August 24, 2017
Are you a New York resident who is considering filing for bankruptcy? Although bankruptcy is mostly governed by federal law, there is some specific information you will need to in order to file for bankruptcy in New York. You can access most of this information online. Keep reading to find out where.
(For more articles on the filing process, see Filing for Bankruptcy.)
Before you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must complete a credit counseling course from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee in New York. You must file for bankruptcy within 180 days after completing the course, or your certificate of completion will expire and you’ll need to repeat the course.
Also, after you file your bankruptcy, you must complete a debtor education course before your bankruptcy discharge will be issued. You can complete these courses online or over the phone. (To learn more about this requirement, including the rare exceptions, see Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Requirements in Bankruptcy.)
New York has its own bankruptcy exemptions which help determine what property you get to keep in Chapter 7 bankruptcy and how much you repay unsecured creditors if you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. (To learn more, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.)
New York allows you to choose between the New York state exemptions and the federal exemptions. You must select either all New York exemptions or all federal exemptions—you can’t mix and match them. (To learn about the federal exemptions, see The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions.)
To learn about New York’s exemptions for your home and car, see The Homestead Exemption in New York and The Motor Vehicle Exemption in New York. To find other New York exemptions, visit our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.
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, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.
When you file for bankruptcy in New York, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in New York. If your income doesn't exceed 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 New York’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.
To learn more about these forms, including how to complete them, look at:
Here is more information about the New York median income figures used on the means test:
New York median income. For a one-person New York household, the median income is $51,408. For a married couple (household of two), the New York median income is $66,056. These figures are accurate as of August 2017; however, they change several times a year. Check here to find the current median income figures, including those for larger household/family sizes.
Example. Michelle is married and has two children. She earns $65,000 per year. She will pass the means test without having to do further calculations because her income is below $91,998 (the median income for a household of four in New York).
Standard deductions. In a Chapter 7 case, if your income exceeds the median for your state, you'll complete the second part of the means test by completing Form 122A-2 Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation. In every Chapter 13 case, you'll also complete Form 122C-2 Chapter 13 Calculation of Your Disposable Income. Both forms have a comprehensive list of expense categories, such as transportation, healthcare, and food. For some categories (like childcare), you list the actual amount you spend each month. For others, you deduct a predetermined amount. Sometimes that figure is a national standard and other times it varies by county or region.
You can find all of the New York county and region-specific figures you’ll need for Forms 122A-2 and 122C-2 on the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justice.gov/ust. Click on “Means Testing Information.”
Example. In New York, the amount you are allowed to deduct from your income for your mortgage or rent expense varies by county. Albany county residents can deduct $1,377 for a two-person household. If you are a two-person household and live in New York County, your mortgage or rent deduction is $2,902. You can find housing expense standards for each New York area here. (These are the May 2017 standards. Check the U.S. Trustee's website for current figures.)
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 New York’s bankruptcy court.)
There are two federal judicial districts in New York (see below for links). You can file in either:
You can use the Court Locator tool on the U.S. Court's website to find bankruptcy court locations and websites. There are four district bankruptcy courts in New York: