Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
The Midwest may have a lower cost of living than some other areas of the U.S., but that doesn’t mean that living here is inexpensive. Hardworking, financially responsible adults too often find themselves struggling to meet their basic needs through no fault of their own. Ordinary household expenses can be difficult to pay for in and of themselves. When you add overwhelming debt to a family’s financial challenges, it can become impossible to get ahead, no matter how hard you work or how much you strive to cut costs. If this situation sounds very familiar to you, you may benefit from learning more about Ohio bankruptcy. Many people have discovered that filing bankruptcy in Akron allows them to refocus their efforts and resources on building a strong financial future. When it’s difficult to meet your immediate financial needs, it’s virtually impossible to build a resilient financial future. By allowing the Bankruptcy Court to eliminate your eligible debts, you’ll again be empowered to start looking ahead.
Filing for Akron bankruptcy may or may not be the best way to manage your family’s debts. Before you can make an informed decision about whether to file for bankruptcy and which kind of bankruptcy may work best in your situation, you’ll need to assess your financial situation. Filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13 reorganizes your debt so that it’s easier to make payments to your creditors every month. After paying your creditors back per the terms of your repayment plan for a few years, your remaining eligible debt balances will be eliminated. Filing bankruptcy under Chapter 7 eliminates many kinds of debt in as few as 90 days so that you don’t have to pay your creditors back anymore. Especially if you don’t earn much income, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be a debt relief worthy of your consideration.
Akron Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
If you’re thinking about filing bankruptcy in Akron, you should know that you likely won’t need to hire an attorney to successfully complete this process. Many people struggling with debt understandably wonder “How much does an Akron bankruptcy lawyer cost?” and worry about managing the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer. However, Court is well-aware that mostly low-income filers need bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7 and as a result, most of these filers can’t afford to hire bankruptcy assistance in Akron. The Court chooses to keep the process so accessible and straightforward that unless your finances are unusually complex, you can successfully file for bankruptcy on your own.
How to File Bankruptcy in Akron, Ohio for Free
You’re more likely to feel confident about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Akron if you learn what you can about the Ohio bankruptcy process first. Please review the following information about what you can expect if you decide to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7.
Collect Your Akron Bankruptcy Documents
Most people who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Akron have no experience with the bankruptcy process. They aren’t sure what the Court will ask of them and how they need to frame their answers. Because filing bankruptcy in Akron is a legal process, you need to be as accurate and precise as you can when filling out your bankruptcy paperwork. When the Court asks you about your debts, income, household expenses, and property, you shouldn’t guess if the Court is requesting specific information. For example, when the Court asks how much income you earned last year, you should report the income listed on your most recent tax return. By gathering that tax return, recent pay stubs, recent bank statements, and your current credit report together before you begin filling out your paperwork, you can better ensure that your answers to the Court’s questions will be appropriately accurate.
Take Credit Counseling
Before you commit to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Akron, the Court wants to make sure that you feel confident and informed about your decision. As a result, you’re not actually allowed to file for Akron bankruptcy until you complete a credit counseling course. Not all credit counseling courses provide the information the Court wants you to have. As a result, you must choose an option that has been approved by the Department of Justice for filers in the Northern District of Ohio. You can complete this requirement up to six months before you formally file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time. Many people feel overwhelmed when they first download all of the forms necessary for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Akron. Thankfully, if you’re willing to follow the directions carefully, the process of completing these forms is very manageable. You simply need to answer one question at a time. When you were first thinking about how to file bankruptcy in Akron, you probably had some expectations about what this process would be like. Now that you’re working through it, some aspects of the process may be harder than you thought but the majority are likely to be easier than you originally anticipated. Just remember to take some deep breaths on occasion and you’ll do just fine when working through your required paperwork.
