Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
It seems that Americans can’t go a single week without learning more about just how precarious the average family’s financial circumstances are. Major, respected publications tell the public over and over that due to a variety of factors, most families are only a single accident, major illness, job loss, significant injury, death in the family or major weather event from financial catastrophe. This isn’t the fault of those financially conscious, hard-working adults who fall on hard times. There are just so many factors working against the financial stability of the American family that sometimes financial disaster can’t be avoided, no matter how hard you work or how much you plan. Thankfully, there are multiple debt-relief options available designed to help those who are struggling through a period of financial hardship. Texas bankruptcy can result in the erasure of your debts in as few as 90 days. You may be hesitant to consider bankruptcy if you witnessed others suffering due to the stigma that used to be attached to this process. However, one of the only positive consequences of the Great Recession of 2008 is that Texans now understand that hardworking, responsible people can fall on hard times through no fault of their own. And, that bankruptcy helps to provide families with an opportunity to start fresh so that they can once again lift themselves up by their bootstraps. Now that Texans understand the many benefits of this process, filing bankruptcy in El Paso has proven to be a powerful financial resource for many residents of Sun City.
Filing an El Paso bankruptcy may be especially worth considering if you don’t earn much income and you can’t reliably afford to pay back your creditors over time. Whereas filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13 makes it easier to make your monthly debt payments, filing under Chapter 7 (which you can only do if you don’t make too much money) eliminates many kinds of debt within a matter of weeks. Under either option, the Court will allow you to keep much of your property safe, so don’t let the urban legend of “bankruptcy means you have to sell all your stuff” keep you from considering this debt-relief solution.
El Paso Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
One of the most urgent questions that individuals thinking about filing bankruptcy in El Paso worry about is “How much does an El Paso bankruptcy lawyer cost?” If you’re a member of a lower-income household and don’t have unusually complex finances, it’s important to understand that you don’t necessarily need to hire legal assistance to file your case. The Chapter 7 process is a surprisingly straightforward one. Unless you feel more comfortable investing in an attorney’s services, or your situation has some complicating factors, you should be able to save your money and successfully file on your own. Note that the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in El Paso varies greatly for Chapter 7 cases. If you opt to hire an attorney, you could pay anywhere from $975 - $2,000 for your Chapter 7 process.
How to File Bankruptcy in El Paso, Texas for Free
If you’d like more information about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in El Paso, please consider the following information about the Texas bankruptcy process. Once you understand how the steps of this process work, you can decide whether filing for Chapter 7 is a good option for you and your family.
Collect Your El Paso Bankruptcy Documents
One of the only significant challenges ordinarily associated with filing bankruptcy in El Paso involves filling out paperwork. In many ways, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in El Paso is like filing your taxes. You need to be careful to follow directions, you need to be exact in your accounting and you need to reference several financial documents to complete the process. For example, you’ll need to request a free copy of your current credit report before you work through your paperwork so that you have access to an accurate list of your creditors. Similarly, you’ll want to gather recent pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements to give the Court a clear picture of your finances.
Take Credit Counseling
Most things in life don’t come naturally. To do something well, you need to seek out informed resources, like great teachers, books and other opportunities for learning. Deciding whether filing for El Paso bankruptcy is the right choice for your family won’t come naturally. You can’t just “trust your gut,” you have to learn whether you’re eligible to file under Chapter 7 and whether its benefits make sense for your financial situation. To help you make an informed decision, the Court requires you to take a pre-filing credit counseling course any time in the six-month leadup to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in El Paso. When choosing a credit counseling program, make sure it has been approved by the Department of Justice for the Western District of Texas or your participation won’t satisfy this requirement.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
When thinking about how to file bankruptcy in El Paso, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork involved in this process. Please take heart. Yes, there is a lot of paperwork involved in filing for bankruptcy protection. But the directions for each form are almost always straightforward. You’ll primarily be asked about information regarding your debts, expenses, income, and assets, which you’ll have easy access to anyway after you have gathered all the documents discussed above. There may be a lot of paperwork involved in filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in El Paso, but you can take comfort in the idea that when you’re all done filling it out, you’ll have cleared the biggest hurdle and are well on your way to having your debts erased in just a few weeks.
