Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t have to be scary and confusing. We provide helpful tips and resources to help you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in your state without a lawyer.
Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.
Updated March 22, 2022
Sometimes life’s expenses can put you in a financial hole that’s hard to get out of. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can give you the fresh start you need. There are several options to help you manage your debt, but for many, bankruptcy provides the ultimate debt relief. Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t just solve your current financial woes. Starting with a clean slate after your debts are discharged can set you up for a better financial future.
This guide explains how to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nebraska.
How to File Bankruptcy in Nebraska for Free
Many people avoid filing bankruptcy because they believe hiring a bankruptcy attorney is too expensive. A bankruptcy attorney does cost a lot. It’s often the highest cost of bankruptcy. Fortunately, you can avoid this by filing for bankruptcy on your own. Below are the steps for filing bankruptcy on your own.
- Collect Your Nebraska Bankruptcy Documents
- Take a Credit Counseling Course
- Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
- Get Your Filing Fee
- Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
- File Your Forms With the Nebraska Bankruptcy Court
- Mail Documents to Your Trustee
- Take a Debtor Education Course
- Attend Your 341 Meeting
- Dealing with Your Car
Collect Your Nebraska Bankruptcy Documents
It takes some work to file a Chapter 7 case on your own. You can give yourself a leg up if you start by collecting certain documents. You’ll need to submit some of these documents when you file your bankruptcy forms with the court, including:
Your tax returns from the last two years.
Your pay stubs from the last 60 days. If you’re unemployed, then use documents that show any income you’ve received over the last 60 days.
Your most recent bank statement.
You’ll also want to gather some documents that the court doesn’t require but that will help you compile information about your expenses and debts. These documents include:
Bank statements over the last 6-12 months,
Any statements or bills that your creditors have sent,
A credit report, and
Any letters from collection agencies.
You can get a free credit report every 12 months from the three main credit bureaus. These reports list any open accounts you have, the names and contact information of your creditors, and the balances in your account. This will all help you fill out the paperwork in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. If you use Upsolve’s filing tool, it will pull a credit report for you as part of the process.
Take a Credit Counseling Course
Everyone who files Chapter 7 bankruptcy has to take a credit counseling course before they file their case. The course has to be completed within 180 days before you file for bankruptcy. It takes about 1-2 hours to complete, and you can do it over the phone or online. Although there’s a fee for the course, you might be eligible for a waiver.
The government has a list of approved course providers. Be sure to take the course from one of these providers. After completing the course, you’ll receive a certificate. Hang on to this. You’ll need it when you go to court to file your bankruptcy petition later.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Filling out the bankruptcy forms often takes a lot of time because there are several required forms. Most of the forms are federal forms, which means you fill out the same ones no matter where you live in the U.S. You can download the forms for free as fillable PDFs from USCOURTS.gov. But it may be easier to download the Chapter 7 individual filing packet from the Nebraska Bankruptcy Court. It has all the required federal forms, plus information specific to Nebraska filers, all in one place.
If you qualify to use Upsolve’s free filing tool, the process can be a lot easier. You’ll answer an online questionnaire, then the tool fills out forms based on your answers. Similarly, if you hire a lawyer, they’ll have you answer a questionnaire. Then they’ll fill out your forms for you based on your answers.
Get Your Filing Fee
In Nebraska, there’s a $338fee to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You may be eligible for a waiver if you earn less than 150% of the poverty level. See the Nebraska Fee Waiver Eligibility table below. If you don’t qualify for a waiver but you can’t afford to pay the $338 in full, you can also request to pay the fees in installments.
Some filers apply to pay the fee in installments because they need to file quickly to get protection from their creditors. For example, if you’re dealing with a wage garnishment, as soon as you file you get the benefit of the automatic stay. This stops wage garnishments and other collections. If you don’t need to file quickly, you’re better off waiting to file until you have the whole fee. That’s because when you pay through installments, you risk having your case dismissed if you miss a payment.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
If you have a bankruptcy attorney, they’ll handle the forms online through the court. But if you’re filing on your own, you must print your forms and bring them in or mail them to the court. Make sure to print the forms on white, 8.5” x 11” letter-size paper in black ink. Only print on one side of the page. It’s best to print each section individually so you don’t forget any of the sections and to make a copy for yourself as well. Finally, sign anywhere there’s a required signature line.
If you file using Upsolve’s tool, you’ll get all your forms in one downloadable packet. Additionally, there will be dividers to note your signature pages.
File Your Forms With the Nebraska Bankruptcy Court
You can’t file your bankruptcy forms online if you’re not using a lawyer. Instead, you’ll need to mail in the forms or bring the forms to the court in person. It’s a good idea to bring the forms to the court in person, if possible. Doing so allows you to fix any problems and ensures the bankruptcy process goes as quickly and smoothly as possible. The Nebraska Bankruptcy Court has a location in Omaha. Currently, access to the court is limited for coming in to ask questions, but you can call in if you need help.
You can bring your forms or mail them in to:
Roman L. Hruska
United States Courthouse
111 South 18th Plaza
Omaha, NE 68102
Before you go, check the court’s latest COVID-19 information, which can be found on the court’s homepage.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After you file, the court will assign a bankruptcy trustee to administer your case and check the information you submitted on your forms. You’ll receive your trustee’s name and contact information, along with the date of your 341 meeting after you file. (More on the 341 meeting soon.)
While the trustee will receive your information from the court, you’ll also have to send the following forms at least seven days before your meeting:
Your tax returns from the last two years, and
A bank statement that includes the day that you filed your petition.
