Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz.
Updated October 15, 2020
The green mountains of Manchester, Vermont can give a sense of freedom, and so can filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There are so many myths associated with bankruptcy that give it a negative reputation. But, bankruptcy was designed as a helpful tool to help you get rid of debt. First off, bankruptcy does not destroy your credit. Bankruptcy does leave a mark on your credit report, but that mark does not prevent you from rebuilding your credit. Most filers end up having a better credit score 1 - 2 years after filing bankruptcy than they did before. Second, that mark will be removed from your credit report in 10 years. Second, you will not lose all your property when you file bankruptcy. You can protect your property through either the state or federal exemptions. Exemptions allow you to keep most, if not all of your property. Bankruptcy exemptions will allow you to live a normal life, by keeping your property (or most of it) while still being able to deal with your debt. Lastly, another myth is that bankruptcy will cost you thousands and just add to your debt. The good news is, Upsolve can help you file your Manchester bankruptcy for free without hiring an attorney, thereby avoiding costly fees.
In order to get started, you will need to figure out which type of bankruptcy you will need to file. If you are low-income and have mostly credit card and/or medical debts, you will likely file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you have a medium to high income and have the ability to pay back some of your debt, you may consider Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You should know at the outset that the bankruptcy process for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Manchester takes about four to six months on average to complete. If you think bankruptcy is for you, and would like to file bankruptcy in Manchester, you will file your bankruptcy forms at the courthouse located at 151 West Street in Rutland. So whether it is a trip to the old mines or the outlets, let bankruptcy protection give you the ability to enjoy the natural or man-made beauty of Manchester.
Manchester Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Although some Manchester bankruptcies are straight-forward enough to be handled without an attorney, more complex cases will require the assistance of a Manchester bankruptcy lawyer. Bankruptcy attorneys can handle simple to complex bankruptcy cases. They are familiar with the forms and processes of the Bankruptcy Court and know the trustees and judges, and most importantly their expectations for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Manchester. An attorney will advise you on the chapter of bankruptcy you should file, what documents you will need, and, if hired, will fill out and file your bankruptcy forms with the Court. Your attorney will be there for you every step of the way, and see you to your discharge. On average, a Manchester bankruptcy lawyer costs $1,100 to $1,200 for a typical Chapter 7 case.
How to File Bankruptcy in Manchester, Vermont for Free
If you are confident that you can file your Manchester bankruptcy yourself, the following sections will walk you through the steps you need to take to receive your discharge. From the credit counseling course to your 341 meeting, this guide has you covered for what you need to know.
Collect Your Manchester Bankruptcy Documents
To make the process of filling out your Manchester bankruptcy forms easier, you will need to gather some important financial documents. These documents include your pay stubs and tax returns. These documents have the financial information you need to help fill out your bankruptcy forms. A number of them will also need to be submitted to the trustee at least ten days prior to your 341 meeting. The trustee will use these documents to confirm the information you provided in your bankruptcy forms. If you do not have your pay stubs, request them from your employer. If you do not have your tax returns, you can request a copy from the IRS.
Another helpful tool is your credit report. Your credit report not only has your debts, but will also list your creditors (the people/companies you owe) with their current address for all bankruptcy related correspondence, which will be helpful later on when filling out your creditor matrix.
Take Credit Counseling
The credit counseling course requires you to take the U.S. Trustee approved course in the 180 days before filing a Manchester bankruptcy. Typically, you will have the option of taking the course in person, online, or over the telephone. For Vermont bankruptcy cases, the remote options are the only options available for completing this course. While taking this course, you can expect to learn about different options for dealing with your debt, including bankruptcy. Upon completion, you will receive a certificate that you will file with the Court along with your bankruptcy forms. Completion of this course is an absolute requirement before you can file your bankruptcy with the Court.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
When filling out the Manchester bankruptcy forms, know that honesty is the best policy. The forms will require you to state in detail information about your income, expenses, who you owe, what you owe, leases, contracts, etc. You will also have to provide the Court with a complete listing of all of your assets, which is everything you own. The best strategy is to do a rough draft of the forms. Since the forms are available for free on the Court’s website, you can download them to your computer and complete them at your own pace. This also allows you to add and verify information as you come across it. The most common mistake in filling out the forms is leaving information out. Be careful and be diligent.
