How to File for Personal Bankruptcy in Washington State
- 1). Choose your filing location. You can file in the Western District of Washington U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Seattle or the Eastern District of Washington U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Spokane. You can legally file in whichever court is most convenient for you.
- 2). Determine if you should file for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Under Chapter 7, any non-exempt property you have is sold by a court appointed trustee to pay your creditors and any remaining debt is forgiven. Under Washington law, you can use federal or state property exemptions to protect assets like your home and car. Many Chapter 7 bankruptcies have no non-exempt property, so the debts are forgiven in full. Your income cannot exceed the U.S. Trustee Program's median family income at the time of your filing--you can find the current median income for the size of your family on its website (See Resources).
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also called a wage earner's bankruptcy and gives you an extended time to pay your debts. You keep your all of your assets, but you must prove you are able to meet the payment plan the court devises for you.
- 3). Request the appropriate bankruptcy filing forms from the bankruptcy court. You can also download the forms from the website of the district court in which you are filing (See Resources).
- 4). Gather your supporting materials. To file for bankruptcy, you must provide six months of bank statements and pay stubs along with the previous year's tax returns. Compile a list of your creditors, the amounts you owe and your account numbers.
- 5). Submit your completed bankruptcy filing form and your supporting materials to the clerk of court's office in the bankruptcy court in which you have chosen to file. Once your petition is filed, the court will arrange a hearing to determine whether you qualify for bankruptcy protection. If you have filed for Chapter 7, the court will also appoint a trustee. Your creditors may be present at your hearing and may attempt to block your filing.