Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
If you live in Las Vegas, you live in a unique financial environment. Where else can a person’s financial situation change in a matter of moments with the draw of a card or toss of the dice?
Unfortunately, a person’s financial picture can change in a flash due to much more common events than an unlucky day at the casino. Whether you are a Las Vegas area resident who has lost your job, incurred major medical bills, or otherwise fallen upon hard times, you may be considering filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas as an option. This shouldn’t be a cause for embarrassment or a feeling of failure. Some of the biggest stars who have ever performed in Las Vegas have filed for bankruptcy, including the one-time highest-paid entertainer in town, Wayne “Mr. Las Vegas” Newton. In fact, even Caesar’s Palace filed for bankruptcy just two years ago!
In the “real” world, where most of us live without the benefits of being a celebrity,statistics from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Nevada indicate that people who can’t afford a lawyer may not take advantage of the protections available to them by the bankruptcy laws. For example, in 2017 and 2018 combined, over 8,500Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions were filed with the assistance of a lawyer. In comparison, less than 700 were filed without a lawyer (“pro se”) during those two years. It’s very likely that many more Nevadans didn’t file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas because they couldn't afford a lawyer, not realizing that free legal aid is available and no lawyer is needed to seek bankruptcy relief.
In many instances, filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas is an opportunity to start fresh instead of struggling under the burden of debt which can affect every aspect of your life, including your relationships and health.
Las Vegas Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Las Vegas, NV, to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is typically between $1,000 to $1,500. Since it’s often very fact specific, the best way to find out how much your Las Vegas bankruptcy would cost, schedule a consultation with a Las Vegas bankruptcy lawyer. The cost for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy will likely be quoted during that process. Consultations are usually free and you may get information that you can use even if you do end up filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas without a lawyer.
How to File Bankruptcy in Las Vegas, Nevada For Free
You CAN file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas, NV for free without hiring a lawyer. But, it helps to have some knowledge of how to file bankruptcy in Las Vegas before you make a decision.
Collect Your Las Vegas Bankruptcy Documents
The Bankruptcy Court will require documentation of your financial situation to consider your request for bankruptcy relief. These documents should include any source of income, tax returns, bank statements, loan documents, names of your creditors and how much you owe them, among other things. You must also list all of the property you own to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas.
It is your responsibility to collect all of the documents you will need for your Nevada bankruptcy petition. You may have to contact your current or former employers for pay stubs and other employment information. Some documents such as bank statements may be available online if you have access to a computer. Your petition may be rejected or your discharge delayed if the required information is not properly disclosed when filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas.
Take Credit Counseling
You may wonder why you would need credit counseling at this point. The purpose is simple: once you finish the bankruptcy process, you should have a “fresh start” financially. In 2005, a Nevada bankruptcy law was passed that requires anyone filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas to go through credit counseling before filing for bankruptcy. This course can help you determine whether bankruptcy is the best option for you. You have to take it from provider approved to offer this courts to Las Vegas bankruptcy filers. You can take it any time in the 6 months before filing your case with the Court.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Once you have your documentation together, it’s time to start completing the forms for filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas. All of the forms you need are available for free online. The Bankruptcy Court requires a lot of information to document the figures you claim on your schedules and statements. The average packet a filer submits to the Nevada Bankruptcy Court will contain over 20 forms and about 70 pages. Take your time. And above all, be honest.All of the information you provide will be checked and verified throughout the process and providing false information could result in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas being thrown out and other penalties.
Get Your Filing Fee
You may be able to avoid paying lawyer fees for filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas if you prepare your documents yourself, but one thing you may not be able to avoid is the filing fee required by the Court to open your bankruptcy case.
But there are options:
If the Court determines that it will be a hardship for you to pay the entire fee at once, it may allow you to make payments over time while your case is being processed.
If you do have to pay the total fee at the time of filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas, remember that it is an investment in your future and your ability to have a financial "fresh start."
If your household income is less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, the Court may grant a waiver of the filing fee. Such a waiver is available only if the filer is unable to pay the fee in installments even after filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas and getting the protections of the automatic stay.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Once you have completed your forms, you should check and double-check to make sure that all of the requested information has been provided and that it is correct. The Las Vegas Bankruptcy Court requires that the forms be printed out single-sided. You will need the original signed packet to submit to the Court and one copy the Court can stamp for your files. The local rules require that you submit both copies to the Court when filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas. If you don’t have access to a printer, you can check with local office supply stores such as Office Depot, FedEx, a UPS drop-off location, or even your local library.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Once you have your forms completed, your documents organized and printed and copies made, you’re ready to file your papers with the Nevada Bankruptcy Court’s clerk's office. If you plan to pay the total fee at the time of filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas, you should be prepared to do that when you file your documents. If you are requesting a waiver or installment payments, make sure that the proper form is included in your papers.