Get Your Filing Fee
Filing bankruptcy in El Paso may be far less expensive than you might guess at first. In addition to saving money by filing on your own, you may be able to file your case for free if you’re approved for a fee waiver. The filing fee is “only” $335, but this amount may seem insurmountable if you are already in debt and struggling to pay your bills and put food on the table at the same time. This is why the Court generally grants fee waiver requests if a filer lives at or below 150% of the federal poverty line. If you don’t meet that income requirement, you can ask the El Paso Bankruptcy Court if you can pay your fee in installments over time so that the cost doesn’t affect your family’s budget all at once.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
There are many reasons to visit the 13 branches of the El Paso public library. The library is a great place to take your kids for free entertainment and is an excellent, free resource for the entire family. One of the many reasons why you might want to visit the library soon involves physically printing out your El Paso bankruptcy forms. Most American families no longer maintain printers in their homes. However, the Court requires all forms to be printed out and either filed in person or through postal mail. If you don’t have access to a printer at home, consider printing your forms at the library for a modest fee.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Whether you live and work in Mountain View or Vista Del Sol, Park Foothills or Sunset Heights, chances are that you enjoy exploring El Paso. Have you discovered El Paso’s many courthouses yet? El Paso is part of the Western District of Texas. The courthouse where you’ll need to file (either in person or by sending your forms in the mail) is conveniently located at 511 East San Antonio Avenue. Filing bankruptcy in El Paso in person is easy and offers a few advantages. In addition to benefiting from having an extra copy of your forms stamped by the clerk, filing in person generally speeds up your bankruptcy process, as you don’t need to wait for the postal service to deliver your forms and the Court to process its mail.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in El Paso, the Court handling your case will appoint a Trustee to oversee parts of your process. Most notably, this individual is tasked with overseeing a short meeting between you and your creditors in which you’ll be asked questions about your financial situation. Before your Trustee can perform this duty, they need to review some of the documents you gathered at the beginning of this process for your own reference. Once the Court appoints a Trustee in your case, you’ll be given instructions on where and when to send specific documents. Requested documents are likely to include your most recent tax return and pay stubs from a specific period of time before you filed your Texas bankruptcy case.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
At this point in the process, you’ll need to participate in a debtor education course that has beenapproved by the Department of Justice for filers in the Western District of Texas. Just like your pre-filing credit counseling course, you can conveniently take an approved course online. Now that you’re in bankruptcy, the Court wants to make sure you know how to get the most out of the relief you’re getting by filing bankruptcy in El Paso. This course will help you learn how to manage your finances going forward so that your financial future is stronger and more resilient than your present situation.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
As previously mentioned, the Trustee that the Court appoints to oversee aspects of your case will conduct a meeting with you before your case is decided. When filing bankruptcy in El Paso, you risk coming face-to-face with your creditors during this meeting. However, creditors rarely attend 341 meetings in person, especially when lower-income individuals are seeking to discharge relatively minor debts. Accordingly, you’ll likely just need to speak with your Trustee one-on-one for 10-20 minutes during this meeting. During this time, you’ll be placed under oath (so, you need to tell the truth or you risk serious legal consequences) and be asked some straightforward questions about your finances. Dress respectfully, speak clearly and honestly and with just a few deep breaths and a little preparation, you’ll do just fine.
Dealing with Your Car
The weather in El Paso doesn’t make it necessary for residents to have a car. However, it isn’t exactly a pedestrian-friendly city either. Also, families rely on their vehicles for many reasons. It’s therefore understandable that many bankruptcy filers worry what filing bankruptcy in El Paso will mean for their cars. If you’re still obligated to make payments on your vehicle, you will need to pick one of three options. You can return the car to your creditor (surrender) to free you from the burden of making any more debt payments on this property. If you’re going to keep your car, the Court will ask you to either confirm that you’ll make all your future payments on time per the terms of your loan (reaffirming the debt) or that you’ll pay the balance of the market value of the vehicle all at once (redeeming the car).
Texas Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for El Paso
Texas Means Test
Before the Court will allow you to seek bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7, you’ll need to pass the Texas bankruptcy Means Test. If you don’t pass the Texas bankruptcy Means Test, you’ll need to either seek the assistance of an attorney to learn what additional deductions you may be able to claim so you can qualify to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in El Paso, or you’ll need to seek an alternative debt relief solution to address your overwhelming debt. This eligibility test is fairly straightforward, as it examines your household’s size, income, and expenses and compares your financial situation to income limits and other eligibility requirements outlined in the Code.
Median Income Levels for Texas
Texas Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Texas
Texas 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)|
Texas Bankruptcy Forms
If you’re filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in El Paso without an attorney’s help, you’ll need to fill out a local Texas bankruptcy form called a pro se filing questionnaire in addition to the standard forms that everyone in Texas is required to submit when seeking bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7. Additional Texas bankruptcy forms may need to be submitted if you need to make a request of the Court (like paying your fee in installments) or if special circumstances arise.
Federal and Texas bankruptcy exemptions allow filers to keep their eligible property from being sold by a Trustee during their El Paso bankruptcy. In Schedule C, you’ll be asked to apply either (not both) Texas bankruptcy exemptions or federal bankruptcy exemptions to your property. When treated as exempt by the Court, your property can’t be sold for the benefit of your creditors, so this process of naming your exemptions is very important.