Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice.
Updated July 27, 2020
Despite being home to four Fortune 500 companies, bankruptcy relief is often needed in Omaha, Nebraska. Whether it’s Eat Fit Go filing for Chapter 11 in 2018, or Gordmans Department Store finishing up its bankruptcy liquidation in 2017, bankruptcy cases have hit pretty close to home in the Gateway to the West. If you worked for one of these companies or are experiencing other financial difficulties, you might be thinking about filing bankruptcy for yourself. The good news is that bankruptcy relief is available to individuals (or married companies filing jointly) just like it is for companies. Omahans can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 when seeking bankruptcy relief. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is probably what you think of as a typical bankruptcy, also known as a liquidation. Chapter 7 tends to be fairly quick, usually taking between four to six months start to finish. At the end of Chapter 7, you can walk away from most (or all) of your debts. Chapter 13 is a reorganization with a repayment plan, similar to a personal Chapter 11. Chapter 13s tend to be more complex and take longer, as the repayment plan will run for a minimum of three to a maximum of five years. In addition to different types of bankruptcies, there are also different categories of debts that can influence your choice. First, and most common, there are unsecured debts, where the debt is not tied to a particular item. The most common examples of unsecured debts are medical bills and credit card bills. Next, there are secured debts, where the debt is tied to a specific thing, like a mortgage on your home or a loan on your car. If you are behind on a secured debt and trying to avoid foreclosure or repossession Chapter 13 can offer an opportunity to catch up. Finally, there are priority or non-dischargeable debts, which as the name implies will not be eliminated in your bankruptcy. Priority debts include child support, alimony, and most government debts. Usually, your circumstances along with the types of debts you have will show a pretty clear path for choosing what type of bankruptcy to file, but it is not at all uncommon to seek legal counsel for advice. Many legal aid organizations offer free services for bankruptcy. If it turns out that you would be filing a straightforward Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha and you’re eligible for Upsolve then you can decide to partner with Upsolve for no cost and use our Nebraska Bankruptcy Guide to help you along the process.
Omaha Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
If you are considering filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha you may also be thinking about finding an attorney to assist you through the process. The average cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Omaha will run between $1,100 and $1,200, which typically has to be paid in full before your case is filed. Not surprisingly, you might not be able to afford to pay a lawyer to get the financial relief that you need. Luckily there are some other options. First, most bankruptcy attorneys will offer a free initial consultation, so you are not locked in just by meeting with one. Second, there are legal aid organizations that may be able to offer assistance. With Upsolve there is now a third option - we can partner with you at no cost to help you through your Omaha bankruptcy without an attorney (known as “pro se”) to lead you through a successful case every step of the way.
How to File Bankruptcy in Omaha, Nebraska for Free
You can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha for little or no cost by partnering with Upsolve. We will take you step by step through the process for how to file bankruptcy in Omaha, beginning with the below topics:
Collect Your Omaha Bankruptcy Documents
Your first step for your Omaha bankruptcy is to collect the documents you will need to show that you are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha you will need the documents showing the past 60 days of income (paystubs or any other proof of income.) If you can find proof of income for longer (ideally the past six months) that is even better. The documents you will need to fill out your bankruptcy paperwork will include any documents about your finances, including the past two years of income taxes (federal and Nebraska) and any account statements (bank accounts, etc.) along with your proof of income. You will also need any documents that pertain to things you own (assets) or debts that you owe (liabilities.) It can be helpful to get a free copy of your credit report to help you make certain that you are listing all of your debts in the paperwork.
Take Credit Counseling
Step two is to complete your first credit counseling course. There are two courses required to complete your Nebraska bankruptcy. The first needs to be completed before you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha and the second should be completed during your case. Both courses need to be completed through an approved agency so make certain to verify that for each course. Most agencies offer their services online or over the phone. If you prefer to complete your courses in person you can go to Credit Advisors Foundation conveniently located right in Omaha on South 72nd Street.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Your next task is to fill out all of the paperwork for your Nebraska bankruptcy. This part will take a while, so it’s recommended that you set aside some time or plan to work on it in chunks. If you are working with Upsolve you can answer an online questionnaire that will populate your answers into the proper forms. You can also find all the forms online, either asindividual fillable PDF documents or by downloadingthis packet from the Nebraska Bankruptcy Court. If you decide to work on the forms directly, it’s a good idea to also download the free instruction manualto make sure everything is in order for your Omaha bankruptcy.
Get Your Filing Fee
There is a filing fee associated with every bankruptcy case. The cost to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha is $335. You should be prepared to pay this amount in full at the time you file your Nebraska bankruptcy, either in cash (exact change) or by certified funds (money order or cashier’s check.) If you can’t afford to cover the filing fee and your income is less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines you can ask the Court to waive the filing fee. Even if you are not eligible to have the fee waived you can apply to pay the filing fee in installments if you can’t afford to pay it all upfront. If you choose this option, make certain that you have a pan to pay the full amount within the time allotted (120 days from filing) or you risk having your case dismissed (thrown out).
