December 14, 2017
If you’ve suffered a financial reversal or you’re just not making enough money to cover all that you owe, bankruptcy might be the answer to get you back on track. To make that happen, you’ll need to decide whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is best for you. Then you’ve got to gather information and complete bankruptcy forms. This article will help you get started.
You’ll learn where to find the official bankruptcy forms, North Dakota means test figures, credit counseling providers, and your local bankruptcy court. Also, you’ll learn about protecting property in a North Dakota bankruptcy case.
Official Bankruptcy Forms
Before the bankruptcy court will forgive (discharge) your debt, you have to disclose your entire financial picture, including income, expenses, property, debt, and property transactions. You’ll use official bankruptcy forms that you can complete on the U.S. Courts Form page. The paperwork gets filed in the North Dakota bankruptcy court along with a filing fee or fee waiver and proof that you’ve completed the required pre-filing counseling course (more below).
North Dakota Bankruptcy Information
Bankruptcy is a federal process, but you’ll also need to use some North Dakota rules and laws.
Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information
The U.S. Trustee website publishes two types of data you need: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.
- Means testing information. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must meet income qualifications by passing a “means test.” If your family income exceeds the median income of North Dakota, you might pass the test after subtracting pre-set expenses. If it’s lower than the median, you qualify. You’ll find the income and expense guidelines on the U.S. Trustee’s website (select “Means Testing Information”). If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a similar calculation will help you determine your plan payment.
- Credit counseling courses. Most filers must complete a credit counseling course before filing for bankruptcy and a debt management course during the case. You can find the approved providers by clicking “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education” and scrolling down to North Dakota.
North Dakota Bankruptcy Court Location
On the North Dakota Bankruptcy Court website, you’ll find the court’s local rules and instructions for filing your paperwork (click on “Filing Without an Attorney”). In North Dakota, there’s one bankruptcy court location:
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Quentin N. Burdick United States Courthouse
655 1st Ave North, Suite 210
Fargo, ND 58102
North Dakota Bankruptcy Exemptions
Many people worry that they’ll lose property when they file bankruptcy, but that isn’t usually the case. You might not have to turn over any assets at all. The property that you can exempt (protect) is detailed on the North Dakota exemption list.
Anything that doesn’t appear on the list is nonexempt and can be liquidated by the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case for the benefit of your creditors. When you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the process is different. You won’t turn over any assets if you can afford to “buy back” the property by paying its value to your creditors through your Chapter 13 repayment plan.
Unless otherwise stated, a married couple filing together can double the North Dakota bankruptcy exemption amount if you both own the property.
Below are some of the most commonly used bankruptcy exemptions. The statute citations are to the North Dakota Century Code.
- Homestead exemption. Up to $100,000 of equity in your home, house trailer, or mobile home. Married couples filing jointly cannot double this exemption. (§§ 28-22-02(10), 47-18-01)
- Personal property. Bible or other religious book, schoolbooks, other books, burial plots and church pew, wearing apparel to $5,000 and all clothing of the debtor and his or her family, crops or grain where the debtor lives, up to 160 acres, food and fuel to last one year, health aids, insurance proceeds for exempt property, personal injury and wrongful death recoveries to $15,000. (§§ 28-22-02 through 28-22-05)
- Motor vehicle exemption. Up to $2,950 of equity in a motor vehicle, including a car, van, motorcycle, or truck. If you have modified the vehicle to accommodate your disability, you can exempt up to $32,000.
- Pensions. ERISA-qualified benefits, IRAs, Roth IRA and Keoghs to $100,000 per plan. You can exempt more if you need the money for your support. The total exemption for all accounts cannot be more than $200,000 (§ 28-22-03.1(7); however, tax-exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans) are also protected by federal law—see Your Retirement Plan in Bankruptcy for figures); disabled veteran’s benefits (other than for military pay) (§ 28-22-03.1(4)(d)); public employee’s deferred compensation (§ 54-52.2-06); public employee’s pensions (§ 28-22-19(1)).
- Public benefits. Crime victims’ compensation (§§ 28-22-03.1(4), 28-22-19(2)); old-age and survivor insurance program benefits (§ 52-09-22); public assistance (§ 28-22-19(3)); Social Security (§ 28-22-03.1(8)(a)); unemployment compensation (§ 52-06-30); veteran’s disability benefits (§ 28-22-03.1(8)(b)); workers' compensation (§ 65-05-29).
- Tools of the trade. Tools, books, and implements used in your trade or profession up to $1,500. (§ 28-22-03.1(3))
- Life insurance. Fraternal benefit society benefits (§ 26.1-15.1-18); unmatured life insurance contract other than credit life insurance (§§ 26.1-33-40, 28-22-03.1(4)); life insurance proceeds that are payable to the estate and not to a specific beneficiary (§ 26.1-33-40); life insurance surrender value up to $8,000 per policy, if the beneficiary is the insured’s dependent and the insured owned the policy for at least one year prior to filing for bankruptcy (you can exempt more if you need the money for support) (§ 28-22-03.1(5)).
- Miscellaneous. Alimony, child support, and maintenance payments. (§§ 14-09-09.31, 28-22-03.1(8)(d))
- Wildcard. $7,500 of any personal property if you are the head of a household (§28-22-03); $3,750 of any personal property if you are single and do not have dependents (§28-22-05); ($10,000 of any property if you don’t use the homestead exemption (§28-22-03.1(1)).
North Dakota's exemption amounts adjust periodically, and additional exemptions exist. Be sure to protect your property fully by checking for any updates at the Century Code section on the website of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly or by consulting with an attorney.
Not all of the information needed in a bankruptcy case is in this article. For a detailed discussion of bankruptcy issues, consider purchasing a self-help title like How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D.