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Filing Bankruptcy in Memphis, Tennessee

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Written by the Upsolve Team
Updated September 29, 2020

If you live in Tennessee and are considering filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis, you don’t have to perform on Beale Street to come up with enough money to pay an attorney to do so. You can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis, for free, without an attorney. Whether you are former NBA Memphis Grizzlies small forward, Darius Miles, who filed for bankruptcy protection in 2016, or a regular Tennessean trying to make a living off what you earn at FedEx, bankruptcy options are available to everyone. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis can give you a fresh start and eliminate debts you can no longer afford to pay. If a former third-round, NBA draft pick, who earned a total of $62 million during his NBA career, can get a fresh start through bankruptcy, so can you. And, if you qualify, Upsolve can help you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis for free, without an attorney. Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also referred to as “straight bankruptcy” eliminates your debt without requiring you to make any payments on that debt. Instead, in exchange for surrendering your non-exempt property, all of your dischargeable debts are wiped out. In addition, 96% of all Chapter 7 bankruptcies are deemed to be no-asset cases, meaning the debtor has no non-exempt assets and is granted a discharge without surrendering any of their property. For those individuals who do have significant assets, or own a home with significant equity,a Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides them with protection from their creditors while reducing and consolidating their debts into one monthly payment. That payment is based on what they can reasonably pay over a period of three to five years. The unpaid balance is discharged at the end. If you don’t own a home, earn less than $48,000 a year, and have less than $10,000 in assets, Upsolve can help you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis without an attorney, today!

Memphis Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost

Bankruptcy lawyers chargebetween $1,100 and $1,200 to represent individuals in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis. If you are married and filing jointly with your spouse, some attorneys charge more to include your spouse in the same case. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Memphis usually includes the lawyer completing your bankruptcy forms, filing your case with the Court and attending your 341 meeting of creditors with you. You are not required to be represented by a bankruptcy lawyer when you file a Memphis bankruptcy. And you should not be prevented from obtaining the relief a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis can provide to you and your family because you can’t afford to pay a bankruptcy lawyer. Upsolve is dedicated to helping individuals in need of financial relief file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis for free. And this guide will show you how!

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How to File Bankruptcy in Memphis, Tennessee for Free

While no guide on filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis can cover everything you will have to do, or that may happen during your Memphis bankruptcy case, this guide is intended to give you the basic steps involved in filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It explains what you can expect after you have filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy and gives you links to additional helpful information.

Collect Your Memphis Bankruptcy Documents

The first thing you will have to do to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis, is collect your necessary Tennessee bankruptcy documents. These documents will be needed to complete your bankruptcy forms, and in some instances, verify the information you provide to the Court. You should obtain your last 60 days’ worth of pay stubs, your last six months of bank statements, your most recent Form W-2 and your last federal income tax return. You should have your current and past due bills. You may not have all of the documents you need readily available when you begin, so it’s a good idea to find out where you can obtain them if necessary. For instance, most employers can provide you with a copy of your pay stubs and W-2. If you don’t have a copy of your most recent tax return, you can order a transcript of your return from the IRS.

Take Credit Counseling

You’re required by bankruptcy law to complete a mandatory pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course before filing a Memphis bankruptcy. This course is not provided by the Court. You can locate approved agencies that offer the course on a website maintained by the Office of the United States Trustee. However, American Consumer Credit Counseling is a non-profit, accredited, national debt relief agency that provides bankruptcy approved credit counseling in the Memphis area. Their toll-free telephone number is 1-800-769-3571. You may take the course online, over the telephone, or in-person but you must file your certificate of completion with the Court when you file your Tennessee bankruptcy case.

Complete the Bankruptcy Forms

If you have never filed for bankruptcy before, you may be somewhat intimidated by the bankruptcy forms you will have to complete to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis. While this is understandable, you can overcome this aversion by trying to understand what all of the forms are asking you. First of all, all of the questions on the forms are primarily intended to collect financial information from you. You will not be asked to explain in detail why you are filing for bankruptcy, or what your plans are after filing bankruptcy in Memphis. You will be asked if you are being sued, or if have been served with an eviction or foreclosure notice. Answer these questions, like all the questions on your bankruptcy forms, truthfully and accurately. A final piece of advice is to view completing the forms as if you are completing a loan application for a new car or home. But instead of submitting a request for more debt, you are seeking relief from all your debt. Which should make completing the process even more worthwhile. For more information on properly completing your bankruptcy forms, take a look at the Court’s “pro se information” guide.

Get Your Filing Fee

You should expect to pay a $338 filing fee when you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis. This fee is paid directly to the Court and covers the administrative cost of handling your Tennessee bankruptcy. The fee must be paid at the same time you file your case unless you submit a request to pay the fee in installments, or to waive the fee. A request to pay the fee in installments will be granted as long as you don’t ask to make more than four payments and your final payment is due no more than 120 days from your filing date. To be granted a fee waiver you must earn less than 150% of the poverty level. If you don’t wish to pay your fee in installments and are not eligible for a fee waiver, the fee must be paid in cash, cashier’s check, or money order payable to “Clerk, US Bankruptcy Court.”

