Live in Utah and need help filing for bankruptcy and can't afford an attorney? Our legal aid nonprofit guides Utah debtors through the chapter 7 process.
Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.
Updated August 6, 2019
While the mere thought of filing a Utah bankruptcy may make you feel like you are a failure, keep in mind that there is no judgment associated with it. Mechanisms are in place that ensure only people who really need the relief provided by the Utah bankruptcy laws can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah. Chances are, you did not plan on being in this situation, and instead it is the result of one or a number of unfortunate events, such as a job loss, or unexpected medical bills, that you had little or no control over. Your primary responsibility, always, is to the well-being of your family, so if creditors make it difficult to keep food on the table every month, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah can lift the burden of high minimum monthly payments, and allow you to take care of your family's needs. Taking advantage of the Utah bankruptcy laws does not make you a failure, just like it did not make Joseph Smith a failure.
How to File Bankruptcy in Utah for Free
If your situation is dire, and your income is not even enough to cover the basics, you can ask the court to waive the $335 fee for filing Chapter 7 in Utah. So as to not be surprised if the court denies your application for a fee waiver, first make sure that your household income is less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, as that is an absolute requirement to obtain a fee waiver for your Utah bankruptcy.
Collect Your Utah Bankruptcy Documents
The first step of the process is to collect the documents you will need to complete the forms and go through the process. Everyone filing bankruptcy in Utah has to provide the court with a complete list of all of their creditors with up to date addresses for everyone, so the court can send a notice of your Utah bankruptcy to your them right away. In addition to collecting this information from your bills and collection notices you may already be receiving in the mail, you should get a copy of your credit report. You will also need your most recent federal income tax return and the last 6 months of paycheck stubs to properly calculate your income. Finally, since you'll have to create a list of your expenses for the court, your bank statements are a good addition to your document collection, as they can aid in tracking down your actual monthly expenses in the months before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah.
Take Credit Counseling
The credit counseling course is a requirement everyone filing bankruptcy in Utah has to fulfill before their case can be officially filed with the court. Congress wanted to make sure that folks are aware of all of their optionsbefore deciding to seek bankruptcy protection. You don't have to worry about taking it on the same day that you file your Utah bankruptcy - in fact - you should make sure to plan ahead and take it well before then so as to avoid any last minute complications. Since the certificate of completion you will be issued is valid for 180 days, it's best to set aside a quiet couple of hours one weekend to get this done. Most people take advantage of the fact that the course can be completed online, from the comfort of their home. Whether you choose an online option, or take the class in person, it is important that you take this course from a company that is specifically approved, by the Office of the United States Trustee, to offer this course to folks filing bankruptcy in Utah.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The bankruptcy forms are the documents that are provided to the court when you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah. In order to make the process more streamlined and ensure that everyone is fully aware of all disclosure requirements, the forms are the same for everyone filing Chapter 7 in Utah. If you hire a lawyer, they will complete the forms based on the information and documentation you provide to their office. If you don't have a lawyer you can access all of the forms you need to complete for free online, including this 49-page instruction manual to guide you. Depending on your circumstances, Upsolve may also be able to help with this step. Regardless of how you do it, when it's done you should take a deep breath and walk away for a few minutes, then come back to everything and carefully review all questions and your answers. Filing bankruptcy in Utah imposes strict disclosure requirements on everyone, so make sure your information is complete before checking this step off your list.
