It’s not just the Utah Jazz, Larry H. Miller, Real Salt Lake, the University of Utah – aka the “U” and the rivalry with Brigham Young University – aka the “Y” and don’t forget Weber State University or Utah State, there is a lot more to Utah, including Silicon Slopes, and many huge tech companies like Omniture that was purchased by Adobe, DOMO, and so many others.
Despite the presence of these lucrative companies, Utah has a lower per capita income than almost half the states in the U.S., and many residents are struggling to make ends meet. Some are facing an uphill battle with credit card debt, medical bills, and variable mortgage rates. Drowning in debt can feel like diving into a black hole with no escape, but there is hope if you live in Utah and need a fresh start.
This post provides an introduction to the basics of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the State of Utah. For a detailed legal analysis, please reach out to a qualified Utah bankruptcy attorney before you decide your next step.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Utah: The Basics
In layperson’s terms, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a clean slate for a financially struggling individual — a chance to rebuild both your bank account and credit score, although your credit score will initially take a hit. Unlike a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, outstanding debts do not need to be repaid and are permanently discharged or “forgiven.” Certain debt, however, may be ineligible for discharge, including taxes owed to the IRS and child support.
In legal terms, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy means that creditors and collection agencies are no longer permitted to contact you while your case is pending and after your case has been successfully discharged. For many, this news will come as a great relief after months or even years spent worrying about unpaid bills.
Not every resident of Utah may qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge, especially those with higher incomes. Taking the means test for the State of Utah is the quickest way to see if you financially qualify to receive a discharge under this bankruptcy category.
Utah Bankruptcy Exemptions: What property can I keep?
Homeowners may file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and keep their home investment in certain cases. As such, homesteads are one of the primary exemptions (assets that are untouchable by creditors) in many Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases.
The homestead is the most important exemption for many Utah filers, but there are many other exemptions which may apply. In Utah, filers may opt to use state-specific exemptions or federal exemption statutes.
Here are some of the top bankruptcy exemptions in Utah.
Utah vs. Federal Exemptions
The top 5 exemptions under Utah law compared to federal law.
The homestead exemption through Utah code is more beneficial than what federal exemptions allow. Bankruptcy filers may exempt up to $75,000 equity in their home for individuals, or $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. If you intend to purchase another home, your sale proceeds are exempt for up to two years, but this cannot be doubled when married. Uth. Stat. Ann. § 815.20
Up to $3,000 equity in a motor vehicle may be exempt using the state exemptions. An exemption for some personal property as well – like your bed, bedding, clothing, washing machine, fridge, stove, oven, etc.
Personal property is exempt too. This includes the following:
- Household goods and furnishings
- Keepsakes, jewelry, and other articles of personal adornment
- Musical instruments
- Sporting goods
Money paid into a trust fund or qualified retirement account like a 401k, 403b, etc. also is exempt under the personal property exemptions, in addition to personal injury recoveries under the Utah Code.
Up to 75% of a debtor’s net weekly income is exempt, limited to what is reasonably necessary. Utah Code.
Pensions and Retirement Accounts
Various pension and retirement accounts are covered by Utah or federal law, including tax-exempt retirement accounts.
Additionally, public benefits including veterans benefits, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance are all 100% exempt.
Where is the bankruptcy court in Utah?
After conferring with a bankruptcy attorney to determine your exemptions, you will undergo mandatory credit counseling, followed by the formal filing of your bankruptcy petition. Ultimately, if your case moves forward, you will make an appearance in a Utah bankruptcy court according to where you reside. This is usually in Salt Lake City, Utah; however, the court has sat in St. George Utah by video and has also sat in Ogden, Utah in the federal building.
Free Consultation with Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506