Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
When you think of Nashville, Tennessee you think of country music and the Country Music Hall of Fame. And when you think of country music, you think of Gibson Guitars. So when Nashville based Gibson Guitars filed for bankruptcy protection in 2018, it was a sign that not even country music was immune to hard times. But just like Gibson, which is not shutting down but restructuring their finances, if you’re unable to pay your bills and are struggling to make ends meet, you can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville and get a fresh start as well. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to eliminate or discharge debts that you can no longer afford to pay. In exchange for surrendering any non-exempt property you have, all of your dischargeable debts are wiped out without you having to pay anything. Better still, most individuals who file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy never have to surrender any of their property, because they have “no-asset” cases. If you do have significant assets, like an expensive car, your own home or sizeable investments, then you can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to protect your property. Similar to the bankruptcy filed by Gibson, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy restructures your debt by reducing and consolidating all of your debts into one manageable monthly payment. You then pay a part of your total debts with that monthly payment for three to five years. During this time, you are protected from lawsuits and collection by your Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While most Chapter 13 bankruptcies require the assistance of an attorney, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not. If you don’t own your home, earn less than $50,000 a year, and have less than $10,000 in assets, you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on your own, without an attorney, for free. And, if you qualify, Upsolve can help and show you how.
Nashville Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
A fancy, big-time Nashville bankruptcy lawyer costs between $1,100 and $1,200 for a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville Actually, a regular, old Nashville bankruptcy lawyer costs between $1,100 and $1,200 as well! Upsolve has always maintained hiring a competent bankruptcy attorney to represent you in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a good investment if you can afford it. However, Upsolve has also always maintained that no one should be “too broke to get a fresh start.” Many free legal aid organizations, like Legal Aid of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, exist to help low-income individuals with civil matters, including bankruptcy. But if you don’t qualify for free legal aid, you can still file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville on your own, for free, without an attorney to get the relief you need.
How to File Bankruptcy in Nashville, Tennessee for Free
When it comes to hard times in Music City, Upsolve knows there are a lot of Tennesseans in Nashville who are literally living the lyrics of a popular country music song, “Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'. Barely gettin' by, it's all takin' and no givin'.” That’s why Upsolve is committed to giving you the information that you need in this guide on how to file bankruptcy in Nashville. And all you have to do is “pour yourself a cup of ambition” and get started preparing for your Nashville bankruptcy today!
Collect Your Nashville Bankruptcy Documents
The easiest first step you can take toward achieving the peace of mind a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville can give you, is to start collecting your Tennessee bankruptcy documents. Having the documents you’ll need to complete your bankruptcy forms assembled and close at hand will both help and motivate you to take the next step. Some of the documents you will need for yourself and some you will need to provide to your Trustee. The documents you will need for your Trustee include your last 60 days’ worth of pay stubs and your most recent tax return. The documents you will need for yourself to complete your bankruptcy forms are credit card bills, medical bills, mortgage statements, statements for any leases, car loans, personal loans and payday loans, subscriptions, memberships, utility bills, bank statements, and insurance information. You may also need ownership records such as the certificate of title to your car or the deed to your home.
Take Credit Counseling
In 2005, to deter bankruptcy fraud and reduce the number of preventable bankruptcy filings, the federal government established mandatory pre-bankruptcy credit counseling. Before filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville, you must complete a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course. The course costs between $15 and $35 and typically lasts thirty-minutes to an hour. A list of approved credit counseling agencies that offer the course in Nashville, is maintained by the Office of the United States Trustee. The course may be taken online, over the telephone, or in-person. When done you will receive a certificate of completion that you must give to the Court when you file your Tennessee bankruptcy.
Complete The Bankruptcy Forms
To quote Dolly Parton, trying to complete all of the forms in your Chapter 7 case, in one sitting, is “… enough to drive you crazy if you let it!” So, “use your mind” and don’t try to complete them all at once. Instead, schedule separate nights to work on separate schedules for your Tennessee bankruptcy case, using the documents you have already collected to provide you with some of the information needed. Ordered sequentially, from Schedule A to Schedule J, using this method you will complete the entire set in less than ten days. In fact, most individuals who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville using Upsolve file their Tennessee bankruptcy ten days after starting!
Get Your Filing Fee
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy for free in Nashville unfortunately doesn’t include the cost of filing your Tennessee bankruptcy with the Court. Every Bankruptcy Court in the United States charges a $335 filing fee to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. This cost includes a $245 case filing fee, a $75 miscellaneous administrative fee and a $15 trustee surcharge. You don’t have to pay the entire filing fee at once if that is a hardship for you. You can request to pay the filing fee in installments. You can only divide the fee into four payments and the last payment must be paid no later than 120 days after you file your bankruptcy case. If you earn less than 150% of the poverty level, you can request that the entire filing fee be waived. You’ll have to document your income and expenses in your request, and if your request is denied, you’ll be required to pay the filing fee in installments after filing bankruptcy in Nashville.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When you have completed your Nashville bankruptcy forms and double-checked everything for accuracy and completeness, it will be time to print your forms. You should print at least two copies of all your forms and both copies should be printed on one side per page. You should expect each copy to be between 60 to 100 pages, so if you have a particularly slow or low-quality home printer, you may want to print them at your local library. The Nashville Public Library offers black and white printing for $0.10 per page and Mobile Printing from your home is available at all its locations. The Main Library is located on 615 Church Street in downtown Nashville, a seven-minute walk from the Bankruptcy Court.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
In Nashville, you will file your Tennessee bankruptcy case with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The Court is located on 701 Broadway, Room 170, in downtown Nashville. You should bring one original signed copy of your bankruptcy forms, your certificate of credit counseling, and your filing fee or request to pay in installments or application for a fee waiver. The Clerk’s Office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You should also bring some form of identification to enter the building and dress appropriately. Once you have filed your Nashville bankruptcy case, the Court offers free electronic noticing that will forward Court notices related to your Tennessee bankruptcy case to you by email, if you would like.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
At least 7 days before your scheduled creditors’ meeting, you must mail your court-appointed Trustee several documents. These documents are your last 60 days’ worth of pay stubs and your most recent tax return. You are not required to send the Trustee the bankruptcy forms you filed with the Court. Your Trustee will get access to those forms electronically through the Court after your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville has been filed. You may receive correspondence directly from your Trustee requesting additional documents. If so, you are required to provide them with a copy of those documents as well. However, if your Trustee does request additional documents, this is not a sign that anything is wrong with your Tennessee bankruptcy case. The additional documents may simply be needed to verify the information you have already provided in your case.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
If you have not done so already, no later than 60 days after your creditors’ meeting, you must complete a second bankruptcy-related credit counseling course. This course is known as Debtor Education or Personal Financial Management and deals with managing your finances after filing bankruptcy in Nashville. The course costs between $15 and $50 and is a minimum of two hours. This course may be taken online, over the telephone or in-person.You can register to take the course locally from the Chapter 13 Trustee for the Middle District of Tennessee. You can take this course from the Chapter 13 Trustee even though you filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville. The Trustee offers free in-person classes in both Nashville and Columbia. You will not receive a discharge in your Tennessee bankruptcy case until you complete the course and file your certificate of completion with the Court.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
One key obligation you have when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville is to attend something known as a 341 meeting of creditors. This meeting will be scheduled to take place between 21 and 40 days after you file your Tennessee bankruptcy. The 341 meeting is a non-confrontational meeting between you and your court-appointed Trustee. The Trustee will review the information you have provided in your Nashville bankruptcy forms and ask you some general questions about your financial affairs. Creditors have a right to attend this meeting as well, but unless you have significant assets, most never do. Whether any creditors show up or not, the meeting usually lasts less than fifteen minutes
Dealing with Your Car
If you are still making payments on your car when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville, you have the right to stop making those payments and eliminate your car loan, as part of your Tennessee bankruptcy. However, if you do this, you will have to surrender your car to the lender. If you prefer to keep your car, then you must reaffirm your car loan by entering into a reaffirmation agreement with your lender. A reaffirmation agreement obligates you to keep paying your car loan even though you filed for bankruptcy. A less utilized, but even more beneficial option for those who can afford it, is to redeem your car from the lender. When you redeem your car, you only have to pay its “market value” to the lender. This effectively “pays it off” even if you owe more than the car is worth. However, the market value must be paid in one lump sum payment.
Tennessee Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Nashville
Tennessee Means Test
The Tennessee bankruptcy Means Test is designed to ensure that only those individuals who really need it benefit from the relief provided by a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville. Fortunately, the Tennessee bankruptcy Means Test compares your household income to the median household income of a similar-sized household in Tennessee, so your ability to pay your bills is measured on an “apples to apples” basis with your fellow Tennesseans. You must pass the Means Test, or something known as a “presumption of abuse” exists in your Tennessee bankruptcy case. A presumption of abuse means you apparently earn enough income to pay your bills. You can attempt to overcome the presumption of abuse by performing some additional Means Test calculations to show how your regular expenses leave you with nothing to pay your creditors.
Median Income Levels for Tennessee
Tennessee Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Tennessee
Tennessee Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
Tennessee Bankruptcy Forms
Your Nashville bankruptcy consists of three different types of forms. These forms are the voluntary petition, schedules, and statements. The voluntary petition collects general information about you and your household. The schedules collect financial information about your property, your creditors, your debts, your income, and your expenses. The statements collect general information about your current financial affairs. All of the Tennessee bankruptcy forms needed to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville are available in pdf from the website of the U.S. Courts.
Tennessee bankruptcy exemptions are laws that allow individuals filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville to keep up to $10,000 of their personal property. Homeowners are also allowed to keep up to $5,000 of equity in their primary residence. The homeowner exemption increases to $20,000 if you have at least one minor child, or if you are married and are at least 62 years old. Tennessee does not allow individuals filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Nashville to use federal Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions.