Updated April 17, COVID Update: In response to the coronavirus outbreak, most bankruptcy courts remain operational; however, all courts have issued temporary orders modifying filing, hearing, and signing procedures. Visit your bankruptcy court website for details.. Like other states, Washington state’s exemptions protect the value of your belongings from creditors when you file for Author: Cara O'neill, Attorney. The bankruptcy court is open for business, with the exception of the physical facility in Yakima. Court users are encouraged to continue to access court services electronically whenever possible. All visitors to the court in Spokane must wear facial coverings in the court’s public spaces. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington is a federal court serving the area west of the Cascade Mountains from Oregon to the Canadian border. The district has courthouses in Seattle and Tacoma.
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You can get a free copy on AnnualCreditReport. The next step to filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Washington is to take the first of two required debtor education courses. The first course must be complete before you file your case. It is important to use one of the approved credit counseling agencies for this, and many will offer the opportunity to sign up and pay for both at the same time.
For both the Eastern District and the Western District, there are many agencies that offer online or phone options. Unfortunately, none of the approved agencies for the Eastern District offer a physical location. Once you have gathered your paperwork to fill out the forms, and have completed your first round of credit counseling course, it is now time to begin filling out the official bankruptcy forms to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Washington.
If you are working with an attorney on your bankruptcy, they will find out the necessary information from you to fill out the forms on your behalf. If you work with a trusted partner, like Upsolve , you can answer a questionnaire that will populate your responses into the proper forms. If you are continuing pro se without any assistance, it is important to be checking the court websites to make certain that you are completing all the necessary federal and local forms.
In the Eastern District , for example, there are local forms which are necessary regarding the submission of your pay stubs Declaration Regarding Payments , for a liquidation analysis Ch 7 Liquidation Analysis an opportunity to potentially waive the credit counseling if you are disabled, in active service or lack the capacity to do so Motion for Waiver of Credit Counseling Requirement , and one to lay out the specific guidelines for the creditor mailing matrix Matrix Format Guidelines.
In the Western District, by contrast, the Western District Court offers a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Form Package with all the necessary forms included to complete as well as instructions along with some examples. Next, when filing bankruptcy in Washington, you will need to get together your filing fee.
Traditionally, the full amount is due at the time that you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case with the court. Unless you're in the Eastern District of Washington, you cannot make this payment using a credit or debit card. As of April 16, , filers in the Eastern District can pay their fees online. If you feel that you cannot afford this fee, it is possible to request a fee waiver with the court.
If the waiver request is not granted or you do not qualify , you can also request to pay the filing fee in installments. After filling out all the necessary forms to file bankruptcy in Washington you will need to print out all the paperwork to file the case with the court. Make certain that you are printing on only one side of paper double-sided is not accepted and that you have as many copies as needed. If you are unsure, you should reach out to the court clerk Eastern or Western to check.
It is always a good idea to have a complete set for yourself, both for your own records and to use for your hearing. If you do not have access to a printer at home or one you can use at work, you might check the rates at your local library or go to a local office supply store, like Kinkos or Staples. After you have completed and printed all forms and dealt with your filing fee, it is time to go to court to file you documents and officially begin your Chapter 7 in Washington.
If you are working with an attorney, they will file the forms on your behalf, usually through an electronic filing system. If you are filing pro se, it is best to go in person rather than send someone else in case there is a quick correction to make or an additional signature needed.
Here again, it is a great idea to reach out to the court clerk Eastern or Western in advance to make certain you are filing at the proper location and double check the hours of operation. After you have filed your documents, you will be assigned a trustee to oversee your Chapter 7 in Washington bankruptcy case. You should still be on the lookout for a specific notice from your trustee in case they require any additional documentation beyond this first list.
In the Eastern District, you will need to wait to hear from your trustee, but the list of documents is likely identical or very similar. For both districts, the documents must be sent to your trustee at least seven 7 days prior to your hearing, so if you have not received any notice from your trustee two weeks after filing your case, you should reach out to the court clerk Eastern or Western and your assigned trustee for further guidance.
After mailing your documents to your Chapter 7 trustee, and before your required hearing, is the ideal time to complete your second credit counseling course. The timing is good because when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Washington, the certificate of completion needs to be filed with the court within 60 days of your scheduled hearing.
By completing the second course sooner rather than later, you are less likely to forget to do so and if you need to file the certificate yourself as opposed to the credit counseling agency doing it on your behalf , there is a good chance that you can file it with the court on the date of your hearing, saving yourself an extra trip later. Just be certain to file it with the clerk just like your original bankruptcy documents.
