If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, but need more information or free representation, Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has resources to help you.

To apply for legal representation to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you must first attend the free Bankruptcy Class, at which you'll receive an intake form and information about what documents to bring to an intake at Legal Aid Center.

BANKRUPTCY RESOURCES

FREE BANKRUPTCY CLASS
If you're considering bankruptcy, you should attend the free bankruptcy class offered as a community service by Legal Aid Center and UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. The bankruptcy class will teach you the realities and myths of bankruptcy, the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, how to represent yourself in court, and alternatives to bankruptcy. For class schedules and materials, click to visit our Bankruptcy Class page.

BANKRUPTCY VIDEOS
The U.S. Courts have created a series of Bankruptcy Basics videos, which provide a good overview of the bankruptcy process. Legal Aid Center has prepared videos that supplement the courts' videos with additional and Nevada-specific information.* To watch the videos, click to visit our Bankruptcy Videos page.

*Legal Aid Center's videos were made possible thanks to a grant from the American College of Bankruptcy and the American College of Bankruptcy Foundation.


BANKRUPTCY Q&A

WHAT IS BANKRUPTCY?
Bankruptcy is the legal process that gives a debtor acting in good faith a “fresh start” by eliminating most of the debtor’s debts, and repays creditors in an orderly manner to the extent the debtor has available property.

WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF FILING BANKRUPTCY?
The filing of a bankruptcy petition triggers an “automatic stay” that prevents creditors from collecting debts. Most creditors cannot take any action during the course of an open bankruptcy without permission of the court. Notably, filing bankruptcy will:

  • Stop bill collectors from calling.
  • Stop wages from being garnished.
  • Stop most pending civil court proceedings.
  • Temporarily stop foreclosures and possibly delay evictions.

Once a bankruptcy is successfully completed, most of a person’s debt is permanently erased (“discharged”). This means creditors cannot collect on the discharged debt.

WHAT IS CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often referred to as a “liquidation” bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy cancels most ordinary consumer debt and allows the debtor to keep certain “exempt” property. However, you may have to surrender some property. A bankruptcy trustee may collect and sell your nonexempt money and assets, and then use the proceeds to pay your creditors. Any remaining balances owed to those creditors are discharged.

WHY WOULD ONE FILE CHAPTER 7?
People who file Chapter 7 are usually low-income earners with few assets to protect. Chapter 7 is designed primarily to help eliminate overwhelming debt. Chapter 7 will not permanently stop a pending foreclosure or car repossession. To keep a car or house in Chapter 7, you must be able to keep making the regular payment. Chapter 7 can be helpful for car owners who want to stop paying a car loan and surrender the car. It also helps homeowners by eliminating the balance due on their mortgages after foreclosure.

WHAT IS CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY?
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides a “reorganization” of debts by allowing the debtor to either partially or fully repay debts through a three- to five-year repayment plan. Chapter 13 allows you to keep some or all of your property. In exchange, you must pay the trustee all of your monthly disposable income for three to five years, and the trustee in turn pays your creditors. Upon successful completion of a Chapter 13, your remaining dischargeable debts are eliminated. The total of payments over the three to five years must be enough to pay at least the full amount of all mortgage arrears, back taxes, payments for retained secured items, child support and spousal support arrears, and a trustee fee.

WHY WOULD ONE FILE CHAPTER 13?
People who typically file Chapter 13 are:

  • Regular income earners
  • Homeowners trying to save a house and who can pay mortgage arrears in full in three to five years.
  • Homeowners with no equity seeking to eliminate a second mortgage.

WHAT DEBTS ARE ELIMINATED IN BANKRUPTCY?
Bankruptcy erases many debts, such as:

  • Credit card balances
  • Medical bills
  • Payday loans
  • Personal loans
  • Mortgages (But you must keep paying if you want to keep the house.)
  • Car loans (But you must keep paying if you want to keep the car.)
  • Most court judgments

WHAT DEBTS ARE NOT ELIMINATED IN BANKRUPTCY?
There are several federally protected debts that are usually not eliminated through a bankruptcy, including:

  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Most IRS taxes
  • Student loans
  • Court-ordered restitution
  • Court judgments for injury or death as a result of a DUI
  • Debts incurred fraudulently

I FILED BANKRUPTCY BEFORE. HOW LONG MUST I WAIT TO FILE AGAIN?
Federal law limits how frequently a person can file for bankruptcy. If you previously filed a Chapter 7 and received a discharge, you will have to wait:

  • Eight years to file another Chapter 7
  • Four years to file a Chapter 13

If you previously filed a Chapter 13 and received a
discharge, you will have to wait:

  • Generally six years to file a Chapter 7
  • Two years to file another Chapter 13

If your case was dismissed in the past 180 days, you may have to wait to file again until 180 days after the dismissal. Repeat filers could face limitations on the duration of the automatic stay: if you filed a bankruptcy case within the last year that was dismissed, the automatic stay lasts only for 30 days in your next case; if you filed two or more bankruptcy cases within the last year that were dismissed, there is no automatic stay for subsequent cases. You would have to file a motion asking the court to impose the automatic stay.

For additional resources, click to visit our Bankruptcy Links page.

FILING YOUR OWN CHAPTER 7 OR CHAPTER 13 CASE

If you are considering filing your own bankruptcy case (representing yourself is called being "pro se"), be aware that you are responsible for understanding the law and court rules. You will be expected to comply with all deadlines. Being pro se will not be an excuse. Here are some resources you should become familiar with:

If you use a non-attorney petition preparer (such as a paralegal service) to fill out your bankruptcy documents, you are still considered to be pro se and will be representing yourself. Petition preparers cannot by law give you legal advice or appear in court for you.