Get Your Filing Fee
The filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Manchester is $335. Payment of this fee gets your case onto the Court’s docket. The filing fee applies to those filing as an individual or those filing with their spouse. The Court understands that those in debt may not be able to pay the filing fee or pay it all at once. With that in mind, the Court allows you to apply for a fee waiver or an installment plan if you can’t pay the full fee when filing bankruptcy in Manchester. The fee waiver application, which is available in the same place where you retrieved your bankruptcy forms, will need to be completed and filed with your forms. It will require you to provide information about your income and expenses. It will be submitted and reviewed by a judge who will grant or deny your application. If the judge denies your application, they’ll likely propose an installment plan. The installment plan application is also available online and requires the same information that the fee waiver does.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Once you have reviewed your Manchester bankruptcy forms, you are ready to put them in final form and print. You will need to print two, one-sided copies of your forms. You should retain one copy for your records and submit the signed original copy to the Court to officially start your Vermont bankruptcy case. It’s a good idea to print one copy, sign it and then photocopy the signed copy. If you don’t have a printer at home, you may consider printing at a friend or relative’s house. If that is not an option for you, consider utilizing a local library or a paid printing service at Staples or Kinkos.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Unfortunately, the Rutland courthouse does not have a clerk’s office at the moment. This means you will need to file your Manchester bankruptcy by mailing everything to the Burlington courthouse. The mailing address is:
US Bankruptcy Court
District of Vermont
PO Box 1663
Burlington, VT 05402-1663
To ensure receipt of your bankruptcy forms, you should send your forms via certified mail or Fedex. Upon receipt of your bankruptcy forms, the clerk will review your forms for completeness and contact you if there are any signatures or forms missing. Note that the Court is not open on federal holidays or weekends.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After you have mailed your documents to the Court, you will need to send some financial documents to the trustee assigned to your case. The trustee will compare the information supplied in your Manchester bankruptcy forms with the financial documents you provide before the 341 meeting. You will need to provide the trustee with your pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns at least 10 days before your 341 meeting. The trustee will review everything and ask any questions they have at the meeting.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Once your Manchester bankruptcy forms and documents have been filed with the Court and all supporting documents submitted to the trustee, you will need to take the financial management course. This course is a U.S. Trustee approved course. This course will provide you with the tools you need to have a healthy financial future. You must take this course in order to qualify for a discharge in your Vermont bankruptcy case. To do so, you can take the course online or over the phone (as with the credit counseling course, there is no live option). Upon completion, you will receive a certificate of completion that will be filed with the Court.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting is typically the one and only Court appearance you will have in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Manchester. In attendance will be you (the debtor), the trustee, and possibly some of your creditors. Creditors have the right to come to your 341 meeting and ask any questions they may have about your Manchester bankruptcy forms. But, not to worry, they seldom, if ever do. Your 341 meeting will last about 10-15 minutes. During that time, the trustee will first verify your identity and then ask you any questions he may have about your bankruptcy forms. It is important to bring your driver’s license and original social security card as a means of identification.
Dealing with Your Car
One of the most frequently asked questions people have before filing bankruptcy in Manchester is, “will I be able to keep my car?” And the answer is yes, if you want it. If you own your car, you will be able to keep the car as long as it’s worth less than the available exemption. Exemptions will be addressed at the end of this guide. If you l have a current loan, you may consider reaffirmation. Reaffirmation allows you to keep making payments during the bankruptcy process with the condition that if you stop making payments, your lender can not only repossess your car but also sue you for the balance left owing on the loan. You may also consider buying out your car for its value as part of your Vermont bankruptcy; this is referred to as a redemption.
Vermont Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Manchester
Vermont Means Test
The Vermont bankruptcy Means Test was designed to protect the sanctity of the Manchester bankruptcy process from misuse by folks who can afford to pay their debts. The means test measures your income, expenses, and debt to determine if you are able 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
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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.
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Vermont Bankruptcy Forms
Be honest. Do not embellish or worse, be under-inclusive of your income, expenses, and/or debt.
Use your pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns to provide accurate information on your forms.
Read and review your forms before you submit them to the Court.
The Vermont bankruptcy exemptions were designed to protect your most valued and necessary possessions throughout the bankruptcy process. To your benefit, Vermont subscribes to both the federal and state exemptions. Pre-Manchester bankruptcy planning will require you to take a careful look at what exemptions work best for you.