Bankruptcy is governed by federal law, but it does vary from state to state. A Chapter 7 filing requires that the debtor places his assets with the bankruptcy court, which then liquidates them and divides the proceeds among his creditors. In a Chapter 13 filing, the debtor has enough disposable income after paying his necessary living expenses each month to at least partially pay down his debts. He submits a reorganization plan to the bankruptcy court for approval. Under both filings, debtors emerge from bankruptcy with most of their outstanding bills erased.
Where to File for Bankruptcy in Mississippi
Mississippi's federal bankruptcy courts are divided into two districts: Northern and Southern. Locations for the Northern District are in Aberdeen, Greenville and Oxford. Southern District courts are located in Biloxi, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Meriden, Natchez and Vicksburg. You must file based on the county in which you live. Mississippi's websites for the Northern District and Southern District explain which courts cover the various Mississippi counties.
Mississippi's Income Limits for Bankruptcy Filings
If your average monthly income is less than Mississippi's median income, you're eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Otherwise, you must pass a stringent means test or file for Chapter 13 protection instead.
How Long Can My Chapter 13 Plan Be?
If your average monthly income is less than Mississippi's median income, your Chapter 13 plan cannot exceed 36 months. However, exceptions exist if the bankruptcy court finds that good cause exists to extend the plan up to a maximum of 60 months. Otherwise, your Chapter 13 plan generally must be 60 months in length.
Mississippi Exemptions From Bankruptcy Proceedings
Exemptions are property you're permitted to exclude from bankruptcy proceedings so they're not liquidated for payment to your creditors. In Mississippi, most federal exemptions are available. Some of the most common state exemptions for Mississippi include:
- Homestead: Up to $75,000 on no more than 160 acres. This exemption includes mobile homes if you own the land the mobile home is located on.
- Wages: 30 days of unpaid wages. Current wages are exempt at 30 times the federal minimum wage or 75% of unpaid weekly earnings.
- Clothing, household goods, furnishings, appliances, books and pets: Up to $1,000
- Personal property up to $10,000. Radios, televisions, firearms and lawn mowers are limited to one each.
- State health savings plans, education savings plans, and mobile homes up to $30,000 are also exempt.
- Personal injury judgments are exempt up to $10,000.
- Pensions: Tax exempt retirement accounts such as IRA's and 401(k)s are exempt up to $1,171,150. Pensions and the death benefits of teachers, police officers and firefighters, highway patrol officers, state and public employees, and tax-deferred private retirement benefits are also exempt.
- Insurance: Fraternal society benefits, life insurance if the terms prohibit payment to creditors, disability benefits and homeowner's insurance up to $75,000
- Public benefits: Unemployment compensation, workers' compensation, Social Security, assistance to the blind, aged, and disabled, tax refunds up to $5,000, and crime victims compensation
- Miscellaneous: $50,000 of any property, if you are over 70 years old
- Any applicable federal non-bankruptcy exemptions
You can also claim a former residence if you're over age 60 and married or widowed.
Get Help From A Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy laws in Mississippi are complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. For detailed information regarding your case, please contact a Mississippi bankruptcy lawyer.