Bankruptcy / Montana / Billings

Filing Bankruptcy in Billings: 7 Things You Need to Know

Written by Ben Tejes
Updated Oct 18th, 2022

You are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Billings. Bankruptcy is a common debt relief choice. 

In fact, many people in Montana have received bankruptcy relief, and Billings is no different. In fact, there were 712 bankruptcies filed in Montana in the year ending June 30, 2021 (Source). With a population of 109577, I’d estimate a fair number of those were in Billings.

The purpose of this article is to provide an extensive list of filing bankruptcy in Billings including:

  1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Billings
  2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Billings
  3. Billings Bankruptcy Attorney Fees
  4. Finding a Reputable Bankruptcy Lawyer in Billings
  5. Estimating Loss of Belonging (i.e.
  6. Getting Bankruptcy Help in Billings
  7. Bankruptcy Alternatives and Conclusion

Without further ado, let’s get started with Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Billings

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common consumer bankruptcy in the United States. People appreciate the simplicity of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the cost of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and the speed of debt relief. For example, in Billings, you could get debt relief in about 120 days with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

One of the challenges of Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Billings is that you have to qualify. In order to qualify in Billings, you often have to pass the Montana bankruptcy means test. You can estimate that qualification below in Billings. Let’s cover how you can qualify.

Chapter 7 Qualification

The first part of the means test is to understand your income in relation to the median income levels for Montana. It considers the average family size and income.

To estimate your qualification, you can take the Billings Chapter 7 qualification calculator below that is specific to Billings.

Finally, the most recent Montana median income levels is for cases filed on or after May 15, 2022, and can be found below.

# of PeopleAnnual Income
1$60,032
2$72,102
3$77,793
4$101,329
5$111,229
6$121,129
7$131,029
8$140,929
9$150,829

If your income exceeds the median, you can move on to the second part of the means test to estimate qualification. The second part of the means test is to understand your actual expenses. You can check out our guide covering trying to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy above the median.

For example, the average median rent amount in Billings is $899, but let's say your rent is almost double that amount. Could you potentially still qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because of those additional expenses? What you are able to state as ab expense is limited, and you can refer to the current national standard for the maximum amounts, but you may want to speak with your attorney about this situation.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Billings

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is known as a wage-earner bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a voluntary reorganization of debt.  In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the individual has debt that they can no longer manage and often own assets that exceed state and/or federal relief. Folks file Chapter 13 bankruptcy often when they do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  

Most individuals in Billings will qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy as long as they are below the debt limits.

Compared to Chapter 7, there is no liquidation in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Although, the discharge won’t be until around 3 to 5 years. The Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 7 years.

Billings Bankruptcy Attorney Fees

When looking for a bankruptcy attorney, we recommend that you look for these 5 attributes: Rate, Reliability, Referrals, Reviews, and Relevancy. You can check our guide to find a top bankruptcy attorney in Billings.

The estimated Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer fee in Billings is: $1075 - $1500.

The estimated Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer fee in Billings is: $3,000. The Chapter 13 attorney fee is often set across the district, meaning that all Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys in a district may charge around the same fee.

Billings Bankruptcy Attorneys

One of the most important things to do is to find a reputable bankruptcy attorney in Billings if you decide to hire one. This is legal advice related to finances that are going to affect your future. For example, making sure you are in the right bankruptcy chapter (Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13) could cost you thousands more and take you years longer.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyer

As stated above, Billings has a population of 109577. In many cases, individuals in larger cities such as Billings or Missoula would like a bankruptcy lawyer close by. In smaller cities, I have found that individuals have questions about whether the bankruptcy will show up in the newspaper or whether friends will hear about it. This is a valid question.

Regardless, you can check the Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers in or near Billings using the table below. You just need to input your zip code, and voila, you can choose which Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer you would like to speak to near or far away from Billings in a free bankruptcy lawyer consultation

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lawyer

Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Billings may be a bit more intensive, so you may consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy that is closer to you. That said, with the internet and the pandemic, many of the meetings are now online and you can generally submit your documentation online as well.

