If you want to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Alaska, there are several steps in the filing process. You must receive credit counseling before filing, prepare a packet of bankruptcy forms, file those forms in an Alaskan bankruptcy court, and then receive debtor counseling before getting a discharge.
Because most of bankruptcy is governed by federal bankruptcy laws, the general bankruptcy filing process in Alaska is similar to other states. However, there is some Alaska-specific information you’ll need for the bankruptcy forms. You’ll also have to know about the Alaska bankruptcy exemptions and find an approved credit and debt counselor in Alaska. Here’s how.
(For more articles on the filing process, see Filing for Bankruptcy.)
In order to qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must show that you received credit counseling from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee in Alaska within the six month period before you file for bankruptcy. You’ll also have to take a debtor education course before you get a bankruptcy discharge. (To learn more about this requirement, including the rare exceptions, see Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Requirements in Bankruptcy.)
Alaska has a set of bankruptcy exemptions which help determine what property you get to keep in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and play a role in how much you repay unsecured creditors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. (To learn more, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.)
Although the Alaska legislature has said that debtors may only use the Alaska exemptions, the 9th Circuit allowed one debtor to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions instead. (To learn about the federal exemptions, see The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions.)
To learn about Alaska’s exemptions for your home and car, see The Homestead Exemption in Alaska and The Motor Vehicle Exemption in Alaska. To find other Alaska exemptions, see Alaska Bankruptcy Exemptions.
When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must complete a bankruptcy petition, a number of schedules containing detailed information about your finances, and several other forms, including a lengthy form known as the “means test” (for Chapter 7) and a similar form for Chapter 13.
(For a list of the forms you must complete, see The Bankruptcy Forms: Getting Started.)
For more information about each of the official forms, including how to find them and fill them out, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.
When you file for bankruptcy in Alaska, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Alaska. If your income is less than the median, you will be eligible to file for Chapter 7 and, if you choose to file for Chapter 13, you can use a three-year repayment plan (rather than five years). This is called the means test.
If your income is above Alaska’s median income, you still might qualify for Chapter 7, but you’ll have to provide detailed information about your expenses and payments on secured debts in order to find out. Most Chapter 13 filers also have to provide this information.
For information about each of these forms, including how to complete them, see:
Here’s how to find the Alaska-specific figures for these means test forms:
Alaska median income. For a one-person household in Alaska, the median income is $52, 611. For a family of three, the Alaska median income is $77,200. You can find figures for other household sizes in Alaska here.
Example. Tim is not married and has two children. His annual income is $55,000. He will pass the means test without having to do further calculations because his income is below $77,200.
Standard deductions. Forms 22A and 22C have a comprehensive list of expense categories, such as housing, transportation, food, and childcare. For some of those categories (like childcare), you provide the actual amount you spend. For others, you plug in a predetermined amount -- sometimes that figure is standard for the whole country, other times it varies by county or region.
You can find all of the Alaska area, borough, and region-specific figures you’ll need for Forms 22A and 22C on the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justice.gov/ust. Click on “Bankruptcy Reform” and then “Means Testing Information.”
Example. In Alaska, the standard amount you list on your bankruptcy papers for housing varies by census area or borough. For example, if you live in Nome, your mortgage or rent deduction is $678 for a one-person household. But if you live in Sitka, the deduction is $1,236. You can find housing expense standards for each Alaska area here.
Some judicial districts and bankruptcy courts require bankruptcy filers to complete additional “local forms.” To find out if your court requires additional forms, contact the bankruptcy filing clerk. Some courts post these forms online on the court’s website. (Below you’ll find a link to Alabama’s bankruptcy court.)
Since there is only one judicial district in Alaska (see below for the link), you don’t need to worry about the rules for filing in the correct judicial district.
The main office is in Anchorage, but there are also bankruptcy courts in Fairbanks and Ketchikan.