Although the bankruptcy court is a federal court, each state has its own individual set of bankruptcy exemptions. Exemptions are laws outlining what you can, and cannot keep in a bankruptcy case. If you live in the Dallas area, great! In Texas, there is no cap on your home value exemption – meaning, if you need to file bankruptcy in Texas, you can protect your house and equity no matter how much it is worth! This law is known as the unlimited homestead exemption. Four other states also have an unlimited homestead exemption: Florida, Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota. The remaining 45 states limit how much of your home value you can protect – and if your house is worth more than the state allows, you may not be able to protect it in a bankruptcy proceeding.
When bankruptcy laws changed in 2005, Congress expressed concerns over persons moving from one state to another to take advantage of generous exemption laws. Because of this, there are now residency requirements. Generally speaking, you must be a resident of Texas for two years prior to filing your case, in order to claim Texas exemptions. If this does not apply in your situation, you may be able to claim the exemptions of your previous state, or you may claim federal exemptions. The majority of people who file for bankruptcy relief keep their personal belongings. A bankruptcy lawyer will be more than qualified to handle any questions you have regarding what you can, and cannot keep in your individual case.
In the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, the US Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Texas, handles most bankruptcy cases. Within each district, there are many courts. Each court also has its own guidelines about the filing process. Some courts may want two copies of your bankruptcy petition, while another court requires one paper copy, and an electronic copy. The rules vary widely, and the best way to ensure your case runs smoothly is to have a lawyer handle your case. You definitely do not want your bankruptcy to be delayed, or even thrown out of court over a small error. If the court decides to throw out your case, you must start the filing process over from the beginning. You local DFW bankruptcy attorney has plenty of experience with local courts, and knows the individual regulations each court requires.