December 15, 2017
When you don’t have enough money to cover your financial obligations, filing for bankruptcy in Nebraska can be a good solution. The first step is learning about the differences between filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Once you decide which chapter will work for you—and it’s time to complete the paperwork—this article will help you find other information you’ll need, like official bankruptcy forms, Nebraska means test figures (for qualification purposes), credit counseling providers, and your local bankruptcy court. Also, you’ll find an explanation about protecting property in a Nebraska bankruptcy.
Official Bankruptcy Forms
Before the Nebraska bankruptcy court can discharge (wipe out) your qualifying debt, you must first describe all aspects of your financial situation on bankruptcy forms, including property, bills, income, expenses, and financial transactions.
You can download forms on the U.S. Courts form page, then file your paperwork in the Nebraska bankruptcy court. You’ll also include a filing fee or a request for a fee waiver and proof that you’ve completed a credit counseling course (additional information below).
Nebraska Bankruptcy Information
Federal law governs bankruptcy filings, but you’ll also need some information specific to Nebraska.
Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information
You can find two types of Nebraska information on the U.S. Trustee website: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.
- Means test data. Before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll need to qualify by passing the “means test.” If your family income is greater than Nebraska’s median income, you might pass the test after subtracting certain standard expenses. If it’s lower than the median, you automatically pass. Income charts and expense figures are under “Means Testing Information.” If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead, a similar calculation will help you determine your monthly payment.
- Required course providers. Most filers will need to complete a course with a credit counseling service before filing for bankruptcy. During bankruptcy, the filer will need to take a debt management course before receiving a discharge. You’ll find approved providers under “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.” Scroll down to the District of Nebraska.
Nebraska Bankruptcy Court Locations and Website
On the Nebraska bankruptcy court website, you’ll find the court’s local rules and instructions for filing your paperwork (click on the tab “Filing Without an Attorney”). The District of Nebraska has two divisions. The court clerk assigns your court location based on your county of residence. Please contact one of the court’s offices for guidance on where to file your paperwork.
|460 Robert V. Denney Federal BuildingU.S. Courthouse100 Centennial MallNorth Lincoln, NE 68508(402) 437-1625
||Roman L. Hruska U.S. Courthouse111 South 18th Plaza, Suite 1125Omaha, NE 68102(402) 661-7444
Nebraska Bankruptcy Exemptions
Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t mean you'll lose all your assets. But you might not get to exempt (protect) everything, either. The asset must appear on the list of Nebraska exemptions or the federal non-bankruptcy exemptions list.
Property that isn’t exempt (nonexempt) gets sold for the benefit of creditors in a Chapter 7 case. In a Chapter 13 matter, you can keep nonexempt property if you can pay for it through your Chapter 13 repayment plan.
Here are some of the most commonly-used Nebraska bankruptcy exemptions. Spouses filing a joint bankruptcy in Nebraska can double the exemption amount if they both own the property. Statute citations are to the Nebraska Revised Statutes.
- Homestead or residential property. Up to $60,000 of equity in the home in which you live and the land on which it sits, as long as it does not exceed two lots in a city or village or up to 160 acres outside of a city or village. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 40-101) The proceeds from the sale of your home are exempt, up to the amount of the homestead exemption, for six months after the sale. (Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 40-113, 40-116)
- Insurance benefits. Life insurance or annuity proceeds up to $100,000 of the loan value. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 44-371)
- Motor vehicle. Nebraska doesn’t have a specific exemption to protect your vehicle, but you may combine the wildcard and tools of the trade exemptions to protect equity in your vehicle. The wildcard exemption protects up to $2,500 in value in any personal property. Additionally, the tools of the trade exemption will protect up to $2,400 of equity in a motor vehicle, if used to commute to and from your place of business or employment. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 1556(4))
- Personal property. Immediate personal possessions, clothing, professionally prescribed health aids, and up to $1,500 in furniture, household goods, books and instruments belonging to you and your family (Neb. Rev. Stat. §§25-1556(1)-(3)); burial plot, tombs, crypts, and vaults (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 12-605); personal injury or wrongful death award in a structured settlement (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1563.02).
- Pension, retirement, and life insurance benefits. County employees’ retirement accounts and benefits (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-2322); military disability benefits, not exceeding $2,000 (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1559); ERISA-qualified benefits necessary for support, including IRAs (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1563.01); school employees’ retirement benefits (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 79-948); state employees’ retirement benefits (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 84-1324). Certain federal exemptions for retirement funds may also be available. To learn more visit The Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.
- Public benefits. Workers’ compensation (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-149); aid to the blind, aged, disabled, and public assistance (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 68-1013); earned income tax credit (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1553); unemployment compensation (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-647); general assistance to the poor (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 68-148).
- Wages. 30 times the federal minimum wage or 75% of earned but unpaid earnings; 85% of unpaid earnings for the head of household. A judge can approve more for low-income persons. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1558)
- Tools of the trade. Up to $2,400 of tools and implements used in your trade or profession, including a motor vehicle you use to travel to and from your place of business. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1556(4))
- Wildcard exemption. Up to $2,500 in any property, other than wages. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 25-1552)
Nebraska adjusts exemption amounts periodically, and additional exemptions exist. You’ll want to be sure that you’re using all exemptions available to you. Check the Nebraska statutes on the Nebraska Legislature website or speak with an attorney.
Providing all of the resources that will help a bankruptcy filer is beyond the scope of this article. The book How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D. addresses common bankruptcy issues and provides step-by-step instructions.