Drowning in debt in the Equality State? Need to save your home from foreclosure? Bankruptcy may offer the protections you need.
Bankruptcy is a federal law that allows you to manage or eliminate your debts. Individuals filing for bankruptcy in Wyoming may choose either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In Chapter 7, you surrender your non-exempt property to a bankruptcy trustee who sells it to make payments to your creditors. Alternatively, in Chapter 13, you may usually keep all of your property, but must pay your disposable income to a trustee who distributes the payments to your creditors under a court-approved plan. In either case, being a Wyoming resident will impact your bankruptcy filing.
Bankruptcy Court Locations
Wyoming has one bankruptcy court with the principal location in Cheyenne and an additional unstaffed office in Casper. The bankruptcy court conducts hearings in both locations.
Eligibility for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcies in Wyoming are generally used by lower-income individuals who do not have the resources to repay their debts. If your average monthly income is less than Wyoming's median income, you are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your average monthly income is greater than or equal to Wyoming's median income, it is presumed that you have the ability to repay at least a portion of your debts and thus, you are ineligible to file Chapter 7 in most cases.
Length of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan
For individuals with an average monthly income less than Wyoming's median income, the maximum length for a Chapter 13 plan is 36 months unless the bankruptcy court finds good cause to extend it to a maximum of 60 months. For those with an average monthly income that equals or exceeds Wyoming's median income, the Chapter 13 plan may be 60 months in duration, but no longer.
Do I Need to Appear in Court?
In many bankruptcy cases, you will only be required to meet with your case trustee to answer questions about your finances. Your creditors may also appear and ask questions at this meeting. You will usually not be required to appear in bankruptcy court.
Can I Keep Any Property?
Exemptions allow you to exclude certain property from your bankruptcy. State residents may only claim the exemptions provided by Wyoming state law, which allow you to exclude the following:
- Homestead up to $20,000 for each person who jointly owns and occupies the property
- Wearing apparel and wedding rings up to a total of $2,000
- Household furnishings up to a maximum of $4,000 per occupant
- One motor vehicle up to $5,000
- Tools of the trade and professional books up to a maximum of $4,000
- Retirement plans, pensions, and annuities
- Medical savings accounts
You may also take advantage of federal non-bankruptcy exemptions, which allow you to protect your interest in tax-exempt retirement plans, IRAs, and social security benefits.
Consult a Personal Bankruptcy Lawyer
As bankruptcy laws in Wyoming are complicated and each case is unique, you should contact a Wyoming bankruptcy lawyer for legal advice regarding your situation.