Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice.
Updated July 28, 2020
Financial hardship seems to be everywhere these days and the gateway to Wisconsin is no exception. Perhaps you have been personally impacted by Shopko’s current bankruptcy case, which is closing many of its stores all over the country, including the Beloit location just a few months ago. Even if your current financial issues are completely unrelated, you might also be considering following a similar route as Shopko. Bankruptcy exists as a legal remedy for both individuals and companies in financial distress. An individual (or married couple) has the opportunity to file a personal Beloit bankruptcy, typically either as a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case. Chapter 7 is what you think of as a “traditional” bankruptcy, where you can walk away from all (or most) of your debt and get a fresh start. Chapter 7 cases are usually completed in about four to six months. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit may be a good option for you if most of your debt is unsecured and not tied to a specific property, like credit card bills and medical bills. A Chapter 13 reorganization is more similar to Shopko’s Chapter 11 case because it allows people to enter into a repayment plan to catch up on some (or all) of their debts. A Chapter 13 will last anywhere from three to five years. If you are behind on a secured debt, such as your mortgage or your car loan, and you want to catch up, a Chapter 13 might be the way to go. Which Chapter of bankruptcy is right for you is truly based on your particular circumstances and you can always enlist an attorney or legal aid for assistance in making that decision. If a Chapter 7 case is the right decision for you and your family, Upsolve can help you through the process with our Wisconsin Bankruptcy Guide.
Beloit Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
You might decide to seek the assistance of an attorney when filing bankruptcy in Beloit. If that is the case you can expect the Beloit bankruptcy lawyer cost to be between $1,250 and $1,665 for a typical Chapter 7 case. Costs will vary based on the complexity of your situation. Keep in mind that many bankruptcy attorneys offer an initial free consultation so you can meet and discuss your circumstances with them before committing to a specific lawyer. This way you can see if they are a good fit for you and if they can explain the process of filing bankruptcy in Beloit to you in a clear manner.
How to File Bankruptcy in Beloit, Wisconsin for Free
It is entirely possible to file your Wisconsin bankruptcy for little or no money. The largest cost of filing bankruptcy in Beloit are the attorney’s fees, so if you have a straightforward Chapter 7 that you can file on your own (also known as “pro se”) you can avoid this cost altogether. If you are eligible, you can partner with Upsolve for free to help you through the process of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit step by step, including the following requirements:
Collect Your Beloit Bankruptcy Documents
The first thing that you need to do to get ready for your Beloit bankruptcy is to collect the documents you will need to determine your eligibility and to fill out your bankruptcy forms. These documents include your proof of identity such as a driver’s license and your social security card. Additionally, it also includes pay stubs (or other proof of income) for the past two months, and your federal, and if possible, state, tax returns for the last two years. You will need to provide a list of everything you own (your assets) and everything you owe (your liabilities, or debts). This can include a deed for your home if you own it (as well as mortgage statements, property tax statements and proof of insurance), any past-due utility bills, title for any car(s) as well as proof of insurance for all of them, recent bank or financial statements for any accounts, and a full list of all of your creditors. You can request a free copy of your credit report to help make sure that you have correctly disclosed all of your debts in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit.
Take Credit Counseling
Before filing bankruptcy in Beloit, you need to complete the first credit counseling course, so you are able to present your certificate of completion at the time you file your Wisconsin bankruptcy case. There are two courses to complete before and during your bankruptcy to successfully complete your case. Often you can register and pay for both at the same time. It should cost around $50 for both courses. Many approved agencies offer online or phone services for these courses. It is important to find an agency approved for Wisconsin bankruptcy cases filed in the Western District of Wisconsin. If you prefer to attend the course in person, you can go to Family Services of Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, Inc. or in La Crosse to Family Service Association of Sheboygan, Inc.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
After completing your first credit counseling course you will need to complete the bankruptcy forms needed for your Wisconsin bankruptcy. If you are working with an attorney, they will ask you for information that will help them fill in and submit the forms on your behalf. If you are filing on your own with Upsolve there is an online questionnaire that will help populate your answers into the proper forms. There are quite a few forms which include both federal forms (roughly 23 altogether) and local forms for the Western District of Wisconsin, such as the Payment Advices Cover Sheet. You can also go to the Court’s website to find a full list of the forms you will need for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit.
