Written by Attorney Karra Kingston.
Updated July 28, 2020
If you have $10,000 dollars or more of debt and are struggling to make ends meet every month because of unmanageable minimum payments, then filing bankruptcy in Gulfport may be something you want to consider. Gulfport, the second-largest city in Mississippi, is home to white sandy beaches and a diverse population. Unfortunately, living in a beautiful city does not spare some people from falling into debt. If you are struggling to make ends meet each month then filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Gulfport can be a way to start enjoying those white sandy beaches again.
There is a lot of false information about bankruptcy out there. Two of the most common misconceptions are that you will never be able to rebuild your credit and all of your property will be taken away. Actually, in most cases, people’s credit scores go up after filing because they are no longer bogged down by debt. If you have property and live in Mississippi, the bankruptcy court allows for exemptions that can safeguard a lot of your precious things.
Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is relatively straightforward process. Especially, if you don’t own any valuable property. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Gulfport can allow you to be debt-free within a few months. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most of your debts are eliminated so that you no longer have to pay anything back to your creditors. People who make too much money or have too many assets, will need to look into filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13, you make monthly payments for 3 - 5 years to pay down your debt; whatever doesn’t get paid is eliminated at the end of your plan. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 stop creditors from contacting you. Any wage garnishments or bank levies must stop as soon as your bankruptcy case is filed.
Gulfport Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Hiring a lawyer to help you file your Gulfport bankruptcy can be advantageous. If you decide to meet with a bankruptcy lawyer to explore your options, you should be able to explain in detail your financial situation. A lawyer will be able to assess your situation and determine which options are the best available for your needs. You should take the time to research any lawyer before you hire them. Read up on their reviews and make sure they are qualified to handle your case. A Gulfport bankruptcy lawyer costs anywhere from $999-$1,200 to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The cost for a bankruptcy lawyer will vary depending on the number of assets you have, how much money you make, and whether you are filing jointly or single. You should feel at ease with the lawyer you decide to hire. If you don’t feel comfortable, then find another person to handle your case.
How to File Bankruptcy in Gulfport, Mississippi for Free
You should begin the process by becoming familiar with each step needed to file your Mississippi bankruptcy. Read the directions carefully, follow all the instructions, and make sure to get all the documents you need to ensure your Gulfport bankruptcy is a success.
Collect Your Gulfport Bankruptcy Documents
First, you will need to begin the process by gathering your Gulfport bankruptcy documents. Gathering the documents now will allow you to get ahead of the game. While you fill out your bankruptcy forms you will need to have these documents to refer back to. You will need to gather copies of your tax returns and credit report. If you need your taxes, you can go online to the IRS website and get a copy. You should order a credit report so that you know exactly who your creditors are. Once your bankruptcy is filed, your creditors will no longer be able to harass you because the automatic stay is initiated. The automatic stay prohibits all creditors from going after you after filing your Gulfport bankruptcy.
Take Credit Counseling
If you hated school, you don’t have to worry. This course only takes about an hour and you can do it from the comfort of your home, either online or over the phone. The course will need to be completed before you can file bankruptcy in Gulfport and must be approved by the United States Trustee. Even if you hate to learn, this course will analyze your income and finances to make sure that filing bankruptcy is the right option for you. There are great budgeting tips you can take away with you after completing the course. Once the course has been completed you will get e a certificate of completion that has to be submitted to the court so that your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Gulfport is processed.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Upsolve can help you find which forms you need to make sure the bankruptcy process moves smoothly. You will need to complete 24 forms to ensure that you get your discharge. This can be a long process, but it is one of the most important steps. Read through everything carefully to ensure you understand what is being asked of you. If you don’t understand a question, you can get additional guidance from the detailed instruction manual published by the court. As long as you follow the directions carefully, you should be able to complete all of the forms on your own. If you feel that the forms are too complicated and you're not comfortable completing them on your own, you can always contact a Gulfport bankruptcy lawyer or see if you’re eligible to work with Upsolve.
