To file bankruptcy in Arkansas, you will need to gather and prepare various types of documentation as well as abide by other state and federal requirements. The details found here will help you prepare for the bankruptcy process.
Preparing Paperwork for Bankruptcy in Arkansas
To begin the bankruptcy process you must gather the following items:
- a current itemized list of your income sources
- last two years of major financial transactions
- monthly living expenses
- secured debts
- unsecured debts
- property (all assets and possessions, not just real estate)
- tax returns for the last four years
- deeds to any real estate you own
- vehicle titles
- loan documentation
- 6 months of paystubs or proof of income
There are some key steps to take when filing for bankruptcy in Arkansas. You will need to file the bankruptcy petition, along with other forms, in the appropriate district court. In addition, the 2005 Bankruptcy Act requires participation in credit counseling. This will need to take place within six months before filing for bankruptcy. After filing for bankruptcy, you will need to complete an instructional course in financial management so you are better prepared for the future.
Most of bankruptcy is governed by federal laws, so the bankruptcy filing process is going to be relatively similar to other states. Details specific to Arkansas include:
- Local forms
- Arkansas means test
- Arkansas bankruptcy exemptions
- Finding an approved credit and debt counselor
More information on these items can be found below:
Completing the Bankruptcy Forms in Arkansas When filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must complete:
- a bankruptcy petition
- a form referred to as the “means test”
- a number of schedules detailing your finances
There are several other forms to complete in addition to the ones listed above.
The main forms that you will need are referred to as the “official bankruptcy forms”. Visit http://www.uscourts.gov/forms/bankruptcy-forms to review. Our office will help you with preparing these documents.
It is important to review the local bankruptcy court requirements when filing for bankruptcy in Arkansas as additional forms may be required.
To review the requirements for eastern and western districts of Arkansas, you can visit: http://www.arb.uscourts.gov/filinginfo/filinginfo.html
To search for a local bankruptcy court, you can use the court locator at: http://www.uscourts.gov/court_locator.aspx
If Crawley Law Firm, PA is representing you, all necessary forms will be prepared for you and made ready for your review and signature. Once signed, Crawley Law Firm will file them on your behalf.
An automatic stay goes into effect once your paperwork has been filed with the bankruptcy court. Creditors will no longer be able to contact you directly. From the day of filing and onward, creditors can no longer stake a claim on your property. Any foreclosure proceedings will be stopped.
The court will assume legal control of your debts and any property not covered by your Arkansas exemptions upon filing. The court will appoint a trustee to your case. It is the role of the trustee to ensure that your creditors are paid as much as possible. The trustee will thoroughly review your paperwork regarding the assets you have in your possession and the exemptions you wish to claim. In addition, the trustee can challenge any element of your case.
341 Meeting of Creditors
Approximately a month after filing, the trustee will call a first meeting of creditors, which you as the debtor must attend. You will notified of the meeting location, but you may consult your attorney or contact the court to confirm the address.
The meeting of creditors usually lasts around five minutes. In the event of any objections by the creditors, the debtor or the debtor’s counsel will negotiate with the creditor. A judge will intervene if there is a failure to compromise. Trustees and creditors have 60 days to challenge the debtor’s right to a discharge. If there are no challenges, in three to six months, the court will send you a notice that your debts, which are then considered to be dischargeable, have been discharged.
You can confirm the date and location of the meeting by visiting the Arkansas Bankruptcy Court Directory: http://www.arkansasbankruptcy.com/court.html.
Getting Credit Counseling and Taking a Financial Management Course in Arkansas
Before you can receive a bankruptcy discharge, you must attend a credit counseling from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee in Arkansas within the six month period before you file for bankruptcy. In addition to that, you will have to take a personal financial management class. Crawley Law Firm can advise you on the details regarding these courses. Our office typically uses GreenPath financial wellness www.greenpath.com
A list of the approved Arkansas credit counseling agencies can be found here:
A list of the approved Arkansas debtor education agencies can be found here:
Arkansas Bankruptcy Exemptions
Some of your property is “exempt” in bankruptcy. This means your property cannot be sold by the Chapter 7 trustee in order to repay your unsecured creditors. Exemptions are significant in Chapter 13 bankruptcy as well. In Arkansas, you can choose between the Arkansas state exemptions or the federal bankruptcy exemptions .
Bankruptcy exemptions are important for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the property you get to keep is largely determined by exemptions. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, exemptions help you by keeping plan payments low. You do not have to lose all of your property when filing bankruptcy.
Exemptions will enable you to protect a certain amount of your assets in bankruptcy. Many exemptions allow you to protect specific types of property; such as a wedding ring or motor vehicle. In some instances, an exemption can protect the entire value of an asset. Sometimes, an exemption will protect up to a certain dollar amount of an asset. A “wildcard exemption” will allow you to protect any property you own. You won’t have to worry about an asset being taken or your bankruptcy being affected if you can exempt the asset.
How Do Exemptions Work?
Exemptions are used for different reasons depending on whether you are filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
A Chapter 7 is referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy. In this type of bankruptcy, the goal of the appointed trustee is to sell your assets in order to pay your creditors. However, any property you are able to exempt cannot be sold by the bankruptcy trustee. In this way, Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions protect your assets.
Exemptions in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy allow you to reorganize your debts and protect all of your property. The amount of property you can exempt will determine how much you have to pay to creditors. The amount you have to pay to your non-priority unsecured creditors (for example: credit card issuers) in your bankruptcy will be based on the value of any nonexempt assets. In this way, Chapter 13 exemptions help reduce the amount you have to pay to creditors.
State and Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions
The amount of property you can exempt depends on which state’s exemption laws you are using. Each state has its own bankruptcy exemptions. Federal law also has a set of exemptions.
The “domicile requirements” determine which state’s exemption laws you qualify for. Domicile requirements refer to where you live or have recently lived. Depending on the state, you may have the option of using state exemptions or the exemptions allowable by the federal system. If given the option to choose, you will only be able to choose state or federal exemptions; you will not be able to choose exemptions from both.
Federal Non-bankruptcy Exemptions
There is also a set of federal exemptions that exist under non-bankruptcy law. These exemptions are similar to bankruptcy exemptions in protecting your property. If you are using your state’s exemptions, federal non-bankruptcy exemptions are then available to you. Keep in mind, the federal bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy exemptions cannot be combined. You can use the non-bankruptcy exemptions in addition to state exemptions.
Finding Means Test Information for Arkansas
When you file for bankruptcy in Arkansas, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Arkansas. You will be eligible to file for Chapter 7 if your income is lower than the median. Alternately, if you choose to file for Chapter 13, you can use a repayment plan that will only take three years instead of five. This is called the means test.
You still may qualify for Chapter 7 if your income is over Arkansas’s median income, but detailed information will need to be provided about your payments and expenses on secured debts in order to find out. Most Chapter 13 filers also have to provide this information.
The Means Test Forms can be found here: http://www.uscourts.gov/servicesforms/forms (See the “Means Test Form” category)
For the Arkansas median income figures for all different family sizes, see the median income table; found here:
You can find additional helpful figures and information you will need when filling out the forms here: https://www.justice.gov/ust/means-testing
Housing and utility expense standards for each of the Arkansas counties can be found here: