I. Debt Collection Forms:
The web site WashingtonLawHelp.org has the best resources for helping a debtor answer a debt collection lawsuit. Look at the following publications, found under the subject heading Money and Debt, subheading Debt Collection.
For general information on debt collection:
This publication helps you understand debt collection practices and your rights when dealing with debt collectors. Includes form letters you can use to mail to debt collectors requesting that they stop contacting you.
Publications on dealing with debt collection lawsuits:
These two guides will walk you through the process to answer the lawsuit:
- Debtors’ Rights in a Lawsuit This publication provides information on how to represent yourself when you are being sued for money.
- How do I Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection? This packet helps you represent yourself when you have been served with a lawsuit for debt collection. It should be used with our publication “Debtors’ Rights in a Lawsuit”.
In addition, the guide “How do I Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection?” includes blank MS Word versions of the documents that you may fill out online and save or print.
- Answer and Affirmative Defenses
- Pro Se Notice of Appearance
- Certificate of Service
- Declaration of Defendant Regarding Income and Assets Exempt from Garnishment
The guides will tell you how to fill out the forms and what to do with them once you have completed them. If the defendant (person being sued) for debt collection does not answer the lawsuit, the plaintiff (person bringing the lawsuit) may get a default judgment (court decision for the plaintiff) of the amount owed, as the court will assume that the defendant is not contesting the suit.
Washington State Court Forms: Financial:
A Writ of Garnishment is a court order directing an employer or a bank or someone else who has money belonging to the defendant to withhold the money you are owed and pay the money to you instead of the defendant.
The Public Law Library of King County sells a Garnishment Kit for $27.00. Visit us in person to learn more and purchase your kit.
If the defendant (person being sued) for debt collection does not answer the lawsuit, the plaintiff (person bringing the lawsuit) may get a default judgment (court decision for the plaintiff) of the amount owed, as the court will assume that the defendant is not contesting the suit.
Any individual, business, partnership, or corporation (with a couple of exceptions) may bring a small claims suit for recovery of money only for an amount up to $5,000. A claim can be filed in any King County District Court location, however, small claims cases are only heard in Burien (starting September 2013), Issaquah, Seattle, Shoreline, and Vashon. You may select the courthouse location you wish your claim to be heard in as long as other jurisdictional requirements apply. Other jurisdictional questions will be answered by a review of RCW 3.66.040. Questions regarding the statute of limitations in small claims actions can be answered by a review of RCW 4.16. The State of Washington may not be sued in Small Claims Court. The filing fee for Small Claims is $25 effective August 19, 2014. A portion of your filing fee goes to the King County Dispute Resolution Center. The Center provides free mediation services prior to your court date, or the same day as court. For more information about Small Claims, visit the Small Claims Forms Page, Small Claims Research Guide, or visit one of our legal clinics.
Other Helpful Resources:
Federal Trade Commission has a list of resources for dealing with debt.
This guide, brought to you by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State, provides information and forms on how to obtain a court order waiving or reducing interest on legal financial obligations (LFOs) in Washington State. Defined by statute RCW 10.82.090, the court may, on motion by the offender, reduce or waive the interest on legal financial obligations ordered as a result of a criminal conviction.
NOLO’s Guide to Time-Barred Debts: When Collectors Cannot Sue You for Unpaid Debts.
The Washington State Attorney General has a web page addressing credit and debt.
Where can I get information in person and guidance and help in filling out the forms?
The Debt Collection Defense Clinic, sponsored by the Northwest Justice Project, offers a free half hour legal consultation with a volunteer attorney. It is held in our Seattle branch each Tuesday from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm and no appointment is necessary. Visit our legal clinics page for more information.
II. Bankruptcy Forms:
Washington State Court Forms:
Bankruptcy cases are filed through the federal court system, not through the state courts. You can obtain information on bankruptcies by visiting one of the following web sites:
- Washington Western District Bankruptcy Court
- Washington Eastern District Bankruptcy Court
United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington:
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington has a link to Frequently Asked Questions that gives additional information about where to file a bankruptcy case.
- Look under the tab that says Filing Information to find links to forms, filing fee schedule, etc.
- Official bankruptcy forms to file a case under Chapters 7, 11 and 13, as well as a proof of claim form for creditors, may be found on the web site.
- Local Bankruptcy Forms
- Court opinions beginning in 2005 are now also available.
United States Courts Services & Forms:
- The US Courts provides general information about federal bankruptcy laws and the bankruptcy process on this website, but is not intended to be used as a guide through the bankruptcy process.
- The US Courts provides official bankruptcy forms.
- The US courts has created a video series on Bankruptcy to help explain the process. You can find the videos here.
The American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) maintains a web site that is aimed at professionals in the bankruptcy field, but it has links to useful information and is also a good site for monitoring the progress of bankruptcy legislation and other major developments in bankruptcy law. Some of the information is accessible to members only, but the information listed above is accessible by non-members.
The Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute has an overview of bankruptcy, as well as links to other web sites with information on bankruptcy.
Links updated February 2017.