April 26, 2019
If you’re unable to pay your bills each month, filing for bankruptcy in New York can help you wipe out debt and get back on track. Here’s what you’ll want to do to get started on your bankruptcy:
You’ll learn more about these steps and how to locate information that can be difficult to find, such as official bankruptcy forms, New York means test figures, credit counseling providers, your local bankruptcy court, and the exemption laws you’ll use to protect property in a New York bankruptcy.
In bankruptcy, the means test determines whether you meet the qualification requirements of a particular chapter.
The necessary income charts and expense guidelines are on the U.S. Trustee’s website (select “Means Testing Information”).
Most people want to know whether they’ll be able to keep their property in bankruptcy. You’ll find out which assets you can protect by reviewing New York’s bankruptcy exemption law.
A list of federal bankruptcy exemptions exists, too, and you can choose the list that works best for you. If you decide on New York’s exemptions, you can use the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions if they’re helpful.
The bankruptcy chapter you file will determine what will happen to nonexempt property (assets you can’t protect with an exemption):
Here are some commonly used New York bankruptcy exemptions. You can find New York’s laws on the New York State Senate website.
A debtor can protect the equity in a house, condominium, co-op, or mobile home used as a residence up to the following values:
(NYCPLR §§ 5206 (a), (d), and (e).)
To learn more, see The New York Homestead Exemption.
A filer can exempt the equity in one motor vehicle up to $4,550 in value or up to $11,375 if the vehicle is equipped for use by a disabled debtor.
If you have more vehicle equity than you can exempt, and you don’t use the homestead exemption, you can add the wildcard exemption and protect an additional amount. (NYCPLR §§ 5205 (a)(8).)
Exemptions protect necessary items that you’ll need to work and live. The New York wildcard exemption allows you to protect any personal property of your choice (not real estate) or cash up to a value of $1,150. This exemption is available only if you don’t use the homestead exemption. (NYCPLR §§ 5205 (a) (9).)
Find a more detailed list of New York bankruptcy exemptions.
New York adjusts exemption amounts every three years. These figures reflect the April 1, 2018 change. For the latest figures, go to New York’s Department of Financial Services website and search for “Exemption from Application to the Satisfaction of Money Judgments.”
You’ll use this information when you’re ready to prepare your paperwork and file your case.
Individual filers must take two financial courses—one before filing and another before receiving a discharge (debt forgiveness). Approved providers are listed under “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education” on the U.S. Trustee’s website (be sure to scroll down to your district).
Most people must pay something to file for bankruptcy, but it’s usually worth the cost. Here’s what you can expect.
The state of New York has three federal judicial districts—the Northern District, Eastern District, and Southern District of New York. Each district has a bankruptcy court with several divisions.
To determine which division with jurisdiction over your case, use the Federal Court Locator page. Click on “Bankruptcy” in the drop-down box, then enter your location information. You can also reach a court clerk at one of the phone numbers listed below.
On each court’s website (links below), you’ll find instructions for filing your paperwork and other information you’ll need, like the court’s local rules. Click on “Filing Without an Attorney.”
James T. Foley Courthouse
Alexander Pirnie Federal Building
James Hanley Federal Building
Conrad B. Duberstein U.S. Courthouse
Alfonse M. D'Amato U.S. Courthouse
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
This overview intends to provide some of the information needed by a filer when preparing a bankruptcy case. Filing without an attorney can be difficult, and each filer is responsible for understanding the law. Consider purchasing a do-it-yourself book like How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D.