Bankruptcy in Wyoming
What was the first United States monument? Most folks think of the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial when, in fact, Devil's Tower, in Wyoming, holds this honor. Holding the first U.S. monument is a true historical tribute to the unique beauty of the land and the hardworking people of Wyoming.
You don't need this article to tell you that, while Wyoming remains beautiful and the people remain hardworking, times are tough.
In 2011, 1,361 personal bankruptcies were filed in Wyoming. Many of these filings represent two people because married couples can file bankruptcy jointly.
If you're one of those hardworking people from Wyoming, who is struggling during these economically challenging times, this article is for you. Read it and you'll feel better.
We'll show you how Wyoming bankruptcy law differs from the laws other states; discuss the options of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies; and show you how to find and select a bankruptcy lawyer as well as how to prepare to work with a bankruptcy attorney.
How Wyoming Bankruptcy Law Differs from the Laws of Other States
How you go about filing bankruptcy and bankruptcy proceedings are identical from state to state because they're based upon federal law.
Conversely, exemptions (your property rights) are different in Wyoming than in other states. Federal bankruptcy exemptions are not available in Wyoming.
In Wyoming, you can protect:
- $10,000 of equity in a house or $6,000 of equity in a house trailer. Married couples, filing jointly, may double these amounts to $20,000 and $12,000, respectively.
- $2,400 of equity in a motor vehicle; again, married couples may double to $4,800.
- Tools necessary for your work, personal possessions, household items, jewelry, and other items are also protected up to certain values.
Your bankruptcy attorney will help you to protect the largest amount of assets possible. Be sure to get good advice about your individual situation.
Your Choices in Filing Bankruptcy in Wyoming: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
The exemptions we just discussed immediately above determine how many assets can be protected if you file bankruptcy under Chapter 7 and how much debt you must pay back if you file under Chapter 13.
In 2011, 83% of all personal bankruptcies were Chapter 7 and the remaining 17% were Chapter 13.
- Many filers prefer to file under Chapter 7, if they qualify by meeting the "means test", because many unsecured debts are discharged and the entire process only takes about 6 months. However, any "excess" assets (i.e. above exemptions) are liquidated to pay off creditors. But, know that most folks don't lose any assets.
- If filers don't qualify for Chapter 7 or they have debts that can't be discharged (e.g. student loans, most taxes, alimony, and child support), Chapter 13 is usually chosen. Some debts are discharged, while others are reorganized so that debts can be paid off under a 3 to 5 year payment plan.
Your bankruptcy lawyer will help you to determine whether it's in your best interests to file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
How to Find and Select a Bankruptcy Attorney
The best way to find an attorney is to get a personal referral. In bankruptcy matters a personal referral can prove difficult (or uncomfortable for you) because most people keep their financial affairs private.
Look for an attorney who focuses his or her law practice on bankruptcy law by searching "Find a Wyoming Bankruptcy Attorney" on the Internet. Many bankruptcy lawyers offer a free consultation or phone interview so you can determine whether that bankruptcy lawyer is a good fit for you.
How to Prepare to Work with a Bankruptcy Attorney
To prepare to work with your bankruptcy lawyer and to give your lawyer all the ammunition he or she needs to protect your assets and your family, gather all of your financial documents and organize them. You'll need to gather documentation for your monthly and annual bills, debts, assets, and the like.
If you have questions or concerns, be sure to jot down them down and discuss them with your bankruptcy attorney; getting answers and peace of mind is part what you are paying him or her for.