Get Your Filing Fee
Even though this is bankruptcy court and everyone filing bankruptcy in Utah is doing so because they don't have enough money to meet their obligations each month, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah does incur a court filing fee of $335. If you are not eligible for a full fee waiver (see above) but are having a hard time pooling this much money together all at once, you can ask the court to pay the fee in installments, with your first payment of $100 due at the time you file your paperwork, or within 14 days thereafter. This is especially helpful if the reason that you are unable to collect the full fee beforehand is an ongoing wage garnishment. Once your Utah bankruptcy is filed, the garnishment has to stop, and you will start receiving your full paycheck again. If that is not the case, then be very careful with seeking a payment plan, as a single missed payment can get your case thrown out. In that case, and assuming there is no deadline to file your case (to stop a foreclosure or prevent a wage garnishment from starting), it's better to take the time - even if it takes the full 4 months the court would give you - to collect the full fee before you head to the courthouse for the purpose of filing bankruptcy in Utah.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
The bankruptcy forms, once updated with all of your information, has to be filed with the court in paper, as only lawyers are able to file Utah bankruptcy cases electronically. If you do not have access to a printer at home, you can find a local print shop, or maybe ask a trusted friend or family member with a printer if you may use theirs. Since all the documents necessary for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah can exceed 50 pages, it's probably best if you come with your own paper if you do that, especially since you are going to want to print out two full copies. It is recommended to print out two copies, one for filing with the court, and one for your own records, so you know exactly what documents you provided to the court when filing Chapter 7 in Utah. Do not print the copy for the court double-sided; the clerk's office will not accept that.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Even though court is conducted in both, Salt Lake City and St. George, you can only file the forms for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah at the Salt Lake City location. You can also mail all of your paperwork to the court if travelling to Salt Lake City is too much of a burden. However, keep in mind that if there is a problem with any of your forms, the actual filing date for your Utah bankruptcy (and with it the start of the automatic stay protections) may be later than expected. If you are going to the court in person for the purpose of filing Chapter 7 in Utah, plan on getting there well before 4 o'clock as the clerk's office stops accepting paperwork from people just starting the process of at 4 PM. Before you head to the courthouse, make sure you have your picture ID as that is necessary to enter the building, and be prepared to pass through courthouse security on your way in.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah is filed with the court, a case trusteewill be assigned to handle your case. The trustee's job is to make sure that all of your assets are properly disclosed, and any non-exempt property is sold for the benefit of your creditors. No later than 14 days after filing Chapter 7 in Utah, you have to provide the trustee with a copy of all paycheck stubs you have received in the 60 days before your case was filed. If you do not have all of the paycheck stubs, make sure you submit this declaration instead, so the trustee knows you are not intentionally ignoring this requirement. Additionally, you have to provide the trustee a complete copy of your federal income tax return for the most recent tax year no less than 7 days before the date set for your 341 meeting. You will find out the name and contact information for your trustee from an official court notice you will receive shortly after filing bankruptcy in Utah.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
The purpose of the first credit counseling course was to ensure that folks filing bankruptcy in Utah knew what their options were before their case was filed with the court. The second bankruptcy course can only be taken after your Utah bankruptcy has been filed. It aims to educate you about financial management tools that can help you take full advantage of the fresh start you are getting by filing Chapter 7 in Utah. You can take the course from the same provider that you used for the first credit counseling course, but only if they are in fact approved to offer the second course for folks in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah. Once you have satisfied this requirement, file this certificate with the court to let the judge know that you have completed the course. Since your discharge will not be entered without it, it's important not to forget to take bankruptcy course 2 after filing bankruptcy in Utah.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Your creditors' meeting, or 341 meeting, as many folks call it based on the section of the bankruptcy code that governs it, will take place about 20 - 40 days after your Utah bankruptcy case has been filed. Depending on where you live, you may not even have to travel back to Salt Lake City for this meeting, as there are a number or meeting locations for folks filing bankruptcy in Utah. The notice that has the contact information for your case trustee will tell you exactly where to go and the court's website provides directions to the various locations. The meeting itself typically only takes about 5 - 10 minutes and is mostly comprised of answering the trustee's standard questions that everyone filing Chapter 7 in Utah has to answer. You will be under oath while answering the trustee's questions and your creditors are able to take advantage of this, and the fact that an official record is being made during the meeting, and ask you questions about your financial situation as well. This does not happen very often, but it can. By the time you walk out of your 341 meeting, you will think that it wasn’t all that bad; most people do. Before you head in, calm your nerves by preparing just a little bit and remember that as long as you show up with an acceptable form of identification, the important and usually most stressful part is already over.
