How to File for Bankruptcy in Washington State

Bankruptcy is a legal process that can help you start over financially whether you're struggling to regain your financial footing after a divorce, after you lost your job, or simply because you made some mistakes. In this article, you'll learn more about how to file for bankruptcy in Washington state.

Filing a Chapter 7 in Washington State: Finding the Right Forms

Chapter 7 is the most commonly chosen bankruptcy type in Washington state. To file for bankruptcy, you need to complete specific forms. There is no legal requirement to hire a bankruptcy attorney although doing so can be immensely helpful since the bankruptcy process can be complex.

When filing a Chapter 7 in Washington state you must first determine whether you must file your Chapter 7 forms in the Western District of Washington Bankruptcy Court or the Eastern District of Washington Bankruptcy Court. The good news is that since bankruptcy is a federal process, the forms you need are standard regardless of where they must be filed.

You can find a full list of Chapter 7 forms for individuals located on the Western District of Washington's website. The full forms packet for individual filers, as opposed to businesses, is 89 pages long. There is also a checklist available for print as well.

The required forms include:

  • Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy
  • Your Statement About Your Social Security Number(s)
  • Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments by Individual Debtor(s)
  • Application to Have the Chapter 7 Filing Fee Waived
  • A Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information – Individual
  • Schedules A/B through J
  • Schedule J-2: Expenses for Separate Household of Debtor 2
  • Declaration About an Individual Debtor's Schedules
  • Your Statement of Financial Affairs for Individuals
  • Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7
  • Chapter 7 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income
  • Chapter 7 Means Test Exemption
  • Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation
  • Notice Required by 11 U.S.C. §342(b) for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy
  • Debtor's Request to Activate Electronic Noticing (DeBN) (Optional)
  • Certificate of Credit Counseling
  • Mailing List of All Creditors

If you are represented by a bankruptcy attorney, you must also file the following form:

  • Disclosure of Compensation Pursuant to Federal Bankruptcy Rule 2016(b)

When your forms are ready for filing with the bankruptcy court, your filing fee of $335 must be paid or you must have prepared your application to either have your filing fee waived or to pay it in installments. You must pay your filing fee in the form of a cashier's check, money order, or with exact change. Washington state bankruptcy courts will not accept personal checks, bill paychecks, debit cards, or credit cards from debtors or debtors in possession.

Can You File Bankruptcy on State Taxes?

Your state taxes will be listed on your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Both state and federal taxes are known as priority debts. Whether state taxes can be discharged through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a complicated matter. Generally, discharging state taxes is only available in limited circumstances, but the fact that you are considering bankruptcy may mean that you have other options available for settling your tax debt. To learn more about bankruptcy and state taxes, schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers.  

How Many Times Can You File for Bankruptcy in Washington State?

You can only receive a Chapter 7 discharge every eight years if you've had a previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you received a discharge from a Chapter 13, you must wait six years before filing a Chapter 7. You cannot receive a Chapter 13 discharge if you've received a Chapter 7 discharge within the last four years or a Chapter 13 discharged within the last two years. However, if your previous bankruptcy did not end in a discharge, you may be able to file for Chapter 7 and receive a discharge without the time restrictions mentioned. 

Should You Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney to Help You?

Although there is no legal requirement for you to be represented by a bankruptcy attorney during your Chapter 7, bankruptcy can be a complex process. There are multiple forms that must be completed and filed with the court, court dates, and, if necessary, dealing with creditors. A bankruptcy attorney is an experienced advocate who can help you navigate the system, ensures your Chapter 7 forms are properly completed and filed, deals with creditors on your behalf, and provides you with legal advice as you complete the bankruptcy process.

In short, a bankruptcy attorney helps take the stress out of the bankruptcy process. You focus on rebuilding your future while your attorney handles the legal aspects of your case.

Free Consultation: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Washington State

If you're ready to take control of your financial future, the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers provides free consultations regarding Chapter 7 bankruptcies. Schedule your consultation now to discover whether filing for Chapter 7 is a good fit for you.