Written by Attorney Jacquelyne N. Mosley-Pastrana.
Updated July 28, 2020
Along the friendly West River, there is much to enjoy about living a good life. Living the good life is tough if you suffer from mounds of debt. If you get calls from creditors and worry about how you will provide for your family from one day to the next. You aren't the only one. You can take charge by deciding whether filing bankruptcy in Brookings is right for you. In the state where winters are severe, but they don't run your life, debt shouldn't either.
From what you know about bankruptcy, you may be trying to decide whether to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy finishes more quickly. In about 4 to 6 months, you're on your way to a fresh start because your dischargeable debts are wiped away. Most debts are dischargeable debts including credit cards, medical bills, and private loans. Debts are dischargeable unless they are the few non-dischargeable debts such as student loans, child support, and government fines. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you make a 36 to 60-month plan to pay down your dischargeable debt, and you can also pay off most of your non-dischargeable liabilities. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is typically filed out of necessity when people can't qualify for the income limitations of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Brookings.
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Brookings is more straightforward than filing Chapter 13. Many people don't file bankruptcy because they don't have enough money to hire a lawyer. It's no longer necessary to wait when you can file your own South Dakota bankruptcy. There is much free legal help to guide you successfully file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. SD Law Help allows you to apply for multiple legal nonprofits online, including East River Legal Services and Dakota Plains Legal Services. If you have questions you need to have answered you can reach out to the American Bar Association about your case. The State of South Dakota may also be able to provide you a free lawyer. There is guidance at your fingertips, and it continues below.
Brookings Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
It helps to hire a lawyer, especially if you have unusual circumstances surrounding your Brookings bankruptcy. If you're having trouble passing the Chapter 7 means test, have gambling debt or made a big purchase within the last couple of months, you may want to hire a lawyer to help you. You can expect to pay $1,150 to cover the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Brookings. The price will vary depending on the details of your bankruptcy case, including whether you're filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. When you meet with lawyers, they'll review your case and tell you what they think. You can ask about the cost and issues specific to your case. Asking questions, including the attorney's experience with bankruptcy can help you decide if the lawyer is right for your Brookings bankruptcy case.
How to File Bankruptcy in Brookings, South Dakota for Free
Filing bankruptcy in Brookings isn’t a process you need to do alone; Not when you have free help each step of the way.
Collect Your Brookings Bankruptcy Documents
Gather your financial documents before you take further steps to file for bankruptcy. Any documents regarding your income, debts, and assetswill help you to complete your Brookings bankruptcy forms. Many who file say the first documents you should get are copies of your credit report. While you can dig through bill after bill to uncover what you owe, your credit report has an overview of your creditors. It includes names, addresses, and the amounts you owe. Get a credit report online for free. When you review the list, you may notice it's not complete. If you owe money to others such as your family members or local shops they should be included as creditors. It may be tempting not to list some creditors, but the court requires you to include all creditors. Although your Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes away the obligation to pay, you may decide after your bankruptcy to repay certain creditors, and that is up to you. For income documentation, you will want to gather your pay stubs, most recent taxes, and 1099s if they apply. You also need statements from your accounts with money or investments. Get the values of any assets and property. You will need your vehicle registration too. It may seem like a whole lot of work to start your Brookings bankruptcy, but it will come in handy.
Take Credit Counseling
The first of the two financial education courses you will take is the credit counseling class. It is required before you file for bankruptcy so you can analyze your options and decide if filing bankruptcy in Brookings is right for you. You'll want to take the course from an approved agency online or by telephone; the nearest in-person option is over 90 minutes away. After you finish the course, you will get a certificate proving you have completed the course. Most who complete the course decide to file for bankruptcy and file the certificate as needed with their Brookings bankruptcy documents.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
You'll be glad you took the time to gather your financial documents as you complete your Brookings bankruptcy forms. You can find the forms on the US Courts’ website or South Dakota bankruptcy page put together by Upsolve. The forms may look similar, so it's a good idea to print out the requirements list to make sure you are completing each required document. Many find this to be one of the most challenging parts of completing their bankruptcy. The number of questions and the depth of what the court wants to know can seem intrusive. It not only wants to know about your house and your Harley but also for you to put a value on your costume jewelry and your pet Chislic. No one wants the government in their business but take it in stride and include the information requested so that you can have a successful South Dakota bankruptcy.
Get Your Filing Fee
When filing bankruptcy in Brookings, some hesitate because they don't know how to pay the $335 court fee to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You pay your filing fee with cash, money order, or cashier's check at the courthouse or bring your application for either installment payment or a fee waiver. While Chapter 13 bankruptcy costs $310, it is based on a long term payment plan, but Chapter 7 bankruptcy is reserved for those with limited income. If you need time to pay your Chapter 7 filing fee, you can apply for installment payments. You would have up to 120 days to pay up to four installments until you reached the full $335. If you can't afford to pay the Chapter 7 filing fee, then you can apply for a fee waiver. The court will determine your need for a waiver by evaluating whether you fall at or below the poverty guidelines and your ability to make payments after filing bankruptcy in Brookings. If granted, it settles your filing fee for your Brookings bankruptcy.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
You can print your Brookings bankruptcy forms at home, or you can use the Brookings Library mobile app. You’ll print over 70 pages one-sided, as required, for legal documents. Using the filing requirements checklist may be helpful to keep track of the documents you need. It's useful to check page by page to make sure you've completed the information and sign when you are ready. Those filing their own bankruptcy make sure to include their phone number under your signature on the Voluntary Petition for your South Dakota bankruptcy. You will need one original for the court but if you want a file-stamped copy for yourself, make a copy of your signed bankruptcy documents.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Brookings is about an hour's drive from the nearest Bankruptcy Court in Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls is where you will submit your Brookings bankruptcy documents. If you can hand-deliver it to the courthouse, you can have it reviewed by a staff member at the Clerk's office during regular business hours. No legal advice is given, but your Brookings bankruptcy filing will be returned to you if the Clerk notices you are missing a signature or a must-have document. It has helped other South Dakota filers with having a complete bankruptcy filing. If you are not able to drive to the courthouse, you can mail it to the Court at 400 South Phillips Avenue, Room 104, Sioux Falls, SD 57104-6851. When mailing, send your bankruptcy documents including your form of payment (money order or cashier's check) or application. Include your copy with a self-addressed envelope with prepaid postage if you want a copy of your bankruptcy filing stamped by the clerk. Be sure to add enough postage to get the filing from Brookings from Sioux Falls. After you file, the court will provide you with a Notice that includes your case number, your Trustee information, and information for your341 Meeting.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Once you receive the information for the Trustee that will handle your Brookings bankruptcy, you will want to send your taxes to the Trustee. The Trustee will look through your bankruptcy forms for assets to pay your debts. Most Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers can keep all their property, and no assets are distributed. In any case, your 341 Meeting is only a month after you file bankruptcy. So, if your Trustee requests documents to help resolve any questions in your Brookings bankruptcy, it's wise to send them as soon as possible.
Your creditors will also know about your 341 Meeting from the Notice of Chapter 7 Filing they receives from the court. Sometimes the wrong address on your creditor matrix will cause you to get return mail meant for one of your creditors. If this happens, you should take steps to fix the problem and sure your creditor receives a notice about your Brookings bankruptcy. Simply find the creditor’s correct address by calling, then mail it out yourself and make sure to update the address the court has on file in your Brookings bankruptcy case.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
The second bankruptcy education course is frequently forgotten but essential to receiving your bankruptcy discharge. It’s a simple requirement that you take a financial management course from an approved agency to learn about saving money, creating goals, and credit use. The course costs $50, but a discount may be offered if you take it from the same agency you used for the initial credit counseling course. When you take this financial management course by phone or online, you'll get a certificate of completion. The certificate is needs to be submitted to the courthouse where you filed your Brookings bankruptcy within two months of your first scheduled 341 Meeting.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Your 341 Meeting will arrive very quickly about 30 days after filing bankruptcy in Brookings. The location, date, and time it will take place is found on your Notice of Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy the Court sent to you. Creditors usually do not show up to this meeting, but you're still required that you bring your photo ID and social security card. Dressed modestly, you will meet the Trustee in a conference room to discuss your Brookings bankruptcy. After being sworn in, you'll answer the questions asked by the Trustee. Many say that by keeping their answers clear, concise, and on point, the meeting was over before they knew it. You should expect that the meeting will last less than 15 minutes.
Dealing with Your Car
If you have a car when filing bankruptcy in Brookings, you can choose to keep the vehicle if you own it outright by using an exemption. If you are still paying a loan, many decide to give the car back to the creditor so that the loan can be discharged in their Brookings bankruptcy. Others choose to redeem the vehicle and purchase it from the lender for its current value. Some want to keep the car and continue the loan with the lender which can be accomplished through a reaffirmation. The downside a reaffirmation is that the debt isn't discharged with your bankruptcy so no matter what, you’ll have to pay the loan off in full. Whatever you decide to do with the property, the court requires you to submit your Statement of Intent within 30 days of filing bankruptcy in Brookings to let the lender know what you plan to do with the car.
South Dakota Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Brookings
South Dakota Means Test
You can qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Brookings by passing the South Dakota bankruptcy Means Test showing that you meet the income limits. You can be eligible for Chapter 7 through your annual income or by subtracting your expenses from your income resulting in negative disposable income and showing the Court that you truly need Chapter 7 relief.
Median Income Levels for South Dakota
South Dakota Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
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Poverty Levels for South Dakota
South Dakota Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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South Dakota Bankruptcy Forms
Completing your federal bankruptcy forms and any necessary local forms insures your Brookings bankruptcy case will be processed smoothly. When filling out your South Dakota bankruptcy forms, keep in mind each state, including South Dakota, is particular about submitting a list of creditors. South Dakota has provided you with guidance on how to complete the Format for Mailing List of Creditors in Appendix 1F.
South Dakota Exemptions
South Dakota allows you to choose between South Dakota bankruptcy exemptions and federal bankruptcy exemptions. Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions help filers keep their property even after filing bankruptcy in Brookings.