Please note that we don't operate in North Carolina yet but look forward to expanding into your state. You're welcome to keep reading - our content is free for anyone looking to learn more about bankruptcy & filing without a lawyer.
Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated July 27, 2020
The word you will most often hear when the rest of the country refers to Raleigh and its residents is “the best!” Voted America’s Best Place to Live in 2011 and One of the Best Cities in America for Health and Happiness (2012), For Raising A Family (2015), For Business and Careers (2012) and For Newlyweds (2012), Raleigh is nationally recognized for its quality of life. Upsolve is also devoted to “the best!” At Upsolve, our mission is to help low-income individuals escape the crushing burden of debt and make the best life they can for them and their families. Combining the power of technology with the poverty-fighting power of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Upsolve has helped over two thousand families clear more than $86,111,057 of debt and provided many more with resourcesfor filing bankruptcy without a lawyer. Bankruptcy is defined as being “insolvent,” which means you’re no longer able to pay your bills. As a result, when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh, you are asking the Court to legally declare that you are no longer able to pay your bills and to give notice of this fact to your creditors. Once this declaration is made, you fall under the legal protection of the Court and the bankruptcy laws that control how your debts are to be eliminated, ordischarged. There are three types of bankruptcy available to individuals. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is where you liquidate or sell your non-exempt property and discharge all your debt in the process. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is where you consolidate your debt and pay it down over a period of three to five years. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is similar to a 13, but a lot more expensive and generally reserved for high-value individuals (or those with a lot of debt) and businesses. By far, the most popular bankruptcy in the United States is Chapter 7. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the least expensive and quickest bankruptcy an individual can file. In addition, using something known as exemptions, most individuals who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh rarely have to sell or liquidate any of their property. To find out how you can make a better life for you and your family by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh for free, keep reading.
Raleigh Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Raleigh isbetween $1,100 and $1,200. However,Raleigh bankruptcy lawyer costs vary depending on how difficult your Chapter 7 bankruptcy will be. For example, if you have pending lawsuits at the time you wish to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh or you are being evicted, most attorneys will charge more.Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide non-profit law firm that provides free legal services to low-income individuals in civil matters. However, you must apply for their assistance and inquire if their civil representation covers filing bankruptcy in Raleigh. Upsolve services are currently not available in North Carolina, but if you need assistance locating a Raleigh bankruptcy lawyer, we can help you find one.
How to File Bankruptcy in Raleigh, North Carolina for Free
North Carolina is one of only two states that does not have a United States Trustee and does things just a little differently than the rest of the country, at least when it comes to how North Carolina bankruptcy cases are administered, or handled. So, while Upsolve doesn’t currently offer its online services to individuals in North Carolina, we can still help you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh without having to hire an attorney. But remember, the following information is only a “guide.” It is not meant to be legal advice. If you need legal advice, at any point while using this guide,contact an attorney or seek the assistance offree legal aid.
Collect Your Raleigh Bankruptcy Documents
Start your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh by collecting the documents you will need to complete your bankruptcy forms. You should have pay stubs that show how much you earn every month. If you are not employed but receive other income such as unemployment compensation, then collect those statements instead. Typically, you’ll need at least the last two months' statements of whatever income you receive. Get your last two years' tax returns. If you can’t locate your tax return, you can request a tax return transcript from the IRS. You will also need your last six months of bank statements. If you have both a checking and savings account, get the statements for both accounts. Most banks now allow you to download bank statements directly from your home computer. Other documents you will need later include insurance policies, 401k or pension statements, the deed to your home and the certificate of title to your car. Finally, get all your bills so you can make sure that all of your creditors are notified of your North Carolina bankruptcy case. Bills include credit card bills, medical bills, utility bills, phone bills, cable bills, collections, and payday loans. Later, you will also need your driver’s license or other personal identification such as state identification card or passport, and your original social security card.
