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 February 10, 2022
Nevada residents know there’s much more to the Silver State than Las Vegas casinos. But living with debt is always a gamble. Just a few unplanned expenses or an unexpected loss of income can cause interest and fees to pile up. A manageable balance can quickly become an overwhelming debt.
Even if your financial situation feels out of control, there’s good news: By researching your options, you’ve already taken the first step toward conquering your debt. Bankruptcy is a chance for a fresh start, so you can move forward with your life instead of struggling under a mountain of debt. If you qualify, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you eliminate most or all of your debt in a matter of months. Even if you can’t afford to hire a bankruptcy attorney, it’s possible to file bankruptcy in Nevada yourself, for free.
How To File Bankruptcy for Free in Nevada
Attorney fees are usually the biggest cost of filing bankruptcy. For people with complex bankruptcy issues, legal advice from a good lawyer is essential. But people with simple cases can save a lot of money by filing bankruptcy themselves, without an attorney. This guide covers everything you need to know to file bankruptcy for free.
Collect your Nevada Bankruptcy Documents
The first step to filing bankruptcy, whether on your own or with a lawyer, is to gather all the documents you’ll need. Some documents are essential, including:
Tax returns for the last two years.
Paycheck stubs or other documents showing your income for the past 60 days. A printout from your employer will also work. If you don’t get pay stubs, make a list of all the income you’ve received from any source for the past 60 days.
Recent statements for any checking or savings account(s).
You must send copies of these essential documents to your trustee, even if you’re filing with an attorney. (Your trustee will be assigned by the court after you file — more about that later.)
In addition to these essential documents, there are others that will make it much easier for you to complete your bankruptcy paperwork, including:
Any outstanding bills, collection letters, or account statements. These will help you list all your debts, including current balances and creditor contact info, on your bankruptcy forms.
Pay stubs or income records for the past six months. These will help you complete the means test to make sure you’re eligible to file Chapter 7.
Bank statements from the last several months to a year. These can help you estimate your expenses and help you remember any recent debt payments you’ve made.
A credit report from at least one of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion). This will help you list all your creditors and their contact information. If you’re using Upsolve’s free tool, Upsolve will pull your credit report for you.
Take a Credit Counseling Course
Before you file bankruptcy in Nevada, you have to take a credit counseling course. This course is designed to make sure you’re aware of all your debt relief options and that you understand what filing bankruptcy means. You must take the course from a state-approved provider. Most providers offer the course online or by phone. Typically, Money Management International also offers in-person courses in their Reno and Las Vegas locations, but these have been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19.
When you complete the course, the provider will mail or email you a certificate. You’ll have to give this certificate to the court when you file the rest of your bankruptcy forms. The certificate “expires” after 180 days, so if you don’t file bankruptcy within six months of completing the course, you’ll have to take it again.
Most providers charge a fee for the credit counseling course. This fee varies, but it’s typically between $15 and $50. If you’re married and filing bankruptcy with your spouse, the fee usually covers both of you. Most providers will waive the fee if you qualify based on your income.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
After you gather your documents and complete your credit counseling course, the next step is to fill out the bankruptcy forms. Bankruptcy courts are federal courts, meaning they’re a part of the U.S. government instead of the Nevada state government. Most bankruptcy forms are federal forms, so they’re the same for every state. These forms are available for free online as fillable PDFs. You can also access instructions to help you understand how to complete the forms. The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has also published a bankruptcy guide you can use.
You won’t need to fill out every form that’s on the U.S. Courts website. The Nevada Bankruptcy Court has a list of every form you need for a Chapter 7 case. If you’re filing pro se — that is, without an attorney — you’ll need to download and complete each form individually. Filers who are working with a lawyer usually complete a questionnaire, and their attorney’s office then uses their information to fill out the forms for them. If you prepare your bankruptcy filing using Upsolve’s free tool, you’ll complete an online questionnaire, and the Upsolve software uses your information to complete the necessary forms.
Get your Filing Fee
All bankruptcy courts charge a $338filing fee to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You must pay the fee when you file your bankruptcy forms. Remember, if you’re planning to file bankruptcy, you won’t need to make any more monthly payments on credit cards, medical bills, or unsecured loans. This may free up some disposable income and make it easier to save enough money for the filing fee.
Sometimes, you need to file bankruptcy in a hurry and don’t have time to save up the entire filing fee. For example, if your wages are being garnished, you can use the automatic stay protection bankruptcy provides to stop the garnishment right away. In these situations, you can ask the court to let you pay the fee in installments.
