Surry County, NC Bankruptcy Guide


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Automatically apply the Surry County expense standards, and North Carolina income standards to your means test calculation.

Filing Bankruptcy In Surry County, NC - How it Works

If you've decided to file for bankruptcy, the following ten steps will guide you from the beginning to the end of the process:

  1. Learn the Basics of Bankruptcy
  2. Find Out If You Qualify for Bankruptcy
  3. Complete a Credit Counseling Class
  4. Fill Out Bankruptcy Paperwork
  5. File Your Petition in Bankruptcy Court
  6. Attend a Creditors Meeting (341 Hearing)
  7. File Motions, Objections, or Responses
  8. Complete a “Personal Financial Management” Class
  9. Get Your Debts Discharged
  10. Get on With Your Life

Step 1. Learn the Basics of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding created to give people a fresh start after financial disasters. If you've explored your alternatives and can't see a way out from under your debt, bankruptcy may be the right solution for you. 

There are two main types of bankruptcy for individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 can wipe out most of your debts in a matter of months in exchange for giving up all of your property that the bankruptcy law does not protect. (Protected property is called your “exempt” property.)

Chapter 13 takes three to five years. During that time, you repay some or all of your debts under a payment plan approved by the bankruptcy court. It’s often used by people who are behind on mortgage payments and want to use Chapter 13 to catch up. Most folks who file for bankruptcy prefer to file for Chapter 7 if they qualify, because you can get out from under lots of debt in a matter of a few months.

To learn more, see How Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Works and How Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Works.

Step 2. Find Out If You Qualify for Bankruptcy

To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must show that you don’t have enough income to repay your creditors a reasonable amount. You can do this by:

  • proving that your income is below the North Carolina median income for your household size, or
  • comparing your income to expenses under a complex formula called the bankruptcy means test to show that you can’t pay.

If your income is above the median income for your state and family size and the means test shows you have enough disposable income to make reasonable payments to your creditors, you may still qualify to file under Chapter 13. To qualify for chapter 13, your debt must be under the limit set by the bankruptcy code and you must be current on your tax filings for the last four years.

To take the means test, you can use our free means test calculator.



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Bankruptcy as Part of Your COVID-19 Financial Plan

Some people plan for a rainy day. Few are prepared for a monsoon...

Despite massive unemployment, and people leaving the job market, consumer bankruptcy filing reached a 34 year low in 2020, because forbearance and unemployment insurance programs postponed normal collection efforts, like wage garnishment and foreclosure. 

But just as 2020 was not the year to file consumer bankruptcy, 2021 may be the year that millions of Americans learn that bankruptcy is an important tool for moving forward with a fresh start, free of the massive debts accumulated during the time of pandemic related lockdowns. 

Even if you decide NOT to file bankruptcy, a consultation with a bankruptcy attorney, to discuss your options, may be a wise move for many people, especially if you have assets that are protected by exemption laws, like retirement accounts.

Plan Now - File Later

Several financial columnists wrote at the beginning of the pandemic that it would be wise for people to think about bankruptcy now rather than later, even if you're not going to file for a while. It helps to think about it now so you can plan for it.

What others are saying:
Bankruptcy as part of your COVID-19 financial strategy 

As financial columnist Liz Weston recently wrote for NerdWallet, 

"If you’ve lost your job or struggle to pay your debt, you may need to file for bankruptcy. If that’s the case, you should ignore some common financial advice and start thinking defensively."

She emphasized these four points

  • don't spend your retirement money
  • don't accumulate cash
  • talk to a lawyer now rather than later and
  • relieve your stress -- it's good for your health.

There are many ways you can minimize your losses through bankruptcy.

All of these experts make the same basic point: You don't have to be completely broke to go bankrupt.

Think of bankruptcy as a way of preserving what you have so that you can make a fresh start, and not be dragged down for the rest of your life by debt that was incurred through a one time mishap.



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North Carolina Bankruptcy Exemptions

North Carolina Exemptions Summary:


Real or personal property, including co-op, used as residence to $35,000 (husband and wife may double) ($60,000 if 65 or older and spouse is deceased); up to $5,000 of unused portion of homestead may be applied to any property

Vehicle Exemption

Motor vehicle to $3,500

Personal Property

Animals, crops, musical instruments, books, clothing, appliances, household goods & furnishings to $5,500 total; may add $1,000 per dependent, up to $4,000 total additional (all property must have been purchased at least 90 days before filing)
Implements, books, & tools of trade to $2,000

Wild Card

$5,000 less any amount claimed for homestead or burial exemption, of any property
$500 of any personal property


Can Bankruptcy Keep Me From Being Evicted in North Carolina?