The trustee may send you a form asking for additional information, such as:
If the trustee requests additional information or documents, be sure to respond to the request and send the information as soon as possible to keep your case moving forward.
Take a Debtor Education Course
U.S. Bankruptcy law requires you to take a debtor education course after you file your bankruptcy petition. The course is also known as a personal financial management course because it covers topics like budgeting that help you make the most of your fresh start.
You must take the course and file the certificate that shows you’ve completed the course within 60 days after your 341 meeting. There’s a database of course providers that the government has approved to offer the course. They’re the same providers that offer credit counseling courses.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting is a chance for your trustee to verify your identity and your information. It’s also known as the creditors’ meeting or meeting of creditors because your creditors can attend the meeting as well. This doesn’t happen often though.
At your 341 meeting, you’ll answer questions under oath. The trustee will verify that your name and Social Security number match what you provided on the bankruptcy forms. The 341 meeting shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. It won’t be too hard to prepare for the meeting, as long as you remain calm and give honest answers. After the meeting is over, you’re one step closer to having your debts discharged!
Note that as a COVID-19 precaution, these meetings are currently being held remotely.
Dealing with Your Car
Just because you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy doesn’t mean you have to give up important property like your car. In fact, you have several options for dealing with your car.
If your car is paid off, you can keep it, so long as it isn’t worth more than the exemption that you’re using allows for. In Nebraska, there’s a $5,000 vehicle exemption to protect your car and a $5,000 wildcard exemption you could use as well.
If you’re making payments on your car or you have a lease, you can keep the car as long as you continue making payments and are up to date on the payments. If you have a car loan, you may need to fill out a reaffirmation agreement, which simply says you agree to continue making payments on the loan as usual. If you have a lease, you’ll “assume” the lease, which means you’ll keep making payments under the lease agreement in exchange for driving the car.
If you have a car loan and you’re behind on your payments or your loan isn’t working well for you, you can surrender the car to the lender and have the loan debt discharged in your bankruptcy case. Some filers choose to do this when they owe more on the car than the car is worth or when their monthly payment is simply too high to work with their current budget.
If you choose to give up your car during the bankruptcy process, remember that you can buy a car after bankruptcy. If you’re proactive about rebuilding your credit, you should be able to improve it and potentially get better financing offers.
Nebraska Bankruptcy Means Test
Under the Bankruptcy Code, to qualify for bankruptcy, you must pass a Chapter 7 means test. The test first compares your household income with the median income of similar households in Nebraska. If you make less than the median income, you’ll qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you make more than the median income, then you’ll have to do the second part of the test. It considers your expenses, disposable income, and other factors.
If you don’t pass the means test, you can consider filing for another type of bankruptcy, likely Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are similar in some ways, but Chapter 13 takes longer and allows filers to restructure secured debts like car loans and mortgages. Chapter 13 takes longer than Chapter 7 because it requires a 3-5 year repayment plan.Data on Median income levels for Nebraska
Nebraska Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed In 2022
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Data on Poverty levels for Nebraska
Nebraska Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed In 2022
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
Nebraska Bankruptcy Forms
All of the forms that you’ll use to file bankruptcy in Nebraska are the same as the federal forms used throughout the U.S. Nebraska doesn’t have any local forms that you need to fill out. You can access all the main federal forms together in a packet from the Nebraska Bankruptcy Court that also includes information on filing in Nebraska.
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Nebraska Districts & Filing Requirements
You will have to pay a $338 fee for filing. You can pay this through a cashier’s check or money order. You can’t use cash, a personal check, or a credit card. If you can’t afford to pay the full fee when you file, you can apply to pay in installments using a 103A form. The court will need to approve your installment application and may require a down payment.
You can mail in your forms or bring them to:
Roman L. Hruska
United States Courthouse
111 South 18th Plaza
Omaha, NE 68102
Some of the court’s procedures have changed due to COVID-19. It’s a good idea to look at the latest guidelines before you go to file your case.
Nebraska Bankruptcy Exemptions
Once you file for bankruptcy, the trustee can legally sell any non-exempt possessions to pay your debts. But this doesn’t typically happen because most Chapter 7 filers find all their property is protected by exemptions.
Though there are both federal and state exemptions, Nebraska doesn’t recognize the federal exemptions. This means you must use Nebraska’s bankruptcy exemptions if you’ve lived in the state for two years or more. If you’ve lived in Nebraska for less than two years, you’ll use the federal exemptions. One helpful exemption in Nebraska is the wildcard exemption. This allows you to claim an exemption for any possession worth up to $5,000.
Nebraska Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
While a bankruptcy lawyer isn’t required, hiring one sometimes simplifies the bankruptcy process. Most bankruptcy attorneys charge a flat fee. You’ll generally pay between $1,100 and $1,200 in Nebraska. The fee will vary depending on how complicated your case is. You may be tempted to go with the cheapest lawyer, but there are several things to consider before you choose your attorney other than cost.
Nebraska Legal Aid Organizations
If you want legal help, but you can’t afford to hire a bankruptcy attorney, you may be able to access legal advice from a legal aid organization. These organizations give legal aid either for free or at a reduced cost to low-income residents.
Nebraska Court Locations
Nebraska Bankruptcy Judges
|District of Nebraska||Hon. Thomas L. Saladino|
|District of Nebraska||Hon. Shon Hastings|
|Stacy C. Bach|
|Philip M. Kelly|
|Brian S. Kruseemail@example.com|
|Richard D. Myers|
|James A. Overcashfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|John D. Stalnakeremail@example.com|