Bankruptcy in Montana

Are you contemplating bankruptcy or hiring a bankruptcy attorney in Montana? Are you tired of creditors calling for payments you can’t make? Maybe looking for a way to get out of debt and have you exhausted all other options? Then bankruptcy might be the solution you seek. It is a legal option that can erase a portion or all of your debts.

Types of Bankruptcy in Montana

Bankruptcy is a legal process that helps individuals and businesses get a fresh financial start. It eliminates a portion of or all of their debts or financial liabilities. In Montana, to be approved, individuals must prove they have a hardship that prevents them from staying current on their financial obligations. Keep in mind that not all debts qualify. Some liabilities, such as child support arrears, delinquent taxes, alimony, and student loans generally do not qualify for discharge. Consumers who find themselves falling behind in debt can file either Chapter 7, 11 or 13. To determine which option is right for you, you’ll need to assess your goals, assets, and income. You should also consider working with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

In Montana, a bankruptcy filing will occur in the US Bankruptcy Court, District of Montana.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Many people find Chapter 7 to be the right solution for their circumstances because it provides them with the opportunity to start over financially. However, before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should thoroughly assess your income and ability to repay what you owe. You should also speak with a bankruptcy attorney in Montana who can help you to decide if a liquidation plan is right for you.

Typically, individuals approved for Chapter 7 lack stable income or have experienced a change in circumstances that has resulted in an inability to manage their debts. Though Chapter 7 erases debts, the tradeoff is you may have to give up certain possessions, such as your home, car or some other assets. However, once you file your petition, an automatic stay goes into effect that requires all collection activity against you like foreclosures and garnishments, to stop temporarily. However, the automatic stay does not prevent all collection attempts. For example, if you owe child support or restitution for a criminal case, you are still liable for those payments.

According to the District of Montana US Bankruptcy Court, you must complete Credit Counseling from a US Trustee approved agency before you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In fact, you must have completed the course within 180 days before filing or risk having your case dismissed. This may happen without refund of any filing fee paid.

Furthermore, if you refile within one year after dismissal, your automatic stay protection from creditors may be limited to only 30 days. For convenience, the United States Courts provide a list of approved credit counseling courses for use in Montana.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is more complex than other types of bankruptcy. It is often used by businesses and certain types of people. It allows petitioners to restructure their debts with a reorganization plan, so they are easier to manage over a determined length of time, usually four to 18 months. The main benefit of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is that it does not require petitioners to sell off or liquidate their assets to pay what they owe. It does allow debtors to negotiate with their creditors a reorganization plan that enables them to stay current on their debts moving forward.

In Montana, creditors are allowed to vote whether to accept your Chapter 11 Debt Repayment Plan. The debtor must also appear at a Meeting of Creditors, conducted by a representative of the Office of the US Trustee. Meetings are currently held in Butte, Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls, and Billings. The case may be dismissed if the debtor fails to appear at, or complete the meeting. This might also happen if you do not pay the $1,738 Filing Fee.

Some of the other mandatory filing requirements include:

  • Voluntary  Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy
  • Statement About Your Social Security Numbers
  • Chapter 11 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

This form of filing, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, is a debt restructuring or wage earners plan. In Montana after you file, the courts will assign a trustee to examine your liabilities and assets and ability to pay bills. Unlike other types of bankruptcy, Chapter 13 involves you restructuring your debt with a three to five-year repayment plan. The flexibility of this repayment plan will depend on what property you want to keep and how steady your income is. It may also give you the opportunity to have some or most of your debts discharged.

Filing for Chapter 13 in Montana can start with completing a Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy. You must also pay Filing Fees, typically $313 if it is a new petition, and $235 if you are reopening a case. You will also need to file a repayment plan within 14 days of filing the Petition.

Other documents that are required to be filed may include:

  • Master Mailing list of creditors
  • Chapter 13 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period
  • Chapter 13 Calculation of Your Disposable Income

The Bankruptcy Process in Montana

There is never an ideal time to declare bankruptcy. However, if you are unable to pay off what you owe within five years, filing for bankruptcy can help you to lessen the negative impact on your situation and help you get back on track.

In Montana to begin the filing process, gather all of your financial records, including monthly expenses, debts, assets and annual income. This information is crucial to give the courts an accurate picture of your circumstances. Failure to provide all necessary information can result in your petition being denied.

In some cases, Montana property owners can find exemptions from bankruptcy. Under Montana Code, there is an exemption of $250,000 worth of equity in a homestead. However, to be eligible for this exemption, the property must be the debtor’s primary residence. Other exemptions that may be available include life insurance, alimony, and burial plots.

At least six months before you file for bankruptcy, eliminate unnecessary spending. Do not run up the balances on your credit accounts. You’ll also need to complete an approved credit counseling course, usually online or over the phone. Credit counseling is necessary to help you learn financial literacy and help you learn better financial habits. Once you complete the course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion to include in your filing. If you don’t have the certificate of completion from the credit counseling course that you took, the courts will reject your bankruptcy petition.

Work With an Experienced Montana Lawyer

Hiring a local bankruptcy lawyer in Montana during this process can help reduce the costly risks of self-representation in court. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer understands state and federal bankruptcy laws. He or she can help you understand which laws apply to your case, especially which debts that can be discharged or can’t be discharged. An experienced Montana attorney can also offer you guidance to improve the outcome of your case.

Keep in mind that there are debt management alternatives and financial resources that may benefit you more than bankruptcy, such as debt consolidation. Though bankruptcy is an attractive solution, it is best as a last resort. Do you need immediate help? Then one of our experienced lawyers in Montana can guide you through the entire bankruptcy process. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Montana state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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