Written by Attorney Jacquelyne N. Mosley-Pastrana.
Updated October 20, 2019
Within the County of Benson, in the city of Saint Michael, many are feeling the pressure of debt. Saint Michael residents are filing bankruptcy for a variety of reasons, including the decrease in the job market by almost 8% over the last year as the demand increases nationwide. It's not an easy decision to file for bankruptcy as many businesses and individuals experience trying times. Most aren't just filing for the benefit of themselves, but to better provide for their families. In North Dakota, this is the situation of many hardworking farmers who have worked their entire lives. Circumstances beyond their control like tariffs, crop failure, and taxes threaten the livelihood of their families; but it is not just farmers. This problem is not isolated to one industry. No matter the reason for filing bankruptcy in Saint Michael, it can be a step forward towards regaining control over your finances and open the door to a new beginning.
You may be wondering if filing a Saint Michael bankruptcy is right for you or you may wonder which bankruptcy Chapter to file. Most consumers who file a Saint Michael bankruptcy file Chapter 7 bankruptcy over Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 completes more quickly, in about 4 to 6 months, it extinguishes most debt, and most who qualify, keep all their property. Chapter 13 is a 36 - 60 month payment plan designed to repay creditors. With Chapter 13, you may be able to save more expensive property. An additional benefit of Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Saint Michael is that it's easier to file when you can’t afford an attorney.
The good thing is that filing bankruptcy in Saint Michael isn’t as hard as ice fishing is cold. If you come across a snag, you can seek legal help. There are resources for free legal assistance. Legal Services of North Dakota has helped many low-income clients solve their legal problems. The closest office if at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. You can also utilize the resources at Upsolve. Stepping into bankruptcy may seem scary, but when it's done, it's like a breath of fresh air.
Saint Michael Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
You can file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Saint Michael on your own. Some find it worthwhile to hire a competent lawyer to help with their Saint Michael bankruptcy when they encounter problems. You can ask for a free consultation to inquire about foreseeable issues with your case and the expected cost of a bankruptcy lawyer for a case like yours. For example, with the Spirit Lake Casino and Resort just across the water, some in North Dakota may have questions about their gambling debt. Although gambling debt is technically dischargeable, a lawyer can help you understand how the Court sees it and whether a creditor might object to it. A Saint Michael bankruptcy lawyer’s cost is about $1,150 to help with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Depending on the details of your case, it can cost more. For example, if you have complicated issues, or if you have multiple motions that need filing, it may cost more.
How to File Bankruptcy in Saint Michael, North Dakota for Free
From preparation to common issues you might encounter while filing bankruptcy in Saint Michael, remember that you have resources right at your fingertips. Keep reading to get a is a brief step-by-step overview of how to file bankruptcy in Saint Michael.
Collect Your Saint Michael Bankruptcy Documents
To help you approach the process of filing bankruptcy in Saint Michael, you will want to get your materials together to submit. You will gather various financial documents to help you to complete your paperwork and to provide when requested later in the process. You'll need income documentation, including six months of your pay stubs and the last two years of your tax returns. Gather documentation on what you own, including all your financial accounts, your car registration, and your property valuations. You can get a grasp on your debts by reviewing your credit report. You can review each from the three major credit bureaus and get a refresher on any obligations you may have forgotten. You'll also want to gather documents supporting other expenses, not on the credit report, including court judgments. Your Saint Michael bankruptcy will not seem like such a task when you have the records you need at your fingertips.
Take Credit Counseling
Part of the groundwork for filing bankruptcy in Saint Michael is taking an education course approved by the Department of Justice before you file bankruptcy. In the required credit counseling course, you will learn about bankruptcy and your alternatives. You will go through the practice of creating a budget with your income and expenses and look at the possibility of cutting your costs to pay down your debt. The course provides you information for you to choose the option that best suits your situation. Many decide it is more practical to file for bankruptcy after taking the course. You can take the course in an hour or so either online or by telephone. The course will cost about $50, but if you can prove financial hardship may qualify for a fee waiver. When you finish the approved pre-bankruptcy course, you get your certificate of completion, which is valid for six months. When you file your Saint Michael bankruptcy, you include the certificate of completion to show you finished the required credit counseling course.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Completing your bankruptcy forms will probably be one of the most challenging parts of filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Saint Michael. Get the bankruptcy forms from the U.S. Bankruptcy website or on Upsolve’s North Dakota Bankruptcy website. You’ll use the bankruptcy documents you took the time to collect earlier to fill out your bankruptcy forms, schedules, statements, and other documentation. The bankruptcy forms give the Court a full picture of where you are at this time in your finances. Some find it helpful to pay for bankruptcy software to help them complete the bankruptcy forms. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court offers guidelines to help you finalize your paperwork. It's vital that you're consistent on the forms and that it includes all creditors, sources of income, and assets or property you have. The North Dakota Bankruptcy Court also has instructions to assist with creating your creditor matrix so it can quickly notify your creditors.
