Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice.
Updated August 17, 2020
The biggest little city in the world has a big bankruptcy presence. There are many recent examples of companies in Reno, Nevada, filing for bankruptcy such as Bristlecone Holdings’ Chapter 11 in 2017, and Chapter 7 liquidations for Lumber Designs Corporation, Certified Pacific Contractors, Inc. in 2019 and Capstak, Inc. in 2018. Occasionally one company’s misfortune creates a windfall for another, like Reno-based Eldorado Resorts’ recent acquisition of Caesars, adding to one of the biggest gaming ventures in the United States, after Caesars was unable to recover from its 2017 Chapter 11. The financial relief (and opportunities) that these companies received is available to individuals (and married couples filing jointly) in Reno as well. Renoites who are experiencing financial hardship can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 for an individual is much like a Chapter 7 for a company, as the purpose is liquidation of unprotected property. An individual Chapter 7 allows for you to walk away from most(if not all) of your debts and get a fresh start to move forward. Chapter 7 is fairly quick, often only taking four to six months from filing your case to receiving your discharge and having the case closed. Chapter 13, however, is more like a personal Chapter 11. Chapter 13 involves a repayment plan that runs for between three and five years and works as a reorganization. Chances are your circumstances, as well as understanding the treatment in bankruptcy for different kinds of debts, will dictate which type of bankruptcy you decide to file. If the bulk (or all) of your debts is unsecured (meaning not tied to a specific item), like medical bills and credit card bills, Chapter 7 may be the way to go. If, however, you have secured debt (meaning the debt is tied to a particular item) like a mortgage on your house or a loan on your car that you want to catch up on, you might instead decide to file Chapter 13. It's important to note, however, that in any bankruptcy, some debts are termed non-dischargeable, such as child support, alimony, and most government debts, so you'll need a plan to continue paying those obligations regardless. You can get free assistance with bankruptcy from legal aid organizations, whether you are trying to decide if it's right for you or you need help with the case itself. If your circumstances lead to a straightforward Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Reno you might be eligible to move forward with free help from Upsolve for your Nevada bankruptcy.
Reno Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
It's natural for your first instinct to be to find an attorney to help you out with filing bankruptcy in Reno. It's also common to feel sticker shock at the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer, which runs between $1,100 and $1,500 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Reno. If this feels like an impossible hurdle to get financial relief, don’t despair. There are some options to pursue if you can’t afford the cost of an attorney to assist you. First, most bankruptcy attorneys offer a free initial consultation, so don’t need to commit right away. Next, there are legal aid organizations that offer free assistance. And now with Upsolve, there is a third option. If you are eligible for help from Upsolve we can partner with you to help you file your case on your own (known as filing “pro se”) and help you along the way through a successful case and achieving financial relief.
How to File Bankruptcy in Reno, Nevada for Free
Upsolve can show you how to file bankruptcy in Reno for little or no cost. You can avoid paying attorney fees and still have a successful Reno bankruptcy by having Upsolve guide you through the process, beginning with the below steps:
Collect Your Reno Bankruptcy Documents
Your first step is to collect the documents you need to show your eligibility to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Reno, as well as the documents you need to fill out the paperwork. You need to have the past sixty days of pay stubs (or other proof of income), your income taxes from the past two years (federal and state), and recent financial statements for any accounts (bank accounts, etc.). You'll also need to list all of your property (assets) and all of your debts (liabilities) in your Reno bankruptcy forms. For the debts, you may want to order a free copy of your credit report to make sure you properly list all your creditors and their addresses.
Take Credit Counseling
Next, you'll need to complete the first of two required credit counseling courses as part of your Reno bankruptcy. The first course needs to be completed before you can file your Nevada bankruptcy. It's important to confirm that you are using an approved agency for each course. Most agencies provide only online or phone appointments to take the courses. If you prefer to go in person, there is one agency with a location directly in Reno, Money Management International, located on Kietzke Lane.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The next and probably most time-consuming task is to complete your Reno bankruptcy paperwork. You'll need to fill out all of the federal bankruptcy forms as well as whichever local forms might apply to you for a complete set of Nevada bankruptcy paperwork. You can find links to pdf copies all of the forms on the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Nevada’s official website if you want to fill out all of the forms yourself. You can also go through a questionnaire from Upsolve. We will then populate your answers into the proper forms which may save you some time.
Get Your Filing Fee
After completing all of your paperwork you'll need to deal with the filing fee. The Nevada bankruptcy filing fee for Chapter 7 is $335. The fee must be paid in full when filing bankruptcy in Reno, in cash (exact amount) or by certified funds (money order or cashier’s check.) If you feel that you can’t afford the filing fee and can show that you earn less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines you can apply to waive the filing fee in its entirety. If you simply can’t afford to pay it all at once you can apply to pay the filing fee in installments. If you do decide to pay in installments, make certain that you are within the guidelines (four or fewer installments) and timeline (within 120 days of filing your case) or you'll risk having your case dismissed.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
The last task before you are ready to file your Reno bankruptcy is to print out your forms. There are specific local rules that require the original forms as well as an additional copy, which is returned to you, so make certain to have both. If you have a printer at home or work you can print out both copies, just be certain to print the forms single-sided as the Court will not accept double-sided paperwork for your Nevada bankruptcy. If you don’t have easy access to a printer you can go to any branch of the Downtown Reno branch of the Washoe County Public Library system for printing services or try a local Office Depot.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
The Nevada Bankruptcy Court has two locations where you can file your Nevada bankruptcy. Conveniently, one is directly in Reno, located on Booth Street. It's best to file the forms for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Reno in person just in case there are any small issues to address or mistakes to correct. You'll also get your own time-stamped copy of the documents at this time. The Court is open weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm but closed on federal holidays so be sure to check the calendar before heading out. Also, be certain to bring along your filing fee (or application to waive or pay in installments) and the certificate of completion from your first credit counseling course.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Reno is filed you'll be assigned to a bankruptcy Trustee to oversee your case. You'll receive an official notice with your Trustee assignment and 341 meeting date shortly after filing bankruptcy in Reno. Your Trustee will also send out a letter listing specific documents they need before your hearing. You should have a copy of your federal income tax return ready to go from the last tax year. The Trustee will need this (and any other documents requested) at least seven days before your scheduled meeting. It's important not to miss this deadline as it might delay your meeting and the entry of your discharge order.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
While you are waiting to attend your 341 Meeting is a great time to take the second credit counseling course required for your Nevada bankruptcy. Just like with the first course you'll need to use one of the approved agencies. For this course, there are no local agencies that you can physically go to, but you'll be able to complete the course online or over the phone. When you have finished the course you need to make sure that the certificate of completion you get at the end is filed with the Court. You can file it at the same location where you originally filed your Reno bankruptcy.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The next, and most likely final, step in your Reno bankruptcy is to attend your 341 Meeting. It's perfectly normal to be a little nervous about this meeting, which might be lessened with some preparation. It can also help to know that this meeting is before your Trustee, not a judge, and tends to be pretty quick. The meeting may only last for ten to fifteen minutes as the Trustee asks you questions, under oath, to confirm all of the information in your Nevada bankruptcy paperwork is true and accurate. Make certain that you bring along the proper documents to verify your identity and social security number, otherwise, the meeting may have to be rescheduled. Once your Trustee states that they have concluded the hearing, you'll not need to complete any other tasks besides waiting for your notice of discharge and cooperating with your Trustee if they need anything else from you.
Dealing with Your Car
One question many people have is whether filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Reno will impact their car. The answer depends on several factors. First, if you are making payments on your car, are those payments current? If not you would need to surrender the car in Chapter 7 as there is no mechanism in place to catch up. The benefit of surrendering your car in bankruptcy is that in addition to freeing yourself from the continuing payment obligation, you can also walk away from any missed payments, late fees, and accrued interest. If you are making payments and they are current the lender may ask that you sign a reaffirmation agreement so that the obligation to continue making payments survives the bankruptcy. So long as the value of your car is an amount you can protect using exemptions, your car should not be at risk in your Reno bankruptcy.
Nevada Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Reno
Nevada Means Test
Before you can file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Reno, you need to show that you are eligible through the Means Test. You can pass the Nevada bankruptcy Means Test immediately if your income is less than the median income for a Nevada family of your size. You can also pass the Nevada bankruptcy Means Test by showing a more extensive calculation that examines your income and reasonable monthly expenses and shows that at the end of the month you have little or no income remaining.
Median Income Levels for Nevada
Nevada Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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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.
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Nevada Bankruptcy Forms
Your Nevada bankruptcy forms will need to include both the federal forms as well as any necessary local forms as outlined in the Court’s list of filing requirements. Also, remember that when filing bankruptcy in Reno you'll need to file your original forms plus one copy.
You'll be able to protect most (or possibly all) of your possessions during your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Reno through the use of exemptions. Nevada does not allow the use of federal bankruptcy exemptions, so anyone filing in Reno is limited to only using the Nevada bankruptcy exemptions.