Bankruptcy in Nebraska
You likely know that Warren Buffet is from Nebraska and that in Nebraska it matters what color red your wear; however, here are 5 little-known fun facts about Nebraska:
- Nebraska has more miles of river than any other state.
- The first 911 system was developed in Lincoln.
- A Nebraskan (Dr. Harold Edgerton of Aurora) invented the strobe light.
- Marlon Brando's mother gave Henry Fonda acting lessons in Omaha.
- In 2011, 6,456 Nebraskans filed bankruptcy.
If you are financially distressed like many of your fellow Nebraskan residents, this article is for you. First, we'll show you how Nebraska bankruptcy law differs from the laws other states; second, we'll discuss whether you should file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy; third, we'll help you to find and select a bankruptcy lawyer; and, fourth, we'll explain how to prepare to work with a bankruptcy attorney.
How Nebraska Bankruptcy Law Differs from the Laws of Other States
Federal law outlines bankruptcy procedure as well as some protected property such as retirement accounts, wages, and veteran's benefits; this means it's the same in every state. However, most exemptions (the property you can keep) vary from state to state.
Here are some examples of Nebraska bankruptcy exemptions:
- $60,000 of home equity (with restrictions)
- No specific motor vehicle exemption but the $2,500 "wild card" or $2,400 "tools of the trade" exemption can be used to protect your car.
- $1,500 of personal property.
Consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney to make sure your assets are protected to the full extent of the law. Most folks don't lose any assets when filing bankruptcy.
Your Choices in Filing Bankruptcy in Nebraska: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
In 2011, 71% of all Nebraska bankruptcy filers filed under Chapter 7; the remaining 29% filed under Chapter 13. Most Nebraskans file under Chapter 7 if they're eligible.
- Chapter 7 offers a quick resolution (i.e. 6 months) and a discharge of many unsecured debts. You must qualify via a "means test" to file Chapter 7. The easiest way to qualify is to have an income of less than the Nebraska median income of $40,429 (individual) or $73,496 (family of four.)
- Chapter 13 offers a resolution, a discharge of some debts, and a reorganization of other debts (under more favorable terms) with repayment under a 3 to 5 year plan.
Both offer an end to creditor harassment and a fresh start.
How to Find and Select a Bankruptcy Attorney
There are tens of thousands of attorneys in Nebraska. How do you find the best one for you and your individual situation?
The best way to find an attorney is to get a personal referral to a bankruptcy attorney licensed in Nebraska. If you're comfortable asking, check in with a neighbor, friend, family member, church member, professional advisor and the like.
Or, you can find bankruptcy attorneys online (search "Find a Nebraska Bankruptcy Attorney") or contact the local bar association.
Bankruptcy attorneys tend to offer free, no obligation consultations so you can determine whether that attorney is a good fit for you.
How to Prepare to Work with a Bankruptcy Attorney
We could summarize the key to preparation in two words: "Collect" and "Organize". You'll get fast, accurate legal advice and be able to start fresh if you collect and organize all of your financial documentation.
You'll need to gather a list of monthly bills, debts, assets, and repayments made in the last year. Also, gather tax returns and contracts (i.e. mortgage, car loan, and personal loans).
One more little-known fun fact about Nebraska: The cottonwood tree is the official tree of the state. After your bankruptcy and all that paperwork (poor trees), you may want to plant a cottonwood tree to represent your fresh start.