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Utah Bankruptcy Attorney | Bryan M. Cowley | Integrity Law

I just moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. Can I file bankruptcy in Utah?

by Bryan M. Cowley on 10/04/13

Filing Bankruptcy in Utah?

There are a lot of reasons that people move to Utah and subsequently desire to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The prospects of finding new employment in Salt Lake City, moving closer to family in Provo, and/or finding a new beginning in Tooele bring individuals to Utah. Many individuals newly residing in Utah left a state having lost a home to foreclosure, suffered job losses, medical problems, divorce or separation, garnishments and repossessions. Often times their financial new beginning begins with a Utah bankruptcy.

Utah Bankruptcy Residency Requirements

As far as residency is required, one can file for bankruptcy regardless of the state they live in. The question is which state to file in if you have recently moved. In determining if you can file bankruptcy in Utah, one has to look at either of (1) where they lived most for the six months (180 days) prior to filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy or (2) where their principal assets were located during the six months (180 days) prior to filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Essentially if one moves to another state they may have to wait 91 or more days so they will  have lived in the new state more than they have lived in the old state.

The obvious benefit of waiting 91 days in the new state where one resides is that they will not have to travel as far because the 341 hearing location will be closer and the same is typically true of their attorney's office.

Which State Exemptions?

Now the individual has moved to their new state and lived there for 91 days. In order to prevent bankruptcy filers from moving to another state where bankruptcy exemptions are more generous Congress created residency requirements for bankruptcy. In order to file bankruptcy using a state's exemptions, one has to live in that state for two years (730 days) in order to qualify for that state's exemptions. If the debtor lives in more than one state during a two year period, they are required to use the state exemptions of the state they lived in the most for the six months (180 days) before the two year time period.  Essentially, if one moves to a new state and waits 91 days to file so they meet the residency requirement, they will still have to use their old state's exemptions. However if the state you are filing in offers a bankruptcy filer a choice between the state and federal bankruptcy exemptions then the federal exemptions can be used in the new state regardless of how long one has lived there.

There are some additional rules regarding using the homestead exemption that should be discussed individually with an Integrity Law bankruptcy lawyer. Essentially, if one purchased a home in the new state within 40 months of filing and did not purchase it with money acquired from the sale of a home in the prior state, then the individual has to use the exemption of the state they used to live in and are capped at a $146,450 homestead exemption regardless of the prior state exemptions.

Because it can be difficult to determine where and with which exemptions to file bankruptcy, give Integrity Law a call and get a free consultation regarding whether a Utah bankruptcy is appropriate in your circumstances.

How long after bankruptcy until I can purchase a house?

by Bryan M. Cowley on 09/27/13

One of the most common questions asked by our Salt Lake Bankruptcy clients is, "How long do I have to wait to purchase a home after bankruptcy?" The answer to that question depends on individual factors such as whether the bankruptcy was a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and from whom the home loan is sought. Traditionally one needed to wait 2-4 years or longer while reestablishing good credit, managing financial affairs and not taking on new credit obligations.

Recently, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA, government agency who insures loans from approved lenders), announced people who have gone through bankruptcy may be allowed to purchase a home using an FHA loan in as little as one year as long as some conditions are met.

In order to qualify for a FHA insured loan after bankruptcy, one has to have experienced an Economic Event which is defined by the FHA as "any occurrence beyond the borrower's control that results in Loss of Employment, Loss of Income, or a combination of both, which causes a reduction in the borrower's Household Income of twenty (20) percent or more for a period of at least six (6) months."

Essentially if someone had good credit prior to losing employment, filed bankruptcy and recovers from the loss of employment, they may be able to obtain an FHA loan in as little as one year. This is an encouraging step towards lessening stigmatizations and recognizing that bankruptcies which were largely caused by the great recession should not dampen the future credit worthiness of responsible yet unfortunate individuals.

Integrity Law helps individuals receive relief from financial crises, ruthless creditors, collector and wage garnishments under the Bankruptcy Code. Give us a call at 801-899-9529 for a free consultation.

