Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated November 24, 2019
Even for the most prepared individuals in the Land of Enchantment, life can happen and change your situation in the blink of an eye. This holds true for anyone from an individual to a wealthy powerful institution. Just this year, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the oldest and largest Roman Catholic diocese in New Mexico filed for bankruptcy and announced nearly 400 claims had been made against the institution. The benefits of a Santa Fe bankruptcy are also available to people in need of relief from crushing debt. The Bankruptcy Code has created different types of bankruptcy to offer various levels of aid to people in financial distress, but the most comprehensive and quickest help comes from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Santa Fe, which eliminates most or all debt for eligible people. Not only can filing bankruptcy in Santa Fe give someone struggling to make ends meet a fresh start, it is not nearly as complicated as most people think. In fact, a bankruptcy involving little or no property can be finished in as little as 4 months. The process is so simple, you can complete it yourself because it’s not required that you hire a lawyer. If feel you need help but can’t afford a lawyer, there are legal aid organizations and nonprofits like Upsolve that can offer assistance and guidance to people trying to get out of debt.
Santa Fe Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Costs
People with financial difficulties are often hesitant to incur the extra cost of a bankruptcy lawyer. Though it is entirely possible to complete a Santa Fe bankruptcy without hiring a lawyer, legal representation can be a good investment for people with complicated finances or specific property they want to protect. If you aren’t sure, many lawyers offer free consultations to help you decide. Your total Santa Fe bankruptcy lawyer cost will likely cost around $1,100, but can vary based on the lawyer and your case. You can also complete our screener to see if you qualify for Upsolve’s free services.
How to File Bankruptcy in Santa Fe, New Mexico for Free
It sounds strange, but there are actually fees involved when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Santa Fe. However, depending on your income level and your situation, there are ways to work around these expenses and get fee waivers as well as the option to pay fees in installments. These accommodations can greatly reduce or eliminate the expenses and stress added to your New Mexico bankruptcy.
Collect Your Santa Fe Bankruptcy Documents
As you start understanding how to file bankruptcy in Santa Fe, you’ll notice many bankruptcy forms require extensive financial information. Knowing these information requests are coming, it would be wise to start gather documents to help you answer these questions easily. There are a few key documents to collect that will make your life much easier down the road. Collect your last 6 months of paystubs (or proof of income) and save your paystubs going forward in case you are asked to produce them. Get a copy of your credit report to help identify your debts and creditor information – these are free once a year. Keep at least the last 3 months’ collection notices and legal notices you got in the mail. These can indicate new debts that may not appear on your credit report yet. You also need your 2 most recent federal income tax returns, which are available from the IRS. Also, if any other documents help you list your assets, debts, or income, you should gather them as well – these can be recent bank statements, property appraisals, or even your vehicle registration which shows the value of your car.
Take Credit Counseling
No New Mexico bankruptcy can be filed before the individual debtor completes a mandatory credit counseling course from a provider approved by the Department of Justice. The course, which usually lasts about 2 hours and costs between $10 and $50, is meant to educate you on debt repayment solutions that do not involve filing bankruptcy in Santa Fe. Once you take the course, submit the completion certificate with the Court when you turn in your bankruptcy forms and filing fee to start your bankruptcy case. The certificate is only valid for 6 months, so don’t take credit counseling if you know you won’t file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Santa Fe in that time period.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Completing the 23 forms needed to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Santa Fe takes time (and can take a toll on your patience). However, you’ll be happy if you were thorough in collecting documents earlier. The nearly 70 pages of forms are available online for free and if you didn’t hire an attorney you need to complete them yourself. The federal government has published instructions online to help you fill them out accurately. If this is not enough guidance, bankruptcy software is available for purchase or you can see if you are eligible for Upsolve’s help.