Get Your Filing Fee
The potential cost of hiring an attorney isn’t the only monetary concern many individuals have when filing bankruptcy in Akron. Even when you can save money on legal fees by filing for bankruptcy without a lawyer’s help, the Court still requires filers to submit a $335 fee with their bankruptcy case. This isn’t an outrageous amount of money, but it’s still more than many low-income filers can hope to afford. Thankfully, the Akron Bankruptcy Court offers two solutions to help make meeting the filing fee requirement easier. Filers who live below 150% of the poverty line may submit a fee waiver request for the Court’s consideration. Filers who earn more than this income limit may request the Court’s permission to pay their fee in installments, which often makes meeting this requirement more manageable.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When was the last time you needed to physically print something out? If it has been a while, you may understandably be frustrated to learn that you can’t submit your Akron bankruptcy forms online. Instead, you have to physically print them and either file at the courthouse in Akron or send them to the Court via postal mail. You can either print blank forms to fill in by hand or print the completed forms. Either way, if you don’t have access to a printer, know that there are public printers at each of the 18 branches of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. You can use these printers for a small fee.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Did you know that there is a federal building and courthouse conveniently located in Akron? This means that you can easily file your bankruptcy paperwork in person without having to travel to another city to do so. The courthouse where you’ll go to file is located at 2 South Main Street. If you drive to the federal building, know that you’ll have to pay for parking because there is no free public lot available. Also, be prepared to walk through a metal detector upon arrival. Because government buildings only operate during the week and during business hours, you may need to adjust your schedule so you can arrive when the building is available for you to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Akron.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Many people choose to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Akron every year. As a result, the Court doesn’t have the time or resources to manage all aspects of every single case filed. It outsources some of the management duties related to this process to individuals referred to as Trustees. For the purposes of a Chapter 7 case, the primary duty of a Trustee is to conduct a meeting with the Ohio bankruptcy filer. This meeting (discussed below) is generally short, routine and not a reasonable source of stress. Once a Trustee is assigned to your case, you’ll be asked to forward that Trustee specific financial documents for their reference. These documents will likely include recent pay stubs and your most recent tax return.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Bankruptcy provides a fresh financial start for many filers. However, it’s frustratingly easy to find yourself back in debt within months of filing for bankruptcy. The Court is invested in making sure your financial future is strong and resilient. Therefore, it requires filers to participate in a personal financial management course near the end of the Akron bankruptcy process. The debtor education course you choose must be approved by the Department of Justice for filers in the Northern District of Ohio or your participation won’t fulfill the educational requirement. Hopefully, this course will help you create a solid financial foundation for your family.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Before the Court can enter a discharge order in your case, you’ll need to answer questions under oath during your 341 meeting. During this meeting, the Trustee that the Bankruptcy Court appointed when it learned you were filing bankruptcy in Akron will ask you questions about your finances for no more than 30 minutes. Chances are that the meeting will be far shorter than that, but you should plan for it to last this long. As long as you answer your Trustee’s questions honestly (and you don’t forget your photo ID and your social security card) you shouldn’t need to stress about this meeting. Especially for low-income filers who don’t have particularly complex debts, this meeting process is routine.
Dealing with Your Car
Because low-income filers are able to take advantage of so many generous exemptions when they’re filing bankruptcy in Akron, they don’t generally need to worry about their Trustee selling the property they already own. However, if you still owe on a car loan, the Trustee is not the only one with an interest in your car. As a result, it’s important to think about the following three options the Court provides to filers who are still responsible for payments on an auto loan. Your first option involves surrendering your car. This option allows you to return your car to your creditor so that you can be released from the responsibility of making any more payments on your loan. Your second option is called a redemption. This process involves paying the market value of your car a single payment to get clear title. If you don’t have the resources to do this but would like to keep your car, you can ask the Court for permission to reaffirm your debt. This means that you’ll continue to make payments per the terms of your loan. If you can’t explain how you’ll manage to accomplish this feat reliably, the Court may deny you permission to reaffirm your debt, so be prepared for this hurdle if reaffirming your debt is your ideal choice.
Ohio Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Akron
Ohio Means Test
Individuals and families who earn too much money according to income limits spelled out in the Bankruptcy Code aren’t eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Akron. The Ohio bankruptcy Means Test evaluates whether a household’s income and expenses make it eligible to file for debt-relief under Chapter 7. Those families who don’t pass this Ohio bankruptcy Means Test can speak to an experienced attorney about whether filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 might be a good alternative to filing under Chapter 7.
Median Income Levels for Ohio
Ohio Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Ohio
Ohio 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)|
Ohio Bankruptcy Forms
As you prepare to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Akron, know that all the forms you need to fill out are standard, federal forms. The Northern District doesn’t require filers to submit any specific Ohio bankruptcy forms that are local and unique to the District. This makes filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Akron even easier than it is in many other cities across the U.S.
When filing for Akron bankruptcy, you may understandably be concerned about keeping your property safe from creditors. By applying Ohio bankruptcy exemptions to eligible property, you can ensure that your Trustee won’t sell your stuff and use the profits to pay your creditors back. If you don’t earn much income and your property isn’t unusually valuable, the Ohio bankruptcy exemptions you will identify in your paperwork should protect most, if not all, of your possessions from being sold by your Trustee.