New York Bankruptcy

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Summary

Although it may be a worthwhile investment, folks filing bankruptcy in New York do not have to hire a lawyer to do so. Additionally, if your income is below a certain amount, and you cannot pay the court filing fee of $335 even if given the chance to make payments, you can apply for a fee waiver, which, once granted, allows you to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York for free.

Whether you live in the city or elsewhere in the Empire State, worrying about your debt load can be a significant burden on you and your family. Even though New York is home to some of the more spectacular bankruptcy cases, such as the case filed by the Lehman Brothers following its collapse in 2008, or the Texaco bankruptcy filed in 1987, it's important to understand that by and large, New York bankruptcy options are available to all New Yorkers who are struggling financially. Although it may feel like you are giving up if you take advantage of the protections the bankruptcy laws offer, you should not look at it this way. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York may be the most responsible option for you, your family, and your creditors, who are otherwise just competing with one another over money you can't afford to pay them.

How to File Bankruptcy in New York for Free

Although it may be a worthwhile investment, folks filing bankruptcy in New York do not have to hire a lawyer to do so. Additionally, if your income is below a certain amount, and you cannot pay the court filing fee of $335 even if given the chance to make payments, you can apply for a fee waiver, which, once granted, allows you to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York for free.


Collect Your New York Bankruptcy Documents

The first step in preparing to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York is to collect your bankruptcy documents. These are the documents you will need when completing your bankruptcy forms. In order to make sure that you properly schedule all of your debts, you should get a copy of your credit report from each one of the three bureaus. You are entitled to a free copy of your report from each one of them every year, and the request can be made onlinein just a few minutes. Additionally, you should also collect all collection notices and any correspondence from you have received in the last 90 days from debt collectors and collection agencies as some of them may not yet appear on your credit report. Remember, just because a debt is not (yet) listed on your credit report does not mean you are not responsible for paying it. You will also need your two most recent income tax returns as filed with the IRS and each paycheck stub you received in the last 6 months. Since your bank statements will proof useful in creating your budget for your life after filing Chapter 7 in New York, you should collect at least the two most recent ones for each one of your accounts.

Take Credit Counseling

Everyone filing bankruptcy in New York has to be eligible to be a debtor in a New York bankruptcy case first. One of the requirements everyone has to meet in order to be eligible is the completion of a credit counseling course. This course takes about 1 - 2 hours and can be taken online, by phone, or, depending on where you live, in person. The company you use to complete this requirement must be pre-approved to offer it for to debtors planning on filing bankruptcy in New York. The Office of the United States Trustee handles the approval process, and publishes a current listing of all approved providers on their website. The purpose of the course is to make sure you know about all of the options available for folks struggling with debt. It can be completed at any point in the 6 months before your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York is filed. Once done, you will receive a certificate of completion that you will need to file with the court along with the rest of your bankruptcy forms. Ideally, print the certificate as soon as you receive it and put it with the bankruptcy docs you have already collected so you don't have to hunt for it in your email inbox later.

Complete the Bankruptcy Forms

This is probably the most technical part of getting ready to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York. The forms that are filed with the court in order to commence your case are, by and large, based on national bankruptcy forms. In addition to the Voluntary Petition, you have to complete Schedules A - J, a Statement of Financial Affairs, a Statement of Intentions, and more. If you are eligible to file through Upsolve, we will handle the technical parts after collecting all of the necessary information from you. If you are thinking of completing the forms on your own without anyone's help, make sure to download and review the 49 page instructions manualfor important information about each one of the bankruptcy forms. Of course, if you hired a lawyer to assist you in the process of filing bankruptcy in New York, they will do the heavy lifting in drafting all your bankruptcy forms based on the information you provide to their office. Regardless of which process you choose, makes sure to take your time and be diligent and thorough in answering all of the questions. You will be signing these documents under penalty of perjury before they are filed with the court, and errors or omissions can delay or even prevent the entry of your discharge.

