Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
Salt Lake City, like the rest of Utah, celebrates the hard work reflected in the state’s motto of “Industry.” However, even the industrious need help from time to time. This is even true for large companies like baking giant Mrs. Fields, who filed a Salt Lake City bankruptcy in 2008 to get back on steady financial footing. Filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City is a helpful way for many people to get a fresh financial start. Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out many debts you can’t pay despite your best efforts. These bankruptcies are typically straightforward and can eliminate your most, if not all of your debts in as little as 4 months. To keep costs down, you can even file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Salt Lake City without an attorney and complete the process yourself! This Salt Lake City bankruptcy guide will outline the documents you will need, the paperwork you must complete, and the process you must follow for the Court to wipe out your debts.
It’s important to explain some terms that will come up during your Salt Lake City bankruptcy you’ll want to understand. The most important term for your case is a “petition.” A petition is the legal form and its supporting documents you file with the local Bankruptcy Court to begin a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Another term to know is “creditor,” which is someone (a company or a person) to whom you owe money or who claims you owe them money. When dealing with your creditors, you will see the term “Trustee.” This is a Court-appointed official, often an attorney, that supervises your bankruptcy case. A Trustee reviews all the forms and documents in your case, then gives them to your creditors for review in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Salt Lake City. The Trustee will review these documents with you at your creditors meeting and tell the Court if you own assets that may be used to pay your debts. Some assetsmay not legally be taken to settle your debts, and these are known as “exempt assets.” If they don’t exceed a certain value, many tools you use to make a living and certain personal possessions are exempt. Finally, the most important term for anyone filing bankruptcy is a “discharge.” This is a Court order releasing you from your debts which also keeps creditors from trying to collect on them in the future.
Salt Lake City Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Costs
Even though filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City can be done on your own, if you can afford it, hiring an attorney can be a smart choice if your situation is complicated or you don’t think your assets are protected by Utah’s bankruptcy laws. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer for a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy in in Salt Lake City is usually between $595 and $1,200. Many bankruptcy attorneys will also provide a free initial consultation to evaluate your situation, answer your questions, and help find the best type of bankruptcy for you. Also, the Salt Lake City bankruptcy lawyer cost usually includes attorney preparation of your bankruptcy petition, filing your petition with the Court, and going with you to meet your Trustee at your Meeting of Creditors. Unfortunately, many Salt Lake City residents that would benefit from bankruptcy can’t afford to hire a bankruptcy attorney to help with the process. If you’re not sure you can afford one, keep reading to learn more about the process of filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City without a lawyer (“pro se”). You should also check if you’re eligible to have Upsolve help you prepare your petition, for free.
How to File Bankruptcy in Salt Lake City, Utah for Free
Filing for a Utah bankruptcy is easier than you think but it takes initiative and organization on your part. Below we have outlined the process of filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City, Utah for free from start to finish.
Collect Your Salt Lake City Bankruptcy Documents
When learning how to file bankruptcy in Salt Lake City, it’s important to get all the documents you’ll use to fill out bankruptcy forms. You must give the Court a full list of all creditors and provide current addresses for each of them in order for them to receive a notice of your Utah bankruptcy from the Court as soon as possible. You should also get copies of your outstanding bills including personal loans, tax debts, and medical bills for your Salt Lake City bankruptcy. This can be found on your credit report, which you can get from Experian, Equifax, or Transunion through AnnualCreditReport.com. You also need your 2 most recent federal income tax returns which you can get from the IRS in several ways if you no longer have copies. You also need paycheck stubs from your last 6 months of work to calculate your income, which can come from your Human Resources or payroll department, recent statements from bank, retirement, and brokerage accounts, your vehicle registration, and appraisals of all real property that you own.
Take Credit Counseling
A required step for filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City is completing an approved credit counseling course no more than 180 days before filing your case with the Court. These credit counseling courses are meant to explain all your options and were intended by the federal government to provide valuable information for possible filers. They go over your income and expenses and will help you understand all possible debt relief options. After completing an approved class, you’ll receive a certificate of completion you must include with your petition. The classes can be taken online, over the phone, or in person, whichever you prefer, as long as it’s through a company on the list of approved providers by the United States Trustee’s Office.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Every Salt Lake City bankruptcy requires completing 23 forms explaining your assets, income, expenses, and debts to the Court. The forms can be time-consuming and there may be some questions that seem unusual, but they are meant to show the Court your complete financial picture so they can understand your case better. To make the Salt Lake City bankruptcy process easier, it can be helpful to have all the documents in the comprehensive checklist for bankruptcy prepared by the Utah Bankruptcy Court. Different forms may require a lot of the same information and can include math calculations, so if you’re not using a lawyer for your bankruptcy you may want to take advantage of Upsolve’s free online bankruptcy service or buy bankruptcy software. Either way, it’s important to be thorough when you complete your forms and get all the documents needed to answer every question according to the instructions.