There are a number of resources available so that you can educate yourself about the bankruptcy process:

  • Legal Aid Center offers a free bankruptcy legal information class. To learn more about the class, click to visit our Bankruptcy Class page.
  • The U.S. Courts have created a series of Bankruptcy Basics videos, which provide a good overview of the bankruptcy process. Legal Aid Center has prepared videos that supplement the courts' videos with additional and Nevada-specific information.* To watch the videos, click to visit our Bankruptcy Videos page.
  • Legal forms are available for free on the Bankruptcy Court's website. Click to visit the Bankruptcy Court's Local Forms page (for forms specific to the District of Nevada) and Official Forms page (for forms used when there's no Nevada-specific form).

Legal Aid Center has also prepared a number of easy-to-read flyers on some important bankruptcy topics:

*Legal Aid Center's videos were made possible thanks to a grant from the American College of Bankruptcy and the American College of Bankruptcy Foundation.


ADVERSARY PROCEEDINGS

Sometimes a debtor is sued in Bankruptcy Court. These lawsuits are called "adversary proceedings." One type of adversary proceeding is a "non-dischargeability" action. This is when a creditor brings a suit to determine that a debtor is not entitled to a discharge of a specific debt (under 11 U.S.C. § 523) or all of the debtor's debts (under 11 U.S.C. § 727)..

Adversary proceedings are started with the filing of a complaint. The party that filed the complaint is called the "plaintiff." The plaintiff must obtain a summons from the Bankruptcy Court and serve the summons and complaint on the debtor. The debtor is now also called the "defendant" in the adversary proceeding.

The debtor-defendant must file a timely answer with the court in response to the complaint or face the entry of a default and default judgment (meaning that the plaintiff wins).

If you are served with an adversary complaint, the plaintiff is required to include a document entitled "What to Do After You've Been Sued in an Adversary Proceeding." It also can be found on the Bankruptcy Court's website on the Adversary Proceeding Filing Requirements page.

Although your answers to the specific allegations contained in the plaintiff's complaint will depend on the facts of your case, you can use this general Answer Form to prepare your answer. You must file your answer with the Bankruptcy Court within the mandatory time limit and serve a copy of your answer on the plaintiff. You must then file a certificate of service with the court. Click for the general local Certificate of Service form.

Sometimes the debtor files the adversary case, making the debtor the "plaintiff." For example, in order to seek to have a student loan debt discharged, the debtor must file an adversary complaint.

To learn more about the requirements for adversary proceedings, click to visit the Bankruptcy Court's Adversary Proceeding Filing Requirements page.

The free bankruptcy class, and the manual you will receive at the class, will help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you. The class will teach you the realities and myths of bankruptcy, the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, how to represent yourself in court, and alternatives to bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy class is the first step for you to apply for free legal representation to file your Chapter 7 case. At the class, you also will be given information regarding what documents you need to bring to an intake at Legal Aid Center, including an intake form. If you need special accommodations to attend the class, please call 702-386-1070.

Click to view the Class Calendar for dates, times, and locations of the free class.

FYI! The free bankruptcy class offered by Legal Aid Center is not the credit counseling session that is required before you file for bankruptcy. For information on approved credit counseling agencies, click to visit our Bankruptcy Links page.

BANKRUPTCY VIDEOS
The U.S. Courts have created a series of Bankruptcy Basics videos, which provide a good overview of the bankruptcy process. Legal Aid Center has prepared videos that supplement the courts' videos with additional and Nevada-specific information.* To watch the videos, click to visit our Bankruptcy Videos page.

*Legal Aid Center's videos were made possible thanks to a grant from the American College of Bankruptcy and the American College of Bankruptcy Foundation.

The Spanish bankruptcy class is taught the third Friday of every month at 9:30 a.m. at Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

The free bankruptcy class, and the manual you will receive at the class, will help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you. The class will teach you the realities and myths of bankruptcy, the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, how to represent yourself in court, and alternatives to bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy class is the first step for you to apply for free legal representation to file your Chapter 7 case. At the class, you also will be given information regarding what documents you need to bring to an intake at Legal Aid Center, including an intake form. If you need special accommodations to attend the class, please call 702-386-1070.

FYI! The free bankruptcy class offered by Legal Aid Center is not the credit counseling session that is required before you file for bankruptcy. For information on approved credit counseling agencies, click to visit our Bankruptcy Links page.

Si usted habla Espanol, tambien lo podemos ayudar. Usted puede bajar la version de el manual y formulario en Espanol. Favor de traer los documentos mensionados a Legal Aid Center para proceder con un formulario.

The United States Courts have created a series of Bankruptcy Basics videos, which provide a good overview of the bankruptcy process. Legal Aid Center has prepared videos that supplement the courts' videos with additional and Nevada-specific information.*

Following are the links to the United States Courts' videos and Legal Aid Center's videos:

*Legal Aid Center's videos were made possible thanks to a grant from the American Bankruptcy College and the American College of Bankruptcy Foundation.

CREDIT COUNSELING AGENCIES (for the class you must takebefore filing a bankruptcy petition)

DEBTOR EDUCATION AGENCIES (for the class you must take after filing a petition)

FYI! Legal Aid Center provides links for credit counseling and debtor education providers for informational purposes only and does not endorse any specific agencies. For a complete list, visit the U.S. Department of Justice websites listed above.

BANKRUPTCY VIDEOS
The U.S. Courts have created a series of Bankruptcy Basics videos, which provide a good overview of the bankruptcy process. Legal Aid Center has prepared videos that supplement the courts' videos with additional and Nevada-specific information.* For links to the videos, visit our Bankruptcy Videos page.

*Legal Aid Center's videos were made possible thanks to a grant from the American College of Bankruptcy and the American College of Bankruptcy Foundation.