Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
It isn’t always easy to know whether filing for Ohio bankruptcy is the best debt relief option available in regard to any specific situation. If you’re struggling to pay your creditors and meet all of your household expenses, you may be thinking about filing bankruptcy in Toledo. But where to start? There are so many myths surrounding the bankruptcy process that it can sometimes be helpful to begin by separating fact from fiction. For example, some people are hesitant to file for bankruptcy because they have heard that the Bankruptcy Court will force them to sell all their property. This is fiction. Generous exemptions allow most low-income filers to keep all (or nearly all) of their property safe from the risk that their Trustee will sell it to benefit their creditors. Only unusually valuable property may not be covered by the protections afforded by exemptions. Conversely, some people are drawn to the idea of filing for bankruptcy because they have heard that bankruptcy eliminates debt. This is a fact. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file for, your debts may be eliminated after the completion of a 5-year repayment plan or they may be erased in as few as 90 days.
If you’re thinking about filing for Toledo bankruptcy and your family doesn’t earn much income, you may want to strongly consider filing under Chapter 7. Chapter 7 bankruptcy doesn’t require filers to complete a repayment plan. This process eliminates many kinds of debt almost immediately so that filers can concentrate on building a strong financial foundation for the future and on meeting their immediate financial needs other than paying down debt. Deciding whether to file for bankruptcy isn’t always an easy process. But by learning more about the benefits of bankruptcy, you may be surprised by just how dramatically embracing this option could change your current financial situation.
Toledo Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
One of the most pressing questions that individuals thinking about filing bankruptcy in Toledo understandably worry about is “How much does a Toledo bankruptcy lawyer cost?” Interestingly, this question isn’t relevant for most filers of bankruptcy under Chapter 7. As Chapter 7 bankruptcy is mostly for low-income filers and most low-income filers can’t afford the expensive assistance of an attorney, the Court has intentionally made the process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy as straightforward as possible. Most filers are able to complete their bankruptcy process without hiring a bankruptcy lawyer. Therefore, the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer is really only relevant to filers who don’t qualify for Chapter 7 and those filers who prefer to hire bankruptcy assistance in Toledo for help with their Chapter 7 cases for whatever reason.
How to File Bankruptcy in Toledo, Ohio for Free
It’s important to make an informed decision if you’re thinking about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Toledo. Consider the following information about how the Ohio bankruptcy process works; once you know what to expect, you can make an informed decision about whether this particular debt relief option may be right for you and your family.
Collect Your Toledo Bankruptcy Documents
It helps to be prepared before you begin completing the paperwork required for filing bankruptcy in Toledo. Just as you wouldn’t begin baking a cake before ensuring that you had all necessary ingredients on hand, it’s important to gather necessary documents before completing the many forms associated with Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Toledo. The Court won’t just ask you about your debts in these forms. It’ll also inquire about how much you earn, how you spend what you earn, and what you own. By gathering certain personal financial documents before you begin completing your paperwork, you’ll be able to accurately answer the Court’s questions efficiently, instead of stopping repeatedly to track down requested information. For starters, make sure to have your most recent tax return, a copy of your credit report, recent bank statements, and recent pay stubs at the ready.
Take Credit Counseling
Before you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Toledo, the Court tries to make sure that you know what you’re getting into. The benefits associated with Toledo bankruptcy are significant, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best debt relief option available for everyone who is struggling financially. To better ensure that all filers are making informed decisions about their financial circumstances, the Court requires that bankruptcy petitioners complete a credit counseling course approved by the Department of Justice for filers in the Northern District of Ohio. This coursework can be completed at any time during the six months before you file your case with the Court.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
There is no single “right” way to go about completing your bankruptcy forms. You can fill them out all at once or over the span of a few days or weeks. You can use fillable PDF formats or handwrite your answers. The best way for you to approach completing your bankruptcy forms depends on your style and on how urgently you need the Court to process your request for bankruptcy relief. When thinking about how to file bankruptcy in Toledo, just remember that you can successfully file for bankruptcy without an attorney’s help as long as you follow directions carefully. When filling out paperwork for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Toledo, you’ll be asked about your creditors, debts, property, income, and household expenses. Don’t downplay any information and don’t intentionally omit information requested by the Court. If you’re eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should be able to let the numbers speak for themselves.