Get Your Filing Fee

The court filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York is $335. If you are not eligible to apply for a fee waiver, but are having a hard time coming up with the fee all at once while creditors are still able to collect from you, you can file an application to pay the court filing fee in installments. This will allow you to get your New York bankruptcy case filed, and immediately initiates the automatic stay which prohibits your creditors from taking any further action against you. This will give you up to four months to pay the total court filing fee, though if you can, you should pay the full amount as soon as possible. That is because a single missed payment can cause the court to throw out your case altogether, putting you right back to where you started before filing Chapter 7 in New York. If you can, you should pay the full fee at the time your case is filed to eliminate the risk of dismissal. The best payment method, accepted at all bankruptcy courts, is a money order. You can purchase a money order for $1.25 at a U.S. Post Office near you.

If you have a lawyer assisting you for your bankruptcy case, they will review the information with you and show you where to sign, then file everything with the court via the court's electronic filing system. If you are filing bankruptcy in New York without a lawyer, you cannot use the electronic filing system and have to file a paper version of your bankruptcy forms with the court. In order to make sure you don't miss anything, it's a great idea to print a checklist like this one to keep you organized as you go through everything. If you are in the Western District of New York, you have to bring three copies in addition to your original bankruptcy forms to the court. You can either print everything four times, or, better yet, print everything once, sign where necessary then make four copies; three to file with the court and one to keep for your own records. Folks in the Eastern District are required to bring one original and one copy to the court to commence their Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York. If you are filing in either the Northern or Southern Districts, only your original is needed, but it's a good idea to call the clerk's office before heading down there to confirm that this is accurate. Either way, you should have a hardcopy of everything you give to the court for your own records, so you can refer to it later if needed.

Go to Court to File Your Forms

The county you live in determines which district your New York bankruptcy will be filed in. You can go to any of the courts located in your district to file your forms, even if your case is ultimately assigned to a different division within the district. If you are not familiar with the part of town the courthouse is located in, make sure to figure out what your parking options are before you head out. Chances are, you're already stressed and nervous about filing bankruptcy in New York in the first place, the last thing you want to worry about is where to park when you get there. The clerk's office is the department within the court that will handle the filing. It tends to be busiest during the lunch hour and towards the end of the day, so if possible, plan to go there another time to avoid standing in a long line. Finally, keep in mind you will enter a federal building to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York and will have to pass through a security check on the way in.

Mail Documents to Your Trustee

You will receive the name and contact information for your trustee a few days after your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York has been filed with the court. The trustee's job is to administer your case, make sure that you are not hiding anything, and review the circumstances surrounding your case to determine whether your creditors are entitled to a disbursement. Even though your tax returns are not actually filed with the court, you must provide a copy of your most recent federal income tax return to your trustee so he has it at least 7 days before the date set for your meeting of creditors. Everyone filing bankruptcy in New York has to submit their tax return to their trustee. Additionally, some trustees mail out a letter requesting certain other documents, such as paycheck stubs and bank account statements, from debtors whose case they are administering. Keep an eye out for any such request from your trustee and make sure you follow the instructions provided with respect to how and when to submit everything to the trustee's office. Although trustees do not represent the people filing Chapter 7 in New York, everyone who does file a Chapter 7 case must cooperate with their trustee.

Take Bankruptcy Course 2

You took a credit counseling course before your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York was filed in order to be eligible to be a debtor in bankruptcy. Now that your case has been filed, you have to take bankruptcy course 2 in order to be eligible to receive your discharge. This course focuses on financial management tools and aims to help folks filing bankruptcy in New York take full advantage of their fresh start, while managing their finances responsibly. The course itself only takes about 1 - 2 hours and, as before, can be taken online, over the phone, or in person. If you were happy with the company you used to complete the first bankruptcy course, you should find out if they are approved to offer the financial management course to folks filing bankruptcy in New York as well. If so, you can go through them again for this second course and may even be able to get a discount for taking both classes with them. If not, check out the list of providers approved to offer this course for New York bankruptcy cases published by the Office of the United States Trustee.

