Bankruptcy is a system of federal law, so the process to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is nearly identical in every state, including Alaska. However, Alaska laws play an important role, particularly in property exemptions, which determine the property you get to keep (if you file for Chapter 7) and how much you have to repay your creditors (if you file for Chapter 13). There are also important resources available to you by state.
Alaska Credit Counseling
Before you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Alaska, you will have to take a credit counseling course with an agency that’s been approved by the United States Trustee’s Office. These are the agencies in Alaska that have been approved to provide this counseling.
Where to File
In Alaska, the main bankruptcy court is in Anchorage. At the court’s website, you can find information on forms, local rules, and more.
Like every other state, Alaska has its own list of exempt property. (To learn more about how property exemptions work generally and which exemptions you may use, see Bankruptcy Exemptions: What Do I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?)
Alaska law states that debtors must use only the state's exemptions. Some states allow debtors to choose between the state list and a federal list; the federal court has allowed Alaskans to make this choice, although state law appears to prohibit it.
Alaska allows debtors to exempt up to $70,200 in equity in a house or other real property, as well as pets worth up to $1,300 and tools of the trade worth up to $3,640. Here are the Alaska exemptions.
The Means Test
When you file for bankruptcy, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Alaska. If your income is less than the median, you will be eligible to file for Chapter 7 and, if you choose to file for Chapter 13, you can use a three-year repayment plan (rather than five years).
Currently, the median income in Alaska for a one-person household is just over $52,500; these figures change periodically. You can find the most recent amounts on the website of the U.S. Trustee at www.justice.gov/ust. Click “Bankruptcy Reform,” and then “Means Testing Information.” Or go directly to the chart here.
Alaska Debtor Education
After you file for bankruptcy but before you receive your discharge, you must take a debtor education course. Like the mandatory credit counseling you must take before filing your forms, you must receive debtor education from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee’s Office. Here are the agencies approved to provide this counseling in Alaska.
Finding a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you're considering bankruptcy, you may want to talk to an experienced Alaska bankruptcy lawyer.