Our Utah bankruptcy attorney, Craig Helgesen, is one of the top bankruptcy attorneys in Utah. Craig has the experience to help you find solutions to your pressing financial matters.

Utah Bankruptcy attorney

Specializing Attorneys

Layton Attorney Craig Helgesen


Bankruptcy Attorney
Layton Office


Are you struggling to pay your debts?

Helgesen, Houtz & Jones has been helping people facing bankruptcy in Utah since 1982. If you are currently facing financial hardship or struggling to pay your debts, bankruptcy might be the right solution for you. Our specialized bankruptcy team, led by attorney Craig Helgesen, is ready to guide you through the federal bankruptcy law and answer any questions you have about filing bankruptcy in Utah. Craig is one of the top bankruptcy attorneys in Utah, according to He has the experience needed to find you relief from the burdens of debt and receive a fresh new start financially.

Free yourself from debt. Start your bankruptcy today. We offer quick, easy, affordable options for both chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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How Chapter 7 bankruptcy works

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Costs in Time and Money

The whole Chapter 7 bankruptcy process takes about four to six months. The administrative fees include a court filing fee of $335, a mandatory online counseling course for as low as $9.95, and legal fees starting at $995. The chapter 7 bankruptcy process commonly only requires one trip to the courthouse.

You must also complete credit counselling with an agency approved by the United States Trustee. (For a list of
approved agencies in each state, go to the Trustee’s web site,, and click “Credit Counselling and Debtor Education.”)

Who Can File?

You won’t be able to use Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you already received a bankruptcy discharge in the last six to eight years (depending which type of bankruptcy you filed) or if, based on your income, expenses, and debt burden, you could feasibly complete a Chapter 13 repayment plan. (For more information on these eligibility requirements, see Chapter 7 Bankruptcy — Who Can File?)

Bankruptcy Forms

To file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you fill out a petition and a number of other forms and file them with the bankruptcy court in your area. Basically, the forms ask you to describe:

  • your property
  • your current income and monthly living expenses
  • your debts
  • property you claim the law allows you to keep through the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process (called “exempt property”) — most states let you keep some equity in your home, clothing, household furnishings, Social Security payments you haven’t spent, and other necessities such as a car and the tools of your trade.
  • property you owned and money you spent during the previous two years, and
  • property you sold or gave away during the previous two years.

You’ll find step-by-step instructions for filling out all of the required forms in How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, by Stephen Elias, Albin Renauer, and Robin Leonard (Nolo).

Bankruptcy’s Magic Wand — The Automatic Stay

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy puts into effect an “Order for Relief” — known informally as the “automatic stay.” The automatic stay immediately stops most creditors from trying to collect what you owe them. So, at least temporarily, creditors cannot legally grab (“garnish”) your wages, empty your bank account, go after your car, house, or other property, or cut off your utility service or welfare benefits. For more information, see How Bankruptcy Stops Your Creditors: The Automatic Stay.
Bankruptcy Court’s Control Over Your Financial Affairs

By filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are technically placing the property you own and the debts you owe in the hands of the bankruptcy court. You can’t sell or give away any of the property you own when you file, or pay off your pre-filing debts, without the court’s consent. However, with a few exceptions, you can do what you wish with property you acquire and income you earn after you file for bankruptcy.

The Bankruptcy Trustee for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The court exercises its control through a court-appointed person called a “bankruptcy trustee.” The trustee’s primary duty is to see that your creditors are paid as much as possible on what you owe them. And the more assets the trustee recovers for creditors, the more the trustee is paid.

The trustee (or the trustee’s staff) will examine your papers to make sure they are complete and to look for nonexempt property to sell for the benefit of creditors. The trustee will also look at your financial transactions during the previous year to see if any can be undone to free up assets to distribute to your creditors. In most Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, the trustee finds nothing of value to sell.

The Creditors Meeting

A week or two after you file, you (and all the creditors you list in your bankruptcy papers) will receive a notice that a “creditors meeting” has been scheduled. The bankruptcy trustee runs the meeting and, after swearing you in, may ask you questions about your bankruptcy and the papers you filed. In the vast majority of Chapter 7 bankruptcies, this is the debtor’s only visit to the courthouse.

What Happens to Your Property?

If, after the creditors meeting, the trustee determines that you have some nonexempt property, you may be required to either surrender that property or provide the trustee with its equivalent value in cash. If the property isn’t worth very much or would be cumbersome for the trustee to sell, the trustee may “abandon” the property — which means that you get to keep it, even though it is nonexempt. (For information on which types of property are typically exempt, see When Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Isn’t the Right Choice. However, which property is exempt varies by state — you can find complete lists of exempt property for every state in How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, by Stephen Elias, Albin Renauer, and Robin Leonard (Nolo).)

Most property owned by Chapter 7 debtors is either exempt or is essentially worthless for purposes of raising money for the creditors. As a result, few debtors end up having to surrender any property, unless it is collateral for a secured debt (see below).

How Your Secured Debts Are Treated?

If you’ve pledged property as collateral for a loan, the loan is called a secured debt. The most common examples of collateral are houses and automobiles. If you’re behind on your payments, the creditor can ask to have the automatic stay lifted in order to repossess or foreclose on the property. However, if you are current on your payments, you can keep the property and keep making payments as before — unless you have enough equity in the property to justify its sale by the trustee.

If a creditor has recorded a lien against your property because of a debt you haven’t paid (for example, because the creditor obtained a court judgment against you), that debt is also secured. You may be able to wipe out the lien in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Discharge

At the end of the bankruptcy process, all of your debts are wiped out (discharged) by the court, except:

  • debts that automatically survive bankruptcy, such as child support, most tax debts, and student loans, unless the court rules otherwise, and
  • debts that the court has declared non dischargeable because the creditor objected (for example, debts incurred by your fraud or malicious acts).

For more information and step-by-step help filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, see How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, by Stephen Elias, Albin Renauer, and Robin Leonard (Nolo).

© 2009 Nolo

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Debt Reorganization

The Basic Steps

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, sometimes called reorganization bankruptcy, is quite different from Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most of your debts are wiped out; in exchange, you must relinquish any property that isn’t exempt from seizure by your creditors. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy you don’t have to hand over any property, but you must use your income to pay some or all of what you owe to your creditors over time — from three to five years, depending on the size of your debts and income.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Eligibility

Chapter 13 bankruptcy isn’t for everyone. Because Chapter 13 requires you to use your income to repay some or all of your debt, you’ll have to prove to the court that you can afford to meet your payment obligations. If your income is irregular or too low, the court might not allow you to file for Chapter 13.

If your total debt burden is too high, you are also ineligible. Your secured debts cannot exceed $1,010,650 and your unsecured debts cannot be more than $336,900. A “secured debt” is one that gives a creditor the right to take a specific item of property (such as your house or car) if you don’t pay the debt. An “unsecured debt” (such as a credit card or medical bill) doesn’t give the creditor this right.

The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Process

Before you can file for bankruptcy, you must receive credit counseling from an agency approved by the United States Trustee’s office. (For a list of approved agencies, go to the Trustee’s web site at and click “Credit Counseling and Debtor Education.”) These agencies are allowed to charge a fee for their services, but they must provide counseling for free or at reduced rates if you cannot afford to pay.

In addition you’ll have to pay the filing fee which is currently $274 and file numerous forms. For line-by-line instructions on filling out the required bankruptcy forms, see Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Keep Your Property & Repay Debts Over Time, by Stephen Elias and Robin Leonard (Nolo).

The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Repayment Plan

The most important part of your Chapter 13 paperwork will be a repayment plan. Your repayment plan will describe in detail howmuch you owe and how you will pay each of your debts. There is no official form for the plan, but many courts have designed their own forms.

How Much You Must Pay?

Your Chapter 13 plan states that you must pay certain debts in full. These debts are called “priority debts” because they’re considered important enough to jump to the head of the bankruptcy repayment line. Priority debts include child support and alimony, wages you owe to employees, and certain tax obligations.

In addition, your plan must include your regular payments on secured debts such as a car loan or mortgage, as well as repayment of any arrearages on the debts (the amount by which you’ve fallen behind in your payments).

The plan must show any disposable income that you have left after making these required payments. This income will go towards repaying your unsecured debts such as a credit card or medical bills. You don’t have to repay these debts in full (or at all, in some cases). You just have to show that you are putting any remaining income towards their repayment.

How Long Your Repayment Plan Will Last?

The length of your repayment plan depends on how much you earn and how much you owe. If your average monthly income over the six months prior to the date you filed for bankruptcy is more than the median income for your state, you’ll have to propose a five-year plan. If your income is lower than the median, you may propose a three-year plan. (To get the median income figures for your state, go to the United States Trustee’s web site,, and click “Means Testing Information.”)

No matter how much you earn, your plan will end if you repay all of your debts in full even if you have not yet reached the three- or five-year mark.

If You Can’t Make Planned Payments?

If for some reason you cannot finish a Chapter 13 repayment plan — for example, you lose your job six months into the plan and can’t keep up the payments — the bankruptcy trustee may modify your plan or the court might let you discharge your debts on the basis of hardship. Examples of hardship would be a sudden plant closing in a one-factory town or a debilitating illness.

If the bankruptcy court won’t let you modify your plan or give you a hardship discharge, you might be able to convert to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or ask the bankruptcy court to dismiss your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case (you would still owe your debts, plus any interest creditors did not charge while your Chapter 13 case was pending). For information on your alternatives in this situation, see Chapter 13
Bankruptcy: Keep Your Property & Repay Debts Over Time, by Stephen Elias and Robin Leonard (Nolo).

How a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case Ends?

Once you complete your repayment plan, all remaining debts that are eligible for discharge will be wiped out. Before you can receive a discharge, you must show the court that you are current on your child support and/or alimony obligations and that you have completed a budget counseling course with an agency approved by the United States Trustee. (This requirement is separate from the mandatory credit counseling you must undergo before filing for bankruptcy — you can find a list of approved agencies at the Trustee’s web site,; click “Credit Counseling and Debtor Education.”)

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Business Bankruptcy

Receive protection against creditors

In recent years, our country has seen some of the largest chapter 11 bankruptcy filings in history.

A chapter 11 bankruptcy filing allows a business to gain protection against creditors while the business raises operating funds. These funds are given a preference over other debts of the business.

Under protection of the automatic stay, the business, called a “debtor in possession,” proposes a reorganization plan and gains the agreement of creditors. Once the plan is confirmed, it is carried out and the business emerges from bankruptcy.

If your business is failing and you would like to discuss options to save it, contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Utah Bankruptcy Emergency Filing

Same day service. Meet today, file tomorrow.

Why you may be in a hurry

From the moment you file, BANKRUPTCY STOPS ALL COLLECTION EFFORTS, including foreclosures, repossessions, wage garnishments, account garnishments, debtor exams, property executions, lawsuits – every effort to collect debt.

We can file the same day you hire us!

We have immediate electronic access with the federal bankruptcy court. When you hire us, we can file immediately. Once we file, all collection efforts must stop!

What we need for an emergency filing:

If your need is urgent, we can file with only your personal information and the identity of creditors whose collections your are trying to stop. We can add your other information later.

We can file the rest of your information within 14 days after the emergency filing.

An Emergency Bankruptcy is not complete until a list of your debts, list of creditors, schedules and other information is filed. bankruptcy filing.  You will have 14-days to complete and file the remainder of your bankruptcy documents.

Contact us today so we can help.

How much does bankruptcy cost?

Chapter 7

  • $995 Attorneys fees
  • $335 Court Filing Fees
  • $9.95 Online Counseling Course

Chapter 13

  • $335 Filing Fees
  • $9.95 Online Counseling Course
  • Attorney Fees, as allowed by the court, will be included in monthly re-payment plans. Ask us for more details.

Chapter 13

  • $335 Filing Fees
  • $9.95 Online Counseling Course
  • Attorney Fees, as allowed by the court, will be included in monthly re-payment plans. Ask us for more details.

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