December 11, 2017
If you’ve been thinking about filing a bankruptcy case to get a fresh financial start, you’ve probably discovered how difficult it can be to find the right information you need to prepare a bankruptcy case. This article will help you get started. You’ll learn about how you can protect your property when you file a bankruptcy case in Minnesota. You’ll also learn about Minnesota means testing information, credit counseling providers, where to find official bankruptcy forms, and where to file your case once your forms are complete.
(Not sure which bankruptcy chapter is best for you? Read What Is the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?)
Before the Minnesota bankruptcy court discharges (forgives) your qualifying debt (not all debt is dischargeable), you’re required to disclose your financial situation on official bankruptcy forms that you can download from the U.S. Courts site.
When you’ve gathered the required information and provided details about your debts, assets, income, expenses, and recent property transfers on the forms, you’ll file your paperwork in your local bankruptcy court with either a filing fee or a request for fee waiver and a counseling completion certificate (more below).
Federal law governs all bankruptcy filings, but Minnesota laws and procedures also play a part in the process. Here’s what you need to know.
You will find two types of Minnesota information on the website of the U.S. Trustee: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.
You’ll find court information on the District of Minnesota bankruptcy court website, including local rules, forms, and filing instructions (click on “Filing Without an Attorney).
The bankruptcy court has four divisions. The Fergus Falls Division isn’t staffed; however, the other divisional offices accept bankruptcy filing paperwork. To determine where to file your case, go to the court’s website and select “Court Information,” then “Court Locations.”
St. Paul Division
200 Warren E. Burger Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
316 North Robert Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
301 U.S. Courthouse
300 South Fourth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Gerald W. Heaney Federal Bldg.
515 West First Street
Duluth, MN 55802
When you file bankruptcy in Minnesota, the chances are good that you'll be able to protect (exempt) all your property. You could be required to turn over any property that doesn't appear on either the federal bankruptcy exemptions list or the list of exemptions passed by the Minnesota legislature, depending on your choice of exemption scheme.
The Chapter 7 trustee will sell any property that doesn't fit into an exemption category and distribute the proceeds to your creditors. If you file under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you won't turn over nonexempt property, but you'll pay out its value as part of your three- to five-year repayment plan.
As a Minnesota resident, you can choose to use the federal bankruptcy exemption list or the Minnesota exemption list, depending on which offers you the most benefit. You cannot, however, mix and match individual exemptions from both lists. (Learn more about the federal exemptions in The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions.)
Here is a list of commonly-used Minnesota exemptions:
The Minnesota legislature adjusts exemption amounts in even-numbered years, as long as the amounts have changed at least 10%. To stay up to date, check the website of the Minnesota Legislature.
This overview provides some, but not all, of the necessary information needed in a bankruptcy case. For step-by-step filing instructions, consider purchasing a self-help book like How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D.