Take Credit Counseling
You are required to complete an approved credit counseling course before filing bankruptcy in Raleigh. This counseling must be obtained from one of the providers on the list maintained by the Bankruptcy Administrator for theUnited States Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of North Carolina. Don’t take the course locally or look up your own provider on the internet, unless the agency also appears on theBankruptcy Administrator’s list. Unlike most states, North Carolina does not take part in the United States Trustee Program and administers its own credit counseling verification. An online provider that tells you they are approved to provide pre-bankruptcy credit counseling in North Carolina may not be aware of this exception, so make sure to double-check.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
If you have collected your bankruptcy documents, and taken your credit counseling course, don’t put off completing the bankruptcy forms for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh. A general overview of what the forms ask about begins with Schedule A/B. This schedule asks you to list your real and personal property. Real property consists of real estate like your home, vacant land, or rental property. Schedule B asks you to list your personal property, which is everything you own that’s not real property. In Schedule C you will exempt the property you listed in Schedule A/B, to the extent possible. Schedules D, E, and F is where you list your creditors depending on what type of debt is owed to them. Schedule G is for listing any leases and executory contracts. Schedule I is for your income and Schedule J is for your monthly expenses. Once you have completed the schedules, the Statement of Financial Affairs will ask you to give the Court a summary of your overall situation. Ultimately, the most important thing you should do when completing your bankruptcy forms is to complete each form thoroughly and truthfully. You can get more information on how to file bankruptcy in Raleigh, without an attorney, from the Court’s “Pro Se Guide.”
Get Your Filing Fee
You have to pay a $335 filing fee to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh. This fee can only be paid in cash, cashier’s check or money order payable to “Clerk, US Bankruptcy Court.” If you can’t afford to pay the entire fee at once, you can request to pay the filing fee in installments. Requests for installment payments must be submitted at the same time as you file your case. If you are making an initial payment with your installment request, then you should bring that as well. Your request to pay the fee in installments should request no more than four installments and the last payment must be made within 120 days after you file your Raleigh bankruptcy case. If you can’t afford to pay the fee at all, you can request a fee waiver. Fee waivers are granted to individuals who earn less than 150% of the poverty level and can’t afford to pay the fee in installments. A fee waiver request must also be filed at the same time as you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh. If you do obtain a fee waiver, make sure to keep a copy of the order granting your fee waiver, as some credit counseling agencies will waive the cost of the second credit counseling course if you have been granted a filing fee waiver by the Court.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When the time comes to print your Raleigh bankruptcy petition, take time to make sure you have completed all of the forms in your petition. A typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition can be anywhere from 60 to 100 pages long, depending on how many creditors you have. It’s a good idea to ensure that your printer has enough paper to complete the job before starting and that it has a tray capable of keeping all the pages in order. Most bankruptcy petitions are not numbered sequentially and if the pages get out of order, it can be very difficult to determine where a missing page should go if you are not familiar with the forms. Most libraries offer printing at all their locations and have larger commercial printers capable of printing a large number of pages and keeping them in order. The Cameron Village Regional Library offers black and white printing for $0.25 per page. It’s located at 1930 Clark Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27605, only a six-minute drive from Pullen Park.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
When you have obtained your certificate of credit counseling and completed all the Raleigh bankruptcy forms, you must file everything with the Bankruptcy Clerk for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The Court is located in the Century Station Federal Building, 300 Fayetteville St., 4th Floor, Raleigh, NC 27601-1799. The courthouse is a four-minute walk down W. Martin Street from beautiful Nash Square. The Court is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. but you should arrive at least an hour before it closes in order to allow enough time for the clerk to receive your petition and open your North Carolina bankruptcy case. Bring your original, signed, bankruptcy petition, your certificate of credit counseling, your filing fee or fee waiver request and picture identification. You should also bring one copy of your petition for the Bankruptcy Clerk to stamp with the date and time you filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the Court.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Within 14 days after filing your Raleigh bankruptcy petition, you are required to email the Bankruptcy Administrator for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina your pay stubs or other statements of income received within the last 60 days and your most recent federal income tax. You must send these through electronic mail to the Bankruptcy Administrator at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The subject line should be in the following format: full case number, debtor’s last name, Division (Wilson or Raleigh). If you don’t have pay stubs or your most recent tax return then you are required to complete a Statement Concerning Payment Advices and email it to the Bankruptcy Administrator instead. If you don’t have access to email and are not represented by an attorney for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh, you may provide the documents to the Bankruptcy Administrator, 434 Fayetteville Street, Suite 640, Raleigh, NC 27601, by other means.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
After you’ve filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh, you must complete a second credit counseling course. This course is known as the Post-Petition Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Course. You can’t take this course until after you have filed bankruptcy in Raleigh and get a case number from the Court. You will need the case number to get your certificate of completion. The Bankruptcy Administrator for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina maintains a list of approved credit counseling agencies approved to administer the course to you in Raleigh. The costs of the course can’t be more than $50 and the course typically takes two to three hours to complete. This course may be taken online, over the telephone or in-person.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Between 40 and 60 days, after you file your Raleigh bankruptcy case, you will be required to attend something known as a 341 meeting or a creditors’ meeting. The 341 meeting is an informal meeting between you and the court-appointed officer handling your case. This court-appointed officer is usually known as a Trustee. At the meeting, the Trustee will question you about the information in your bankruptcy forms, verify your identity and explain the consequences of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh. Your creditors have a right to attend this meeting and ask questions as well. However, it’s rare for any of them to actually appear. In Raleigh, you must bring your last two months' pay stubs and your most recent tax return to the meeting. You must also bring picture identification such as a driver’s license, state identification card or passport. You should also have your original social security card or a document with your name and social security number on it, such as an original W-2. In Raleigh, your creditors’ meeting will be held at 300 Fayetteville Street (1st Floor USBA Meeting Room).
Dealing with Your Car
If you have a car that you are still paying on and want to keep after you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh, you are required to indicate this preference on a form known as the Statement of Intention. You don’t have to keep paying on the car if you don’t want to, but you can’t keep your car without paying for it. You can choose to either keep the car and reaffirm the debt on the car; redeem the car and pay its market value to the lender or surrender the car and return it to the lender. To reaffirm the debt, you must enter into something known as a reaffirmation agreement with the lender. In a reaffirmation agreement, you agree to keep paying on the car loan in exchange for your lender agreeing not to repossess the car. If you don’t want to reaffirm the car loan, you can redeem the car. To redeem the car, you must pay the lender the market value of the car. Or you can choose to surrender the car and arrange a place and time for the lender to pick it up after filing bankruptcy in Raleigh. If you redeem or surrender the car, any unpaid balance on your loan will be discharged. Whatever you choose to do, you must indicate it on the Statement of Intention. You must file your Statement of Intention and mail a copy to your lender, no later than 30 days after you file your Raleigh bankruptcy case. When you have sent a copy to your lender, you have seven days to file a form known as a “Certificate of Service” like this one with the Bankruptcy Clerk. A certificate of service verifies to the Court that you have mailed a copy of the Statement of Intention to the lender. In Raleigh, if you choose to reaffirm the loan on your car, you will have to attend a hearing to have the Court approve the reaffirmation agreement. Download the Court’s Reaffirmation Agreement Package for more information on reaffirming a debt, and watch the Court’s reaffirmation agreement videos to see what will take place at the hearing.
North Carolina Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Raleigh
North Carolina Means Test
Whether you are single or married, you have the ability to file your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh without your spouse. Your bankruptcy will not affect your spouse’s credit or employment. However, if you are married, you will have to disclose your spouse’s income in one section of your Raleigh bankruptcy petition, assuming you’re not separated. This section is known as the North Carolina bankruptcy Means Test. The Means Test is an income-based test to determine if you are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh. The test compares your total household income and the number of persons in your household to the median income for a household of the same size in North Carolina. Your household income, which includes your spouse’s income, must be less than the median. If your household income exceeds the median, then you have to complete part two of the North Carolina bankruptcy Means Test. This part allows you to deduct certain expenses from your household income to see if your modified disposable income overcomes the presumption of abuse that arises if your make more than the median. If you can’t overcome the presumption of abuse, your Raleigh bankruptcy has to be filed as a Chapter 13 case unless one of the exceptions applies to your situation.
Median Income Levels for North Carolina
North Carolina Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for North Carolina
North Carolina 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)|
North Carolina Bankruptcy Forms
Your Raleigh bankruptcy petition consists of approximately twenty-three North Carolina bankruptcy forms. The forms, some of which are also known as schedules, can be downloaded for free from the website of the United States Courts. In addition, the Pro Se Guide published by the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has a checklist of all the North Carolina bankruptcy forms you are required to submit for your Raleigh bankruptcy. The Court also has a series of “Pro Se Videos” to explain more about filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh without a lawyer (“pro se”), which Upsolve highly recommends you view.
North Carolina Exemptions
One of the biggest causes of concern for individuals filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh is knowing what property of theirs they are going to be able to keep. But you don’t need a lawyer to decipher a book of archaic laws to give you the answer to this question. North Carolina bankruptcy exemptions spell out exactly what type of property is exempt and how much of it can be exempted in a Raleigh bankruptcy case. Fortunately, North Carolina has some of the most generous bankruptcy exemptions in the country and most individuals who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Raleigh will be able to exempt, and keep all of their property. Under North Carolina bankruptcy exemptions you can even protect up to $35,000 of in equity in your home if the home is used as your primary residence. One notable exception, however, is that you can’t protect property you purchased less than 90 days before filing bankruptcy in Raleigh. This provision is intended to keep individuals from abusing bankruptcy protections by purchasing items they normally would not buy, just because they know they are protected by the North Carolina bankruptcy exemptions.