Attend Your 341 Meeting

Everyone filing bankruptcy in New York has to attend a meeting of creditors, often referred to as the 341 meeting because that is the section of the Bankruptcy Code that requires it. You will find out the date and time your meeting will take place on the same notice that has your trustee's contact information. It's important to put this on your calendar right away, and make the necessary childcare arrangements, so you don't miss the meeting, because your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York may be dismissed prematurely if you do not appear. The trustee that is handling your case will be asking you some questions about the information contained in your bankruptcy forms and your financial situation generally. Not much preparation is needed, though it is helpful to review all of the bankruptcy forms you filed with the court to refresh your memory before the meeting. Make sure to bring an acceptable form of identification and proof of your social security number, as the trustee will not be able to actually conduct the meeting without that. While your creditors are invited to attend the meeting as well, that does not usually happen.

Dealing with Your Car

Unless you happen to live in the city, chances are you need your car to get around, whether that's to and from work, school, the grocery store or wherever. Filing bankruptcy in New York gives you the opportunity to deal with your car in a way that makes sense for you. If you are struggling to make the car payment every month and/or the balance owing on the loan far exceeds the actual value of your vehicle, it may make sense to give the vehicle back to the bank. Such a surrender is possible in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York because the discharge will prohibit the bank from asking you to pay any balance left owing on the loan after the vehicle is sold at auction. If you like your car and the loan makes sense both in terms of your ability to make the monthly payments and the balance left owing, you can keep everything the way it is by entering into reaffirmation agreement. Since this means that you will continue to be responsible for the full balance left on the loan, you should only do this if the car is in decent condition and you can make the payment every month without problem. Some people filing Chapter 7 in New York are able to redeem a car encumbered by a loan with a balance significantly higher than the value of the car by paying only what it's actually worth, and discharging the remaining balance. If you own your car outright, then everything stays the same as long as the available exemption is high enough to cover its full value.

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New York Bankruptcy Means Test

Not everyone who wants to file a Chapter 7 in New York is actually eligible to do so under the New York bankruptcy means test. The means test calculation is necessary is to ensure that only folks that truly cannot pay even a portion of their debts are able to obtain relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. If you are below the applicable income limits for New York, you pass the means test, meaning you are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York. If your income is higher than what is allowed, you may nevertheless qualify for Chapter 7 after completing part two of the New York means test for bankruptcy.

Data on Median income levels for New York

New York Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2019
Household SizeMonthly IncomeAnnual Income
1$4,611.08$55,333.00
2$5,945.25$71,343.00
3$6,990.58$83,887.00
4$8,532.00$102,384.00
5$9,282.00$111,384.00
6$10,032.00$120,384.00
7$10,782.00$129,384.00
8$11,532.00$138,384.00
9$12,282.00$147,384.00
10$13,032.00$156,384.00

Data on Poverty levels for New York

New York Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2019
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
Household SizeState Poverty LevelFee Waiver Limit (150% PL)
1$1,040.83$1,561.25
2$1,409.17$2,113.75
3$1,777.50$2,666.25
4$2,145.83$3,218.75
5$2,514.17$3,771.25
6$2,882.50$4,323.75
7$3,250.83$4,876.25
8$3,619.17$5,428.75
9$3,987.50$5,981.25
10$4,355.83$6,533.75
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New York Bankruptcy Forms

Since New York bankruptcy cases are filed in federal court, a majority of the New York bankruptcy forms are national forms used in bankruptcy cases across the United States. While the clerk's office may not be able to provide you with the official forms, you can downloadeach one of them, for free, as a fillable PDF. Additionally, each one of the of the bankruptcy districts in the Empire State has created certain local forms for use in cases filed within each the district. These New York bankruptcy forms are available for download on the individual web pages for the four districts.

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Eastern District of New York Requirements

If you live in this district, make sure to bring a copy of your original bankruptcy forms to the court when first filing your case as two complete sets of everything are needed. If you don’t file all of the bankruptcy documents needed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York at the time you file your Voluntary Petition, you must include this affidavit when filing the remainder of your bankruptcy forms. If you amend (change) your claimed exemptions after filing your case, the Local Rules in this District require you to send a copy of the amended Schedule C to your case trustee, the United States Trustee, and all of your creditors, and further mandates that the amendment is not effective until you file proof that you served all required parties, which must be done within 7 days of first filing the amendment.

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Northern District of New York Requirements

The Northern District is comprised of the 32 counties in Upstate New York and is divided into three divisions, headquartered in Albany, Utica and Syracuse, respectively. The county you live in determines which divisional office your case will be assigned to. If you are filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York without a lawyer ("pro se") make sure to review this local rule setting forth the duties imposed on unrepresented parties.

