Written by Attorney Karra Kingston.
Updated July 28, 2020
Spartanburg, South Carolina is called the “hub city” because so many railroad lines meet in the city. If you have recently visited the drive through at Beacon’s and ordered a “chili-cheese-a-plenty” burger you probably know that the cost of feeding a family can be quite costly. Not only does food cost a lot but living expenses are also on the rise, so falling into debt may seem almost unavoidable. The stress and anxiety of not sleeping because of bills can cause emotional and psychological issues. If you can’t afford to pay your bills, filing bankruptcy in Spartanburg may be able to give you peace of mind.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Spartanburg can wipe out your debts so that you never have to pay another creditor again. In most instances, you will be able to keep all your property. There are two types of bankruptcies that consumers can file under. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which offers you a fresh start by eliminating your debt in as little as 90 days, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a reorganization. Chapter 7 is the fastest bankruptcy and allows you to be debt free within a few months. Chapter 13 bankruptcy also eliminates all of your debt, but it takes 3-5 years and you will have to come up with a plan to pay back at least some of your creditors. If you need to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy you’ll likely need the help of an attorney, as the rules for Chapter 13 are much more complicated. If, on the other hand, you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Spartanburg, then you will be able to file bankruptcy for free without the help of an attorney.
Spartanburg Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
You may wonder whether you need to hire an attorney to complete your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Spartanburg .The answer to that question is no, you don’t have to hire an attorney to file bankruptcy if it doesn’t make sense to do so. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Spartanburg is between $1,100 and $1,200. While this can be a good investment if you’re worried about losing certain property, or have other complicating factors in your situation, for most people looking to file a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy this can be unaffordable. Luckily, you can file for bankruptcy without hiring a lawyer if you can’t afford one. This guide and many of our other resources can take your hand and walk you through the process, step-by-step.
How to File Bankruptcy in Spartanburg, South Carolina for Free
If getting out of debt quickly so that you can start saving sounds appealing to you, then you can start the process right now. This guide will explain what a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Spartanburg involves, how to qualify, what documents you will need, and how to prepare for Court so you can confidently file your own Spartanburg bankruptcy.
Collect Your Spartanburg Bankruptcy Documents
Your first step to getting out of debt by filing bankruptcy in Spartanburg is to collect your bankruptcy documents. You will need to show the Court that you are facing a financial hardship and can no longer pay your bills. To do that, you’ll need to get copies of pay stubs, W-2s, tax returns, bank statements, vehicle titles, deeds, and 401k or pension statements. You should also gather credit card bills, medical bills, utility bills, lawsuits, garnishments, and collection notices. Get a copy of your credit report so that you know exactly who you owe money to, even if you’re not getting bills from them anymore. These documents will help you fill out the rest of the forms for your Spartanburg bankruptcy so take your time gathering everything. Go up to your attic, dig around, and don’t hesitate to call any financial institutions or government agencies to get certain documents you don’t have.
Take Credit Counseling
Once you have collected all of your bankruptcy documents, you will need to complete a credit counseling course and get a certificate of completion confirming you finished the class. No matter who you are, you must complete this course before filing bankruptcy in Spartanburg. The course is structured to give you budgeting tips and help you decide if bankruptcy is the right option for you. You must complete the course from one of the companies on the list of approved credit counseling agencies. You can complete this course online or over the phone. If you choose to complete this course online, you they may require a live picture be taken in order to verify your identity. You will have to pay out of pocket for the course as the providers are independent third parties. The course usually ranges anywhere from $10-$50, but don’t hesitate to ask about a fee waiver if this is a hardship for you.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The most important step is completing your Spartanburg bankruptcy forms. These forms tell the Court about your financial situation, including information on whether you have the ability to repay at least some of your debts. In these forms you will be asked a series of questions related to your debts, assets, income and expenses. The Bankruptcy Court will want to know if you have paid any friends or relatives. If so, they will want to know how much. They will also ask you questions about your assets and how much they are worth. Further, the Bankruptcy Court wants all creditors to be treated equally. That’s why the forms ask about payments to family members or friends, called “insiders.” If you paid your friend $10,000 but didn’t pay your other creditors, that is considered unfair. The forms will also ask basic questions about where you live, your name and address. Make sure to be honest when you complete these forms. Lying or leaving out any information is considered a crime, as you’re signing everything under penalty of perjury. Be sure to use all of the documents that you gathered to accurately answer all questions.
