January 16, 2018
If you don’t have enough funds to pay your bills each month, you might be able to improve your situation by filing a Utah bankruptcy case. The first step is understanding the differences between filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Then, when you’re ready to prepare your paperwork, this article will help you find some of the information you’ll need, including official bankruptcy forms, Utah means test figures, credit counseling providers, and the location of the bankruptcy court. Also, you’ll learn about protecting property in a Utah bankruptcy.
Official Bankruptcy Forms
Before the Utah bankruptcy court discharges (forgives) your eligible debt, you must disclose all details of your financial situation on bankruptcy forms, including property, bills, income, expenses, and financial transactions.
The paperwork is downloadable from the forms page of the U.S. Courts website. Your case will start once you file the completed paperwork in the Utah bankruptcy court. You’ll include a filing fee or a request for a fee waiver and proof that you’ve completed the required credit counseling course (additional information below).
Utah Bankruptcy Information
Although bankruptcy falls under federal law, you’ll still use some Utah state law.
Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information
You can find two types of information needed for a Utah bankruptcy on the website of the U.S. Trustee: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.
- Means test data. Before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you’ll need to make sure that your income qualifies and that you’ll pass the “means test.” If your family income is lower than the Utah median, you’ll pass. Even if your family income exceeds the median, you still might pass after subtracting allowed expenses. It will depend on whether you have enough money left over to make a meaningful payment to your creditors. The U.S. Trustee publishes the means test figures on its website (select “Means Testing Information”). If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a calculation similar to the means test will help you determine your monthly payment.
- Credit counseling providers. Almost all filers will have to complete a session with a credit counseling service before filing a bankruptcy case. You must take a debt management course after filing as a condition of receiving a discharge. The approved providers are on the U.S. Trustee’s website under “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.” Scroll down to find the District of Utah.
Utah Bankruptcy Court Locations and Website
On the Utah Bankruptcy Court website, you’ll find the court’s local rules and instructions for filing your paperwork (click on “Filing Without an Attorney”). The District of Utah has two divisions. All debtors file at the Salt Lake City office. The court clerk will assign your case depending on your county of residence.
Salt Lake City
|Frank E. Moss U.S. Courthouse
350 South Main Street, 3rd Floor
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101(801) 524-668
|206 West Tabernacle Courtroom 2BSt. George, Utah 84770(Non-staffed hearing location)
Utah Bankruptcy Exemptions
You might not be able to exempt (protect) all of your property when you file bankruptcy, but chances are you’ll keep most of it.
- Exempt property. Utah residents can choose one of two exemption lists: the Utah exemptions (below) or the list of federal bankruptcy exemptions. You can’t mix and match between the two lists.
- Nonexempt property. If the property doesn’t appear on the chosen exemption list, the Chapter 7 trustee can sell it for the benefit of the creditors. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the process is different. Debtors can keep nonexempt property as long as they can afford to pay for it in the Chapter 13 repayment plan.
- Doubling exemptions. Spouses filing a joint bankruptcy in Utah can double the exemption amount for any property they both own. If only one spouse owns the property, the exemption cannot be doubled.
Here are some commonly used Utah bankruptcy exemptions. Statute citations are to the Utah Code.
- Homestead. Up to $30,000 of the equity in any real estate if it’s your primary residence, including your home, mobile home, or any water rights you have. You can exempt up to $5,000 in real estate that is not your primary residence. (§78B-5-504.)
- Personal property. Animals, books, and musical instruments, up to $1,000 total; artwork depicting or produced by a family member; bed, bedding, and carpets; burial plot; clothing (but not furs or jewelry); dining and kitchen tables and chairs, up to $1,000 total; firearms: one shotgun, one handgun, one shoulderarm; 1,000 rounds of ammunition for each of the foregoing firearms; food to last one year; health aids; heirlooms, up to $1,000 total; personal injury and wrongful death recoveries for you or someone you depended on; proceeds from sold, lost, or damaged exempt property; refrigerator, freezer, microwave, stove, sewing machine, washer, and dryer, sofas, chairs, and other furniture, up to $1,000 total (§78B-5-505 and §78B-5-506).
- Motor vehicle. Up to $5,000 of equity in a car, van, motorcycle, truck, SUV, or another motor vehicle.
- Pensions. Tax-exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans) (11 U.S.C. §522); IRAS and Roth IRAs up to a maximum amount that is adjusted every three years. For the most recent figure, see Your Retirement Plan in Bankruptcy) (11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n); §15-41-30(A)(13)); ERISA-qualified benefits, IRAs, Roth IRA, if the benefits have accrued or the contributions were made at least one year before you filed for bankruptcy (§78B-5-505(1)(a)(xiv)); other pensions and annuities that you need for support (§78-23-6(3)); public employees (§49-11-612).
- Public benefits. Crime victims’ compensation. (§63-25a-421(4)); general assistance (§35A-3-112); occupational disease disability benefits (§34A-3-107); unemployment compensation (§34A-3-103(4)(b)); veteran’s benefits (§78B-5-505(1)(a)(v)); workers' compensation (§34A-2-422).
- Tools of trade. Tools, books, and implements used in your trade or profession, up to $5,000. (§78B-5-506(2).)
- Wages. Earnings to the lesser of 75% of disposable income or 37 times the federal minimum wage per week (Utah R. Civ. Proc. 64D(a)); unpaid earnings due as of the bankruptcy filing in an amount equal to 1/24 of the median Utah annual income if you are paid more than once per month and 1/12 if you are paid monthly (§78B-5-505(1)(a)(xvi)).
- Insurance. Disability, illness, medical, surgical, or hospital benefits (§78B-5-505(1)(a)(iii) and (iv)); fraternal benefit society benefits (§31A-9-603); life insurance policy cash surrender value, but not payments you’ve made on policy within the year before filing (§78B-5-505(1)(a)(xiii)); life insurance proceeds if the beneficiary is the insured’s spouse or dependent and if the proceeds are needed for support (§78B-5-505(1)(a)(xi)).
- Miscellaneous. Alimony that you need for support. (§78B-5-505(1)(vi) and (vii).)
Please note that Utah will adjust exemption amounts periodically. Also, additional exemptions exist. To make sure you are using all exemptions available and that you have the most recent figures, you’ll want to check the Utah statutes on the website for the Utah State Legislature or consult with a bankruptcy attorney.
This overview cannot provide all information you’ll need to file a bankruptcy case. Each filer is responsible for understanding how bankruptcy law will affect debts and assets. 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 more detailed information about the process.