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Southern District of New York Requirements

This district has jurisdiction over all New York bankruptcy cases filed by residents of the Bronx, Dutchess, New York, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester counties, and has concurrent jurisdiction over Greene and Ulster counties. It has locations in Manhattan, Poughkeepsie, and White Plains and is currently handling 80 so-called mega cases. This district requires individuals filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York to submit all paycheck stubs received within the 60 days before their case was filed to their case trustee by the date set for the first meeting of creditors, instead of filing them with the court.

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Western District of New York Requirements

The Western District of New York is one of the few districts in the nation that requires people filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York without an attorney ("pro se") to provide the court three full copies of all bankruptcy forms in addition to the original signed forms upon filing their case. It has offices in Buffalo and Rochester but holds 341 meetings in a variety of locations within the district. If you have to update any information in your forms by filing an amendment, make sure to file this coversheet along with the amended documents, and follow the instructions regarding service on the bottom of the form.

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New York Bankruptcy Exemptions

Everything you own is considered an asset in your New York bankruptcy, though only assets not protected by any of the available exemptions can be sold for the benefit of your creditors. As long as all of your assets are covered by the exemptions you choose to use, you can keep everything. If you have lived in the Empire State for at least 2 years when your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York is filed, you are able to choose either New York bankruptcy exemptions or federal bankruptcy exemptions to protect your property.

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New York Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost

Hiring a New York bankruptcy lawyer will likely cost you somewhere between $965 and $1,550, which is higher than the national average. Keep in mind, however, if you are having a hard time lining up the assets in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York with the exemptions available to you, the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer may be a good investment to make in order to protect as much of your property as the New York bankruptcy laws allow.

  • Attorney cost estimate: $965 – $1,550

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If hiring a lawyer to help you with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York is simply not something you can afford, you can seek assistance from one of the organizations offering free legal aid in New York. Since the law only entitles people dealing with a criminal matter to free legal representation, New York legal aid organizations assist low-income New Yorkers with a variety of civil matters, including New York bankruptcy matters.

Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Inc.
(315) 793-7000
268 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13502

Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Inc.
(518) 462-6765
95 Central Avenue, Albany, NY 12206

Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc.
(315) 781-1465
361 South Main Street, Geneva, NY 14456

Legal Services NYC
(212) 431-7200
40 Worth Street, Suite 606, New York, NY 10013-9998

Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Committee, Inc.
(516) 292-8100
One Helen Keller Way, 5th Floor, Hempstead, NY 11550

Upsolve
Nationwide Service (NYC Office)

Upsolve Location
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New York Court Locations

Conrad B. Duberstein United States Bankruptcy Courthouse
347-394-1700
271-C Cadman Plaza East Brooklyn, NY 11201

Conrad B. Duberstein United States Bankruptcy Courthouse

Alfonse M. D'Amato United States Courthouse
631-712-6200
Federal Plaza Central Islip, NY 11722

Alfonse M. D'Amato United States Courthouse

Alexander Hamilton Custom House
212-668-2870
One Bowling Green New York, NY 10004

Alexander Hamilton Custom House

Charles L. Brieant, Jr. United States Courthouse
914-467-7250
300 Quarropas Street White Plains, NY 10601

Charles L. Brieant, Jr. United States Courthouse

United States Courthouse
845-452-4200
355 Main Street Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

United States Courthouse

Olympic Towers
716-362-3200
300 Pearl Street Buffalo, NY 14202

Olympic Towers

Kenneth B. Keating Federal Building
585-613-4200
100 State Street Rochester, NY 14614

Kenneth B. Keating Federal Building

James M. Hanley Federal Building
315-295-1600
100 South Clinton Street Syracuse, NY 13261

James M. Hanley Federal Building

Alexander Pirnie Federal Building
315-793-8101
10 Broad Street Utica, NY 13501

Alexander Pirnie Federal Building

James T. Foley United States Courthouse
518-257-1661
445 Broadway Albany, NY 12207

James T. Foley United States Courthouse
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New York Judges

