Wyoming might be the second-least populated state in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean that its residents aren’t enveloped in debt. If you compare your ever-growing stack of bills to the Big Horn Mountains or Gannett Peak, there is help available in the form of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Also referred to as a liquid bankruptcy, a bankruptcy, Chapter 7 will wipe out most of your debts. These dissolvable debts include medical and credit card bills, as well as old tax liens and other miscellaneous debts. But, before you can file, first you have to locate a Wyoming bankruptcy attorney and see if your income qualifies you for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Wyoming Residents, Qualifying is Easier than Climbing the Devil’s Tower
At the first meeting between yourself and your bankruptcy attorney, you’ll need to bring the following information:
- Last year’s filed tax return you and your spouse
- Your last six months’ worth or paystubs.
- A list of your debts with contact information for all of your creditors.
- A list of all of your possessions, most importantly homes, vehicles, electronics and jewelry.
Your attorney will go through these documents carefully to ensure that your salary falls under the income limits. These limits were put into place by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. If you fall under the median income limits most likely you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you exceed these limits, you may still qualify, but will need additional qualifying information. The income amounts below are for Wyoming residents. They may change from year to year.
- One individual: $46,172
- Two individuals: $60,829
- Three individuals: $69,677
- Four individuals: $76,361
- More than four individuals: add $7,500 per person to the base income.
A means test can be done for those whose salaries and family sizes don’t immediately qualify them for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The means test is a mathematical process performed by a bankruptcy attorney that weighs the amount of debt carefully against your income level. If you still don’t qualify for Chapter 7, you may still be able to file for a Chapter 13. Your attorney will help you decide if a Chapter 13 is the right thing for you and your family. (A Chapter 13 does not dismiss all of your debts, instead, it puts debtors on a payment plan to pay back debts over a 3 or 5 year plan.)
Still Unsure about the Bankruptcy Process?
The process for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is fairly simple when done by an experienced Wyoming bankruptcy attorney. Once you qualify, your attorney fills out a bankruptcy petition, which basically asks the court system to officially declare you bankrupt. You’ll have to complete a credit counseling and financial management course before the petition is filed with the courts. These courses are short and usually can be done on the Internet. Your attorney will be able to provide more information on the credit counseling courses and which companies are reputable.
Once your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is filed, your creditors cannot contact you under any circumstances. It’s against the law and if they have any questions, they’ll have to go through your attorney. You’ll never have to hide from the phone again!
A trustee will be appointed to your case. This trustee represents your debtors before the courts, up until the point that your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is approved. Once that happens, most of your debts will disappear without a trace. The entire process lasts about 6 months. You will have to attend a short hearing called a “Meeting of Creditors” with your bankruptcy attorney.
There are a few debts that cannot be discharged in any type of bankruptcy. These include:
- Alimony or child support payments
- Recent taxes and tax liens
- School Loans
- Money owed to others from court judgments like wrongful death
- Debts owed from money obtained through illegal activities and ill-gotten gain
Debts that can be cleared from a bankruptcy, Chapter 7, include medical bills, credit card debts, old tax and other assorted liens, and any garnishments.
Assets are Protected in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Yes, you heard that right. The Bankruptcy Protection Act allows a certain amount of assets and property to be exempt from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The amount and type of these exemptions can vary from state to state, and can also change over time. Some of the exemptions for Wyoming residents include:
- Home exemption: A primary residence worth $10,000 in value is exempt. $6,000 is available for a mobile home.
- Personal property:
- $1,000 worth of clothing (and jewelry)
- A Bible
- Burial plot
- $2,000 worth of furniture, bedding, and other household items
- Vehicle: Up to $2,400 in value
- Benefits and other similar exemptions:
- 100% Pension or annuity benefits of retired employees
- 100% Retirement or annuity funds of any person
- 100% Wyoming Retirement System benefits
- 100% Firemen's pension benefits
- 100% Police Pensions and death benefits
- 100% Proceeds and avails of disability insurance policies
- 100% Group life and disability insurance benefits
- 100% Unemployment compensation benefits
- 100% Fraternal Benefit Society benefits
- 100% Federal civil service retirement benefits
- 100% Social Security benefits
- 100% Veterans Administration benefits
- 100% Longshoremen and harbor workers' medical, disability and death benefits
- 100% Public safety officers' death benefits
- Miscellaneous exemptions include:
- 100% Seal of notary public
- 100% Liquor licenses & permits
- 100% Crime victim's compensation
- 100% Contributions to medical savings accounts
If you are unsure about what bankruptcy exemptions apply to you, contact a Wyoming bankruptcy attorney. A skilled lawyer can guide you through the bankruptcy process, ensuring that all your assets are protected.
Wyoming Bankruptcy Courts
Ewing T. Ken Federal Building and
United States Courthouse
111 South Wolcott Street, 1st Floor
Caspar, Wyoming 82601
Phone: (307) 232-2650
JOseph C. O'Mahoney Federal Building
2120 Capitol Avenue, Suite 6004
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001
Phone: (307) 433-2200