Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated December 2, 2019
The New Mexican people have a motto – Crescit Eundo – which translated from Latin means “It Grows As It Goes.” However, it’s unlikely that when the Land of Enchantment adopted this motto, many of their residents would come to use it when referring to their ever-growing level of debt. The number of people in financial distress continues to grow, many of them New Mexicans. Even though you may feel buried, there is a way to get relief when other options have failed. If alternatives like debt settlement are not for you, sometimes the best solution is an Albuquerque bankruptcy. Different types of bankruptcy can offer struggling people different levels of aid, but the people who are truly drowning debt will find the most relief by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Albuquerque. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate most or even all outstanding debts owed by qualifying individuals. Many people worry about filing bankruptcy, but the process itself is not threatening once you know how things work. There is a common misconception that people filing for bankruptcy will lose most of their assets, and there is a common misconception that bankruptcy will take a long time to complete in court. Neither of these are true. Additionally, since hiring a lawyer will cost money and may not be financially possible at the moment, it should be a relief to know you can easily go through the process yourself or contact legal aid organizations or nonprofits like Upsolve for help.
Albuquerque Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Costs
Though you can go through the process by yourself, sometimes the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer can be well worth it if you have a complex financial situation or assets you want to protect. A lot of bankruptcy lawyers offer a free initial consultation if you have questions or are not sure if you need a lawyer. If you do hire one, plan on spending around $1,100 depending on the lawyer and how complex your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Albuquerque will be. Though it seems like a lot, many services like completing all your paperwork, filing your forms for you with the court, and attending your 341 Meeting with your creditors are included in the Albuquerque bankruptcy lawyer cost. If you can’t afford a lawyer but don’t want to go it alone, you can complete our screener to see if Upsolve can help you for free.
How to File Bankruptcy in Albuquerque, New Mexico for Free
Knowing your New Mexico bankruptcy options and requirements is the first important step to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Albuquerque. Continue reading this guide to learn the steps you’ll need to take to file bankruptcy in Albuquerque for free.
Collect Your Albuquerque Bankruptcy Documents
When you begin learning how to file bankruptcy in Albuquerque, you’ll see that collecting documents with information you will need to complete the required bankruptcy forms now can save you time and headaches later. You should collect your last 6 months of paystubs, and you should keep them as you receive them from this point forward, in case you need any recent ones after filing bankruptcy in Albuquerque. You should also get a copy of your credit report to see a list of most of your debts and get the current information for your creditors – you’re entitled to a free report each year. Though your credit report lists most of your debts, keep all bills, legal notices, and collection notices you’ve gotten in the last few months because new debt won’t always appear on a credit report immediately. You also need the most recent federal income tax return you filed.
Take Credit Counseling
An Albuquerque bankruptcy can’t begin until you take a credit counseling course. Once you have done so, you’ll have to file a completion certificate with the court along with your completed bankruptcy forms and filing fee to begin your bankruptcy case. The course is meant to educate everyone filing bankruptcy in Albuquerque of all the debt relief options available outside of bankruptcy before they decide to file their case. There are many ways to take the course, but it must be taken from an approved provider or it will not satisfy the course requirement. You must complete the course before you file your case, and if you take the course early keep in mind the certificate is only good for 6 months. So, make sure you plan to file before it expires, or you’ll be forced to spend time and money taking it again.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Completing the required bankruptcy forms is by far the most time consuming process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Albuquerque. The 24 forms you need to complete are available online for free, but you will have to complete them yourself unless you hire an attorney, then they will handle this process for you. If you are completing the forms alone, there are instructions online to help, you can buy inexpensive bankruptcy software, or see if Upsolve can help you with this step. No matter who helps you, you’ll be glad you collected those documents earlier because you still have to provide the information needed to complete the forms for your New Mexico bankruptcy.
Get Your Filing Fee
If you are filing bankruptcy in Albuquerque, you will owe a $335 filing fee payable by cash in the exact amount or in the form of either a cashier’s check or money order made out to the “Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court.” If the lump sum is a problem for you, the court may allow you to make 4 installment payments over a period of 120 days. If your income is under 150% of the federal poverty guideline and installment payments present too much of a financial challenge, you can apply for a fee waiver. The court will either grant your waiver or order you to pay in installments instead. If you are paying installments, don’t be late with your payments or else the court can dismiss your case.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Unless you hire a lawyer, you will need to print out your prepared Albuquerque bankruptcy forms to submit them to the court. You must print the forms single-sided, but you are allowed to use 8.5” x 11” paper that’s commonly found in your printer at home. There are a lot of forms to print, so make sure you have enough paper – you may also want to print one of the premade checklists available to make sure you don’t forget a form and have your petition rejected by the clerk as incomplete. Though people filing bankruptcy in Albuquerque only need to submit one copy of the forms to the court, you should print a second set or make a copy of the originals after you sign them for your records. If you have been working with Upsolve, the process is much simpler. You’ll be sent a PDF document with all your forms enclosed in a single document for you to print. Once you’re done printing, sign all the forms where directed. Make sure everything is correct, because you are signing your forms under penalty of perjury.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Anyone who does not have an attorney filing their New Mexico bankruptcy case on their behalf must submit their documents to the court in person or through the mail. You can file in person or by mailing the required documents to the court. If possible, file in person to make sure all your paperwork is in order, correct any mistakes, and get your confirmation your Albuquerque bankruptcy case has been filed. The bankruptcy courthouse, located in Albuquerque, is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays. Go with all the documents and fees you need to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Albuquerque as well as your picture I.D. Be aware you will need to pass through security at the courthouse entrance before you get to the clerk’s office. Once the court clerk processes your paperwork you’ll receive important information including your case number, trustee assignment, and location of your 341 Meeting.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Keep the information the court clerk gave you on your trustee when you filed for your Albuquerque bankruptcy. As they review the information you gave the court, they could ask your for additional information before your 341 Meeting as well. If so, respond promptly and cooperate because they can ask the court to deny your discharge or revoke it after the fact. Even if your trustee doesn’t ask for anything else, you’re required to send a redacted copy of your most recent federal income tax return with all the personal information like Social Security Numbers covered no less than 7 days before your 341 Meeting.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
You still have more work to do after filing bankruptcy in Albuquerque to receive your discharge. This means the sooner you take Bankruptcy Course 2 after filing bankruptcy, the better your chance of avoiding a discharge delay. You have to complete a second course – a debtor education class - that will help you make better financial choices and educate you on good ways to budget and manage your finances going forward. There is a small fee, the class lasts a few hours, and just like the credit counseling class you took before filing bankruptcy you must find an U.S. Trustee’s Office approved company offering the class and take it online, in person, or over the phone. After you finish the course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion from the course provider. If they don’t file it with the court, make sure you file this certification yourself by mailing it to the Clerk’s office.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
You know you are almost through with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Albuquerque when you attend your 341 Meeting, also called a creditors’ meeting. The meeting is only a 5 to 10 minute meeting usually scheduled about 30 days after you filed your case with the New Mexico Bankruptcy court. Spend a little time preparing for it, but don’t worry too much. Take acceptable documents to establish both your identity and Social Security Number to the meeting, or else the trustee can’t actually hold the meeting as scheduled. The trustee will usually just ask you to verify basic information or ask basic questions about your forms. It’s important to be truthful in answering all questions because you will be sworn in when the meeting begins so you’re under oath. Your creditors may show up to this meeting, but it’s very rare that this happens. After the meeting, your discharge should come in the mail within a few months.
Dealing with Your Car
Many people worry about keeping their car when filing bankruptcy in Albuquerque, but there’s little reason to be worried. You have options on how to handle the situation. If you own the car and its value is protected under the available exemptions, you can keep it. If you have a car loan, which is a secured debt, you have three options. You can enter into a reaffirmation agreement with the lender that will keep everything basically the way it was before you filed bankruptcy – including your monthly car payment obligation. If your car is now worth much less than the loan balance, you can pay the creditor the current value of the car to redeem it, and the rest of the loan balance will be discharged. If you can’t afford the car payment and redeeming the car is not an option for you, you can surrender it to the creditor. Your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Albuquerque will discharge the rest of the money you owe on the loan so you can start over with a clean slate.
New Mexico Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Albuquerque
New Mexico Means Test
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Albuquerque is a way for people who truly need debt relief to get it – but determining who truly needs it can be tricky. To avoid abuse of the system, potential filers must pass the New Mexico bankruptcy Means Test. It first looks at whether you make too much money based on household income guidelines to qualify. If so, it calculates whether you have any disposable income after paying necessary expenses. If your income is under the median income for a household of your size, you can file Chapter 7 without any further calculations. If your income is above the guideline, check out Upsolve’s Chapter 7 Means Test calculator to get an idea of whether you may be able to file a Chapter 7 New Mexico bankruptcy.
Median Income Levels for New Mexico
New Mexico Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for New Mexico
New Mexico 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)|
New Mexico Bankruptcy Forms
When filing your Albuquerque bankruptcy case, it’s important to use the right forms to make sure your case is processed properly. The New Mexico Bankruptcy Courts use the national bankruptcy forms as well as some local New Mexico bankruptcy forms.
New Mexico Exemptions
When you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Albuquerque, everything you own is an asset. However, exemptions, protections for certain asset categories, keep many of your things safe from your creditors. If you have lived in New Mexico for at least the last 2 years before filing bankruptcy in Albuquerque, you are able to choose between federal bankruptcy exemptions or New Mexico bankruptcy exemptions to protect your belongings. These sets of exemptions are the same when it comes to some assets and very different when it comes to others, so it’s important to examine them to see which ones will benefit you the most.