Get Your Filing Fee
Most North Dakota bankruptcy filers pay $335 to file a Chapter 7 or $310 to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you are having problems coming up with the money to file your Saint Michael bankruptcy, you can apply to pay by installments or apply to get a fee waiver. You will submit either application when you initially go to file your bankruptcy case. The Court will review your North Dakota bankruptcy filing. It will decide the fee waiver application based on federal poverty guidelines and your ability to make payments after filing your case. If you don’t get your requested fee waiver, the Court will give you a chance to pay the fee through installments. Installment payments are 2-4 smaller payments until you have paid the $335 for filing your North Dakota bankruptcy. You will have up to 120 days to settle your full filing fee.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When it comes to printing off your Saint Michael bankruptcy documents to file with the Court, it is helpful to use a checklist such as the one on the North Dakota Bankruptcy Court’s website. Whether you fill out the petition or schedules on the computer or plan to do it by hand, each page has to be printed one-sided. You can print the forms at home or the nearest public library or a nearby print shop such as Fed Ex, both in Devil’s Lake. It helps to keep a checklist to make sure you didn’t miss a required document. You will take some time to review the information on each page, and when you are ready, you can sign in the designated space. You will need one copy to file, but it is recommended you print a second copy of your Saint Michael bankruptcy for your records.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
After reviewing your printed Saint Michael bankruptcy documents, you'll submit them at the courthouse in Fargo. Don’t forget to include the required certificate of completion from your credit counseling course, and be ready with your payment in cash, cashier’s check or money order. Filing in person has the benefit of having your bankruptcy forms reviewed by the clerk's office to make sure nothing important is missing. Many can't afford to take the three hour trip to Fargo and instead mail their Saint Michael bankruptcy forms to the Court for filing. They obtain a cashier's check or money order and send their documents to the North Dakota Bankruptcy Courthouse at 655 1st, Suite 210, Fargo, ND 58102-4932. You will soon receive your bankruptcy case number, Trustee contact information, and the date of your 341 Meeting. You can speed up the process of getting notices from the Court through the electronic notification system.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
The Trustee will review your Saint Michael bankruptcy case within the month before your 341 meeting. After you get the contact information for your Trustee, you will want to send your recent tax returns to their office. In fact, any information requested by the Trustee should be sent promptly so they have time to review everything before your 341 meeting.
Creditors are informed about the 341 Meeting through the Notice of your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. The notice contains important information about your Saint Michael bankruptcy, including notifying creditors that most collection activities must stop while your case is pending. If you get one of these notices that read "undeliverable" this usually this means the address for the creditor needs to be updated. You will want to find the right address, mail the letter to the creditor, and update your creditor matrix to the correct address. The North Dakota Bankruptcy Court has a cover sheet for you to include when making changes to your Saint Michael bankruptcy after you’ve filed.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
You will get your discharge after completing the second bankruptcy course and turn in the certificate of completion within 60 days of your 341 Meeting. To take the pre-discharge course, you’ll find an approved agency. You can fulfill this requirement in 90 minutes online or by phone. During the class, you'll get some tools to help you be successful after your bankruptcy. Some advice you’ll encounter will be about good and harmful use of credit, budgeting to save, and goal setting for success after your Saint Michael bankruptcy. You will submit the certificate of completion soon after your 341 Meeting to get your bankruptcy discharge.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 Meeting sounds like an intimidating gathering, but it is usually the quickest part of the bankruptcy process. Most of the time, creditors don't come to these meetings unless they have an objection, which is very rare. You can prepare by ensuring that you have any documents the Trustee requested plus your photo identification and your social security card. You should address business casual. Not in your Sunday best or dressed for fine dining at Mezzalunas. You want to make sure any jewelry or valuable items you own are listed on your Saint Michael bankruptcy.
You’ll notice that the chart with 341 Meeting locations doesn’t include Saint Michael. Saint Michael is in the County of Benson near Devil's Lake. Residents just like you meet in Grand Forks for your 341 Meeting. You will meet the Trustee in a conference room, and you will be sworn in. Answer the questions the Trustee asks about any new developments and those specific to the Saint Michael bankruptcy you filed. Your meeting will go by very quickly as long as you keep your answers clear and to the point.
Dealing with Your Car
In a city with all four seasons, it is a great benefit to have a car. When you're in bankruptcy you will get to decide what to do with your vehicle. You may want to keep the car that you own outright, and you can as long as its value is covered by an exemption. If you’re still paying an auto loan, and the value is more than the payments you have left, some choose to reaffirm the loan so it survives the bankruptcy and everything stays basically the way it was before filing bankruptcy in St. Michael. It’s up to the Court to approve the reaffirmation agreement. You would file your forms, and the judge would ask you questions about any hardships you are experiencing and warn you about the risks. Sometimes people pay the lender the value of the car in a lump sum, which is known as redemption. If you don't have the money to pay, you can enter into another loan with a redemption lender. Another option is to return the car and allow the debt to be discharged. This will allow you to start on a clean slate.
North Dakota Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Saint Michael
North Dakota Means Test
Through the Bankruptcy Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, those with consumer or household debt are required to be within the Chapter 7 income limits and pass the North Dakota bankruptcy Means Test. You are required to within the income limits by calculating your annual income or by calculating your income after debts are paid (disposable income). You might also be exempt from the Means Test if your debt isn’t consumer debt. Also, if you were a service member in a particular situation, you may qualify as exempt and can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Saint Michael.
Median Income Levels for North Dakota
North Dakota Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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Poverty Levels for North Dakota
North Dakota 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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North Dakota Bankruptcy Forms
When filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Saint Michael, your North Dakota bankruptcy forms include national and local forms that follow certain local rules to complete the filing requirements for your Saint Michael bankruptcy. For example, you will use the local creditor verification form you can print out and attach to your creditor matrix. When creating the creditor matrix it’s important to follow the format the Court requires.
North Dakota Exemptions
In North Dakota, you don't have the option of using federal bankruptcy exemptions. Only North Dakota bankruptcy exemptions are available for folks who’ve lived in the Peace Garden state for at least 2 years when filing bankruptcy in St. Michael.