Filing for bankruptcy in Ohio might be the answer you’re looking for if you find yourself unable to meet your monthly obligations. The first step will be learning the benefits of filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
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Once you know which type is best for you, it will be time to tackle the paperwork. This article will help you find some of the information you’ll need, such as official bankruptcy forms, Ohio means test figures, credit counseling providers, and your local bankruptcy court. You’ll also learn about protecting property in an Ohio bankruptcy.
Official Bankruptcy Forms
Before the Ohio bankruptcy court forgives (discharges) your qualifying debt, you must disclose all your financial circumstances on official bankruptcy forms, including income, expenses, property, liabilities, and financial transactions.
You can complete and download the forms from the U.S. Courts form page. Then you’ll file your paperwork in one of Ohio’s bankruptcy courts (you’ll learn which one below). Also, you’ll submit a filing fee or a request for a fee waiver and proof that you’ve completed a credit counseling course (additional information below).
Ohio Bankruptcy Information
Federal law governs bankruptcy in every state, but some aspects of Ohio law and procedure are important, too.
Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information
If you start with the website of the U.S. Trustee, you’ll find two types of Ohio-specific information: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.
Means test information. Not everyone can qualify for a discharge (the order that forgives debt) in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Your income must meet the “means test.” If your income is lower than Ohio’s median income, you automatically pass. If it’s higher, you still might pass after subtracting allowed expenses. You’ll find the income charts and expense figures on the U.S. Trustee’s website. When you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, instead of a means test, you’ll have a similar calculation that will help determine your monthly payment.
Credit counseling providers. Most filers must participate in a session with a credit counseling service before filing for bankruptcy. You’ll submit a certificate of approval along with your official paperwork. Also, while the case is pending, filers take a financial management course. It’s a requirement that you must meet before you receive a discharge. You’ll find approved credit counseling and debtor education providers on the U.S. Trustee’s website.
Ohio Bankruptcy Exemptions
Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t mean losing all your property. But you might not get to protect (exempt) it all, either. Here’s how it works:
Exempt property. The assets you can exempt must appear on the list of Ohio exemptions or the list of federal non-bankruptcy exemptions.
Nonexempt property. Any property not on the list can be sold by the Chapter 7 trustee appointed to oversee your case. The trustee will then divide the money between your creditors. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, nonexempt property is treated differently. You can keep a nonexempt asset as long as you can pay for it in the Chapter 13 repayment plan.
Jointly-owned property. If you and your spouse file a joint bankruptcy in Ohio, you can double the exemption amount as long as you both own the property. If only one of you has an ownership interest, you can’t double the exemption.
Commonly-used Ohio exemptions include:
Homestead exemption. $145,425 in equity in your home. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2329.66(A)(1).)
Motor vehicle exemption. $4,000 in one vehicle. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2329.66(A)(2).)
Tools of the trade exemption. $2,550 worth of property needed in your trade or profession. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2329.66(A)(5).)
Wildcard. $1,325 in the property of your choice. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 2329.66(A)(18).)
You’ll find Ohio’s statutes on the Ohio Legislature’s website.
Ohio Bankruptcy Court Locations and Websites
Ohio has two federal judicial districts. Each of the districts has a bankruptcy court. You’ll find the court’s local rules and instructions for filing your paperwork on each court’s website (click on “Filing Without an Attorney”). Both districts have multiple divisions.