If you’re not making enough money to pay your bills each month, filing for bankruptcy in Washington might provide you some relief. You can start by educating yourself about filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Each chapter offers unique benefits.
Once you know the chapter you plan to file, it will be time to complete the paperwork. You can consult this article for help finding other information you’ll need, such as official bankruptcy forms, Washington means test figures, credit counseling providers, and your local bankruptcy court. Also, you’ll learn how to protect property in a Washington bankruptcy.
Before the Washington bankruptcy court forgives (discharges) your debt, you must first provide the court with bankruptcy forms that disclose all aspects of your financial circumstances, including property, debts, income, expenses, and financial transactions.
You’ll find the official bankruptcy forms on the U.S. Courts form page, where you can fill in the information and download the forms to your computer. Then, you’ll file your paperwork in the Washington bankruptcy court along with a filing fee or a request for a fee waiver and a certificate showing that you’ve completed a credit counseling course (additional information below).
Even though bankruptcy is a process governed by federal law, some aspects of Washington law and procedure apply, too.
The website of the U.S. Trustee has two types of Washington-specific information: means test and approved credit counseling providers.
You won’t lose everything when you file for bankruptcy in Washington, but you might not be able to exempt (protect) it all, either. It will depend on whether the property appears on the list of Washington exemptions or the list of federal bankruptcy exemptions.
You can review the state exemption list at Washington Bankruptcy Exemptions.
Washington has two federal judicial districts with a bankruptcy court. Each court’s website has the court’s local rules and instructions for filing your paperwork. (Click “Bankruptcy Resources” and “Filing Without an Attorney.”)
The districts also have division locations, but not all are staffed. To determine where to file your case, visit the Federal Court Locator page, choose "Bankruptcy," and then enter your location information. You can also contact a court clerk at the numbers listed below.
|Eastern District of Washington||Western District of Washington|
|Spokane Division904 West Riverside Avenue
Spokane, Washington 99201
(509) 458-5300 Yakima Division402 East Yakima Avenue
Yakima, Washington 98901
|700 Stewart Street, #6301Seattle, Washington 98101(206) 370-5200Union Station1717 Pacific Avenue, Suite 2100Tacoma, Washington 98402-3233(253) 882-3900Marysville Municipal Court1015 State AvenueMarysville, Washington 98270Federal Building500 W. 12th, 2nd FloorVancouver, Washington 98660Kitsap County Courthouse614 Division StreetPort Orchard, Washington 98366|
This overview provides resources that will help a filer find information when preparing a bankruptcy filing; however, additional information is needed. Each filer must understand bankruptcy law and procedure and how it will affect the case. If you plan to file without an attorney, consider buying a do-it-yourself book like How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D.