When you have completed all of your bankruptcy forms, you will have to print your Memphis bankruptcy forms. Depending on the number of pages in your schedules your Tennessee bankruptcy will consist of 60 to 100 pages. All of your bankruptcy forms should be printed on one side per page, on normal letter size paper. You should print an original that you will sign and file with the Court; and one copy for yourself. All of the Memphis Public Libraries offer black and white printing for $0.20 per page. The Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library is located on 3030 Poplar Avenue in Memphis. It’s open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

Go to Court to File Your Forms

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee handles all Chapter 7 bankruptcies filed by individuals who reside in Memphis or Shelby County. The Western Division of the Court is located at 200 Jefferson Avenue, Suite 500, Memphis, TN 38103. Only a fifteen-minute drive from Graceland, it’s highly recommended that you file your Memphis bankruptcy case in-person, although you don’t have to. You may mail your petition to the Bankruptcy Clerk of the Court together with your filing fee or your request for a waiver or to make installment payments. Whether you file your case in-person or mail it, make sure you’ve signed all of the forms that require your signature and don’t forget to include your certificate of completion for your pre-bankruptcy credit counseling.

Mail Documents to Your Trustee

You’ll have to mail copies of some of the documents you collected to start your Memphis bankruptcy, to your court-appointed Trustee. Every Chapter 7 bankruptcy filed with the Court is assigned a Trustee who is responsible for reviewing the case and meeting with the individual(s) requesting Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief. While your Trustee has the right to request additional documents, if necessary, to review your case, you are required to send them at least your last 60 days’ worth of pay stubs and your most recent tax return. Most Trustees’ will also request your last six months of bank statements. The name, address and telephone number of your Trustee will be included in the Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case you receive from the Court shortly after filing bankruptcy in Memphis.

Take Bankruptcy Course 2

While you’re waiting to meet with your court-appointed Trustee, you should complete your second bankruptcy-related credit counseling course. Like the first course, this course is mandatory and you should complete it no later than 60 days after yourcreditors’ meeting. It may be taken online, over the telephone or in-person. The course covers several topics related to managing your finances and can take up to three hours to complete. You can be charged up to $50 for the course, but if you were approved for afee waiver when filing bankruptcy in Memphis, you’re eligible to take the course for free as well. Any of theapproved debtor education providers listed at the U.S. Trustee’s website will honor your fee waiver. You are responsible for filing your certificate of completion with the Court after you have completed the course. However, some credit counseling agencies can file it electronically on your behalf. If you fail to complete the course or fail to file your certificate of completion on time, your Tennessee bankruptcy could be closed without giving you the benefit of a discharge.

Attend Your 341 Meeting

You will not be granted a discharge in your Tennessee bankruptcy until you have attended something known as a 341 meeting of creditors. A 341 meeting of creditors, or creditors’ meeting, is an informal meeting between you and your court-appointed Trustee. While your creditors are also entitled to attend this meeting, most never do. At this meeting, your Trustee will verify your identification, swear you in and ask you some questions regarding your Tennessee bankruptcy case. You Trustee will also explain the nature and consequences of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in Memphis and let you know if they need copies of any additional documents from you. The meeting typically lasts less than fifteen minutes. You’ll be notified of the date, time and place of the meeting on the Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case, however, the Court also publishes a schedule of 341 meeting dates on its website that you can check after your case is filed. The schedule includes the name of the Trustee, case number, date, time and room number of each 341 meeting.

Dealing with Your Car

In Tennessee, there is no specific exemption for your car or motor vehicle. If your car is paid for, you must use part of your $10,000 “wild card” or “catch-all” personal property exemption to protect your car from being sold to pay creditors. If your car is not paid off yet, you have the option of continuing to pay your car loan by entering into a reaffirmation agreement with your lender. Or you can redeem your car from the lender by paying the lender the current market value of the car. If you reaffirm your loan, you will be responsible for making car payments now and after your Memphis bankruptcy is discharged. If you redeem the car, your lender must release their lien on the car and any balance owed on the loan will be discharged. If you don’t wish to do either of these, you can surrender the car and give it back to the lender.

Tennessee Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Memphis

Tennessee Means Test

When you prepare your bankruptcy, you will be Means Tested to see if you are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis. The Tennessee bankruptcy Means Test compares your household income to the median household income of a similar-sized family in Tennessee. Something known as a “presumption of abuse” occurs if your income exceeds the median. Failing the income limits part of the Tennessee bankruptcy Means Test this way requires you to perform some additional calculations to see if you can overcome the “presumption of abuse.” If you can’t overcome the presumption of abuse, and there are no special circumstances, consider exploring Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.

Median Income Levels for Tennessee

Tennessee Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed In 2023
Household SizeMonthly IncomeAnnual Income

Poverty Levels for Tennessee

Tennessee Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed In 2023

Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.

Household SizeState Poverty LevelFee Waiver Limit (150% PL)

Tennessee Bankruptcy Forms

Tennessee bankruptcy forms may be obtained from the website of the office of U.S. Courts. All of the forms are in fillable pdf format and, with the exception of the creditor’s matrix, can be filled out by hand if you prefer. If you wish to receive email notifications regarding your Tennessee bankruptcy case after you have filed it with the Court, you should complete a Debtor’s Electronic Noticing Request.

Tennessee Exemptions

The State of Tennessee lists certain exemptions that may be claimed by individuals who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Memphis. Exemptions allow you to keep certain property from being sold by the Trustee to pay your creditors. Tennessee bankruptcy exemptions are very narrow and other than specific items, that are absolutely exempt, like clothing, family pictures, burial plots, or your family Bible, the total amount of personal property you will be able to protect is $10,000. You can’t use federal bankruptcy exemptions in Tennessee and there are no specific exemptions for motor vehicles, jewelry or household furnishings.

Written By:

The Upsolve Team

Upsolve is fortunate to have a remarkable team of bankruptcy attorneys, as well as finance and consumer rights professionals, as contributing writers to help us keep our content up to date, informative, and helpful to everyone.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

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