New York Bankruptcy Judges
DistrictJudge Name
Eastern District of New YorkHon. Carla E. Craig
Eastern District of New YorkHon. Robert E. Grossman
Eastern District of New YorkHon. Nancy Hershey Lord
Eastern District of New YorkHon. Louis A. Scarcella
Eastern District of New YorkHon. Elizabeth S. Stong
Eastern District of New YorkHon. Alan S. Trust
Northern District of New YorkHon. Margaret Ruiz
Northern District of New YorkHon. Robert E. Littlefield
Northern District of New YorkHon. Diane Davis
Southern District of New YorkHon. Cecelia G. Morris
Southern District of New YorkHon. Stuart M. Bernstein
Southern District of New YorkHon. Shelley C. Chapman
Southern District of New YorkHon. Robert D. Drain
Southern District of New YorkHon. James L. Garrity Jr.
Southern District of New YorkHon. Martin Glenn
Southern District of New YorkHon. Robert E. Grossman
Southern District of New YorkHon. Sean H. Lane
Southern District of New YorkHon. Mary Kay Vyskocil
Southern District of New YorkHon. Michael E. Wiles
Western District of New YorkHon. Carl L. Bucki
Western District of New YorkHon. Michael J. Kaplan
Western District of New YorkHon. Paul R. Warren
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New York Trustees

New York Trustees
TrusteeContact Info
R. Kenneth Barnard
(516) 809-9397
David J. Doyaga
(718) 488-7500
Lori Lapin Jones
(516) 466-4110
Kenneth I. Kirschenbaum
(516)747-6700
Debra Kramer
(516) 482-6300
Paul I. Krohn
(718)875-7431
Richard J. McCord
(516)794-1616
Allan B. Mendelsohn
(516)921-1670
Gregory M. Messer
(718)858-1474
Robert J. Musso
(718)237-9059
Alan Nisselson
(212)237-1000
John S. Pereira
(212)758-5777
Marc A. Pergament
(516)877-2424
Robert L. Pryor
(516)997-0999
Kenneth P. Silverman
(516)479-6300
Richard L. Stern
(631)549-7900
Andrew M. Thaler
(516) 279-6700
James C. Collinscollinslawoffice@aol.com
(607)692-3344
Philip J. Danaher
(518)463-4383
Christian H. Dribuschcdribusch@chdlaw.net
(518) 729-4331
Marc S. Ehrlich
(518)272-2110
Mary Lannon Fangio
(315)472-7832
Thomas P. Hughes
(315)223-3043
William J. Leberman
(315) 478-1334
Paul A. Levine
(518)433-8800
William M. McCarthy
(518)434-6141
Michael J. O'Connor
(518)465-0400
Randy J. Schaal
(315)363-6888
Douglas J. Wolinskydwolinsky@ppelaw.com
(802)864-0880
Ian J. GazesIan@GazesLLC.com
(646) 662-0626
Robert L. Geltzer
(212)410-0100
Yann Geron
(212) 209-3050
Salvatore LaMonica
(516) 826-6500
Howard P. Magaliff
(646) 453-7851
Jil Mazer-Marinojmazermarino@msek.com
(516) 741-6565
Gregory M. Messer
(718)858-1474
Alan Nisselson
(212)237-1000
Marianne T. O'Toole
(914) 232-1511
John S. Pereira
(212)758-5777
Deborah J. Piazza
(212) 216-1140
Kenneth P. Silverman
(516)479-6300
Fred Stevensfstevens@klestadt.com
(212) 679-5342
Angela G. Tese-Milner
(212) 475-3673
Albert Togut
(212)594-5000
Mark S. Tulis
(914) 747-4400
Michael H. Arnold
(585) 295-4310
Daniel Evans Brick
(716)693-2335
Wendy J. Christophersen
(716) 852-7373
Thomas A. Doreytdorey@stny.rr.com
(716) 763-7023
Kenneth W. Gordon
(585)244-1070
Morris L. Horwitzmorris.horwitz@gmail.com
(716)830-3279
Douglas J. Lustig
(585)232-3730
Mark J. Schlant
(716)855-3200
Mark S. Wallachmswtrustee@gmail.com
(716)852-1835
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