December 15, 2017
When your bills are out of control, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever be able to tame them, filing for bankruptcy can get you back on track. But finding the information you need to prepare your Wyoming bankruptcy petition (bankruptcy paperwork) can be hard.
Understanding the differences between a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy will be your first step. Once you know which chapter makes sense for you, you’ll complete your paperwork. In this article, you’ll learn some of the things you’ll need to know when preparing it, such as how to protect property in your Wyoming bankruptcy, as well as where to find official bankruptcy forms, Wyoming means testing information, credit counseling providers, and the location of your local bankruptcy court.
Official Bankruptcy Forms
Before the Wyoming bankruptcy court discharges (wipes out) your qualifying debt, you’re required to disclose all aspects of your financial situation on official bankruptcy forms. Visit the U.S. Courts Form page for free fillable, downloadable forms. You’ll file the completed paperwork in your local bankruptcy court along with a filing fee or fee waiver and proof of completion of a credit counseling class.
Wyoming Bankruptcy Information
Federal law governs bankruptcy filings; however, you’ll need some information specific to Wyoming, as well.
Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information
You can find two types of Wyoming information on the website of the U.S. Trustee: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.
- Means testing information. Before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your income must meet certain guidelines and pass a “means test.” If your family income is lower than the Wyoming median, you pass. If it exceeds the median income, you might pass the test after subtracting pre-set expenses. Look for the income charts and expense guidelines under “Means Testing Information.” For a Chapter 13 case, you’ll do a similar calculation to determine a Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment.
- Required course providers. Most people who file for bankruptcy must take a credit counseling course before filing and a debt management course before receiving a discharge. You’ll find approved providers by clicking “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education” and scrolling down to your bankruptcy district.
Wyoming Bankruptcy Court Locations and Website
The Wyoming Bankruptcy Court has offices in Cheyenne and Casper. You’ll use the Cheyenne address for any mailings. You’ll want to call the office of the Clerk of the Court at (307) 433-2200 to learn which office will have jurisdiction over your case.
|U.S. Bankruptcy CourtDistrict of Wyoming2120 Capitol Avenue, 6th FloorCheyenne, WY 82001
||U.S. Bankruptcy CourtDistrict of Wyoming111 South WolcottCasper, WY 82601
On the Wyoming bankruptcy court website, you’ll find the court’s local rules and instructions for filing your paperwork. Click on “Filing Without an Attorney.”
Wyoming Bankruptcy Exemptions
You don’t lose everything in bankruptcy. But you might not be able to protect (exempt) it all, either. The protected property must appear on the list of Wyoming exemptions or the federal nonbankruptcy exemption list.
Any property that’s nonexempt property (not covered by an exemption) gets sold by the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee, and the proceeds get distributed to the creditors. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can keep nonexempt property as long as you pay for it as a part of the Chapter 13 repayment plan. In either chapter, spouses can double most exemption amounts as long as you both own the property.
Commonly-used Wyoming bankruptcy exemptions are listed below. The statute citations are to the Wyoming Statutes Annotated.
- Homestead. Up to $20,000 of equity in your home, including house trailers. (§§ 1-20-101, 102, 103, and 104)
- Personal property. Unless otherwise stated, these exemptions are all found in § 1-20-105 and 106: bedding, furniture, household articles, and food, up to $4,000 per person in the home; bible, school books, and pictures; burial plot; clothing and wedding rings (but no other jewelry), up to $2,000; medical savings account contributions (§ 1-20-111); prepaid funeral contracts (§ 26-32-102).
- Motor vehicle. Up to $5,000 of equity in your car, truck, van, SUV, motorcycle, or another vehicle. (§ 1-20-106(a)(iv))
- Tools of the trade. Up to $4,000 of either: the library, instruments, and implements of a professional, or the tools, team, implements, or stock used in your trade or business. (§ 1-20-106(b))
- Pensions. Criminal investigators and highway officers (§ 9-3-620); firefighters’ death benefits (§ 15-5-209); game and fish wardens (§ 9-3-620); police officers (§ 15-5-313(c)); private or public retirement funds and accounts, including IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SEP IRAs (§ 1-20-110); public employees (§ 9-3-426). 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, and IRAS and Roth IRAs to the current allowed amount. (For more information and the most recent figure, see Your Retirement Account in Bankruptcy.)
- Public benefits. Crime victims' compensation (§ 1-40-113); general assistance (§ 42-2-113(b)); unemployment compensation (§ 27-3-319); workers' compensation (§ 27-14-702).
- Insurance. Annuity contract proceeds to $350 per month (§ 26-15-132); disability benefits if the contract says you cannot use them to pay a beneficiary’s creditors (§ 26-15-130); fraternal benefit society benefits (§ 26-29-218); group life insurance or disability policy or proceeds, cash surrender and loan values, waived premiums, and dividends (§ 26-15-131); individual life insurance policy proceeds, cash surrender and loan values, waived premiums, and dividends (§ 26-15-129); life insurance proceeds held by the insurer if the contract says they cannot be used to pay the beneficiary’s creditors (§ 26-15-133).
- Miscellaneous. Liquor license and malt beverage permits (§ 12-4-604).
- Wages. Earnings of National Guard members (§ 19-9-401); 75% of your disposable earnings or 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is more (§§ 1-15-511, 1-15-408, and 40-14-505); wages of inmates in adult community corrections programs (§ 7-18-114); wages of inmates in correctional industries programs (§ 25-13-107); wages of inmates on work release (§ 7-16-308).
Wyoming’s exemption amounts adjust periodically, and additional exemptions exist. To make sure you have the most recent figures, and that you’re claiming all exemptions you’re entitled to, check for any updates on the website of the Wyoming Legislature or speak with an attorney.
Explaining all aspects of filing for bankruptcy is beyond the scope of this article. If you’d like more comprehensive coverage, consider referring to a book like How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D.