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Bankruptcy in Montana

It’s reported that Montana still has some silly laws on the books such as “[i]t’s illegal for an unmarried woman to go fishing” and, in Helena, “[i]t’s illegal to throw something across the street”. The good news is that there are many helpful laws on the books as well, including those that protect your belongings if you file bankruptcy.

We’ll talk about those laws below. If you or a loved one is considering bankruptcy, this article is for you.

  • Have you wondered how Montana bankruptcy law differs from the laws other states?
  • Or, whether you should file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
  • Do you know how to find a bankruptcy lawyer?
  • And how to prepare to work with a bankruptcy attorney?

How Montana Bankruptcy Law Differs from the Laws of Other States

Exemptions, the property you can protect during bankruptcy, vary from state to state.

In Montana, you can file bankruptcy and protect your assets under these exemptions:

  • $250,000 of equity in a home.
  • $2,500 of equity in a car.
  • Personal possessions.

Most bankruptcy filers keep all their assets and exemptions are typically doubled for married persons filing jointly.

Your Choices in Filing Bankruptcy in Montana: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13

The numbers, “7” and “13” refer to sections of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and you will likely file bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Both offer an end to creditor harassment and a fresh start.

Generally, you must qualify to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy by way of a “means test”. Your income must fall below the Montana state median income. But don’t get discouraged if you don’t immediately qualify. There is more than one path to filing Chapter 7.

  • Chapter 7 is known as a “liquidation” bankruptcy because, in theory, the filer’s assets are sold (i.e. liquidated) to pay off creditors. In reality, most filers don’t lose any assets.
    • Some unsecured debts are discharged.
    • The process takes about 6 months.
  • Chapter 13 is known as a “reorganization” bankruptcy because debts are renegotiated and reorganized (with some being discharged).
    • Some unsecured debts are discharged.
    • Debts are repaid over a three to five year period.

How to Find a Bankruptcy Attorney

  • Google “Find a Montana Bankruptcy Attorney”
  • Call the county bar association.
  • As a friend or professional advisor for a referral.

One you’ve narrowed down the list of attorneys to bankruptcy attorneys licensed in Montana, chat with a few to determine whom you would like to work with.

How to Prepare to Work with a Bankruptcy Attorney

Your bankruptcy lawyer needs a ton of information so he or she can fully analyze your case, provide qualify legal advice, and work within both Montana and federal law to get you the fresh start you deserve.

Pull together a financial profile, detailing all of your debts, monthly bills, annual bills, assets, and repayment of debts made in the last year. It will be worth the effort. If you have any questions, consult with a qualified bankruptcy lawyer.

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