Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t have to be scary and confusing. We provide helpful tips and resources to help you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in your state without a lawyer.
Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.
Updated March 23, 2022
Despite being an option in some form for over 200 years, bankruptcy still carries a lot of stigma and negativity. To some, bankruptcy might seem like an easy way out, or it may bring up feelings of failure. The reality is that if you’re facing multiple debts that you can’t pay now or don’t imagine you will be able to pay in the near future, bankruptcy is a debt relief option worth exploring. If debt collectors and creditors are making it difficult to put food on your table, to focus at work, or to have peace of mind, you need to know that you don’t have to keep living like this.
There are many options for debt relief, including Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You may even be able to file your petition for free, as did some of the 3,699 debtors who filed for bankruptcy in Utah in 2021. Taking advantage of the Utah state bankruptcy laws doesn’t make you a failure, just like it didn’t make Joseph Smith a failure.
How to File Bankruptcy in Utah for Free
The most expensive part of filing for bankruptcy is also a part you can skip: hiring an attorney. The next biggest cost for Utah bankruptcy filers is the $338filing fee. But, luckily, there are options to have this fee waived or to pay in installments if necessary. This guide will walk you through how to file bankruptcy on your own in Utah.
Collect Your Utah Bankruptcy Documents
To successfully file your bankruptcy case, you’ll need accurate information and figures about your finances and debts. You can find most of this information in several different documents. You have to submit your last two years of tax returns and paycheck stubs for the previous 60 days when you file your bankruptcy petition. The bankruptcy court requires you to list all creditors, their addresses, and approximately how much you owe them in a document called a creditor matrix. You must also list your expenses and income.
Having the following documents on hand can also be helpful during this process:
Bank statements from the past 6-12 months,
Creditor bills and statements,
Any letters you’ve received from collection agencies or third-party debt collectors, and
A recent credit report.
If you file Chapter 7 using Upsolve’s free filing tool, you’ll receive a copy of your credit report. Otherwise, you can easily get a free report every 12 months from each of the three consumer credit reporting agencies.
Take a Credit Counseling Course
U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires you to take a credit counseling course at some point during the 180 days before your bankruptcy filing. The good news is that you can take it from the comfort of your own home as most are offered online.
You must take the course from a state-approved provider. Most providers offer the course for under $50, but if you can’t afford the fee you can apply for a waiver. Once you’re done with the course, you’ll understand more about your debt relief options and receive a completion certificate. Be careful not to lose it, as you need to submit it to the court with your petition.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Filling out your Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms may be the most time-consuming and tedious task of the entire bankruptcy process, but it’s important. Most of the forms you’ll need to complete are federal, which means they’re the same no matter what state you file in. To help make the process easier on you, free fillable PDF forms are available online.
If you decide to file bankruptcy using Upsolve’s filing tool, you’ll fill out an online questionnaire, and then our software will populate the forms using your answers. If you file with an attorney, the attorney or their staff will ask you questions, gather your responses, and then complete the forms for you.
Get Your Filing Fee
You’ve made it through your bankruptcy forms, and now it’s time to figure out how you’ll cover your bankruptcy filing fee. It’s best if you can pay the $338fee all at once when you file so that you don’t risk filing and having your case dismissed for non-payment later. If you make less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines (see the Utah Fee Waiver Eligibility table below), you can apply for a fee waiver when you file.
If you need the protection of the automatic stay as soon as possible, you may be able to make a down payment on the fee and pay the rest in installments. For example, if you face wage garnishment, vehicle repossession, foreclosure, or other creditor actions, you may want to file your petition right away to stop these actions. The court can give you the application you’ll need, and you’ll be required to make a $100 down payment.
If for some reason, you don’t complete all of your installment payments, your bankruptcy case could be thrown out, and you’ll lose the protection of the automatic stay.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
After completing your forms, your next step is to print them. Utah doesn’t permit individuals filing bankruptcy without a lawyer to file their case online, so you must print your forms to file your petition. You’ll be printing about 50 pages. Be sure to print them single-sided on white, letter-size paper in black ink.
If you print individual sections, double-check that you’ve printed all required forms. Also, make sure you sign each sheet that requires a signature. If you use Upsolve’s filing tool, you’ll get your packet a single download with flags for each page you need to sign.
File Your Forms With the Utah Bankruptcy Court
Utah has an Electronic Court Filing System (ECF), but only lawyers can use it. The Utah bankruptcy court doesn’t have an electronic filing system for individual filers. Instead, you need to file in person at the Salt Lake City court or mail your petition to the court. You can’t file in person at the St. George location nor can you mail forms to that location. When you go to court, you need a picture ID. Be sure to arrive well before 4 p.m. as the court doesn’t allow anyone to start a new filing after 4 p.m.
The Utah court is currently functioning as usual, except for holding hearings via telephone as a COVID-19 precaution. Also, visitors are required to wear a mask and observe six feet of social distancing while in the court.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After you file your petition, the Utah bankruptcy court will assign a trustee to your case. Their name and contact information will be listed on the court notice you receive after filing your petition. Your bankruptcy trustee won’t give you legal advice. Their job is to ensure that your assets are disclosed and, if you have non-exempt property, that it’s sold for the financial benefit of your creditors.
At least seven days before your meeting of creditors, , you must send your trustee a copy of all paycheck stubs from the 60 days before you filed bankruptcy. If you don’t have any paycheck stubs, you need to complete a declaration. You’re also required to give the trustee a copy of your bank statement that includes your filing date and federal income tax returns for the most two recent tax years.
Your bankruptcy trustee may also send you a letter asking for other documents. Be sure you give them what they’ve requested so your bankruptcy case can continue successfully.
Take a Debtor Education Course
Next, you’re required to take a debtor education course that is approved for Utah filers. This course provides financial management tools to help you take full advantage of the fresh start you’re getting through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah.
You must take this course within 60 days of your creditor’s meeting. Once you finish the course, you’ll get a certificate of completion, which you need to file with the court. If you don’t, the court may close your bankruptcy case without discharging your debts. This means you could still owe your unsecured debts like credit card and medical bills, and you won’t receive bankruptcy protection from your creditors.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
About 20-40 days after filing your petition, you have to attend a 341 meeting, which is also called a creditors’ meeting. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all meetings are currently being held via telephone or video conference. But in the future, you may be required to go in person to the Salt Lake City courthouse or somewhere else for your meeting.
It’s normal to get nervous before and during the meeting. However, it typically only takes about 5-10 minutes. As long as you’re honest, you have nothing to worry about. Your trustee will place you under oath and ask several standard questions about your bankruptcy. Although your creditors are allowed to come to the meeting and ask questions or raise concerns to the trustee, they very rarely do so. After this meeting, you’ll typically receive your bankruptcy discharge within several months.
Dealing with Your Car
Bankruptcy requires some tough decisions, and one of them involves your vehicle. If you own your vehicle, you can keep it if its value is less than the exemption limit.. Utah has a bankruptcy vehicle exemption of up to $5,000 for single filers and $10,000 for joint filers.
If you’re financing your car, you have a few options.
First, you can surrender your vehicle to the loan company in exchange for having the loan erased. You won’t have a car, but you also won’t have any lingering debt.
If you can save up a lump sum and pay off what your car is worth or the rest of the loan (whichever is less) right now, you can keep your car. This is called redemption. If the balance of your loan is more than your vehicle's current value when you redeem the car, the remainder of the loan will be discharged in bankruptcy.
Finally, you can reaffirm your car loan. To do this, you must be current on your monthly payments. If you get behind on your payments in the future, the lender can take the same actions as they would’ve if you didn’t file bankruptcy. This includes repossessing your car and putting it on your credit report.
If you lease your vehicle, your options are different. You can reject the lease which means you give the vehicle back to the lessor and owe them nothing further. The other option is to assume the lease. To do so, you must be current on the payments and continue making on-time payments. If you fall behind, the lessor can repossess the vehicle.
If you want to purchase a car after your bankruptcy discharge, you may have a better chance of being approved for a vehicle loan.
Utah Bankruptcy Means Test
To file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must complete a means test. This test ensures filers truly can’t repay their debts. The Utah means test compares your household income with the median income for other Utah households of the same size. If your household is below the income limit, you pass the means test and are eligible to file Chapter 7.
If you don’t pass that part of the test, you can still qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy by taking the second part of the test. This takes your expenses into account to see if you’re able to repay your debts with your disposable income. If you have enough disposable income to pay back at least some of your debt, you’ll need to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. This puts you on a repayment plan over 3-5 years.
Data on Median income levels for Utah
Utah Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed In 2022
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Data on Poverty levels for Utah
Utah Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed In 2022
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
Utah Bankruptcy Forms
All main bankruptcy forms are the same no matter what state you file in. The Utah Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms are a mix of the national forms and some local forms that only apply to Utah bankruptcy cases. The court has a comprehensive checklist that lists every national and local form that’s required. The court also provides a free Unrepresented Debtor Packet, which contains all the required forms you need to file an individual Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Utah.
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Utah Districts & Filing Requirements
The Utah bankruptcy court consists of one district that serves all Utah counties. The court requires individuals who’re filing without a lawyer to file bankruptcy in person or by mail. You can pay your $338 filing fee with:
A cashiers check
A money order
Credit or debit card
The court doesn’t accept personal checks. The court will provide you with an application if you need to apply for an installment plan. If you’re requesting a fee waiver, you must complete an application. The court requires you to submit your creditors' mailing matrix to the clerk via email if you file without a bankruptcy attorney.
Utah Bankruptcy Exemptions
Federal and state exemption laws protect some of your personal property. This means a creditor can’t take it from you, no matter how much money you may owe them. Each type of property or asset has its own exemption. The trustee is allowed to take and sell assets that aren't protected by an exemption to pay creditors in some circumstances.
There are federal bankruptcy exemptions, and each state also has its own set of exemption laws. Utah doesn’t recognize the federal exemptions, so everyone who’s lived in the Beehive State for at least two years before filing bankruptcy must use the Utah bankruptcy exemptions. Utah filers can exempt up to $42,700 of the equity in any property that’s a primary residence, and up to $5,100 in real estate that isn’t a primary residence. Heirlooms have a $1,000 exemption. Unlike other states, Utah doesn’t have a wildcard exemption that allows debtors to protect a certain amount of property of their choosing.
Utah Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
If you aren’t quite sure about handling your bankruptcy case on your own, you can still hire an experienced attorney. Utah bankruptcy attorneys typically charge a flat fee of $595 to $1200. Lawyers here charge less than the national average, and they also generally offer a free initial consultation to get your bankruptcy case started. If you’re shopping for a bankruptcy attorney, remember to consider other factors besides just cost. The cheapest attorney isn’t always the best.
Utah Legal Aid Organizations
If you aren’t comfortable filing your own bankruptcy case on your own, but you can’t afford an attorney, you have options. Taking the time to explore them can be the difference between a successful bankruptcy case and several more years of financial struggle. Several Utah organizations provide free or low-cost legal services to those who need them.
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|