January 15, 2017
When your financial resources are stretched too thin, filing for bankruptcy in Oregon can be a way back to financial stability. You’ll likely start by learning about differences between filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Once you know which chapter will benefit you the most, it’s time to complete the paperwork. This article will help you find other information you’ll need, such as official bankruptcy forms, credit counseling providers, Oregon means test figures and your local bankruptcy court. You’ll also have a chance to learn about protecting property in an Oregon bankruptcy.
Official Bankruptcy Forms
Most likely, your goal is to have the Oregon bankruptcy court wipe out (discharge) your qualifying debt. But first, you must disclose all aspects of your financial situation on bankruptcy forms you’ll file with the court, including property, bills, income, expenses, and financial transactions.
You can download the forms on the U.S. Courts form page. When they’re complete, you’ll file your paperwork in the Oregon bankruptcy court. 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).
Oregon Bankruptcy Information
Federal law governs all bankruptcy filings, but you’ll need to know about some aspects of Oregon law and procedure.
Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information
Two types of Oregon-specific information can be found on the website of the U.S. Trustee: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.
- Means test data. To file a Chapter 7 case, you’ll need to ensure that your family income qualifies by passing the “means test.” If it exceeds the median income of Oregon, you might pass the test after subtracting certain standard expenses. If it’s lower than the median, you pass automatically. The income charts and expense figures are on the U.S. Trustee’s website (select “Means Testing Information”). If you choose a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead, you’ll perform a similar calculation to determine your monthly payment.
- Credit counseling providers. Most filers must complete a session with a credit counseling service before filing a bankruptcy case and a debt management course before receiving a discharge. You’ll find approved providers on the U.S. Trustee’s website under “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.” Scroll down to the District of Oregon.
Oregon Bankruptcy Court Websites and Locations
In addition to federal bankruptcy rules and procedures, you’ll need to know your court’s local rules and use the local forms required by the court. All necessary information and filing instructions can be found on the Oregon Bankruptcy Court website (click on “Filing Without an Attorney”).
The District of Oregon has two divisions. You will file your paperwork in the office assigned to your county of residence or where your principal place of business is located (see below). For guidance, contact the court or visit the Federal Court Locator page and click on “Bankruptcy” in the “Court Type” box.
|U.S. Bankruptcy Court405 E. 8th Avenue #2600Eugene, OR 97401(541) 431-4000
(For Benton, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, and Polk counties.)
|U.S. Bankruptcy Court1001 S.W. 5th Avenue, #700Portland, OR 97204(503) 326-1500
(For all other counties.)
Oregon Bankruptcy Exemptions
Rest assured that you won’t lose everything when you file for bankruptcy. But you shouldn’t count on being able to exempt (protect) it all, either.
- Exempt property. To keep it, the property must appear on either the list of Oregon exemptions or the list of federal bankruptcy exemptions. As an Oregon resident, you can choose which list works best for you, but you can’t pick and choose items from both lists.
- Nonexempt property. If your property doesn’t appear on the exemption list you choose, it's considered to be nonexempt. A Chapter 7 trustee will liquidate (sell) it for the benefit of your creditors. You can keep nonexempt property in a Chapter 13 case if you have enough income to pay for it in the repayment plan.
Spouses filing a joint bankruptcy in Oregon can double the exemption amount if they both choose the federal bankruptcy exemptions. If they choose the Oregon exemption list, they can double most of the exemptions, but not the homestead, household goods, or livestock exemptions.
Below are the more commonly used Oregon bankruptcy exemptions. Statute citations are to the Oregon Revised Statutes.
- Alimony, support, and separate maintenance. Exempt to the extent reasonably necessary for support. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 18.345.)
- Bank deposits. Up to $7,500 deposited into a bank account. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 18.348.)
- Building materials. Exempt except for debts due for the purchase of the building materials. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 87.075.)
- Cemeteries and burial property. 100% exempt. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 97.675.)
- Claims for negligence or tortious conduct. Personal bodily injury claims are exempt up to $10,000, along with compensation for loss of future earnings reasonably necessary for support. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 18.345(1)(j).)
- Crime victims’ compensation. 100% exempt. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 18.345, 147.325.)
- Fraternal Benefit Society benefits. 100% exempt. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 748.207.)
- Health savings accounts and medical savings accounts. Funds or distributions from a health savings or medical savings account are exempt. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 18.345(1)(o).)
- Homestead or residential property. Up to $40,000 of the equity in a home or property covered by the statute, not to exceed 160 acres outside a town or city or one block within a town or city limits. Proceeds from a sale can be protected up to on year if the debtor intends to purchase another property, pay rent, or use it for prepaid rent or security deposits for renters’ dwellings or military personal property during wartime. If two debtors are members of a household, the combined homestead exemptions may not exceed $50,000. (Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 18.385, 13.395, 18.402, 18.428.)
- Insurance benefits. Group life policy or proceeds not payable to insured; health or disability proceeds; life insurance proceeds or cash value if you are not the insured; annuity contract benefits to $500 per month (Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 743.046, 743.0474, 743.049, 743.050.).
- Motor vehicles. Up to $3,000 in any motor vehicle. (Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 18.345(1)(d), 806.115.)
- Pension and retirement benefits. Tax-exempt retirement accounts, traditional and Roth IRAs. See Your Retirement Plan in Bankruptcy for details.
- Permits and license interests. Liquor licenses are 100% exempt. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 471.292.)
- Personal property. $3,000 in household goods (no doubling); $1,800 in clothing and jewelry; $1,000 in animals, poultry; 60-day supply of animal feed (no doubling); 60-day supply of fuel and provisions for debtor’s family; all health aids; $600 in books, pictures, and musical instruments; health savings accounts and medical savings accounts; one rifle or shotgun and one pistol (combined value cannot exceed $1,000); $7,500 in a qualified tuition savings program (Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 18.345, 18.362, 348.863).
- Prisoners’ property. Injured prison inmates’ benefits are exempt. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 655.530.)
- Public assistance. $7,500 of the following: general assistance, aid to the blind, aid to the disabled, injured inmate's benefits, medical assistance, old-age assistance, vocational rehabilitation (Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 344.580, 411.760, 414.095); earned Income tax credit (Or. Rev. Stat. § 18.345(1)(n)).
- Tools of the Trade. $5,000 in tools used in a trade or profession. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 18.345(1)(c).)
- Unemployment Compensation. $7,500. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 657.855; 18.348.)
- Veterans’ benefits. All veterans’ loan program funds are 100% exempt. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 407.595.)
- Wages. Disposable earnings are 75% exempt, subject to certain exceptions (Or. Rev. Stat. § 18.385). Wages withheld in an Employees’ Bond Savings Account are 100% exempt (Or. Rev. Stat. § 2962.070. In re Robinson, 241 B.R. 447 (9th Cir. BAP 1999)),
- Wildcard. $400 of personal property (not real estate) not already covered by an existing exemption. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 18.345(1)(p).)
- Workers' compensation. $7,500. (Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 656.234; 18.348.)
Oregon adjusts these exemption amounts periodically, and additional exemptions exist. To ensure that you use all exemptions available and that you have the most recent figures, check the Oregon statutes on the website for the Oregon State Legislature or consult with an attorney.
The purpose of this overview is to provide resources to help a filer find some of the information needed to file for bankruptcy. This article cannot explain all aspects of filing. Each filer is responsible for understanding the law. A do-it-yourself book like How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D. can help you make important decisions in your case.