How to File for Bankruptcy in Maine
Anyone filing for bankruptcy in Maine should take time to become familiar with the state’s laws regarding the process. Most of the steps and procedures involved when filing in Maine are determined by federal law. However, it is helpful to know important details that are specific to Maine’s bankruptcy hearings. It is always advisable to use a lawyer when filing for bankruptcy in Maine and all other states because of the complexity of the paperwork involved and the rigid timelines that must be followed.
Beginning the Process of Filing for Bankruptcy in Maine
The very first detail that anyone seeking to file for bankruptcy in Maine will need to take care of is deciding which form of bankruptcy is appropriate. This will mean filing for either Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in almost all cases. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is appropriate in cases where a filer is not capable of paying back debts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is appropriate if a filer is capable of paying back debts over time using a structured payment plan. Farmers and fishermen have the option of filing for a special category called Chapter 12 bankruptcy. People with large debts or business-related debts may be eligible to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Maine.
About Maine’s Bankruptcy Court
Maine’s bankruptcy courts are located in Portland and Bangor. The forms needed to initiate the filing process can be found here. The cost to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Maine is $335. The cost to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Maine is $310. A list of all other potential fees can be found here.
How the Bankruptcy Process Works in Maine
The process of filing for bankruptcy in Maine begins with quite a bit of paperwork. You’ll need to take time to itemize your income sources, living expenses, assets, debts and major financial transactions. You will also need to be able to supply tax returns, car titles and deeds. You will be required to file a two-page petition at the Maine district bankruptcy court that you’re geographically assigned to when it’s time to initiate the process. The information gathered will be used as part of a means test. This test will determine whether you are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or if you must file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You will not be able to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if a means test reveals that you have the means to realistically pay off debts over time. An automatic stay will go into effect once you have formally filed. This will prevent creditors from contacting you, harassing you or attempting to collect debts in any way.
Other Aspects of Filing for Bankruptcy in Maine
It will be necessary to undergo credit counseling within the six months prior to filing for bankruptcy in the state of Maine. You must also complete a debtor education course after filing. Both courses must be administered by agencies that are approved in the state of Maine. The list of approved credit counseling agencies can be found here. The list of approved debtor education agencies can be found here. Another big part of Maine’s bankruptcy process is the meeting of creditors. While an automatic stay protects a filer from being contacted by creditors, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have to face them eventually. This meeting formally gives creditors a chance to challenge any aspect of a Chapter 13 payment plan or the legitimacy of a debtor’s inability to pay off debts under Chapter 7. You may have to forfeit non-exempt property or assets in some situations. Creditors have 60 days to challenge the debtor’s right to a discharge once this meeting takes place.