Paying in installments can be a risky option, though. If you forget or can’t make one of your installment payments, your case could get dismissed. If possible, wait to file until you have the full $338, or ask the court to waive the fee entirely. If your monthly income is less than 150% of the poverty guidelines for your family size, you can apply for a fee waiver. Check the Nevada Fee Waiver Eligibility table below to see if you qualify.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Print all your completed forms on regular, letter-size (8.5 x 11 inches) white paper in black ink, single-sided. Don’t use colored ink or double-sided printing. If you’re using forms you downloaded from the court website, you’ll need to print each form individually. Keep this checklist handy to make sure you don’t forget any forms. Sign and date your printed forms in every place that a signature is required, using blue or black ink. If you’re using Upsolve’s free tool, you’ll receive a single PDF to print, with dividers that flag each signature page.
You may need to print more than one copy of some forms. The Nevada bankruptcy court has a Chapter 7 checklist you can use to make sure you have everything you need and the correct number of copies.
File Your Forms With the Nevada Bankruptcy Court
Only bankruptcy attorneys can file forms electronically. If you don’t have an attorney, you must file paper forms. The Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada has offices in Las Vegas and Reno. If you live in Clark, Esmeralda, Lincoln, or Nye county, file your paperwork in the Las Vegas office. Otherwise, file your forms in the Reno office.
If you don’t live near one of these cities, you may want to mail your paperwork to the court for filing. Be sure to include your filing fee and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the clerk to return your copies to you. You can also take your paperwork and filing fee to the court in person. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, if you want to file your bankruptcy in person at the court, you’ll submit your papers in a drop box instead of handing them to a clerk.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Every Chapter 7 bankruptcy is assigned to a trustee. When you file your case, the court chooses your trustee automatically from among Nevada’s Chapter 7 trustees. Your bankruptcy trustee’s job is to review your case and verify that the information on your forms is accurate and complete. They also administer your 341 meeting (more about that later).
Shortly after you file your bankruptcy, the court will send you a notice with your trustee’s name and contact information. Bankruptcy law requires you to send certain documents to your trustee at least seven days before your 341 meeting. At a minimum, you must send your two most recent tax returns and a bank statement for any checking or savings accounts you have. The bank statement needs to cover the date that you filed your bankruptcy case. For example, if you filed your case on June 18th, you should send the bank statement for June 1-30th.
Most trustees will request other documents in addition to tax returns and bank statements, such as:
Copies of recent pay stubs,
A photocopy of your Social Security card, and
A photocopy of your current driver's license or other government-issued photo ID.
Usually, a few days after you file your bankruptcy petition, your trustee will send you a letter telling you exactly what documents to send and how to send them.
Take a Debtor Education Course
Everyone who files bankruptcy must complete a debtor education course (sometimes called a financial management course). This course is similar to the credit counseling course you took before filing your case, but instead of focusing on debt-relief options, it’s about smart financial strategies to help you make the most of your fresh start.
You must take the course from a state-approved provider. Most providers offer the course online, by phone, or both. You can take the second course anytime after you file your case but no later than 60 days after your 341 meeting. It’s usually best to get it out of the way early, so you don’t forget about it.
After you finish the course, you’ll get a certificate of completion. Use the certificate information to fill out Form 423, then file the form with the court. Some course providers will handle this step for you. If you don’t file Form 423 within 60 days after your 341 meeting, your bankruptcy case could be closed without a discharge, meaning you would still owe your debts.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
About 30-45 days after you file bankruptcy, you must meet with your trustee. This meeting is usually called the 341 meeting because it’s required by Section 341(a) of the Bankruptcy Code. The 341 meeting is sometimes called the meeting of creditors. Your creditors are invited to attend the meeting, but they rarely show up. Nevada 341 meetings are usually held in Las Vegas, Reno, and Elko. But due to COVID-19, all creditors’ meetings are being held via telephone or video conference. This may change, so read all your notices carefully.
You must attend this meeting. You’ll need to bring a valid (not expired), government-issued photo ID and proof of your Social Security number. The meeting is a chance for you to confirm your identity and answer any questions the trustee might have about your case. Most 341 meetings take less than 10 minutes for Chapter 7 cases. You’ll usually receive your bankruptcy discharge within 60-90 days after the meeting.
Dealing with Your Car
What happens to your car when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy depends on whether you lease or own your car. If you’re leasing your car, you can keep your car and continue with the lease payments as usual. This is called assuming the lease. You must be current on your lease payments to assume the lease. Bankruptcy also gives you a way out of your lease, called rejecting the lease. If you reject your lease, you won’t get to keep the car, but you won’t owe any more lease payments or fees.
