Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz.
Updated August 18, 2020
Let's face it, in Brooklyn we go hard. And sometimes, a little too hard. And that can lead to a little trouble down the line financially. But there is nothing to be ashamed about; it can happen to the best of us. Especially if your debts are not from recreation, say you are using credit cards just to get by day-to-day, there are options for you to leave that lifestyle in the past and get some relief. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Brooklyn, New York will allow you to be relieved of your credit card debt and medical bills without having to give up property like your car. This will allow you to live a debt-free and normal life. Now there are some misconceptions about bankruptcy like you will not be able to ever get credit again. The truth is that bankruptcy allows you to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. It is simply a mark on your credit report, not a bar from getting credit. You can even get help for free using Upsolve or one of the legal aid organizations in your area, if you qualify. This guide will walk you through the bankruptcy process, letting you know what forms you need to fill out, where to file them, and what happens before, during and after your Brooklyn bankruptcy. This process should take you anywhere from 4-6 months.
Brooklyn Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Sometimes we don’t not want to go through these types of matters alone. In New York, we are surrounded by thousands of resources that are available at our fingertips. Thankfully, attorneys in the New York region are not in shortage. In fact, New York has the most attorneys in the nation. So, if you do need an attorney to assist you in your Brooklyn bankruptcy, you will most certainly be able to find a qualified bankruptcy attorney. A Brooklyn bankruptcy lawyer cost anywhere between $965 and $1,550 for a typical Chapter 7 case. This price includes the initial consultation, which is typically free, drafting all the bankruptcy forms, appearance at your 341 meeting, and representation through your discharge. Not only will having an attorney give you peace of mind throughout this process, but you will be in the hands of a qualified professional and not have to worry about the nuances of state and federal bankruptcy law. The bankruptcy attorney will educate you on everything you need to know about the process, help you retain most or hopefully all of your property, and see to it that your debts are wiped out. In the initial consultation, be sure to give your attorney any information that would be helpful; tell them about your debts, how you got into debt, and what you would like the outcome to be. The attorney will, in turn, advise you on the pros and cons of filing bankruptcy in Brooklyn.
How to File Bankruptcy in Brooklyn, New York for Free
Although a lawyer may be helpful, you have all the available resources you need to file your Brooklyn bankruptcy on your own. All of the bankruptcy forms you need to fill out are available for free online and all the financial information you need are at your fingertips (your paystubs, income tax returns, bank statements, and monthly bills). Follow the steps below to get an in depth look at what you need to do to get your discharge.
Collect Your Brooklyn Bankruptcy Documents
Preparation is key when filing bankruptcy in Brooklyn. Before you start filling out the bankruptcy forms, you will need your pay stubs, income tax returns, and bank statements. Also helpful in this process are your monthly bills or any collection notices you may have received from past due bills. If you don’t have your pay stubs, you can request them from your employer or from your employer’s payroll servicer. If you don’t have your tax returns, you can request them by mail or via the web from the IRS. Finally, since you’ll need to give the Court a list of all of your creditors, even the ones that don’t send you any bills anymore, it’s always a good idea to request a copy of your credit report.
Take Credit Counseling
Before you can file your Brooklyn bankruptcy, you are required to take a credit counseling course. The course must be completed in the 180 days before you file for bankruptcy. This course is a condition to filing because it will educate you on the alternatives to dealing with your debt (including bankruptcy). You are able to take the course online, over the phone, or in-person. The nearest Brooklyn credit counseling courses are given by Money Management International, Inc. located at:
903 Sheridan Avenue 2nd Floor Suite #1
Bronx , NY 10451
English and Spanish
161-10 Jamaica Ave Ste. 407
Jamaica , NY 11435
English and Spanish
1501 Broadway, 12th Floor Office 12021
New York , NY 10036
You don’t have to use this provider, however, as long as the company you’re ultimately choosing is approved to offer the course to people filing bankruptcy in Brooklyn. Once you have completed this course, you will receive a completion certificate that will be submitted to the Court with your bankruptcy forms.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The Brooklyn bankruptcy forms will require you to give in-depth details about your financial situation. Filling out the forms will be the most time consuming part of this whole process. It is helpful to have your pay stubs, income tax returns, and bank statements handy before you start filling out the forms. The Court provides a helpful guide to assist you in the process; this will help ensure you fill out all the right forms!