Get Your Filing Fee
The next issue to deal with is getting your filing fee together. The filing fee for a Chapter 7 Wisconsin bankruptcy is $335. This fee must be paid in full at the time you file your case, in cash (exact change, only an option in the Madison office), cashier’s check or money order. If you earn less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, you can apply for a waiver of the filing fee for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit. Alternatively, you can also file an application to pay the filing fee in installments, so long as it is paid in four or fewer payments and in full within 120 days of filing your case. If you do get approval to pay the fee in installments, pay close attention to the due dates as set by the Court so you don’t accidentally get your case thrown out by missing a payment.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Next, you will need to print out your forms to be able to file your Beloit bankruptcy case. The Court will only accept printed forms that are one-sided as opposed to double-sided, so check your printer settings carefully. If you have access to a printer at home or work, it is a good idea to print an extra copy of everything you are submitting to the Court for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit for your records. If you do not have access to a printer, you can try your local Arrowhead Library branch to see if they have any discounted or free options. You can also look for a local office supply store that offers printing services like Office Depot to print for a reasonable fee.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
The Western District of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Court offers two locations, Madison and Eau Claire. Madison is significantly closer to residents of Beloit, so chances are you will be going to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Wisconsin located at 120 North Henry Street, Room 340, in Madison, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin bankruptcy Court hours are 8 am to 4:30 pm and is not open on weekends or on federal holidays. Going to the Court in person to file your Beloit bankruptcy forms allows you to make a quick correction or ask a question if needed; just be aware that the Court clerk cannot answer legal questions. Please also note that the 341 meeting for residents of Rock County, including Beloit, is held at a different location in Madison.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Soon after your Wisconsin bankruptcy case is filed, you will be assigned to a Chapter 7 Trustee. The Trustee is the person who will oversee the one time everyone filing bankruptcy in Beloit has to go to Court, the Meeting of Creditors. The Trustee requires documents before your hearing, at a minimum of 7 days before the scheduled date. You should receive correspondence directly from your Trustee shortly after filing bankruptcy in Beloit outlining exactly which documents they require. This will include, at a minimum, your most recent federal tax return, and several of the documents you gathered to fill out your bankruptcy forms at the beginning of this process. If you have not heard from your Trustee within three weeks of filing your Wisconsin bankruptcy case you can find their contact information on the official Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case you received a few days after filing your case so you can provide at least your most recent tax returns before the deadline.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
The second credit counseling course for your Beloit bankruptcy needs to be completed within 45 days of your 341 hearing, so planning to complete it beforehand it a good way to make sure that the certificate of completion is filed on time. If you paid for the bundle of credit counseling courses when you signed up for the first course, you will be returning to the same location (or same website or phone service) as before. If you did not purchase both courses together you can do the second one on its own, just verify again that it is through an approved agency for the Western District of Wisconsin. The agency may submit your certificate of completion to the Court directly. If not, you will need to file it yourself just as you filed your Beloit bankruptcy forms.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
You will be required to appear at one court hearing for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit. The 341 hearing, also known as the Meeting of Creditors will take place before your Trustee rather than a judge. All the same, any court hearing can be nerve-racking so knowing what to expect can be a big help. The Wisconsin bankruptcy 341 hearing itself is generally over pretty quickly, often taking no more than ten to fifteen minutes. The Trustee will swear you in and ask questions to verify that the information you supplied in your forms and documents is accurate and complete. There is also an opportunity for your creditors to appear at this hearing to ask questions as well, although it is not at all uncommon for none of them to show up.
Dealing with Your Car
Understanding how a bankruptcy may affect your possessions is a big part of getting comfortable with the idea of filing bankruptcy in Beloit. Usually, the item people are concerned about most is the family car. Whether you can keep your car will depend on a few factors, such as if you are current on payments, the current value of the car and whether the equity in the car is within the allowable exemption amount. If you have a car loan and are not current with your payments, it probably makes sense to surrender the car as part of your Wisconsin bankruptcy case. This allows you to return the car and walk away from all remaining payments, including all late charges and other fees incurred due to missed or late payments before filing bankruptcy in Beloit. If you are current on payments or you own the car outright, the main factor will be the equity. You can determine the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the car using Kelley Blue Book or NADA which will estimate the value based on the age and condition of your car. Next, you subtract any loans that you still owe and the remaining balance, if any, is the equity you have in your car. So long as that amount is less than the allowable Wisconsin Motor Vehicle exemption (up to $4,000) or the amount available under the federal bankruptcy exemptions, your car is completely protected in your Beloit bankruptcy.
Wisconsin Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Beloit
Wisconsin Means Test
In order to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit, you will first need to show that you are eligible to do so. The way to show this is by completing the Means Test, which is part of the bankruptcy forms you fill out. You can pass the Wisconsin bankruptcy Means Test in one of two ways. First based on income, specifically, if you earn less than the median income in Wisconsin for your family size, which can make you immediately eligible. If you do not immediately qualify based on your income, you can go through the full Wisconsin bankruptcy Means Test, which will examine your income and expenses in detail. So long as there is little or no disposable income remaining at the end of the month, you pass the Wisconsin bankruptcy Means Test and can move forward with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit.
Median Income Levels for Wisconsin
Wisconsin Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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Poverty Levels for Wisconsin
Wisconsin 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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Wisconsin Bankruptcy Forms
Wisconsin bankruptcy forms, which are required for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit, are comprised primarily of the federal bankruptcy forms. Additionally, there is one local form, titled the Payment Advices Cover Sheet that needs to be filed along with your pay stubs for the past 60 days or a statement that you have not received any income in the same period of time. You can download all federal and local forms necessary for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Beloit directly from the website for the Wisconsin Bankruptcy Court.
Exemptions allow you to protect your possessions in your Beloit bankruptcy case. Wisconsin allows filers to choose either the federal bankruptcy exemptions or the Wisconsin bankruptcy exemptions, whichever they prefer. It is important to note, however, that you can only use one set, and there is no mixing between the two. Much like your choice for which Chapter of bankruptcy to file, your specific situation will likely make clear which exemptions to choose. As an example, if you have a lot of equity in your home you can protect up to $75,000 (or $150,000 if you are married and filing with your spouse) using Wisconsin bankruptcy exemptions, compared to only $25,150 ($50,300 married filing jointly) under federal bankruptcy exemptions.