January 15, 2018
When you run out of money before the month runs out, filing for bankruptcy in Indiana can be a good solution. The first step to gaining financial freedom is understanding the differences between filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Once you know which chapter will benefit you most, you can refer to this article to find other information you’ll need, like official bankruptcy forms, Indiana means test figures, credit counseling providers, and your local bankruptcy court. You’ll also have a chance to learn about protecting property in an Indiana bankruptcy.
Official Bankruptcy Forms
Before the Indiana bankruptcy court forgives (discharges) your eligible debt, you must disclose all aspects of your financial situation, including assets, liabilities, income, expenses, and financial transactions. You’ll find the downloadable official forms on the U.S. Courts form page. After completing them, you’ll file your paperwork with the Indiana bankruptcy court and pay a filing fee or file a request for a fee waiver. Also, you’ll include proof that you’ve completed a credit counseling course (additional information below).
Indiana Bankruptcy Information
Federal law governs bankruptcy filings, including Indiana bankruptcy cases. Even so, some aspects of Indiana law and procedure play a part in the process.
Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information
You can find two types of Indiana-specific information (means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers) on the U.S. Trustee website:
- Means test data. Qualifying to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy isn’t automatic—your family income must not exceed a certain amount to pass the “means test.” If it falls below the Indiana median, you pass the test. If it’s greater than the median, you might still pass the test after you subtract certain standard expenses. You’ll find the income charts and expense figures on the U.S. Trustee’s website (select “Means Testing Information”). In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you won’t have to pass a means test. Instead, a similar calculation will help you determine your monthly payment.
- Credit counseling providers. Most people must complete a session with a credit counselor before filing for bankruptcy and a debt management course before the court will issue your discharge. The U.S. Trustee maintains a list of approved providers on its website under “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.” Scroll down to find the providers in Indiana.
Indiana Bankruptcy Exemptions
Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t mean giving up all your property. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get to exempt (protect) everything, either.
- Exempt property. What you can keep must appear on the list of Indiana exemptions or the list of federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
- Nonexempt property. If your property doesn’t appear on one of the lists, the Chapter 7 trustee can sell it and distribute the proceeds to your creditors. The process is different in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Instead of giving up nonexempt property, you’ll pay for it through the Chapter 13 repayment plan.
- Doubling exemptions. Spouses filing a joint bankruptcy in Indiana can each claim the exemption amount if they both have an ownership interest in the item. Otherwise, the exemption can’t be doubled.
Here are some commonly-used Indiana bankruptcy exemptions. Statute citations are to the Indiana Code unless otherwise noted.
- Homestead or residential property. Up to $19,300 in a residence (or personal property). Also, any interest that debtor has in real estate held as a tenant by the entirety is exempt (unless both owners file bankruptcy—consider consulting with an attorney). (Ind. Code § 34-55-10-2(c)(1); 11 USC § 522(b)(3)(B).)
- Insurance benefits. Fraternal benefit society benefits (Ind. Code §27-11-6-3); life insurance, mutual life, and accident insurance proceeds (including group policies); life insurance policies naming the insured spouse, children, dependent relatives, or any creditor as a beneficiary if the proceeds are exempt from claims against the insured and the insured’s spouse; (Ind. Code §§ 27-1-12-14; 27-1-12-29, 27-2-5-1; 27-8-3-23.)
- Motor vehicles. Indiana doesn’t have a motor vehicle exemption, but you can use Indiana's wildcard exemption to protect equity in your car, truck, van, or another vehicle (see below).
- Partnership property. Indiana has adopted the provision of the Uniform Partnership Act that exempts a partner’s interest in specific partnership property. (Ind. Code §23-4-1-25.)
- Pension and retirement benefits. Certain pension benefits for public employees are exempt (Ind. Code § 5-10.3-8-9); benefit plans for legislators and retirement benefits for teachers (Ind. Code §§ 2-3.5-4-11; 2-3.5-5-9; 5-10.3-8-9; 5-10.4-5-14); pension fund for firefighters and police (Ind. Code §§ 36-8-7.5-19; 36-8-7.5-22). You may also be able to claim federal nonbankruptcy exemptions for retirement funds.
- Personal property. Intangible personal property up to $400 (Ind. Code §34-55-10-2); all health aids (Ind. Code §34-55-10-2); any interest in a qualified retirement plan (Ind. Code §34-55-10-2); debtor’s interest in a refund or earned income credit (Ind. Code §34-55-10-2); education savings account (529 and Coverdell) contributions made more than two years prior to filing; contributions made more than one but less than two years prior to filing to $5,000; no exemption for contributions made less than one year prior to filing (Ind. Code §34-55-10-2(c )(9), (10)); earned income tax credit (but not federal child tax credit) (Ind. Code Ann. § 34-55-10-2(c)(11)); money in medical care savings account or health savings account (Ind. Code §34-55-10-2(c)(7), (8)); a spendthrift trust (Ind. Code §30-4-3-2); military uniforms, equipment, and guns (Ind. Code § 10-16-10-1).
- Unemployment compensation. Unemployment compensation benefits are 100% exempt until they are actually received by the debtor. (Ind. Code §22-4-33-3)
- Workers’ compensation. All workers’ compensation is 100% exempt except for child support claims. (Ind. Code §22-3-2-17)
- Wildcard. Any nonresidential real estate or tangible property up to $10,250. (Ind. Code §34-55-10-2.)
Indiana Bankruptcy Court Locations
Indiana has two bankruptcy courts. On each court’s website, you can review the local rules and instructions for filing your paperwork (select “Filing Without an Attorney”).
Both districts in Indiana have several divisions. The court clerk will assign the bankruptcy court based on your county of residence. For filing guidance, contact one of the clerks’ offices listed below, or visit the Federal Court Locator page (choose “Bankruptcy” under the “Court Type” drop-down box).
Click the court name to go directly to the website.
Northern District of Indiana
Southern District of Indiana
Fort Wayne Division
E. Ross Adair Federal Bldg and U.S. Courthouse
1300 South Harrison Street, Room 1188
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802-3435(260) 420-5100
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
5400 Federal Plaza, Room 2200
Hammond, Indiana 46320(219) 852-3480
Charles A. Halleck Federal Building
230 North Fourth Street, Room 105
Lafayette, Indiana 47901-1322(765) 420-6300
South Bend Division
Robert K. Rodibaugh U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse
401 S Michigan Street
South Bend, Indiana 46601-2304(574) 968-2100
Winfield K. Denton Fed Bldg and U.S. Courthouse
101 Northwest Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Evansville, Indiana 47708
Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
46 East Ohio Street, Room 116Indianapolis, Indiana 46204(317) 229-3800
New Albany Division
Lee H. Hamilton Federal Bldg and U.S. Courthouse
121 West Spring Street
New Albany, Indiana 47150(812) 542-4540
Terre Haute Division (not staffed)
United States Courthouse921 Ohio StreetTerre Haute, Indiana 47807(812) 231-1850
Indiana adjusts its exemption amounts periodically, and additional exemptions exist. To ensure that you have the correct figures, and to make sure you are using all exemptions available, check the Indiana statutes on the website for the Indiana General Assembly or speak with a bankruptcy lawyer.
Although this resource will help a filer find some of the information needed to prepare a bankruptcy filing, explaining the legal ramifications of filing is beyond the scope of this article. A do-it-yourself book like How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D. can provide you with a broader explanation of the process.