Filing Bankruptcy in Oklahoma
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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 Oklahoma. 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 Oklahoma, 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 Oklahoma that have been approved to provide this counseling.
Where to File
In Oklahoma, the bankruptcy courts are found in three districts, the Eastern District, Northern District, and Western District. Each of these district's websites provides information on forms, local rules, and more.
Like every other state, Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma, you must use the state’s exemption list; although some states allow debtors to choose between the state list and a federal list, Oklahoma isn’t one of them.
Oklahoma is one of the few states that provides a homestead exemption to an unlimited value, which means you can exempt the entire value of your home or other real property. However, the property cannot exceed 1 acre in a city or town, and 160 acres elsewhere. Oklahoma also exempts various items of personal property including clothing to $4,000, books, portraits, burial plots, college savings plans, guns to $2,000, furniture, morot vehicle to $7,500, and wedding rings to $3,000. In addition, in Oklahoma you can exempt certain public benefits, some wages, alimony, and child support, among other things. Here’s a list of Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma. 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 Oklahoma income for a one-person household is just under $37,500; 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 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 Oklahoma.
Getting Help From a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you're considering bankruptcy, you may want to talk to an experienced Oklahoma bankruptcy lawyer.