Get Your Filing Fee
The filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Gulfport is $335. For people who are not working this can seem like a huge amount of money. If you fall into this category then you may want to apply for a fee waiver. Fee waivers are not guaranteed. The judge will look over your financial situation to determine if you truly don’t have the ability to pay anything. If you do not qualify for a fee waiver you can request to pay the filing fee in installments. Just note, that the court will only allow four installments to pay off the balance. If you aren’t able to pay the fee for your Mississippi bankruptcy, you will need to pay the filing fee in full when submitting your paperwork to the court.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
You can only submit hard copies of your forms to the bankruptcy court. Unfortunately, the bankruptcy courts are a little behind on our digital world and won’t accept electronically filed copies from folks who don’t have an attorney helping them. You can print your Gulfport bankruptcy forms at your local library. If you can’t get to the library, you can locate a FedEx, Staples or Kinkos that can assist you in printing your forms. The court will never accept double-sided forms. Make sure to bring money to pay for any printing costs. You should print at least two copies, one for yourself and one for the court.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Now pack your things up because it is time to head down to the bankruptcy court in Gulfport to file your forms. Make sure to have your filing fee or your applications for a fee waiver to file your Gulfport bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court is located at 2012 15th Street in Gulfport. Don’t forget your certificate of credit counseling, otherwise you will have to make another trip. When you get down there, you will have to pass through security and find the clerk’s office where you will file your forms. Mailing the forms is an option too, but it’s better to go in person to make sure you aren’t missing anything. After your forms are filed, you will get a case number that you can give to any creditors who are calling you.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
The court appoints a trustee to every Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Gulfport to make sure that everything listed in your forms is accurate. After you file your Gulfport bankruptcy documents, you will get a letter in the mail detailing when and where you will need to go to court for your 341 meeting. At the 341 meeting, your trustee will use the documents you submitted to ask you questions. The trustee wants to know your financial history to ensure you’re not trying to hide anything. Before the meeting, the trustee will ask you for your pay stubs and tax returns, and possibly things like vehicle titles, deeds to any property you own, and appraisals. These documents will need to be sent directly to their office. Make sure to send these documents immediately. If the trustee does not get your documents before the hearing, your case will not be heard. If the trustee wants more information then what was originally asked, they will let you know at your meeting and you will be required to send them those documents.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
The next course you will have to take is a debtor education course. This course is required to complete your Gulfport bankruptcy and will again need to be approved. This second bankruptcy course is two hours and will usually cost anywhere from $10 - $50. This course is intended to teach you how to manage your finances and credit after your bankruptcy is completed. The course will review topics such as how to use credit wisely in the future and how to deal with any unexpected final issues. If you don’t complete the course, the court will not issue your discharge. As soon as the course is completed, you should file your certificate with the court so that you don’t forget.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Everyone who files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Gulfport must attend a hearing in court. This hearing is called the 341 meeting of creditors. You will need to bring your social security card and identification with you to the hearing so that the trustee can verify your identity. You will be asked questions about your finances under oath. Make sure you don’t lie otherwise you will commit perjury which is a federal crime. The meeting ensures that everything you put in your bankruptcy documents is true. The court will send a notice of the 341 meeting of creditors to the address that you listed on your petition. You should review all of your documents before you go. The meeting will only last about 10-15 minutes. Trustees like when you can answer the questions they ask, so taking the time to review your documents is essential.
Dealing with Your Car
If you have a car that you want to keep, you may be able to keep it as long as it falls under one of the exemptions. Make sure you find out exactly what the car is worth before you decide to file bankruptcy; otherwise, the trustee may take it and sell it for the benefit of your unsecured creditors. When you file bankruptcy, you have different options as to whether to keep your vehicle. If the payments are too high or the car needs too much work, you can surrender the vehicle. If the vehicle is encumbered by a loan but you want to keep it, then you have the choice to reaffirm or redeem the vehicle. Reaffirmation allows you to keep paying the loan. You will have to sign an agreement where you will be held responsible for all future payments. A redemption can be is where the lender accepts a lump sum payment for the value of the car.
Mississippi Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Gulfport
Mississippi Means Test
To weed out people who can partially pay their debts the court uses a Means Test. The Means Test compares your income for the last six months to the state’s median income to determine if you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Gulfport. The Mississippi bankruptcy Means Test has two parts that you may need to complete.
Median Income Levels for Mississippi
Mississippi Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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Poverty Levels for Mississippi
Mississippi 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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Mississippi Bankruptcy Forms
Completing your Mississippi bankruptcy forms is the most essential part of your Gulfport bankruptcy. You can go to the court’s website to locate these forms. Make sure that you double-check that each form is completed. Review your creditors’ information to ensure they get the notification about your bankruptcy filing.
Bankruptcy exemptions allow you to keep your property safe from creditors. The Mississippi bankruptcy exemptions allow you to keep property that the court deems necessary to live. Mississippi is one of only a handful of states that do not allow you to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions when completing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Gulfport. Bankruptcy exemptions protect your property.