Written by Attorney Tina Tran.
Updated July 28, 2020
Most bankruptcies are not as complex as the Rose Garden Arena bankruptcy case. Paul Allen, the billionaire owner of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Rose Garden Arena where the team plays, used bankruptcy to restructure the company’s debt. It was a complex bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy in Redmond as a regular Oregonian is usually not so complex. The majority of times filing bankruptcy consists of preparing some paperwork, taking a couple of courses, and attending a meeting.
Over 750,000 bankruptcy cases were filed in the United States in 2018 alone. There are many reasons for filing bankruptcy in Redmond including illness or injury resulting in large medical bills, job loss, unmanageable credit card debt, lawsuits, and having wages garnished. If you are struggling to pay your bills, it is important to find out if a Redmond bankruptcy is right for you, and what local resources are available.
One initial question you will face when considering a Redmond bankruptcy is whether you should file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires paying back at least some of your debt, while Chapter 7 does not require paying any of your creditors.
One of Oregon’s best known independent grocery chains also used bankruptcy for help. Haggen stores filed bankruptcy shortly after an aggressive expansion campaign that saw them purchase 146 stores owned by Albertson’s.
Even individuals who have made millions use bankruptcy laws to help them out. Back in 2000, Darius Miles was the 3rd pick in the NBA draft. He had a career that saw him receive total compensation of over $60 million in a 9-year career. Miles played two seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers before filing for bankruptcy roughly a decade later in 2016. If a former NBA player who earned over $60 million in less than 10 years can use bankruptcy for help you can use it too.
Redmond Bankruptcy Lawyers, Estimated Cost
Redmond bankruptcy lawyer cost varies. You will find lawyers charging more than $1,500 for a Chapter 7 to those charging around $500. This fee includes a consultation to help with any potential problems that the lawyer believes might arise, help with filling out the paperwork and filing the bankruptcy papers with the Court. It will also include attending the Meeting of Creditors. Any additional work necessary for your Redmond bankruptcy may result in more fees, depending on your agreement with the lawyer.
Many Oregon bankruptcy lawyers offer a free consultation. A free consultation may be a good idea to see if there are any potential pitfalls about filing bankruptcy in Redmond without having to pay the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer. This consultation will often determine if bankruptcy is a good option for you and whether a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Redmond will actually help you accomplish your goals. For example, it may be that you own property that you would have to surrender in Chapter 7, or it may be that your main concern is keeping your home even though you are 4 months late on payments, in which case a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not a good option for you.
There are a few lawyers who will provide free legal services. While free lawyers are rare, it may be worth finding out if there are any lawyers willing to provide free services for your Redmond bankruptcy.
How to File Bankruptcy in Redmond, Oregon for Free
The following will detail the steps on how to file bankruptcy in Redmond. An Oregon bankruptcy does not have to be complicated and following a few simple procedures can lead to a fresh start and the worrying and sleepless nights.
Collect Your Redmond Bankruptcy Documents
There are some documents that you will need when filing bankruptcy in Redmond. Pay stubs from the previous two months are required. If you do not receive pay stubs then financial statements can work as well. Examples of financial statements range from bank statements showing deposits to a signed statement from family members stating how much they give you per month.
Having a list of creditors that include addresses is also very important. An accurate list is required to notify everyone you owe money. Many people collect all their bills and use this to compile their list. It is worth getting your credit report to get the most accurate information possible, as this will ensure that all the people you owe money are notified about your Redmond bankruptcy.
You will also need a copy of your most recent tax return. If you were not required to file a tax return you will need to provide verification of that to your Trustee after filing your Oregon bankruptcy case. Otherwise, you must have filed your taxes and have a copy of the return, as failure to file a required tax return can cause your case to be thrown out by the Court.
Take Credit Counseling
Before filing bankruptcy in Redmond, you have to take a credit counseling course. The law requires that this course be taken in the 6 months before filing bankruptcy. If the course is taken after filing the bankruptcy, your case will be dismissed, or thrown out. You can take the credit counseling course online, over the phone, or at an office. The course takes between 60 and 90 minutes to complete and costs range from $10 up to $50. If you cannot afford the fee you can request a fee waiver from the course provider. It is worth repeating that you must complete this credit counseling course through an approved company before filing your Redmond bankruptcy because you are not eligible to be a debtor in an Oregon bankruptcy case without out it.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The Redmond bankruptcy forms are designed to provide a snapshot of your current financial situation. Examples of what is required to fill out these forms include a list of all items you own - from a house and car to clothing and furniture, people you owe money, and your monthly income and expenses. It is important to be as accurate as possible when filling out the forms. In order to prepare for that, it’s a good idea to go through your house and inventory everything you own. It's also a good idea to also collect all the bills you have received in recent months so you will have the names and addresses of people you owe money even if they don’t show up on your credit report yet. Being prepared in this manner can make completing your Oregon bankruptcy easier and help you be more accurate.