Get Your Filing Fee
The cost to file a Chapter 7 is $335. Everyone filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Spartanburg must pay this fee unless they can show the Court that they can’t afford to pay it. If you have the ability to pay the entire fee upfront you should plan to do so, either in the form of a cashier’s check or in cash. Otherwise, you can request to pay it in installments, after filing bankruptcy in Spartanburg. If you can’t afford to pay the fee at all, and you earn less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, then you can request to have the fee waived.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
It’s now time to print all 24 forms that you have completed for your Spartanburg bankruptcy. The forms will need to be signed once they are printed. Make sure that you only print your bankruptcy forms on one side of the paper as the Court will not accept any forms that are double-sided. To make sure you have a record of everything you’ve given to the Court, you should print (or make) a second copy for yourself. If you don’t have a printer at home, you will need to go to one of your local printing stores or your local library. The local library is a great quiet place to print everything so that you can concentrate and make sure nothing is missing. Before you begin printing your forms, double-check to make sure you have filled everything out properly. The average number of pages that will need to be printed are 60 pages so make sure you bring enough money to pay the printing fees.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
The South Carolina Bankruptcy Court is located on 201 Magnolia Street in Spartanburg. You can find hours and directions on the Court’s website. You will need to gather a few things before you head down there. First, you should have identification with you because you will have to pass through security. Next, you will need to bring copies of all your bankruptcy forms and the certificate of completion for the credit counseling course you took in preparation for filing bankruptcy in Spartanburg. Make sure to also bring whatever method of payment you are using to pay the filing fee of $335. You may have to pay for parking when you get there so make sure to bring some extra money for that as well.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Spartanburg, a Trustee will be in contact with you regarding your case. The Court assigns a Trustee to review all of the paperwork you filed for your Spartanburg bankruptcy. The Trustee looks for nonexempt assets to pay your creditors. If you don’t own any expensive or luxury items, then you shouldn’t worry. One thing to note, is that a Trustee is not a judge. The Trustee is an independent third party, often an attorney whose job it is to administer your bankruptcy case with the best interests of your unsecured creditors in mind. You will also have a judge assigned to your case. It is unlikely that you will meet with the judge unless more information has to be provided. Since the Trustee is who you will be meeting with at the creditors’ meeting you will need to send documents such as your most recent tax return and recent paycheck stubs to their office before the meeting. If you don’t hear from your Trustee directly, you will receive a Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing from the Court a few days after filing bankruptcy in Spartanburg, which will give you all of your Trustee’s information.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Since you completed your first bankruptcy course, you may have gotten reminders in your email that you will need to complete another course. The second course will need to be completed after filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Spartanburg. This course will go through ways you can restructure your finances after bankruptcy. It will also give you some informative tips to rebuilding your credit and ways to save money. This second bankruptcy counseling course is known also known as the Debtor Education course. You must take this course to ensure you receive your Chapter 7 discharge in your Spartanburg bankruptcy. The course will take at least two hours to complete so put some time aside for it.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
It is now time to go to Court for your creditors’ meeting. This is one of the last steps you must take in order to complete your Spartanburg bankruptcy. Don’t freak out just because you hear the word “Court”. If you have watched too many episodes of Law and Order or Judge Judy, then Court can seem like a scary place. 341 meetings, however, are not like the court proceedings you see on TV. These are meetings between you, the Trustee and, if any of them decide to show up, your creditors. The hearings usually take place in a large meeting room inside the courthouse. The Trustee will ask you questions about your forms and the meeting will probably only last about ten minutes. The most important take-away is to be honest. You will have to testify under oathso being honest is key.
Dealing with Your Car
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have options to deal with a loan on your vehicle. You can surrender or redeem the car or reaffirm the debt. If you own the car outright then you’ll be able to keep your vehicle as long as it falls under an exemption. If you have a loan on your vehicle, you will need to list the secured debt on your forms. The car loan is secured because it is attached to a piece of property - your car. Secured debts are listed on Schedule D of your Spartanburg bankruptcy forms. You will need to let the Bankruptcy Court know what you are doing with your vehicle when you submit your forms. If you want to keep your vehicle after filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Spartanburg, the lender may require you to enter into a reaffirmation agreement. This is where you agree to keep making payments on the car. However, if you miss the payments the lender can repossess the car and hold you liable for the loan balance. You can also redeem the car. This is where you and the lender agree to only pay the value of what the car is actually worth. If you don’t want to keep the car, you can surrender it. You will need to call the lender and discuss when and where they can come pick up the car.
South Carolina Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Spartanburg
South Carolina Means Test
The Means Test screens individuals who want to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Spartanburg. Congress wanted to implement certain measures to stop people from committing bankruptcy fraud. They believed too many people were using bankruptcy to not pay their creditors when they could afford to pay them. The South Carolina bankruptcy Means Test only allows people who really need the relief to file a Chapter 7. The Means Test will look at your income and expenses to determine if you qualify. If your household income exceeds the median income you will have to go to the second part of the Means Test to deduct your monthly expenses so that you can show that you can’t afford to pay even a portion of your debts.
Median Income Levels for South Carolina
South Carolina Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for South Carolina
South Carolina 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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South Carolina Bankruptcy Forms
All 24 forms are what you need to submit in order to complete your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Spartanburg. You can find all of the forms you will need on the Bankruptcy Court’s website. The South Carolina Bankruptcy Court even provides a video you can watch to make sure that you are completing every step correctly. Make sure to review all your South Carolina bankruptcy forms very carefully. The Bankruptcy Court provides a checklist you can use to stay organized.
South Carolina Exemptions
The bankruptcy exemptions allow individuals filing bankruptcy in Spartanburg to keep most, if not all of their property. The South Carolina bankruptcy exemptions are laws that allow you to keep certain personal belongings, within certain limits. If your property has no equity then the Trustee will not take it to pay off your creditors. The Trustee only looks for nonexempt property he can sell it to pay your creditors. Even if you do have equity in your property the South Carolina bankruptcy exemptions should be enough to protect it, as long as it’s not a very expensive item. Equity is the amount your property is worth minus any loans on it. For example, if you have a vehicle that is worth $15,000 and the loan on it is for $14,000 then the equity would be $1,000. You would then need to make sure that the vehicle exemption in South Carolina is at least $1,000 in order to keep your car.