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
The final step before filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha is to print your bankruptcy forms. You will need one full set to file your Nebraska bankruptcy case. If you have access to a printer at home, work or at a friend’s house and it’s possible to print an extra copy that can be helpful for your records. Make sure that all the forms are printed single-sided as double-sided is not accepted by the Court. If you don’t have easy access to a printer you can try the Omaha Public Library for very reasonable rates or visit your local OfficeMax.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Once you have a complete set of your bankruptcy forms printed, your certificate of completion from your first credit counseling course and your filing fee (or application to waive or pay in installments) you are ready to officially file your Omaha bankruptcy. It is best to do so in person in case there is a quick fix or edit needed for your Nebraska bankruptcy to be processed that day. The US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nebraska has two locations, one of which is in Omaha and is open from 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, but is closed on federal holidays.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Mail documents to your trusteebankruptcy Trustee to oversee your case. You can find their information on the Official Notice you’ll receive after filing bankruptcy in Omaha that will also list your upcoming meeting date. You need to provide documents to your Trustee at least seven days before your creditors’ meeting. You should plan on providing your past two years of income taxes, both federal and Nebraska. Your Trustee may want additional documents as well and will communicate that to you via letter. If you don’t receive any letter two to three weeks from filing bankruptcy in Omaha, you may want to reach out directly to find out if anything else is needed.
After your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha is filed you will be assigned a Chapter 7 bankruptcy Trustee to oversee your case. You can find their information on the Official Notice you’ll receive after filing bankruptcy in Omaha that will also list your upcoming meeting date. You need to provide documents to your Trustee at least seven days before your creditors’ meeting. You should plan on providing your past two years of income taxes, both federal and Nebraska. Your Trustee may want additional documents as well and will communicate that to you via letter. If you don’t receive any letter two to three weeks from filing bankruptcy in Omaha, you may want to reach out directly to find out if anything else is needed.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
While you are waiting for your Omaha bankruptcy meeting date it is a great time to finish up your second credit counseling course. Remember to use an approved agency for this second course as well. After you complete the second course you will receive a certificate of completion which must be filed with the Court for your Nebraska bankruptcy. The agency might file the certificate on your behalf, but it’s much more likely that the responsibility will fall to you. Make certain to file this with the Court just like your original paperwork so that it properly shows up on your case docket.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
You will need to attend your creditors’ meeting in person. This meeting with your Trustee takes place between twenty-one and 40 days from the date you file your Nebraska bankruptcy. This tends to be a very quick proceeding, often lasting only 10 to 15 minutes. All the same, it is perfectly normal to feel a bit nervous about it, which can be helped with some preparation. You will need to bring proper identification documents and proof of your social security number. At the meeting your Trustee will ask you questions about your paperwork and the information within them, to confirm that the information is true and accurate. Once the Trustee is satisfied, they will conclude the meeting, and at that point, you simply need to wait out the remaining time for your order of discharge to be entered in your Omaha bankruptcy. The discharge signals the moment when you officially walk away from your debts and get your fresh start.
Dealing with Your Car
If you own a car and are filing bankruptcy in Omaha you will have a few options with your car depending on your circumstances. If you are behind on your car payments you can surrender the car as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha. Not only will this allow you to walk away from any future payments, but you can also get rid of any missed payments, late fees, and interest charges. If you are current on your car payment and intend to keep the vehicle your car lender might ask that you sign a reaffirmation agreement. This will re-state your obligation to continue payments on the car so that it is not discharged in your bankruptcy. You will be able to protect any equity (or value) in the car by claiming an appropriate exemption in your bankruptcy schedules.
Nebraska Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Omaha
Nebraska Means Test
Before filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha you will need to show that you are eligible to do so under the Means Test. There are two ways to pass the Nebraska bankruptcy Means Test. The first is based on your income. If you current monthly income is less than the median income for your size family in Nebraska you are immediately qualified to file for Chapter 7 relief. If you don’t qualify solely based on the income you can go through a more extensive calculation to show that at the end of the month you have little to no income remaining after paying your reasonable expenses.
Median Income Levels for Nebraska
Nebraska Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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Poverty Levels for Nebraska
Nebraska 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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Nebraska Bankruptcy Forms
You will only need to complete the federal forms for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Omaha. There are no additional specific local Nebraska bankruptcy forms.
Exemptions are the laws that protect your property (up to varying amounts depending on the type of property) when filing bankruptcy. While some states allow a choice between state and federal bankruptcy exemptions, Nebraska only allows the use of Nebraska bankruptcy exemptions. Anyone filing bankruptcy in Omaha after living in the state for more than 2 years is limited to using the Nebraska bankruptcy exemptions.