It will not be sufficient to hand the certificate to your Chapter 7 trustee at the hearing along with other paperwork. When filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Washington, you are required to attend one hearing. You can learn more about what to expect at this hearing in this meeting preparation video , but generally the hearing is relatively quick usually between 5 and 15 minutes and consists of the Chapter 7 trustee asking you questions about the information you provided in your paperwork and documents.
They are generally looking to confirm that the information you provided is true and accurate. It is also possible for your creditors to attend this meeting and ask questions, however, it is unlikely that most or any will do so.
The one time you might see a creditor appear is if you are still making payments on a vehicle you intend to keep, in which case they might attend to ask that you sign a reaffirmation agreement. When filing Chapter 7 in Washington, you will need to make a decision about what you plan to do with your car. The default is usually to plan to keep your car, but you should take this opportunity to think about what is the best decision. If you have a car, and you are behind on the payments without any hope of catching up, you do have the opportunity to surrender the car in your bankruptcy, which will relieve you of the obligation to keep making payments as well as any deficiency in your payments, late charge etc.
If you are current on your car payments or you own the car outright and wish to keep it, you will need to also properly list the car in your exemptions schedule to protect the equity. To determine the equity in your car, you should first find out the current fair market value of the car based on its age and condition you can use either Kelley Blue Book or NADA for this , and then subtract any outstanding loans you have on the vehicle. In order to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Washington, you will need to show that you are qualified to do so.
You can show that you are qualified through the Means Test based on your income and family size. If you do not qualify under that threshold, you can still complete the full Means Test, which involves a closer look into your income and household expenses, and qualify through that route. Washington state uses primarily federal forms as bankruptcy is a federal proceeding. There are, however, local forms which are also required and vary by district.
It is important to make certain that you have completed and filed all the necessary Washington Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms when filing your case. This means that you gave that creditor a mortgage on the home or put your other property up as collateral for the debt.
Bankruptcy does not make these security interests go away. There are several ways that you can keep collateral or mortgaged property after you file bankruptcy. You can agree to keep making your payments on the debt until it is paid in full.
Or you can pay the creditor the amount that the property you want to keep is worth. In some cases involving fraud or other improper conduct by the creditor, you may be able to challenge the debt. If you put up your household goods as collateral for a loan other than a loan to purchase the goods , you can usually keep your property without making any more payments on that debt. Many people believe they cannot own anything for a period of time after filing for bankruptcy. This is not true.
You can keep your exempt property and anything you obtain after the bankruptcy is filed. However, if you receive an inheritance, a property settlement, or life insurance benefits within days after your bankruptcy, that money or property may have to be paid to your creditors if the property or money is not exempt.
You can also keep any property covered by Washington bankruptcy exemptions through the bankruptcy. Most of the time, this meeting will be a short and simple procedure where you are asked a few questions about your bankruptcy forms and your financial situation. Occasionally, if complications arise, or if you choose to dispute a debt, you may have to appear before a judge at a hearing.
To find the location of the court that serves your area visit the Washington Federal Bankruptcy Court Directory page. There is no clear answer to this question. Unfortunately, if you are behind on your bills, your credit may already be bad. Bankruptcy will probably not make things any worse. But since bankruptcy wipes out your old debts, you are likely to be in a better position to pay your current bills, and you may be able to get new credit.
Yes, there are several options available. While technically not a credit card you could use a bank or debit card to perform activities for which you normally would use a credit card. You also may be able to keep the credit card you already have if the creditor grants approval. If these options do not work you can get secured credit card which is backed by your own bank account. Public utilities, such as the electric company, cannot refuse or cut off service because you have filed for bankruptcy.
However, the utility can require a deposit for future service and you do have to pay bills which arise after your bankruptcy is filed. If someone has co-signed a loan with you and you file for bankruptcy, the co-signer may have to pay your debt. Yes, but your spouse will still be liable for any joint debts. If you file together you will be able to double your exemptions. If the spouses have joint debts, the fact that one spouse discharged the debt may show on the other spouses credit report.
Can filing bankruptcy stop bill collectors from calling? How long after filing will the creditors stop calling? Once a creditor or bill collector becomes aware of a filing for bankruptcy protection, it must immediately stop all collection efforts. After you file the bankruptcy petition, the court mails a notice to all the creditors listed in your bankruptcy schedules.
This usually takes a couple of weeks. Creditors will also stop calling if you inform them that you filed the bankruptcy petition, and supply them with your case number. In some cases, you or your attorney should contact the creditor immediately upon filing the bankruptcy petition, especially if a lawsuit is pending. If a creditor continues to use collection tactics once informed of the bankruptcy they may be liable for court sanctions and attorney fees for this conduct.
Can I erase my student loans by filing bankruptcy? Generally, student loans are not discharged in bankruptcy. In 11 U. Student loans more than 7 years old used to be dischargeable under certain circumstances, but this provision was removed by an appropriations bill passed in October of