Get Your Filing Fee
When filing bankruptcy in Redmond you have to pay a filing fee to the Court. The fee for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $338 and it is paid at the same time that you submit all of your bankruptcy forms to the Court. This fee helps cover the costs of the Bankruptcy Court and the Trustees. If you are unable to pay the fee when filing your Oregon bankruptcy, you have two options. The first option to request to pay the filing fee in installments. These requests for a payment plan are almost always granted and require you to pay the entire fee within 90 days of filing bankruptcy in Redmond. It is possible to ask the Court to extend this time period. Your second option is to request that your filing fee be waived. These requests are granted if your monthly household income is less than 150% of the federal poverty line. You will be required to inform the Court of your monthly income and state the reason(s) why you can’t pay the fee in installments after your Redmond bankruptcy is filed.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
After you have filled out your bankruptcy forms you must print them for the Court. The documents must be printed single-sided and signed in all required spots. Only one copy of everything is required to file a Redmond bankruptcy case. However, you should print a second copy for your own records and have the Court stamp that copy at the time of filing. If you do not have access to a printer either at home or at work, you can go to a local printing shop like Kinko’s and have them print out the forms, or you might simply buy a ream of paper and ask friends or family to use their printer.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Once you have your printed forms signed and dated, it is time to submit everything to the Bankruptcy Court. Oregon has two bankruptcy court locations, one in Portland and one in Eugene. Your Redmond bankruptcy must be filed in the Portland office. When filing in person, you will want to go to the clerk’s office inside the courthouse where they will accept your bankruptcy documents, stamp them with a date and time, and assist you with filing your Oregon bankruptcy case. The Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s office in Portland is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4:30 PM. You may also file your Redmond bankruptcy forms by mail. When filing by mail it is a good idea to include two copies: one for the Court and the second for your records. It’s important to provide the clerk’s office with a self-addressed stamped envelope so they can mail your copy back to you after endorsing (stamping) it.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When you file your Redmond bankruptcy, a Trustee will be assigned to your case. The Trustee’s job is to make sure the bankruptcy moves along and that the creditors receive any money that is available. The Trustee will review the paperwork you filed and determine if you have money or property that can be used to pay anyone you owe. The Trustee will also make sure that your bankruptcy filing is accurate. More than likely, the Trustee assigned to your case will send you a letter asking you for certain documents. The documents your Trustee will need for your Oregon bankruptcy typically are pay stubs for the 60 days prior to filing bankruptcy, your most recent tax return, and your last 2 months of bank statements. You have to mail these documents to your Trustee, so they receive them at least 7 days before your Meeting of Creditors.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Similar to the credit counseling course you have to take before filing bankruptcy in Redmond you will need to take a debtor education course after you file. This debtor education course takes 2 hours or more to complete and can be done online, over the phone, or in person. You must make sure that the course provider is approved to offer the debtor education course to folks filing bankruptcy in Redmond. This course will cost no more than $50 and you are able to request a fee waiver if this presents a hardship for you even after filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Redmond. The purpose of this course is to give you information on managing your personal finances. It must be completed before you can receive your discharge, the Court order freeing you from having to pay back any debts you incurred prior to filing bankruptcy that are not specifically designated as non-dischargeable by the Bankruptcy Code or the Judge presiding over your case.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
After filing bankruptcy in Redmond you will receive a notice with the date and time for your 341 meeting, also called the Meeting of Creditors. This meeting allows the Trustee to discuss your bankruptcy forms and supporting documents with you and make sure they are accurate. Since the Trustee will ask you a few questions concerning the documents you submitted to the Court, it is a good idea to review those documents before your meeting. Even though this meeting is not a court hearing and there is no judge, you are under oath while answering questions during the meeting. If you find anything inaccurate in the documents you filed, this is the time to tell the Trustee. The 341 meeting will likely be the only appearance you have to make for your Oregon bankruptcy, although it is possible that something requiring another court appearance comes up, that is not typical. The meeting is scheduled for a 30 minute time slot but the time you are actually with the Trustee should be less than 15 minutes and is often only around 5 minutes.
Dealing with Your Car
If you owe money on a car, it is important to know the possible effects filing a Redmond bankruptcy can have on the car. If you are current on payments, then you should be able to keep the car during and after bankruptcy. The only potential problem arises if the car is worth more than what is owed - but even then it is rare that this equity would exceed the available exemptions. If you have fallen behind on payments it can get complicated when filing a Redmond bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy there is no procedure to “catch up” on payments you have missed. If you are behind on your car payment the bank can ask the Court for permission to repossess your car. While there is no requirement for the bank to work out a deal with you, it is possible to compromise with the bank as part of the reaffirmation process. This provides the bank with a benefit; you will continue paying your note and remain responsible for the debt and allows you to keep your car. It is also possible for you to surrender your vehicle to the lender. This simply means you turn over the vehicle to the lender and you are not responsible for any monthly payment or for any debt associated with the car. Surrendering your vehicle as part of your Oregon bankruptcy makes sense if your monthly payment is more than you can afford.
Oregon Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Redmond
Oregon Bankruptcy Means Test
The Oregon Means Test is a formula designed to make sure that people with high income file a Chapter 13 instead of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Redmond, and pay back some or all of their debt as a result. The Means Test compares your household income with the median household income in Oregon. If your income is above the limit, you will have to provide details of your monthly expenses based on guidelines specific to the county you live in. If your disposable income left after paying expenses exceeds a certain amount, you fail the Oregon bankruptcy Means Test and will have to file your Oregon bankruptcy as a Chapter 13 rather than a Chapter 7 case.
Oregon Bankruptcy Forms
The official Oregon bankruptcy forms are the forms you need to file with the Bankruptcy Court for your Redmond bankruptcy. These forms are designed to deliver a complete picture of your economic situation. For example, Schedules D and E/F require a listing of all the people you owe money. Schedules I and J detail your monthly income and expenses.
Chapter 7 exemptions are designed to help people keep enough of their property in order to have a fresh start after filing bankruptcy. If property is exempt this means that the property cannot be sold to pay your unsecured creditors. In a Redmond bankruptcy, the Oregon bankruptcy exemptions allow you to keep a vehicle worth up to $3,000. This means if you own a vehicle worth $2,000 you can keep it. There are a whole host of exemptions that include clothing and other personal items, funds deposited into bank accounts, real estate, and more.