If your bills are getting out of hand, and you’re having trouble making ends meet, getting a fresh start by filing for bankruptcy in Colorado can help. But sometimes finding what you need to prepare a bankruptcy case can be frustrating. Here you’ll learn where to find the information you’ll need, including where to find the official bankruptcy forms and means testing figures, the property you’ll be able to protect, credit counseling providers, and your local Colorado bankruptcy court.
Colorado Bankruptcy Information
Federal law governs bankruptcy filings. Even so, certain aspects of Colorado law and procedures will apply in your bankruptcy case. Here’s what you need to know.
Official Bankruptcy Forms
Before the Colorado bankruptcy court forgives your dischargeable debt, you must provide the court with information about your financial situation, including income, expenses, property, debt, and property transactions on official bankruptcy schedules.
You can start by filling out the bankruptcy forms online on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court forms web page. Once complete, you’ll file your paperwork in your local bankruptcy court along with a filing fee or fee waiver.
Colorado Bankruptcy Court Location
Chief Judge Michael E. Romero presides over Colorado’s bankruptcy court located at:
United States Bankruptcy Court721 19th StreetDenver, Colorado 80202(720) 904-7300
You’ll find instructions for filing your paperwork, as well as the local rules, on the District of Colorado Bankruptcy Court website.
Colorado Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information
To file a Colorado bankruptcy case, you’ll need two types of state-specific information that you’ll find on the U.S. Trustee website: figures to complete the means test and contact information for approved credit counseling providers.
- Means testing information. To file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll have to meet income qualifications by passing the “means test.” If your family income is lower than the median income of your state, you pass and can file a Chapter 7 case. You might still pass the means test after subtracting certain standard expenses. You’ll find the necessary income charts and expense guidelines on the U.S. Trustee’s website (select “Means Testing Information”). To determine your Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment, you’ll do a similar calculation.
- Credit counseling providers. 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).
Colorado Bankruptcy Exemptions
You won’t lose everything you own when you file for bankruptcy. In fact, you might not lose anything at all. Whether you’ll have to give up any property depends on the assets on Colorado’s exemption list and federal nonbankruptcy-specific exemptions (federal bankruptcy exemptions aren’t available). Spouses filing together can double exemption amounts, except for the homestead exemption.
Here are some commonly used Colorado property exemptions:
- Cemeteries and burial property. Burial sites and mausoleum spaces are exempt to the extent of one site or space for the debtor and each dependent; cemetery property used or owned by a corporation is exempt. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13–54–102(1)(d) and 7–47–106.)
- Child and domestic support. Exempt if kept segregated from other cash assets. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-54-102(1)(u); 13-54-102.5; 13-54-102(4).)
- Crime victims’ compensation. 100%. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13–54–102(1)(q); 24–4.1–114.)
- Fraternal benefit society benefits. 100%. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 10–14–122, 403.)
- Homestead or residential property. Up to $75,000 of equity in a home or other property covered by the Colorado homestead exemption; $105,000 if the homeowner, spouse, or dependent is disabled or 60 years of age or older. Proceeds from the sale of the exempt under certain conditions. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 38–41–201(1)(a),(b); 38–41–201.6; 38–41–202; 38–41–207; 38–41–209.)
- Insurance benefit. Group life insurance proceeds are 100% exempt. Subject to limitations, the cash surrender value of life insurance is exempt up to $100,000 and a debtor can exempt up to $4,000 per month in sickness and accident insurance benefits during the debtor’s disability. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 10–7–205; 10–16–212; 13–54–102(1)(l).)
- Motor vehicle. Up to $7,500 in motor vehicles; $12,500 for an elderly or disabled debtor, spouse, or dependent. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13–54–102(1)(j).)
- Partnership property. Certain partnership property is exempt. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 7–60–125.)
- Pension and retirement benefits. Firefighters, police officers, and public employee pension and retirement benefits. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13–54–104 and 24–51–212.)
- Tax-exempt retirement accounts. Exempt under federal rules (current amounts can be found in Your Retirement Plan in Bankruptcy).
- Personal property. Up to $3,000 in household goods; $2,000 in clothing; $2,500 in jewelry; $2,000 in books and family pictures; prescribed health aids; personal injury recoveries except those incurred for treatment of injuries; compensation for damaged property if the underlying property would have been exempt; $600 in food and fuel; an aggregate of $50,000 for livestock and tools. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13–54–102 and 13–54–103.)
- Public assistance. 100%. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 26–2–131.)
- Tools of the trade. Up to $30,000 of trade implements used in primary occupation; up to $10,000 in a secondary occupation; a professional library up to $3,000; livestock, animals, machinery, tools, and seed of person engaged in agriculture up to $50,000. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13–54–102(1)(i); 13–54–102(1)(k).)
- Unemployment compensation. Exempt as long it’s not commingled with other funds; however, it’s subject to child support orders. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8–80–103.)
- Veterans’ benefits. Exempt subject to child support and spousal support orders. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13–54–102(1)(h); 13–54–102(2).)
- Wages. Up to 30 times the federal or state minimum hourly wage or 75% of disposable earnings per week, whichever is greater. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13–54–104.)
- Workers’ compensation benefits. Exempt other than employer reimbursement and court-ordered support. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 8–42–124.)
Consult With an Attorney
Before filing, you should understand what happens to nonexempt property. For instance, nonexempt property:
- will be sold in a Chapter 7 case and distributed to creditors, or
- if you’d like to keep a nonexempt asset, you can pay for its value in a Chapter 13 repayment plan.
Also, additional Colorado exemptions exist and all Colorado exemption amounts are subject to change. You should check for any updates at the Colorado Secretary of State or meet with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney.