Friday, March 1st, 2024
How Bankruptcy Works in Your State & County
Welcome! Give us your zip code, and we will serve up bankruptcy information tailored to your State and County.
- Free Means Test Calculator: Free! Online since 2006! Over 3 Million Served.
Updated with latest (November 2023) income & expense standards.
- QuickTest: Get a rough take on where you stand.
When you file, you must cite specific laws to claim your property as exempt. We help you find those citations and tell you where to put them on your forms
What Property Can I Keep In My State?
State laws vary widely regarding how much of your property is "exempt" from the reach of creditors. Some states are "debtor havens." Others, not so much.
Learn how much asset protection you get under the laws of your state for various kinds of property:
- Which court do I use? Bankruptcy is a federal law, so you use Federal Court?
- Where is it?
- Court Rules:
What You Need to Know About Before You File
- Who is my Trustee? Why Does it Matter?
The Trustee is the court-appointed person you'll deal with if you file. (It won't be the judge). And with all rule-based bureaucracies, your experience will depend significantly on which bureaucrat you deal with. Trustees have a reputation in each district. One thing you'll gain from an experienced local bankruptcy lawyer is knowing the reputation of the local trustees in your court district.
Note: This website is updated as time permits. It is up to you to contact your local court and confirm and update any information you need. Information is not advice. See a bankruptcy lawyer for advice about how the law relates to your situation.
If Bankruptcy is a Federal Law, Why Does it Matter What State & County I Live In?
Although bankruptcy is a federal law, many parts are affected by state law.
For example, State collections law can affect which property you can lose or keep when you file for bankruptcy because the bankruptcy court trustee is vested with the power of a local creditor.
State property exemption laws -- laws which protect certain essential property from debto collectors -- vary widely from state to state.
States like Nevada have decided to become a debtor haven and offer huge exemptions for motor vehicles and real estate, while other states like Pennsylvania offer minimal exemptions for property.
And then there are the legendary "unlimited homestead" states of Texas and Florida, where celebrities often move when faced with bankruptcy to invest unlimited amounts in a house they get to keep even if they go bankrupt.
With the passage of the 2005 bankruptcy law (BAPCPA), congress tried to stop that behavior by putting a 2 1/2 year limit on residency before you can claim your state's exemption.
Even within a state, your county is relevant as it affects how much you can claim as housing expenses in the bankruptcy means test.
Housing expense allowances in every state vary widely.
It is common for expensive urban counties to have housing expense standards 5X larger than those of the poorest counties.
Generally, urban counties get a very high expense allowance for housing, and rural counties have much lower housing expense allowances in the means test.
To help untangle this overlapping mesh of federal and state law, combined with local expense standards, LegalConsumer.com's "Bankruptcy By Zip Code" website has provided free, location-based bankruptcy information and a free means test calculator that has served more than 10 million consumers since 2006!