruptcy is providing for you and for your family.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Becoming nervous before your creditors’ meeting, also called the 341 meeting is understandable. However, it’s important to remember that these meetings are routine, generally only last for about 10-20 minutes and usually serve as one-on-one conversations with your Trustee. Yes, your creditors are invited to attend, but creditors rarely attend 341 meetings in-person with lower income Chapter 7 filers. The most important thing to remember when preparing for your 341 meeting is that you need to tell the truth when placed under oath. Lying, intentionally omitting information or responding in a misleading way could get you in real trouble with the Court. You can prepare for this meeting as much as you need to in order to feel confident answering questions about why your Lansing bankruptcy case.
Dealing with Your Car
Living in the Midwest usually means that owning a car is a necessity, not a luxury. Between the region’s extreme weather shifts and the fact that few areas boast adequate public transportation and/or pedestrian-friendly layouts, most Midwesterners own cars because they have few other options to reliably get from here to there. Unfortunately, if you’re still making payments on a car loan, the Court will require you to choose between three options when it comes to any car you don’t yet own outright. Some people filing bankruptcy in Lansing don’t need to hang on to their vehicles, so they opt to surrender their car. By returning the car to a creditor, the bankruptcy filer is relieved of the responsibility of paying off the remainder of the loan. If this is a good option for you, great. But if you need to keep your car, you’ll need to redeem the car by paying for the value of your car in one payment or you’ll need to ask the Court if it’ll grant permission for you to reaffirm your debt. When reaffirming your debt, you’ll explain to the Court how you’ll be able to make reliable payments per the terms of your loan without it being a hardship on you.
Michigan Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Lansing
Michigan Means Test
The Court imposes strict income limits and other eligibility criteria on individuals seeking to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lansing. To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief, you’ll need to pass the Michigan bankruptcy Means Test for this type of bankruptcy. In essence, the Michigan bankruptcy Means Test tries to ensure that only individuals and families who can’t pay off their debts through a Chapter 13 repayment plan may file for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7. If your income exceeds the limits outlined in the Means Test, consider speaking with an attorney about the possibility of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.
Median Income Levels for Michigan
Michigan Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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Poverty Levels for Michigan
Michigan Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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Michigan Bankruptcy Forms
You’ll need to submit some local Michigan bankruptcy forms in addition to the standard forms you need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Lansing. On top of the standard, federal forms that most Americans filing for relief under Chapter 7 are required to complete, the Western District of Michigan insists that filers submit an Asset Protection Report and a specific Verification of Creditor Matrix form.
Everyone who files for Lansing bankruptcy is entitled to use either federal bankruptcy exemptions or Michigan bankruptcy exemptions to protect their eligible property. When federal or Michigan bankruptcy exemptions are applied to your property, your Trustee won’t be able to sell it to pay back your creditors. You’ll identify which exemptions apply to your property in a form referred to as Schedule C.