Get Your Filing Fee
If you’re already struggling to juggle your household expenses and your monthly debt payments, the idea of having to pay a filing fee for your Chapter 7 Toledo bankruptcy case can be a bit maddening. Thankfully, the Court understands that many families filing bankruptcy in Toledo simply can’t afford to pay a fee without experiencing financial hardship. As a result, the Court accepts fee waiver requests from those filers who live below 150% of the poverty line. If a fee waiver is approved, the Court will evaluate the case for free instead of insisting that the filer pay the $335 Chapter 7 filing fee that is ordinarily required. When filers earn too much to qualify for a fee waiver, they can ask the Court for permission to pay the fee over time so that the payments become easier to manage month-to-month.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
There are many aspects of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process that are straightforward and surprisingly easy to navigate. However, filing your Toledo bankruptcy case isn’t one of them. For a number of reasons, the Court doesn’t allow filers to submit their forms online. Most forms are available to be completed online as fillable PDFs. However, the Court requires you to physically print your forms out and submit them either in person or in the mail. This is frustrating for many filers because most Americans don’t have printers in their homes anymore. Thankfully, if you don’t have easy access to a printer at work or at home, you can print either blank forms or completed PDFs at any of the 21 branches of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library for a minimal fee.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Toledo’s impressive federal courthouse is located at 1716 Spielbusch Avenue. It’s important to plan ahead when filing bankruptcy in Toledo in person. There’s no public parking lot at the courthouse and the free street parking is very limited. You can bring coins to park in metered spaces or you can pay with cash or credit card to park in a privately-owned lot or ramp. You should also double-check the Court’s hours of operation on the day you plan to file. The courthouse is a federal building, so it’s generally closed on weekends and holidays and is only open during limited business hours.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Toledo, a Trustee will be appointed to manage specific elements of your bankruptcy process. For the most part, you’ll only interact with your Trustee during a short meeting you’re required to attend before your case is finalized. At this meeting, your Trustee will ask you questions about your finances. Before your Trustee can ask you questions specific to your situation, they will need to familiarize themselves with your finances. As a result, you’ll be asked to forward certain documents (including recent pay stubs and your most recent tax return) to your Trustee once this individual has been appointed by the Court. You’ll receive specific directions about completing this task once your Ohio bankruptcy Trustee has been assigned.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Some filers understandably worry that they will end up struggling with overwhelming debt at some point after their bankruptcy process is complete. This is understandable as bankruptcy filers already understand just how tough it is to be in a position where no matter how hard you work, you can’t make ends meet. Thankfully, the Court wants your financial future to be a successful one and tries to give you tools to make this goal a reality. As a result, you’re required to take a debtor education course in personal financial management before your Toledo bankruptcy case is finalized. Just as you did with your pre-filing credit counseling course, make sure that your class has been approved by the Department of Justice for residents of the Northern District of Ohio so that you can get credit for your participation.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting is technically a meeting between a filer and that filer’s creditors. However, creditors don’t usually attend 341 meetings of low-income filers because their debts aren’t usually very complex. As a result, your 341 meeting will likely just involve answering questions asked by your Trustee as you sit together one-on-one. Before your Trustee asks you questions about why you’re filing bankruptcy in Toledo and about your finances generally, they will place you under oath. Misleading your Trustee while you’re under oath is a crime, so answer all questions honestly and respectfully. Also, don’t forget to bring an official copy of your Social Security card and a photo ID with you to this meeting.
Dealing with Your Car
The extreme nature of Midwestern weather makes it difficult to get to work, school, and medical appointments without a reliable vehicle on hand. As a result, many Toledo residents are understandably concerned about how filing bankruptcy in Toledo will affect their vehicle ownership. As previously noted, bankruptcy exemptions usually allow filers to maintain ownership of their property as long as it isn’t unusually valuable. However, exemptions don’t extend to property filers don’t own outright. Meaning, if you’re still making payments on a car loan, exemptions won’t necessarily apply in your situation. The Court will ask you if you want to reaffirm your debt, redeem your car or surrender your car. You’ll no longer be obligated to make payments per the terms of your loan if you give your car back to your creditor. But if you want to keep your car, you’ll have to pay its value all at once or ask the Court if you can reaffirm your debt. The Court will likely grant you permission to keep making car payments if you can demonstrate how you’ll be able to make these payments on time and per the terms of your loan after your bankruptcy case is complete.
Ohio Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Toledo
Ohio Bankruptcy Means Test
The Bankruptcy Code imposes income limits on individuals and families looking to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Toledo. The Court will therefore evaluate your eligibility for bankruptcy relief by applying the Ohio bankruptcy Means Test under Chapter 7 to your household. If you pass this Ohio bankruptcy Means Test, you will be able to take advantage of a bankruptcy discharge in as few as 90 days, as opposed to 5 years under a Chapter 13 repayment plan. If you don’t pass, you can use the assistance of an attorney to determine whether filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13 could benefit your family.
Median Income Levels for Ohio
Ohio Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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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.
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Ohio Bankruptcy Forms
The Northern District of Ohio doesn’t require filers to fill out any local Ohio bankruptcy forms. As a result, all the forms you need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Toledo are standard, federal forms.
If you are concerned that your Trustee will sell your property and give the profits to your creditors if you file for Toledo bankruptcy, know that Ohio bankruptcy exemptions will help to keep all your eligible property safe from that fate. You will use a form called Schedule C to identify which Ohio bankruptcy exemptions apply to your property. Any property accepted by the Court as exempt can’t be sold by your Trustee; if you are low-income and don’t own luxury items, most or all of your property is likely to be covered by exemptions.