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 Mississippi. However, state law plays an important role, particularly 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 resources available to you by state.
Before you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Mississippi, you will have to complete mandatory credit counseling with an agency that’s been approved by the United States Trustee’s Office. Here’s a list of agencies in Mississippi that have been approved to provide this counseling.
Where to File
In Mississippi, the bankruptcy courts are divided into two districts. In the Northern District of Mississippi, the bankruptcy court is in Aberdeen. In the Southern District of Mississippi, the bankruptcy courts are in Jackson and Gulfport. You can visit these districts' websites to find information on forms, local rules, and more.
Like every other state, Mississippi 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?)
In Mississippi, you must use the state’s exemption list; although some states allow debtors to choose between the state list and a federal list, Mississippi isn’t one of them.
In Mississippi, you can exempt up to $75,000 in property you own and occupy. The property cannot exceed 160 acres. If you are over 60 and either married or widowed, you can exempt a former residence to $75,000. If you are 70 or older, you can exempt up to $50,000 of any property. Mississippi debtors can also exempt up to $30,000 in a mobile home, various items of personal property to a cumulative total of $10,000, and state health savings acounts, among other things. Here’s a list of Mississippi 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 Mississippi. 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 Mississippi income for a one-person household is just over $33,000; 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.
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 a list of agencies approved to provide this course in Mississippi.
Getting Help From a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you're considering bankruptcy, you may want to talk to an experienced Mississippi bankruptcy lawyer.