Dealing with Your Car
If you are relying on your car to get to work, bring your kids to school, go grocery shopping, and just kind of live life in the Beehive State, you are probably worried about how filing bankruptcy in Utah will affect your car. If you are still making payments on your car, then you can keep the car but only if you actually pay for it. After all, Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah is a way out of a tough situation, not a way to a free car. One of the things you can do is enter into a reaffirmation agreement with the bank, promising to continue to make your loan payments until the balance is paid in full. If your car is worth a lot less than what you still owe on it, then redemption may be the better way to deal with your car. After all, why pay a $10,000 loan with a high interest rate if you can instead pay the bank the $2,500 that the car is actually worth. If that is not an option because the car is worth more than you can realistically raise, and keeping the car will stretch your budget too thin, consider surrendering the vehicle. Remember, filing Chapter 7 in Utah is supposed to give you a fresh start, not put you right back in a budget so tight that you are constantly worried about it.
Utah Bankruptcy Means Test
This is the test that makes sure that people are not abusing the Utah bankruptcy laws by filing Chapter 7 in Utah even though they do have the ability to pay at least some of their debts. The Utah means test for bankruptcy first compares your income with the median household income for a household of your size in Utah. If you are below this income limit, you pass the means test and can move forward with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah. If you make more than that, the second part of means test calculation may nevertheless allow you to qualify for Chapter 7 relief, if it shows that you do not have the ability to pay your creditors.
Data on Median income levels for Utah
Utah Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Data on Poverty levels for Utah
Utah 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)|
Utah Bankruptcy Forms
The Utah bankruptcy forms are a combination of the national forms, and some local forms used only in Utah bankruptcy cases. The court has put together a comprehensive checklist for everything, and makes this Unrepresented Debtor Packet containing all the required forms needed for an individual Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah available on its website for free.
District of Utah Requirements
The court requires that folks filing a Utah bankruptcy without a lawyer ("pro se") submit their creditors' mailing matrix to the clerk via email. Additionally, if you are seeking a fee waiver for the court filing fee in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah, your application must include this addendum to be considered.
Utah Bankruptcy Exemptions
Exemption laws are laws that determine what property a creditor cannot take from you, no matter how much money you may owe them. There are federal bankruptcy exemptions, federal non-bankruptcy exemptions, and each state has their own set of exemption laws. Everyone who has lived in the Beehive State at least two years before filing a Utah bankruptcy is required to use the Utah bankruptcy exemptions.
Utah Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
If you don't think that the Utah bankruptcy laws will protect all of your assets, hiring a lawyer to assist you may be a good investment, even at $1,200 which represents the high end of the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in the state. Utah bankruptcy lawyers cost less on average than their colleagues in other state and most of them offer free initial consultations for potential new clients.
Utah Legal Aid Organizations
If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can also seek legal aid in Utah from a number of organizations. Utah Legal Services assists low income folks who need to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah. In addition, anyone who needs legal aid in Utah can visit a variety of free legal clinics offered at the University of Utah, sponsored by the law school and the Utah State Bar.
Utah Court Locations
Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse
350 South Main Street Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Utah Bankruptcy Judges
|District of Utah||Hon. R. Kimball Mosier|
|District of Utah||Hon. Joel T. Marker|
|District of Utah||Hon. William T. Thurman|
|District of Utah||Hon. Kevin R. Anderson|
|Steven R. Baileyemail@example.com|
|J. Kevin Birdfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Duane H. Gillmanemail@example.com|
|George B. Hofmann IVfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Peggy M. Huntemail@example.com|
|Philip G. Jonesfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Elizabeth E. Rose Loveridgeemail@example.com|
|David L. Millerfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Stephen W. Ruppemail@example.com|
|Kenneth A. Rushtonfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Michael F. Thomson||Thomson.Michael@dorsey.com|
|David C. Westemail@example.com|