The goals of filing bankruptcy in Wyoming is to present petitioners with an opportunity to recover from crippling debt, and to provide creditors an opportunity to recoup some payments based on the value of the debtor’s property or future earnings. 1,516 bankruptcies were filed in Wyoming in 2010, ranking Wyoming 44th in the nation for the number of bankruptcy filings per capita. 85% of Wyoming’s bankruptcy petitions in 2010 sought protection under Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Filing Bankruptcy in Wyoming
Bankruptcy in Wyoming is governed by federal law and Wyoming bankruptcy cases are filed in the US Bankruptcy Courts in Casper and Cheyenne.
Though federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy proceedings, Wyoming law prohibits petitioners from selecting exemptions listed in the U.S. bankruptcy code; instead petitioners must choose from the exemptions provided under Wyoming law. With the counsel of a bankruptcy attorney Wyoming debtors can determine what personal property the system permits petitioners to keep in bankruptcy, and what must be sold.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Wyoming
Chapter 7 bankruptcies in Wyoming are the most common of the state’s bankruptcy filings. Chapter 7 is suitable for petitioners who lack substantial assets, such as significant investments or equity in a home, since a Bankruptcy Trustee may liquidate personal property that is not protected by Wyoming’s bankruptcy exemptions. Liquidation takes place when the Trustee converts personal assets to cash for distribution to creditors. Wyoming’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy law allows petitioners to keep some essential property; the exempt assets are strictly off-limits to creditors seeking repayment.
The vast majority of Chapter 7 cases are “no-asset” cases where no property is taken.
Wyoming Bankruptcy Exemptions
Wyoming’s state laws include detailed property exemptions that let petitioners keep certain personal property and assets so that debtors can rehabilitate their financial situation through bankruptcy and not be rendered entirely destitute. Bankruptcy in Wyoming allows petitioners to choose exemptions from the state list.
Personal property exemption values are subject to change, so it is recommended that petitioners meet with a Wyoming bankruptcy attorney to learn how their financial circumstances will be affected by bankruptcy. Wyoming bankruptcy exemptions include:
Wyoming Homestead Exemption
- $10,000 total: Real property you occupy; or $6,000 total: house or trailer you occupy (Husband and wife may double)
- Spouse or child of deceased owner may claim homestead exemption
Wyoming Tenancy by Entirety Exemption
- Property held as tenancy by the entirety may be exempt against debts owed by only one spouse
Wyoming Personal Property Exemption
- $2,000 per person: Household articles, food, furniture and bedding in the home
- $1,000 total: Clothing and wedding rings
- $2,400 total: Motor vehicle
- Medical savings account contributions
- Bible, schoolbooks and pictures
- Prepaid funeral contracts
- Burial plot
Wyoming Tools of Trade Exemption
- $2,000 total: Library and implements of profession; or $2,000 total: motor vehicle, implements, tools, team and stock in trade
Wyoming Wage Garnishment Exemption
- 75% of disposable weekly earnings or 30 times the federal hourly minimum wage, whichever is more
- Earnings of National Guard members
- Wages of inmates in adult community corrections, correctional industries program or work release
Wyoming Public Benefits Exemption
- General assistance
- Workers’ and Unemployment compensation
- Crime victims’ compensation
Wyoming Insurance Exemption
- $350 per month: Annuity contract proceeds
- Disability benefits if clause prohibits proceeds from being used to pay beneficiary’s creditors
- Fraternal benefit society benefits
- Group life or disability policy or Individual life insurance policy proceeds, cash surrender and loan values, premiums waived and dividends
- Life insurance proceeds held by insurer, if clause prohibits proceeds from being used to pay beneficiary’s creditors
Wyoming Pensions and Retirement Savings Exemption
- Criminal investigators, highway officers, Police officers
- Firefighters’ death benefits
- Public employees
- Game and fish wardens
- Private or public retirement funds and accounts, IRAs
Wyoming Miscellaneous Exemption
- Liquor licenses and malt beverage permits
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Wyoming
In 2010, 15% of petitioners filed for protection under Chapter 13 bankruptcy laws in Wyoming. When a petitioner files Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Wyoming, a court-appointed Trustee is responsible for restructuring debts and implementing a 3-5 year repayment plan, by which creditors are paid back using the debtor’s future income. Chapter 13 petitioners in Wyoming keep most or all of their property.
How to File Bankruptcy in Wyoming
A main concern for those petitioning for bankruptcy protection is to determine if the debtor’s property qualifies for crucial exemptions. The best-case scenario when filing for bankruptcy is one where the debtor may keep major assets and their key debts qualify for discharge. A Wyoming bankruptcy attorney can evaluate a debtor’s individual circumstances and provide counsel as to whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a practical solution for their financial situation.
Bankruptcy Attorney: Wyoming
It is important for debtors to know their rights and obligations as bankruptcy petitioners. A Wyoming bankruptcy attorney can counsel petitioners about federal laws and state exemptions and how they apply to each individual’s circumstance. Expert advice is key to protecting assets and moving forward from debt.