Planning to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Nevada? We understand you might feel a little…overwhelmed. Take a deep breath. Here’s a step-by-step guide to preparing yourself for bankruptcy court.Photo courtesy of Ian L
Find out where to file
Nevada has only one judicial district, but it is comprised of two divisions: a Northern Division and a Southern Division. Your area of residence determines which division will hear your case. If you’re a Clark, Esmeralda, Lincoln, or Nye County resident, you’ll need to file your petition in the Southern Division, located in Las Vegas. Residents of all other Nevada counties are required to file in the Northern Division, located in Reno. To find bankruptcy court locations and websites, try the handy Court Locator tool on the U.S. Trustee’s website.
Complete a credit counseling course
To be eligible for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must take a credit counseling course 180 days prior to filing. The course must be administered by a state-approved agency, and you must file the certificate of course completion with the bankruptcy court once your receive it. For a list of approved credit counseling agencies in Nevada, click here.
Determine which bankruptcy exemptions apply to you
Nevada has its own bankruptcy exemptions in place that are separate from the federal bankruptcy exemptions. Nevada’s bankruptcy exemptions dictate what property you’ll be allowed to keep after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as well as how much you’ll be expected to pay unsecured creditors if you file under Chapter 13.
Obtain the correct bankruptcy forms
To file for bankruptcy, you’ll need to fill out a bankruptcy petition, several applications that disclose information about your debts, assets, expenses and income. You must also pass the means test, and submit documents recording your income. If you are working with a bankruptcy attorney, they will walk you through this process. If you are filing on your own, the burden is on you to determine which forms are needed and when they are due.
Complete and file all required forms, including the means test
The most difficult form for most individuals filing for bankruptcy to complete is the means test. The form asks petitioners to compare their income to the median state income for a household their size. If your income is below this median, you automatically qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and can choose a three-year repayment plan, instead of a five-year plan, if you file under Chapter 13. If your income is above the state median, you may still be eligible for Chapter 7 or flexible repayment terms using Chapter 13, but you’ll need to provide detailed information about your expenses and your payments on secured loans to be approved.
To find the state- and county-specific figures you’ll need in order to fill out the items that comprise these forms, head to the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justice.gov/ust. Click on “Bankruptcy Reform” and then select “Means Testing Information.”
Take a debtor education course
After you file your petition and required paperwork for bankruptcy, you must take a state-approved debtor education course before your debts can be discharged by a bankruptcy court.You can find a list of approved debtor education courses in Nevada here. Once you’ve finished the course, file your certificate of completion to ensure you get credit for it in bankruptcy court.
As you can see, filing for bankruptcy isn’t an easy process, but if you’ve determined that bankruptcy is your best option for getting out of debt, it’s worth the effort.
While it’s possible to file for bankruptcy on your own, consulting an experienced attorney can prevent you from making costly errors that could result in your case being delayed or denied. If you would like further assistance filing for bankruptcy in Las Vegas, Contact DeLuca & Associates at (702) 872-3134 to schedule a free consultation.