Bankruptcy is governed by 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 Maine. However, Maine state laws play an important role, especially in setting property exemptions, which determine what 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 state-specific resources available to you.
Credit Counseling in Maine
Before you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Maine, you will have to get credit counseling from an agency approved by the United States Trustee’s Office. Here’s a list of Maine agencies that have been approved to provide this counseling.
Where to File for Bankruptcy in Maine
Maine has federal bankruptcy courts in Bangor and Portland. You can find information on filing for bankruptcy, as well as forms, and local rules, at the Maine bankruptcy court’s website.
Maine Property Exemptions
Like every other state, Maine has its own set of property exemptions. (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?)
Some states allow bankruptcy filers to choose between the state’s exemptions and a federal exemption list, but Maine doesn’t offer this choice.
Maine filers may exempt up to $47,500 in home equity, and up to $5,000 of equity in a vehicle. Maine also offers a wildcard exemption of $400, which filers may use to protect any property they choose. Here is a list of Maine exemptions.
The Means Test
When you file for bankruptcy, you must compare your income to the median income in Maine for a household of your size. If your income is less than the Maine state 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 Maine for a three-person household is just over $60,000; 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 on “Bankruptcy Reform,” and then “Means Testing Information.” Or go directly to the Census Bureau table here.
Debtor Education in Maine
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 is a list of Maine agencies that are currently approved to provide this counseling.
Finding a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you're considering bankruptcy, you may want to talk to an experienced Maine bankruptcy lawyer.