Get Your Filing Fee
The fee for individuals and married couples filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Brooklyn is $338. This probably leaves no money left for a Nathan’s Hot Dog or a slice at Spumoni Gardens. But, the good news is, there is some relief. If paying the filing fee in a lump sum is not feasible for you, you can file an application to the Court to pay your fee in installments. In the application, you will give information about your income and expenses and explain why you can’t make the lump sum payment. A judge will make a determination whether your application should be granted. If you can’t make any payments at the time of your filing and you earn less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, you can file a fee waiver application. The process is the same as making an application to pay in installments. The judge may grant the application based upon what information you provide in the application, or propose an installment plan. Either way, the filing of your New York bankruptcy will require either full payment of the fee, an installment plan or a fee waiver.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Once you have completed your bankruptcy forms, you will need to print them and submit them to the Court. You should print two versions of your Brooklyn bankruptcy forms, one-sided. If you don’t have a printer at home, feel free to utilize the number of branches in the New York Library system. In Brooklyn, there are 58 local branches you can go to print your forms at a nominal cost. If you prefer, you can also utilize a Kinkos or Staples.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
If you are filing bankruptcy in Brooklyn, you will go to the federal courthouse at Cadman Plaza. The street address is 271-C Cadman Plaza East, Suite 1595, Brooklyn. You can find all the information you need about the courthouse on the Court’s website. The Court is open on weekdays from 9AM - 4:30PM and closed on weekends and federal holidays. When you arrive at the courthouse, you will go through metal detectors. Security is monitored by federal marshals. Electronics are not allowed and will be kept at security until your departure. Once through security, you will go to the bankruptcy clerk’s office to file your forms and pay your filing fee. The bankruptcy clerk will review your forms, making sure you have them all and that they are all signed.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
The Trustee is a legal representative of your unsecured creditors based on the guidelines set forth by the Office of the U.S. Trustee. A Trustee is assigned to very Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Brooklyn; they use the information provided in your forms along with your pay stubs, income tax returns, and bank statements to verify your financial situation and detect fraud on the bankruptcy system. The Trustee will also work on your behalf to get back any money you paid to creditors after you filed for bankruptcy and sell any eligible property to pay your debts. You have at least 10 days before your 341 meeting to send the Trustee your documents (your pay stubs, income tax returns, and bank statements). Check with the local US Trustee’s office to determine how to get in touch with your Trustee if you don’t hear from them directly within a couple of weeks after filing bankruptcy in Brooklyn. Make sure to find out what method would be best for sending your documents (mail, fax, or email).
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
As you did before filing bankruptcy in Brooklyn, you will have to take a course after you file. The financial management course will teach you strategies on how to manage your money after bankruptcy. This one hour course can be taken on-line, over the phone or in person from any one of the approved providers. You may opt for the remote courses as the nearest in-person course is located in Hauppauge, Suffolk County.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 Meeting is typically the only Court appearance you will have to make as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Brooklyn. Here, you will meet with your Trustee who will ask you any questions they may have regarding the information you provided in your bankruptcy forms. Your creditors also have the option to show up and ask you questions, but rarely ever do. 341 Meetings in Brooklyn are held at 271-C Cadman Plaza East, Room 2579 in Brooklyn, the same place you went to file your New York bankruptcy case. They usually last 10-15 minutes. Be sure to bring your driver’s license and original social security card to this meeting.
Dealing with Your Car
Depending on where you live in Brooklyn, a car may not be your preferred method of transportation. But if it is, you’re probably wondering, how am I going to get around; will I lose my car? When you file your Brooklyn bankruptcy and either own or lease or car, you have options (whether you want to keep or ditch your car). If you want to keep your car and you own it, you will need to plan to claim a state or federal exemption on it. Exemptions are part of pre-bankruptcy planning and help protect your property. If you have an existing loan or lease and would like to continue making payments, you can. Lenders will often agree to this with the condition that if you do not pay, they can not only repossess your car but also sue you on the reaffirmed debt. If your car is worth less than what you owe, you may consider giving it back to your lender, or redeeming it for its current value.
New York Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Brooklyn
New York Means Test
The New York bankruptcy Means Test is probably the most confusing part of the Brooklyn bankruptcy process. Using your income as a gauge, the Means Test will weigh your income and expenses compared to your debts and determine if you would be able to pay back at least some of your debts over time. If your income is below the state median income for your family size, you pass the New York bankruptcy Means Test and do not have to do anything further to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Brooklyn.
Median Income Levels for New York
New York Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for New York
New York Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
New York Bankruptcy Forms
The New York bankruptcy forms are your financial biography. The forms provide for every “chapter” of your financial situation - your income, your expenses, the property you own, your debts, your anticipated inheritance, you name it! The Brooklyn bankruptcy schedules will break these components up into digestible formats for the Court. For example, Schedule I is where you will give a breakdown of your income. Schedule J is where you will give a breakdown of your expenses, and so on. The hardest parts of completing these forms is being inclusive. Use the fillable pdf format to your advantage and consider doing a rough draft of your forms before submitting the final version to the Court.
New York Exemptions
Simply put, the New York bankruptcy exemptions protect your property. Therefore, before you file your Brooklyn bankruptcy, you should be thinking about what property you want to protect from your creditors and what exemptions will protect it. In New York, you have access to the state and federal bankruptcy exemptions, but can only use one or the other. The most notable state exemption in New York is the Homestead Exemption, which is much more generous in protecting your home, providing for a $165,550 exemption in equity.