Get Your Filing Fee
Usually when filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Salt Lake City, a person must pay a filing fee of $335. If you can’t afford the filing fee and are not eligible for a waiver, you can apply topay your filing fee in installments. The installment plan allows you to make up to 4 payments within 120 days after filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City to pay the fee in full. It’s important that all installment payments are made on time because missed payments can cause the Court to dismiss (throw out) your Utah bankruptcy case. If you have a household income lower than150% of the federal poverty line, you may qualify for a waiver of the $335 filing fee. Once your fill out aform, a judge will look at your situation and decide if you can have a fee waiver; if not, you will be able to pay your fee in installments.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
After you complete your required Salt Lake City bankruptcy forms, you need to print them out to give them to the Court (the current requirement is one copy.) After printing the required number and an additional copy for yourself, you need to sign the forms. There are many forms required for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Salt Lake City, which can be very long. So, if you can’t print at home, you may want to ask family or friends to use their printer (be sure to bring your own paper), or else use a library or print shop. Salt Lake City Public Library is nearby the Salt Lake City courthouse and can be a good resource for printing your Salt Lake City bankruptcy forms.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Only attorneys can file Salt Lake City bankruptcy forms electronically. Even though Utah has bankruptcy courts in Salt Lake City and St. George, forms may only be filed in the Salt Lake City location. The Court is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but not on federal holidays. If it is too far to travel to file your bankruptcy, you can mail in your bankruptcy forms, but it’s better to hand everything in personally, if you can. If you’re heading to the courthouse to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Salt Lake City, bring your picture ID and head to the Court. Go through a metal detector with security and head to the Clerk’s office. Hand the Clerk your bankruptcy forms and either your $335 filing fee, fee waiver application form, or installment payment request. The Clerk will take your forms, upload, and process them which should all take around 15 minutes. After the Clerk processes your forms, they will give you your bankruptcy case number so you and the Court can identify your case going forward, your bankruptcy Trustee’s name, and the information you need to know about your trustee meeting – called a “341 Meeting” or the “Meeting of Creditors.”
If you’re planning to go to the courthouse at the end of the day, be sure to get there by 4 p.m. at the latest as the Court won’t accept new in person case filings after that time. Once the Clerk has processed your bankruptcy forms, pat yourself on the back for successfully filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City. This means your creditors and all debt collectors areno longer allowed to contact you about your debts, try any form of debt collection, garnish your wages, or try foreclosing on your home during the entire process of your bankruptcy case.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Salt Lake City, the Clerk will give you the name and information of a Trustee who will supervise the process of your case. Expect mail from the Trustee once you file your case and make sure you answer all requests from your trustee. The Trustee will ask you to mail in financial documents such as bank statements, mortgage statements, pay stubs and tax returns, and failing to mail them in means you will not get a discharge from the Court. Do not mail copies of personal, sensitive documents like your government ID or social security card – bring them to your Meeting of Creditors so the Trustee can review them and then return them to you after confirming everything on the documents you submitted for your Utah bankruptcy case matches.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Once you file your Utah bankruptcy documents, you should take a Debtor Education Course as soon as possible. This is very much like the credit counseling course you had to take before filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City. It also should be completed no later than 60 days after your 341 meeting for a Court to grant you a discharge of your debts. The course generally takes at least 2 hours to complete and can be done in person, online, or on the phone by an approved agency. If your family income is below a certain level the $10-50 fee may be waived in your case.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
One of the last steps of your Utah bankruptcy is attending a 341 Meeting, which will take place at 405 Main Street for everyone filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City. It’s an informal meeting between the appointed Trustee, you, and any creditors you have who want to attend (usually they do not). The meeting is easy to prepare for, and usually happens about a month after you file bankruptcy. You must bring your government ID and social security card to prove your identity and proceed with the meeting. After you are sworn in, the meeting should not last more than a few minutes if your forms were completed correctly.
Bring any documents the Trustee asks for, your bankruptcy forms, and your last 2 months’ proof of income. This should help you answer any questions the Trustee asks you and prove to the Trustee you are not hiding anything that could be used to pay your debts. Once this is over, a Trustee will usually conclude the meeting – meaning you will not have to meet with creditors or the Trustee again. You should expect to receive a discharge in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy Salt Lake City about two months after this meeting.
Dealing with Your Car
Cars are an important part of people’s lives – they are a form of independence for people to commute to work, run errands, and travel with ease. You may be worried if filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City will affect your ability to keep your car. Unless your dream car has already been paid off, you will have to choose how to deal with your car and your car loan.
People filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Salt Lake City have a few options if they are making payments on their car; but they all require paying for the car or else parting with it. It’s possible to choose a reaffirmation agreement with the bank that issued your car loan to keep making payments until it has been fully paid off. These can be helpful if your car is still worth a significant amount of money – otherwise, surrendering your car is always an option. Surrendering may also be a good idea if you have a car in need of repair or a leased vehicle that has excess mileage you’ll have to pay for otherwise. If you have a car worth less than you still owe on your loan and can raise enough money, you can redeem your car and pay the bank what it’s actually worth instead of the balance of the loan.
Utah Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Salt Lake City
Utah Means Test
You may want to take Upsolve’s Utah bankruptcy Means Test to help you understand if you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Salt Lake City. Congress created the Means Test formula to evaluate your family size, family income, and expenses to figure out if you have enough income left over to pay down your debts and therefore make too much money to qualify for help under Chapter 7.
Median Income Levels for Utah
Utah Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Utah
Utah Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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Utah Bankruptcy Forms
There are a number of Utah bankruptcy forms we’ve already discussed for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Salt Lake City. These are mostly intended to give the Court and your Trustee a better overview of your finances and help them understand your situation. Utah uses both national and local forms, but the Court has helped you navigate the forms by making acomprehensive checklist you can use. The most complicated of the forms needed when filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City is generally the Schedule E/F, which asks you to list all your unsecured creditor claims. An unsecured claim means you have not put up property such as a home or a car as security for the debt.
Exemptions are laws that specifically name types of property people may keep even after filing bankruptcy, if it’s not worth more than a certain amount. There are federal bankruptcy exemptions and Utah bankruptcy exemptions, but Utah does not recognize the federal exemptions. Utah’s exemptions may be more forgiving for single people filing bankruptcy in Salt Lake City, because many of the exemptions such as clothing, household goods and furnishings, and medical benefits do not have a coverage limit. You should fill out the forms carefully and try to maximize use of the exemptions that cover most of your property and have no coverage limit.