The Right Time to See a Bankruptcy Attorney?

by Bryan M. Cowley on 03/23/13

Why is it better to see a Utah bankruptcy attorney before a financial crisis gets out of hand?  Let me suggest a few reasons.  First, bankruptcy planning is smart and can help prevent the loss of your assets.  The law entitles bankruptcy filers to exempt certain property.  These exemptions let you keep property instead of turning it over to the bankruptcy trustee.  Knowing what the exemptions are and getting some advice from an attorney who is up to speed on case law interpreting those exemptions and who understands how the exemptions apply to given factual situations can be very helpful in safeguarding your property.  Second, an emergency filing, while it can be done, is dangerous.  The bankruptcy paperwork is fairly complex and requires a lot of documentation.  In the rush of filing a creditor or creditors can be left off, assets can be forgotten and left off the paperwork.  These issues can lead to greater cost to you in the bankruptcy process and can in some cases even lead to a case dismissal or put your discharge of debt or debts in jeopardy.  Finally, what do you have to lose? 

Integrity Law offers a free initial consultation.  We don't advise bankruptcy where it isn't the best option and we can often point out non-bankruptcy options that can help.  For example, maybe you are judgment proof and really don't need bankruptcy protection.  Bottom line: see a bankruptcy attorney as early in the process as you can.  To schedule a consultation call 801.899.9529 or complete our form.

Paying for Bankruptcy: The Filing Fee

by Bryan M. Cowley on 03/23/13

One pressing concern for anyone considering bankruptcy is how to pay for it.  After all in such a situation cash is a commodity likely in short supply.  One provision of the law that can help concerns waiver or installment payments of the filing fee.  The filing fee for a Chapter 7 case is $306, while the fee for a Chapter 13 case is $281.  Official Form 3A allows a bankruptcy filer to pay the filing fee in monthly installments over the course of four months after filing.  The first installment can be made at the time of filing.  The first installment can even be made after filing.  The only requirement is the fee be paid off within four months or 120 days of filing the bankruptcy case.  Applications to pay the filing fee in installments are routinely granted.  However, failure to complete the installment payments results in dismissal of the bankruptcy case.

For those who meet income guidelines the entire fee can be waived in a Chapter 7 filing.  In order to qualify, a filer must complete and file with his or her original filing Official Form 3B, have income less than 150% of the federal poverty guideline, and be unable to pay the filing fee in installments.   Information about the federal poverty guideline can be found on the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the U.S. Bankruptcy Court website also posts federal poverty guidelines).   

Salt Lake City bankruptcy attorney Bryan M. Cowley of Integrity Law can make sure, if necessary, that you can pay the filing fee in installments or have the fee waived altogether.  Fill out our form or call 801.899.9529 or 435.277.0529 to schedule your free initial consultation.  We help people all over Utah get a fresh start through bankruptcy.  Consultations are available in office and by phone.

Utah Means Test Data Updated Effective April 1, 2013

by Bryan M. Cowley on 03/23/13

Those filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in Utah must complete the means test as one measure used to determine eligibility to file a Utah Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.  In a Chapter 13 case, the means test can determine how much you will have to pay the bankruptcy trustee each month for the 36 to 60 month life of your Chapter 13 plan.  The means test uses data from the Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service to determine, for example, the median income for Utah.  The United States Trustee's Office has published revised Census Bureau and IRS data effective for cases filed on or after April 1, 2013.

Figures for national living allowances such as food, clothing, housekeeping, and personal care expenses remain unchanged as are figures for health care and transportation expenses.  However, significant changes update figures for median income standards and local housing standards.  For example, under the median income figures for cases filed between November 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, a one person household would be eligible to file Chapter 7 if yearly income was less than $49,942.  Under the revised data for cases filed on or after April 1, 2013, the figure is $50,976.

Utah bankruptcy attorney Bryan M. Cowley can make sure your means test is calculated correctly to determine eligibility to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or to calculate the appropriate Chapter 13 plan payment.  Fill out our form or call 801.899.9529 or 435.277.0529 to schedule your free initial consultation.  We help people all over Utah get a fresh start through bankruptcy.  Consultations are available in office and by phone.  

*Please note: our office does not represent you and no attorney-client relationship exists until a retainer agreement is signed 

Utah Bankruptcy Blog

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