January 16, 2018
If you’re struggling to pay your monthly bills, filing for bankruptcy in Mississippi might help get you back on track. Not everyone is familiar with the bankruptcy process, however. To get started, you’ll likely want to learn about the differences between filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Once you know which type of bankruptcy will work best in your situation, this article will help you find other information you’ll need. You’ll learn about official bankruptcy forms, Mississippi means test figures, credit counseling providers, your local bankruptcy court, and how you can protect property in a Mississippi bankruptcy.
Official Bankruptcy Forms
Before the bankruptcy court forgives (discharges) your eligible debt, you must disclose information about all aspects of your financial circumstances, including property, bills, income, expenses, and financial transactions. You’ll do so by filling out the official bankruptcy forms that you can download from the U.S. Courts form page.
The bankruptcy case gets started once you file your paperwork in the Mississippi bankruptcy court. Also, you’ll include a filing fee or a request for a fee waiver and proof that you’ve completed a credit counseling course (additional information below).
Mississippi Bankruptcy Information
Bankruptcy is a federal legal process, but it draws on some aspects of Mississippi state law and procedure.
Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information
You can find two types of Mississippi-specific information on the website of the U.S. Trustee: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.
- Means test data. If you’d like to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll need to ensure that your income allows you to pass a “means test.” The process starts by comparing your family income to the median income for Mississippi. If it’s lower than the median, you pass. Even if your total family income is higher, you might still pass after subtracting allowed expenses. You’ll find the income charts and expense figures published on the U.S. Trustee’s website (select “Means Testing Information”). If you choose a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you won’t have to qualify with a means test, but a similar calculation will help you determine your monthly payment.
- Credit counseling providers. Most people must complete a session with a credit counseling service before filing for bankruptcy. You’ll also take A debt management course after you file (it’s a condition of receiving a discharge). Approved providers are on the U.S. Trustee’s website under “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.” Scroll down to find the providers approved in Mississippi.
Mississippi Bankruptcy Exemptions
There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to keep most of your property when you file bankruptcy, but there might be some things that you won’t be able to exempt (protect).
- Exempt property. You can protect any asset that appears on the list of Mississippi exemptions (below) or a list of federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
- Nonexempt property. If your property doesn’t appear on the exemption list, it’s considered “nonexempt,” and the Chapter 7 trustee can sell it. The trustee will disperse the funds to your creditors. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can keep your nonexempt property as long as you can pay for the nonexempt portion through the Chapter 13 repayment plan.
- Doubling exemptions. Spouses filing a joint bankruptcy in Mississippi can each claim the exemption amount (thereby doubling the exemption) if they both own the property; however, they can’t double the homestead exemption unless they live apart.
Below are some of the most common Mississippi bankruptcy exemptions. Statute citations are to the Mississippi Code Annotated.
- Homestead or residential property. Up to $75,000 of equity in your residential real estate that is less than 160 acres. If you’re over 60 years of age and married or widowed, you may claim the homestead exemption for a former residence. The Mississippi homestead exemption also protects proceeds insurance proceeds due to condemnation (for 18 months) or the sale of the home. Married couples filing a joint bankruptcy can double the homestead exemption only if they live in separate residences. (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-21.)
- Manufactured home. Up to $30,000 of equity in a mobile or manufactured home in which you reside, but you cannot combine this exemption with the personal property exemption (below) to protect a manufactured home. (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(d).)
- Insurance benefits. Life insurance proceeds held by the insurer (Miss. Code Ann. § 83-7-5); unlimited life insurance proceeds ($50,000 if procured less than one year before filing or paid to an executor or administrator) (Miss. Code Ann. §§ 85-3-1(b)(ii), 85-3-13); disability benefits (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-11); homeowners’ insurance proceeds up to $75,000 (plus $250 for personal property) (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-23); fraternal benefit society benefits (Miss. Code Ann. § 83-29-39).
- Motor vehicle. Mississippi doesn’t have a motor vehicle exemption. Instead, you can protect a car using the $10,000 available for all of your personal or household property (see below).
- Personal Property. $10,000 in personal property (things other than real estate), such as motor vehicles, furniture, household goods, appliances, clothing, wedding rings, tools of the trade (items needed in your profession), books, health aids, crops, and pets (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(a)); up to $10,000 in personal injury awards (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-17); sale or insurance proceeds for exempt property (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(b)(ii)); up to $5,000 in an earned income credit, federal or state tax refund (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(i), (j), (k)); tax-exempt education savings plans (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(f)); health savings account (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(g)).
- Pension, retirement, and life insurance benefits. IRAs, Keoghs, and ERISA-qualified benefits deposited more than one year before filing (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(e)) (You may also qualify for a federal exemption for retirement benefits. See Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions); municipal employee benefits (Miss. Code Ann. §§ 21-29-51, 21-29-257, 21-29-307); teachers’ retirement benefits (Miss. Code Ann. § 25-11-201); public officer and employees retirement benefits and deferred compensation (Miss. Code Ann. §§ 25-13-31, 25-14-5); state employees’ retirement benefits (Miss. Code Ann. § 25-11-129).
- Public benefits. Assistance to the aged (Miss. Code Ann. § 43-9-19); assistance to the disabled (Miss. Code Ann. § 43-29-15); assistance to the blind (Miss. Code Ann. § 43-3-71); workers’ compensation (Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-43); unemployment compensation (Miss. Code Ann. § 71-5-539); crime victims’ compensation (Miss. Code Ann. § 99-41-23(7)).
- Wildcard for filers over 70. Up to $50,000 of any property, if you are a Mississippi resident over 70 years of age. (Miss. Code Ann. § 85-3-1(h).)
Mississippi will adjust these exemption amounts from time to time, and additional exemptions exist. Check the Mississippi statutes on the website for the Mississippi Secretary of State to make sure you are using the most recent figures and all exemptions available to you.
Mississippi Bankruptcy Court Websites and Locations
Mississippi has two bankruptcy court districts. You can find out which court you should file your case in by either contacting one of the court clerk's offices below or by using the Federal Court Locator (choose “Bankruptcy” in the “Court Type” drop-down box).
Each court also has a website where you’ll find filing instructions, local forms (some courts have forms you’re required to use), and the court’s local rules (these rules explain what you’re expected to do in specific circumstances). You’ll select “Bankruptcy Basics,” then “Filing Without an Attorney.” (Click on the link below to go to the court’s website.)
|Southern District of Mississippi
||Northern District of Mississippi
|501 E. Court Street, Suite 2.300Jackson, Mississippi 39201(601) 608-46002012 15th Street, Suite 244Gulfport, Mississippi 39501(228) 563-1790701 Main Street (Hearings Only)Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39401
||Thad Cochran U.S. Courthouse
703 Highway 145 North
Aberdeen, Mississippi 39730(662) 369-2596
This overview can help debtors find some of the information needed for bankruptcy preparation. Before filing, each filer must be sure they understand bankruptcy law and procedure. A do-it-yourself book like How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D. can provide a more detailed explanation of the process.