Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz.
Updated August 17, 2020
Did you know that Jamaica, Vermont was named after the Natick word for beaver and not the Caribbean island? Did you also know that filing bankruptcy in Jamaica, will not destroy your credit? It looks like two myths were busted today! Picturesque Jamaica, Vermont, a setting for Hallmark movies filled with dreamy snowy mountains and the West River can also be a place where you find financial freedom. Filing for bankruptcy does not have to be an end for you, in fact, it’s only a beginning. Candidates for bankruptcy can achieve financial freedom - often in less than 6 months either with a lawyer, on your own or with free help from a legal aid organization such as Upsolve!
First, you will need to understand what type of bankruptcy will work for you. If you are low income and you have mostly credit and/or medical debt, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jamaica will likely be best for you. If you are able to pay back some of your debts over time, Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be the best fit for you. As part of your pre-bankruptcy planning, you consider the exemptions you will be taking. The exemptions will help protect any property you have from creditors. Luckily, Vermont subscribes to both the federal and state exemptions. Typically, federal bankruptcy exemptions are more generous for your big-ticket items such as your house and car. The bankruptcy forms you will need to complete are available for free online that you can complete at your leisure. If you decide that filing bankruptcy is the best option for you, you will file your case with the US Bankruptcy Court, District of Vermont in Rutland, if you decide to file your forms in person; if you prefer to mail your forms, they must be sent to the Burlington location.
Jamaica Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Although you can file Jamaica bankruptcy on your own, some cases will require the help of a bankruptcy attorney. A Jamaica bankruptcy lawyers costs between $1,100-$1,200. This may seem like a great expense considering you are in debt. Well, depending on how complicated your case is, the cost may be worth it for you in the long run. First, most bankruptcy attorneys don’t charge for the initial consultation. This is the first meeting you will have with your attorney where they will assess your case and recommend a course of action. Second, the attorney’s fee is a flat fee, which means, you will not incur additional costs in your case. Third, bankruptcy attorneys are experienced in the practice of bankruptcy, which means they know the forms required, where to file them, and the Chapter 7 trustees.
How to File Bankruptcy in Jamaica, Vermont for Free
Your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jamaica will take approximately four to six months to completion. Before you can receive your discharge, you will need to take the credit counseling and debtor education courses as well as successfully file your forms with the Vermont Bankruptcy Court.
Collect Your Jamaica Bankruptcy Documents
In order to complete the Jamaica bankruptcy forms, you will need your pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns among other documents. These forms are not only helpful for filling out the bankruptcy forms, several of them will also need to be submitted to the trustee at least ten days before your 341 meeting. If you don’t have copies of your pay stubs, you should request them from your human resources representative or appropriate personnel at your employer, or your employer’s payroll service. If you don’t have your tax returns, you should request them from the IRS.
Take Credit Counseling
Before you can file your Jamaica bankruptcy, you will need to take the credit counseling course. The credit counseling course is a U.S. trustee approved course that will inform you of the options you have to deal with your debt, including bankruptcy. This course is offered online or over the telephone. Unfortunately, there is no option to take a live course in Vermont. Once you have completed the course, you will receive a certificate of completion. This certificate along with your bankruptcy forms will be filed with the Court.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The Jamaica bankruptcy forms are available for free on the Court’s website. You can complete the fillable pdf forms on your own computer at your own pace. You can expect to reveal your financial past and present when filling out the forms. The Court requires you to supply information regarding your income, expenses, property, and contracts and leases you are a party to. The bankruptcy schedules divide all your financial information into categories. For example, Schedule J will ask you all about your expenses. Here, you will list your monthly bills, like your utility bills, cable, cell phone and so on. Schedule I will ask you about your income. Here, you will list your income from your job, rental income, and any 1099 income. With the bankruptcy forms, honesty is the best policy. It is better to be over-inclusive rather than under-inclusive here. Remember, after filing bankruptcy in Jamaica, the trustee will be verifying all the information you provide in your bankruptcy forms and financial documents.
Get Your Filing Fee
Paying the filing fee allows the Court to process your case and put it on its docket. The filing fee for a Vermont bankruptcy is $335. This cost applies nationwide to those filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and is the same for those filing as an individual or with their spouse. To alleviate some of the financial burden, the Court provides two alternatives to making the full payment at the time of filing bankruptcy in Jamaica. The first is to make an application to the Court for a fee waiver. The fee waiver application will require you to give information about your income and expenses, so the Court can determine whether you can afford to pay the fee. If your fee waiver application is rejected, the Court may propose an installment payment plan. If you can pay your fee, but not all at once, you can apply for an installment plan. The application for an installment plan will require you to provide information about your income and expenses and will also be decided upon by a judge.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Once you are satisfied with what you have disclosed in the bankruptcy forms, you will print your Jamaica bankruptcy forms and mail them. If you don’t have a printer at home, here’s a couple options to get your forms printed:
Print at a friend or relative’s house;
Staples or Kinkos;
Your local library.