If you have a car loan and you’re current on your monthly payments, you may keep the car and continue making the payments as usual. The lender might ask you to sign a reaffirmation agreement agreeing to keep paying. You can only choose this option if you’re current on your car payments.
If you owe more than your car is worth or can’t afford your payments, you may choose to surrender your car to the lender. You won’t owe anything else on the car. Surrendering your car is a good way to get out of a bad deal. It frees up your money to buy a different car after bankruptcy.
If you own your car outright, you may keep it as long as it fits within Nevada’s property exemption limits. Exemptions are based on your car’s market value in its current condition. In Nevada, you can claim up to $15,000 of your car’s value as exempt. If your car’s value is higher, you may be able to negotiate with your trustee to pay the nonexempt portion.
Nevada Bankruptcy Means Test
The means test is a two-part test to determine whether you have the “means” to pay some or all of your debts. The first part compares your income to Nevada’s median income. If your family’s income is less than the median, you automatically qualify for Chapter 7. You don’t need to do the second part of the test.
Ordinary living expenses;
Your secured debt payments, like a car loan; and
Your priority debt payments, like tax debt or child support.
If you have enough disposable income left after these deductions to pay at least 25% of your other debts, you don’t qualify for a Chapter 7. The court will likely convert your Chapter 7 case to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy so you can pay some of your unsecured debt through a repayment plan.
Data on Median Income Levels for Nevada
Nevada Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed In 2023
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Data on Poverty Levels for Nevada
Nevada Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed In 2023
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
Nevada Bankruptcy Forms
Most of the forms you’ll use in your bankruptcy are federal forms, which means they’re the same in every state. That said, there are a few forms you’ll need that are unique to Nevada bankruptcies. These are the Creditor Matrix and the Verification of Creditor Matrix forms. Both forms are free to download on the Nevada bankruptcy court’s website.
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Nevada Districts & Filing Requirements
All Nevada bankruptcies are filed in the District of Nevada. This district has the following bankruptcy requirements:
Filing methods: Nevada requires that you file one original and one copy of all forms. You can file in person or by mail.
Installment payments: If you’re paying your filing fee in installments, you must pay at least $80 of the fee within two days after filing your case. The court will give you an order telling you when the remaining payments are due.
Check the court’s COVID-19 page for any changes to these rules due to the ongoing pandemic.
Nevada Bankruptcy Exemptions
In theory, when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee can sell your property to pay off your debts. This process is known as liquidation. By law, though, some of your property is exempt, or protected, from being sold by the trustee. You’ll list the property you’re claiming as exempt in your bankruptcy forms.
If you’ve lived in the Silver State for the past two years or longer, you must use Nevada’s state exemption laws. These cover things like cars, houses, household goods, books, sports equipment, and other kinds of personal property. Some exemptions have limits. For example, the motor vehicle exemption is limited to $15,000. Other exemptions are unlimited, such as the exemption for Social Security benefits. Nevada also has a $10,000 wildcard exemption that can be applied to any property. If you moved to Nevada within the past two years, you’ll need to use the federal exemptions instead.
Nevada Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
Personal bankruptcy lawyers usually charge a flat fee for Chapter 7 cases, as opposed to billing by the hour. This fee varies from lawyer to lawyer, but most Nevada bankruptcy attorneys charge between $1,100 and $1,500 for a Chapter 7 case. This amount doesn’t include the court filing fee or the cost of credit counseling and debtor education courses. Of course, cost isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing an attorney. If your case is complicated, it’s worth doing some research to find a good bankruptcy lawyer.
Nevada Legal Aid Organizations
If you’re unsure about navigating the bankruptcy process yourself, one of Nevada’s legal aid organizations may be able to help. These organizations provide free or low-cost legal assistance to qualified residents.
Nevada Court Locations
C. Clifton Young Federal Building and United States Courthouse
300 Booth Street Reno, NV 89509
Foley Federal Building
300 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, NV 89101
Nevada Bankruptcy Judges
|District of Nevada||Hon. Bruce T. Beesley|
|District of Nevada||Hon. Mike K. Nakagawa|
|District of Nevada||Hon. August B. Landis|
|District of Nevada||Hon. Gregg W. Zive|
|Jeri A. Coppa-Knudsonemail@example.com|
|W. Donald Giesekefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Shelley D. Krohnemail@example.com|
|Christina W. Lovatofirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Lenard E. Schwartzer|
|Brian D. Shapiroemail@example.com|