Regardless, you can use the table below to find a Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer in or near Billings. Also, the fees are just estimates, and may not be reflective of the actual cost of the attorney fees.

Zip code
sort_numguidhas_phoneFirmRatingReviewsRelevancyFree ConsultPayment PlansContactClick to Call

Bankruptcy Exemptions in Montana

As you live in Billings, you are often able to use the Montana bankruptcy exemptions to help you keep your belongings.

One of the biggest questions people have is whether they are able to keep their homes in bankruptcy. This is where bankruptcy exemptions come into play. As Billings has a home ownership % of 63% and an estimated estimated home value of $221035, you can understand that many people want to keep this asset. You can often keep your assets using bankruptcy exemptions.

Here are the Montana bankruptcy exemptions. The exemptions are revised on different occasions, so you may wish to check the most current information on exemptions. Also, as a reference, Montana is a place that does not allow you to use federal bankruptcy exemptions. You often have to choose which one to use, so a bankruptcy attorney can help you with that option.

Homestead Exemption

The homestead exemption is often broken down by age and whether you are married. 

  • Single and under 65: $250,000
  • Single is 65 or older: $250,000
  • Married and under 65: $250,000
  • Married is 65 or older: $250,000

Montana specific homestead bankruptcy exemption text: “Mont. Code Ann. § 70-32-104. Real property or mobile home you occupy to $250,000; sale, condemnation, or insurance proceeds exempt for 18 months. Must record homestead declaration before filing for bankruptcy.” (Source)

Automobile Exemption

The automobile bankruptcy exemption in Montana is $2,500.

Tools of Trade Exemption

The tools of the trade bankruptcy exemption in Montana is $3,000.

Personal Property Exemption

The personal property bankruptcy exemption in Montana is $4,500.

Special Exemption Handling for Montana

Below is specific special handling of bankruptcy exemptions in Montana.

  • Personal: up to $600 per item

Bankruptcy Help in Billings

Unemployment can cause both frustration and angst about options. The most recent statistic I found is that the Billings unemployment rate is 3.3%. There may be resources available to help. In addition to the unemployment rate, Billings has a disability rate of 12.2%. As such, if you are truly in need and don’t have income, there are resources that may be available that can help you.

Check out the legal aid and free resources that may be available in Billings.

Legal Aid and Free Resources

Here are some legal aid resources that may be helpful to you in Billings.

The bankruptcy court and district may have free resources that are available to you. I have included the information below. 

Lastly, Billings also has a limited English rate of 0.4% and a poverty rate of 10%. If you have limited English, you may check out the court websites for Montana for additional information on how you can be served. You can also see how filing bankruptcy without an attorney can work if you cannot afford a bankruptcy lawyer.

Courts and Districts in Montana

District of Montana

  • 2601 2nd Avenue North Billings, MT 59101
  • 400 N. Main Butte, MT 59701
  • 125 Central Avenue West Great Falls, MT 59404
  • 125 Central Avenue West Great Falls, MT 59404
  • 901 Front Street Helena, MT 59626
  • 201 E. Broadway
    Missoula, MT 59802

Debt Settlement in Billings

One of the most common alternatives to bankruptcy is debt settlement. A debt settlement firm would negotiate for a lower amount due on your debt in the case of financial hardship. The goal would be to reduce your debt in half. In this case, you would have a lower monthly payment.

If you are looking at debt settlement in Billings, you may want to consider a national debt settlement firm to a local one in Billings. For example, most of your creditors are probably national banks instead of local Billings banks. As such, you can potentially get lower fees by using a national firm. You should strongly consider the pros and cons and credit score impact before taking the plunge as Ascend only recommends 2 debt settlement firms nationwide that both offer free phone evaluations.

Conclusion

Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Billings can provide debt relief. That said, you may want to consider the cost of bankruptcy in Billings, the different bankruptcy chapters, reputable attorneys in Billings and alternatives to help you make the most informed decision. 

You can also take our Chapter 7 vs Chapter calculator below to help you estimate the cost and qualification of Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Billings.