30 Years of Experience Helping You File Bankruptcy
Experienced Pierce County and Tacoma, WA Attorneys Helping You Understand the Bankruptcy Process
How do I file for bankruptcy in Washington?
Bankruptcy is a federal process, which means that the basic steps are the same in every state. The only thing that is unique to the state of Washington is the exemptions that you can claim when filing. Your best decision when considering bankruptcy is to consult a Tacoma bankruptcy lawyer with the knowledge and skill to help you make the best decision. Washington Fresh Start is led by Attorney David Yando, who has more than 30 years of experience and has helped thousands of people find relief from their excessive debts. We can help you through each of the following bankruptcy steps:
Federal bankruptcy laws require you to take a routine online credit counseling class from an approved counselor before you can file for bankruptcy. This counseling provides information about the bankruptcy process as well as budget and credit management advice. You are also required to take a second online class after your case is filed, and each class takes about 2 hours.
In order to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must first pass the means test to prove that your gross income is within the median. This is not a cut and dry formula but instead relies on your average income for the last six months, and your particular circumstances regarding payroll deductions, debt structure and living expenses. It also depends on the types of debt you have as well as numerous other factors. A detailed review of your assets, income, debts, and prior filing history must be evaluated in order to determine if you qualify for any form of bankruptcy.
In order to file chapter 13 debt reorganization, you must meet certain debt limitations and generally have a source of regular monthly income sufficient to meet your normal living expenses and have something left over to meet plan confirmation standards.
Filing a Bankruptcy Petition
We can help you accurately complete your bankruptcy petition, which requires extensive income information and documentation of your financial situation.
The court currently charges a $335 case filing fee for Chapter 7, and $310 for Chapter 13, of which at least $100 of that must be paid to the clerk of the court upon filing, with the balance paid over the next 90 days. In order to complete the Official Bankruptcy Forms that make up the petition, statement of financial affairs, and schedules, the debtor must provide the following information:
- A list of all creditors and the amount and nature of their claims;
- The source, amount, and frequency of the debtor’s income;
- A list of all of the debtor’s property; and
- A detailed list of the debtor’s monthly living expenses, i.e., food, clothing, shelter, utilities, taxes, transportation, medicine, etc.
Married individuals must gather this information for their spouse regardless of whether they are filing a joint petition, separate individual petitions, or even if only one spouse is filing. In a situation where only one spouse files, the income and expenses of the non-filing spouse are required so that the court, the trustee and creditors can evaluate the household’s financial position.
Among the schedules that an individual debtor will file is a schedule of “exempt” property. The Bankruptcy Code allows an individual debtor to protect some property from the claims of creditors because it is exempt under federal bankruptcy law or under the laws of the debtor’s home state. In most consumer bankruptcy cases, most assets fall into the exempt category and are kept by the debtors, subject to any secured claims of creditors, such as a mortgage or car payment.
Once you’ve filed for bankruptcy, you will appear at a meeting with a court appointed Trustee, be placed under oath, and swear that the information that you’ve provided is accurate. You may also be asked a few more questions. Your creditors have the right to attend this court meeting, but are not likely to do so. Attorney David Yando will advise you on all these matters, and will be present at this meeting, as well. The Trustee will review your listed assets and exemptions to insure that all property is properly exempted, and issue his or her report to the Court.
For Chapter 7 cases, your debt will be discharged about two or three months after your court appearance. If you file under Chapter 13, your Plan will set up a payment schedule for the next 3-5 years. After this payment period is complete, your remaining debts will be discharged. Tax debts and student loan debts may or may not be dischargeable; speak with attorney David Yando to find out if you are eligible for such discharge.
Need to file for bankruptcy in Tacoma, WA?
Set up your free case evaluation with Attorney Yando today. The sooner you speak with a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer, the sooner we can help you get a fresh start. Our ultimate goal is to help you get out from under your overwhelming debt and rebuild your financial foundation. Contact a Tacoma bankruptcy attorney right away to learn more about Washington Fresh Start and how we can provide the counsel that you need.