Get Your Filing Fee
You must pay a $335 fee when filing bankruptcy in Santa Fe by money order, cashier’s check, or the exact amount of cash. If the lump sum is problematic, you can complete a form asking the Court to allow you to pay the fee in up to 4 installment payments in the 120 days after filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Santa Fe. Do not miss an installment payment, because the Court can dismiss your Santa Fe bankruptcy if you are late. You are only eligible to have the fee waived entirely if your household income is under 150% of the federal poverty level. If you ask for a waiver, the Court can either grant the waiver or order you to make installment payments.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
After completing your Santa Fe bankruptcy forms, print them out to submit them to the Court. The forms must be printed single-sided and signed under penalty of perjury. The Court will accept forms on 8.5” x 11” paper. It can be easy to miss a form you need to print, so printing one of the checklists available is probably wise. The Court only needs one copy of your forms, but it’s a good idea to make another copy for your records. If you’ve been working with Upsolve, the process is easy – you’ll receive a PDF document with every form in a single document you just have to open and print.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
If you don’t have a lawyer (you’re filing “pro se”), you must file your New Mexico bankruptcy case in person or by mailing the required documents to the Court. It’s better to file in person so you can correct any errors immediately and get your Santa Fe bankruptcy case filed that day. The bankruptcy courthouse is in Albuquerque and open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Take all your forms, the completion certificate, and the fee (or waiver application) you need to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Santa Fe as well as a government-issued ID.Once you go through security at the Court entrance, go to the Court clerk’s office. They will process your forms, then you’ll get a stamped copy of your petition as well as important information including your case’s assigned Trustee and your 341 Meeting date and time.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
A Trustee is appointed by the Court to supervise your case, review the information you provide to the Court, and ensure the rules are followed. The Clerk should have given you the name and contact information of your Santa Fe bankruptcy Trustee. The Trustee could request more information from you before your 341 Meeting. Respond quickly if they do – if you aren’t complying with requests or it looks like you’re hiding information, they can ask the Court to deny your discharge or revoke it once it has issued. No matter what, you need to send them a copy of your most recent federal income tax return at least 7 days before the date of your 341 Meeting.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Before you can get a discharge of debts in your New Mexico bankruptcy case, you must complete one more course, a debtor education class. If you delay taking the class, your discharge may also be delayed. The class will help you learn to make good financial choices going forward. The class fee ranges from $10-$50, it’s not usually more than 2 hours long, and, like the credit counseling course you took before filing bankruptcy in Santa Fe, must be taken with an approved company. You can often choose between taking it online, in person, or over the phone, as long as you do it after filing bankruptcy in Santa Fe. After you are done, you’ll receive a completion certificate that you must file with the Court (if they haven’t already done it for you).
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The next step for you Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Santa Fe is attending your 341 Meeting (or Creditors’ Meeting). The meeting usually only lasts a few minutes, and you most likely will only be asked to verify basic information on your Santa Fe bankruptcy forms. Courts will often schedule several of these in a row, so don’t be surprised if there are other people there, they’re also in your shoes. Take a few minutes to prepare for your meeting. Remember to bring acceptable documents verifying your identity and social security number so the Trustee can hold your meeting. Though your creditors can attend the meeting, they almost never do. Normally, you should receive a Court discharge by mail in the next 2 months.
Dealing with Your Car
There’s one last step in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Santa Fe, but it only applies if you have a car. If you do, you have a few options depending whether you own it or still have a loan. If you own the car and its value is under the exemption limit, it’s yours. If the value exceeds the limit, the Trustee could sell it and pay creditors with the extra money. If there is a loan and you’re making payments, you can keep the car if you want it…and pay for it. Filing bankruptcy in Santa Fe is not a way to avoid paying for a car you want to keep. If your car payments are still manageable, you and the lender can enter a reaffirmation agreement, which means you agree to keep making payments as usual until you’ve paid the loan balance. If your car value is now less than the loan amount, you might consider redeeming it by paying the current car value in a lump sum to the lender. If you can’t afford it, don’t want the car, or are facing pricey repair in the future, surrendering the car by giving it back to the lender is a good option.
New Mexico Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Santa Fe
New Mexico Means Test
Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Santa Fe was created with the purpose of giving financial relief to individuals that truly have been overwhelmed by debt. To prevent abuse of this great opportunity by people who just don’t want to pay their debts (as opposed to those who can’t), anyone that wants to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy must first pass a New Mexico bankruptcy Means Test. The Means Test uses an income guideline to see if your household makes too much money to qualify, then if you fail the first part of the test, examines if you still have insufficient disposable income after you pay certain necessary expenses spelled out by the Bankruptcy Code. If your household income falls below the guideline, you can file Chapter 7. You may also file for Chapter 7 if your income does not fall below the guideline, but you have insufficient income left after covering necessary expenses.
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
You need to use the right forms when filing your Santa Fe bankruptcy case, or else the Court clerk won’t accept your forms. New Mexico uses some of the national bankruptcy forms, but New Mexico bankruptcy forms created exclusively for use in-state are also required in many situations..
New Mexico Exemptions
Many people believe that filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Santa Fe means most of your assets will be taken and sold to pay your debts. This is extremely unlikely your assets will be taken – 96% of Chapter 7 bankruptcies allow the filer to keep all of their property. Exemptions, basically legally created shields, protect a lot of filer’s assets during a bankruptcy and will usually protect most of your belongings unless you own something of great value. If you have been a New Mexico resident for at least the 2 years before you filed your Santa Fe bankruptcy, you get to choose whether you want to claim federal bankruptcy exemptions or New Mexico bankruptcy exemptions to shield your belongings. Depending on your financial situation and the assets in your possession, one set of exemptions may prove more beneficial for holding on to your assets.