Bankruptcy can delay eviction an extra 60 days, if you file early enough, and your state allows a right to cure. Whatever eviction rights you have come from North Carolina’s tenant law on evictions.

Timing is everything...

Each state has wildly different laws. If your state has a right to cure, bankruptcy may be able to extend it. 

How much you may be helped depends a lot on where you are in your state law eviction process, (as explained in this presentation on Eviction and Bankruptcy Remedies given by Bankruptcy Lawyers Cathy Moran, Darya Druch, and Wayne Silver to to the National Housing Law Project, an organization based in San Francisco, California.)

As they point out:

Almost all states require landlords to use legal process to evict tenants. In California it is generally done through a court process known as an “unlawful detainer.” The eviction process usually begins with a termination notice for cause (usually a monetary breach). Receipt of a termination notice is the best time to talk to a bankruptcy attorney, because at that point the tenant has the most bankruptcy options.

A bankruptcy filing prior to the expiration of the allotted time to cure in a termination notice may extend the time to cure an additional sixty (60) days under 11 U.S.C. §108.

North Carolina Eviction Resources:

Here's a handy flowchart that shows the eviction process in North Carolina

Here are some other helpful links.

Bankruptcy law doesn't add much to those protections, for the simple reason that creditors aren't interested in your lease, chances are, so a landlord can typically get relief from the "automatic stay" that puts a stop to most other kinds of debt collection.

However, consulting with an attorney knowledgeable with debt problems can still help you. It's possible that bankruptcy can be part of an overall financial survival strategy that can keep your home, for example, by wiping out other debts so you can continue to make your rent.


Selected Articles about Bankruptcy and the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus shutdowns have thrown many people into economic peril.

Many writers have written about how people can use bankruptcy to  may play a role in prudent financial planning in the months ahead.


CDC Bans Evictions Through December - Extended to January 2021

December 28,2020 update

Congress and has passed, and the president has signed, a new Covid relief bill which extends this ban until Jan 31, 2021, and establishes a $25 billion rental assistance program to help families pay their rent.


Original article, September  1, 2020.

In a striking reversal after doing nothing but issue advisory-only opinions, the Centers for Disease Control has issued an order asserting authority over US property law in all 50 states, based on a World War II era law, governing control of infectious diseases. Violation of the order can result in federal criminal fines of up to $200,000 on landlords.

The Trump administration is trying to halt residential evictions through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but legal scholars are unsure it will stand up in court.

How this is going to go down in states that have traditionally given tenants no rights remains to be seen.

Importantly, the order does not relieve the tenant of the contractual obligation to pay rent, it just denies landlords using eviction to collect that rent, if the tenant has filled out this declaration.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has issued guidance for using the CDC eviction ban. 

And the fine folks at A2J have come up with a very cool tool for state eviction forms by state

Once the ban is over, landlords can proceed with evictions. but you can discharge your personal liability for back rent in bankruptcy after the ban is over, if you're going to lose your lease anyway.

if you choose not to pay rent, now would be a good time to discuss your future options with bankruptcy attorney so you can plan for how you're going to move forward once the eviction ban is over.

The order states more...  

Best Mortgage forbearance and COVID-19 Resources on the Internet

LegalConsumer.com is gathering the best, most complete, and accurate coronavirus mortgage information and resources on the web. Here's what we've found so far. 

New Free NCLC (National Consumer Law Center) Resources in Response to COVID-19

NCLC has been working hard to create and disseminate resources to help attorneys and consumers navigate the COVID-19 crisis, including the following:

NCLC remains committed to providing consumers and attorneys with the most up-to-date information about COVID-related consumer protections, and continues to add content to our Digital Library article on Major Protections Announced in Response to COVID-19 and the COVID-19 & Consumer Protections page on our website as new information becomes available. more...  

Life After Bankruptcy: How Bankruptcy Gives You a Fresh Start

After you receive your final discharge, you can get on with your life and enjoy the fresh start that bankruptcy offers.

There may still be a few things left to do, however. For example, you may want to rebuild your credit.

Rebuilding Credit

Although a bankruptcy filing can remain on your credit record for up to ten years after your discharge, you can probably rebuild your credit in about three years to the point that you won’t be turned down for a major loan. Most creditors look for steady employment and a history, since bankruptcy, of making and paying for purchases on credit. And many creditors disregard a bankruptcy completely after about five years.

Create a Budget

The first step to rebuilding your credit is to create a budget. more...  


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Enter Your Zip Code or Call (855) 410-1378 to Connect with a Lawyer In Your Area