Do you feel the urge to pile up your credit card and medical bills into a replica of the Devil’s Tower? Or, would you rather toss them into a cave at Wind Cave National Park so that you no longer have to look at them? Do you spend most of your days hiding from collection calls and living in fear of garnishments?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be just what you need to get back on track and turn your financial life around.
Stop Hiding at Mount Rushmore and Look into Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, no longer holds the social stigma that it had in the past. Instead, it’s looked at as a way to emerge from the ashes of your former financial mess and declare yourself debt free. Because of these reasons, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is called a liquid or straight bankruptcy. It can relieve you from debts like medical and credit card bills, old liens, garnishments and other bills. A few of the debts that it can’t erase are:
- Alimony or child support
- Student loans
- Newly filed tax liens
- Money owed from ill-gotten gains or through illegal means
- Certain court judgments
Are You Ready to Take the Next Step Towards Bankruptcy, Chapter 7?
When you first meet with your South Dakota bankruptcy attorney, you’ll have to bring the following information along with you:
- Last year’s tax return, plus that of your spouse
- A list of every debt that you owe, whether they are dischargeable or not
- Past six month’s worth of your pay stubs
- A listing of all of your assets, including jewelry, furniture and electronics
- Bank statements and information on certificates of deposit and any owned stocks or bonds
All of this information is necessary for the qualifying process and for the bankruptcy petition. Remember that the information that you put on your petition is crucial. If you fail to disclose something important, or if your petition is filled out improperly, it will be tossed out. If this should happen, you’ll have to start all over again from scratch.
Bankruptcy Isn’t As Scary As It Sounds
The first step in filing for a bankruptcy, Chapter 7 is to find a South Dakota bankruptcy attorney. Hiring an attorney is an integral part of the process, since he or she will help you every step of the way – from qualifying to filling out the bankruptcy petition to assisting you in the mandatory credit counseling courses to having a judge approve your petition, making you officially bankrupt.
Qualifying for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in South Dakota is fairly simple. If your income is at or under the following limits, based on the size of your family, you most likely will qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- Family of 1 - $35,582
- Family of 2 - $53,443
- Family of 3 - $58,794
- Family of 4 - $68,016
- Family bigger than 4 - add $7,500 for each person
If you make more than the income levels listed in the table above, you still might be able to file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy thanks to the means test. According to the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, if your income exceeds the specified limits for your state, your attorney can use the test to determine if your debts are excessive. This test uses a mathematical process with your financial information to determine your worthiness for bankruptcy. If your debts are too high, you may not be able to file for Chapter 7. Your attorney can help you discover what type of bankruptcy is right for you.
Keep Your Assets in South Dakota
While many think that by filing for bankruptcy, you immediately have to give up all of your assets, the Bankruptcy Reform Act has changed much to protect debtors who file for bankruptcy. Some states allow debtors to choose between federal and state exemptions, while other states, such as South Dakota only allows debtors one set of exemptions.
Below is a partial list of state offered exemptions.
- Homestead exemption: Up to $30,000 in for the sale of a house. (If over the age of 70, the amount increases to $170,000.) Otherwise, 100% exempt.
- Family and household property – 100%
- Family Bible, books, and other related materials - $200
- Wages – up to 80% not including taxes
- Insurance and other benefits:
- Proceeds of life insurance policy payable to insured's estate when insured dies leaving surviving widow, husband or children - $10,000
- Proceeds of life or health insurance or endowment policy - $20,000
- Crop insurance proceeds – 100%
- Veterans Administration benefits (includes pensions, life insurance and disability benefits) – 100%
- Social Security benefits - 100%
- Public Employees Retirement System benefits – 100%
- City Retirement Systems and Pensions – 100%
- Workers' compensation benefits – 100%
- Federal civil service disability and death benefits – 100%
- ERISA benefits – 100%
- Other exemptions:
- 100% Specific partnership property
- 100% Crime victim's compensation
- 100% Earnings of prisoners on work release
- 100% Maintenance to the visually impaired
- 100% Federal homestead lands and debts contracted before insurance of the patent
- Up to 1,000,000 in assets and benefits of I.R.C.-qualified employee benefit plans
- 100% Annuities payable for service in the General Accounting Office
Filing for bankruptcy can mean the difference in saving the possessions you hold dear, and losing everything to creditors. You may have to surrender some property, but your bankruptcy attorney can help you wipe away nearly all of your debts. We live in a free country, and you deserve to experience the feeling of freedom. Call a South Dakota Bankruptcy attorney today to find out how to file for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
South Dakota Bankruptcy Courts
United States Post Office and Courthouse
225 South Pierre Street, Room 203
Pierre, South Dakota 57501
United States Courthouse
400 South Phillips Avenue, Room 104
Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57104-6851
Phone: (605) 357-2400