The Las Vegas Bankruptcy Court is located at:
Foley Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
300 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89101 Phone: (702) 527-7000 If you live in Clark, Esmeralda, Lincoln or Nye counties, you will file your paperwork at the Las Vegas Bankruptcy Court location. Otherwise, you will file at the Reno location.
Once the Clerk of the Las Vegas bankruptcy court has processed your forms, you’ll receive a Notice of Chapter 7 bankruptcy:
Your bankruptcy case number
The name of your bankruptcy Trustee; and
The date, time and location of your 341 meeting (this is also known as the “Meeting of Creditors” and will be attended by your Trustee and any creditors who have questions or objections about your bankruptcy case).
Mail the Documents to Your Trustee
After filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas, a Trustee will be assigned to your case. You will be provided with the name and contact information of your Trustee by the Bankruptcy Court, and you are responsible for sending the Trustee a copy of your most recent federal income tax return, recent pay check stubs and recent bank statements. The Trustee is usually a lawyer or accountant who contracts with the Office of the U.S. Trustee to perform Trustee duties, such as verifying the filer’s identity, selling unprotected property for the benefit of creditors, and taking back funds paid to creditors in the 90 days before filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas. The Trustee is also responsible for reporting evidence of fraud in a bankruptcy proceeding, so it’s important to be truthful and include all of the information requested in the bankruptcy forms.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Even though you took a course before you filed your Nevada bankruptcy, a second course is required as well. While the first course helped you make the decision about whether filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas is the best option for you, the second course helps educate you on your financial future and how to make good decisions to avoid having to file bankruptcy again in the future. Your Chapter 7 discharge will not be granted until this course is completed. The course may be taken online and takes about an hour. As before, it’s important to take the course through an approved provider. Once done, find out whether they’ll file your certificate of completion with the Court for you. If they don’t, it’s important that you submit it to the Court.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting usually happens about a month after filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas. The meeting gives your creditors an opportunity to ask you any questions that they may have before your debt is discharged. The meeting usually doesn’t last long and creditors rarely attend unless they are concerned about information you provided in your petition. Your Trustee will also be at the meeting, and will likely be the only one actually asking you questions. Be sure to have a government-issued I.D. such as your driver's license and your social security card with you at the meeting. You should bring bank statements and paystubs you have received since filing for bankruptcy in Las Vegas, as well as any other documents your Trustee tells you to bring.
If there are no objections from your creditors, your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas should result in a discharge order within two months after the 341 meeting.
Dealing with Your Car
In Nevada, you can protect up to $15,000 of your equity in a vehicle. This exemption is unlimited if you are disabled and your vehicle is equipped to accommodate your disability. Your Trustee should be aware of any vehicles you own and what you would like to do with them. You can surrender your vehicle to avoid making any more payments on it if that has been a hardship for you. If you want to keep the car, and the monthly payments still work for your budget, you can keep everything essentially the way it was before filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas by entering into a reaffirmation agreement. Another alternative is to redeem the vehicle by paying its value to the creditor. You will get clean title and the balance left owing on the loan is discharged by your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas.
Nevada Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Las Vegas
Nevada Means Test
The bankruptcy law passed in 2005 determines whether you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Nevada bankruptcy Means Test looks at your average income for six months before filing. If your income is below the median income in Nevada, you can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas. If your income is above the median, you will have to compare your income with your reasonable monthly expenses to see if you can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas.
Median Income Levels for Nevada
Nevada Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Nevada
Nevada 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)|
Nevada Bankruptcy Forms
Most of the forms you will submit to the Court to start your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in NEvada are the same forms that are in use across the entire country. There are two local Nevada bankruptcy forms you will have to prepare to submit to the court when filing bankruptcy in Las Vegas: The creditor matrix and the verification of creditor matrix. Since the format of the creditor matrix is very specific, take advantage of the guidance the Court provides on its website.
Think of exemptions as "protections." Certain types of your property are considered untouchable by your creditors, even if you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas. They protect assets that you may need to work and live during and after your bankruptcy process. Most bankruptcy laws are federal laws, which means that they apply to every Bankruptcy Court proceeding in the country, including Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Las Vegas. But exemptions are also subject to state law. In Nevada, state law is applied instead of the federal law and, in some cases, Nevada bankruptcy exemptions are more favorable to you than the federal exemptions.