When printing your forms, remember that the forms need to be one-sided. Also note that you will need to print two copies. One copy you will keep for your records, and the other will be submitted to the Court. It may be helpful to sign one copy of your forms and then photocopy the signed copy. Always submit the original to the Court.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
When your Jamaica bankruptcy forms have been printed, it’s time to file them officially with the Court. Currently, the Rutland courthouse does not have an operational clerk’s office, which means you will have to mail your bankruptcy forms to the courthouse in Burlington. The mailing address for the courthouse in Burlington is:
US Bankruptcy Court
District of Vermont
PO Box 1663
Burlington, VT 05402-1663
You can get in touch with the bankruptcy clerk’s office to confirm they received everything they need to process your Vermont bankruptcy case. We recommend that in this case, you send your forms certified mail or via Fedex, so that you can confirm receipt of your forms. The forms will be reviewed for completeness by the clerk and filed. If your forms require additional signatures or you are missing a form, the clerk will let you know.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After you have filed your case with the Court, you will need to send your pay stubs and tax returns to the trustee. The trustee is a representative of the Court and assigned to monitor bankruptcy cases. The trustee will review the information provided in your Jamaica bankruptcy forms and the documents you provide to him. You will need to get these documents to the trustee no later than 10 days before your 341 meeting. Upon receipt, the trustee will review your forms and documents and reserve questions for the 341 meeting.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Before you can receive your discharge, you will have to take the financial management course. This course is approved by the U.S. Trustee and can be taken online or over the telephone. There is no live option for this course in Vermont. The financial management course will give you tips on how to initiate and maintain good financial habits after filing bankruptcy in Jamaica. This course is also a requirement to receive your discharge. To make sure you receive your discharge, you must file your certificate of completion with the Court.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Your 341 meeting is typically your first and only appearance during your Jamaica bankruptcy case. Typically, your meeting consists of you and the trustee. However, your creditors do have the option of showing up and asking you questions about your bankruptcy forms. This happens rarely. You can expect your meeting to last 10-15 minutes. The trustee will first verify your identity, so it’s important to bring your driver’s license and original social security card. The trustee will then go over your bankruptcy forms and address any questions they may have. They may also ask you if you forgot to include any information on your bankruptcy forms, and allow you to add anything you may have missed.
Dealing with Your Car
One of your most important assets is your car. Although we may take it for granted, we use our car every day to get to where we need to go: work, school, etc. You can protect your car in a couple of ways during your Jamaica bankruptcy. First, if you own your car, you can claim the applicable federal or state exemption to protect it from your creditors. In order to do so, you will need to know how much your car is worth and apply the exemption that provides the most protection. We will talk about exemptions later on in this guide. If you lease or have a loan on your car, you can either reaffirm or redeem your car. Reaffirmation is a promise to keep making the payments to your lender. If you don’t, your lender can repossess your car and sue you for the balance on the loan. Redemption allows you to buy your car for its current value and discharge the rest of the loan balance as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jamaica.
Vermont Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Jamaica
Vermont Means Test
The Vermont bankruptcy Means Test helps protect the Jamaica bankruptcy system from fraudulent bankruptcy claims. Using your income, expenses, and amount of debt as a guide, the means test determines if you have the ability to pay back your debts over a period of time.
Median Income Levels for Vermont
Vermont Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Vermont
Vermont 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)|
Vermont Bankruptcy Forms
One of the biggest perks about the Vermont bankruptcy forms is that they are free and available online. There is no need to rush this process, so if you can, take your time and complete the forms to the best of your ability. Like we mentioned before, honesty is the best policy; anything else can spell trouble for you down the road. Gather all the materials you will need beforehand (e.g. your paystubs, bank statements, and tax returns) as they will help make filling out the forms for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jamaica a breeze.
The Vermont bankruptcy exemptions should be considered as part of your pre-Jamaica bankruptcy planning. Bankruptcy exemptions will help you protect most, if not all of your property during this process. Vermont does give debtors the option to choose between the federal bankruptcy exemptions and state bankruptcy exemptions.