Financial difficulties are a major cause of stress. But bankruptcy can help if you’re one of the many people in Missouri experiencing financial difficulties resulting from a job loss, sickness, or other circumstances.
Since Missouri’s bankruptcy procedure is governed by federal law, the basic steps in filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Missouri aren’t all that different from filing in another state. However, even if you research and determine that filing bankruptcy is the best course of action, there isn’t much information available beyond the answer “Filing bankruptcy.”
How do you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Missouri? Unfortunately, the procedure is not easy since it is a type of complex financial and legal choice needing step-by-step instruction.
Get guidance from our Missouri Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer throughout your bankruptcy case. Get in touch with our law firm immediately!
Why Do I Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer in Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Missouri?
Under Chapter 7 laws, filing bankruptcy could be challenging. If you require assistance submitting a claim, you could decide to work with an experienced Missouri bankruptcy lawyer.
Most people believe seeking advice is worthwhile. A bankruptcy lawyer can assist you with the following:
- Ensuring you are eligible for the bankruptcy chapter of your choice;
- Selecting the appropriate filing date;
- Helping you maintain the desired property;
- Ensuring you avoid fraud or other problems; and
- Specifying when you can stop paying the medical bills, student loan or other billing you’ll be erasing.
Until you file, creditors will likely call. The best course of action is typically to disregard them because informing your creditors of your bankruptcy may prompt them to seek more aggressive collection measures before losing their ability to do so completely. However, they will have to stop calling you if you acquire legal advice and refer to your attorney.
Our Missouri attorney can also assist you with the process and address any questions or worries. Don’t waste any more time, and set up a consultation now.
What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 is frequently chosen as the first bankruptcy option. It is quick and can be completed in a few months. You do not pay anything to the creditors, which makes it inexpensive. It works nicely for people who own only the necessities for living and working.
But those with more assets can lose them, particularly if they possess excessive luxuries. You can be forced to give up your card collection, your timeshare in the Bahamas, or even your home or car if you have too much equity in them or are falling behind on your payments. No payment plan option is available under Chapter 7 to make up missed car or mortgage payments. As a result, if you file late, you risk losing your house or car.
If you owe lots of money in credit card or medical debt, consider consulting with a Missouri bankruptcy attorney to see if Chapter 7 filing is your best option.
Who Is Eligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
You must meet particular eligibility standards, including a “means test,” to be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The test’s goal is to keep high-income individuals from being eligible.
If your average income per month for the six months before declaring bankruptcy was less than or equal to the median income in Missouri, you automatically pass the means test.
If it is decided, after accounting for your income, costs, and family size, that you do not have enough disposable income to pay your creditors, you may still pass the means test. Even though your income is higher than the Missouri median income, you can surpass the means test too.
The Means Test for Bankruptcies in Missouri
The means test is designed to ensure that your income is within a reasonable range for filing Chapter 7. This test looks at your annual salary (your gross income from the six months before your bankruptcy multiplied by two) and compares it to the median income to determine your eligibility.
You have failed the means test and are ineligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Missouri if your income is higher than the median income for households of your size.
There is a catch, though, that might still let you file Chapter 7. You may still be eligible to apply for this bankruptcy if, after deducting your monthly costs from your gross income, there is not enough money left over to support a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan.
What are the Exemptions Available Under Missouri Law?
The most common exemptions allowed by Missouri bankruptcy law are listed below.
Missouri Homestead Exemption
Your home’s equity is protected under the homestead exemption. In Missouri, you may exempt up to $15,000 of the equity in the home you are currently residing in or planning to move in. It can also be up to $5,000 of the value in a mobile home. The exemption cannot be doubled by joint owners.
You may have extra bankruptcy protection if you and your spouse jointly own property as tenants by the entirety, but only if one spouse files.
Missouri Motor Vehicle Exemption
If you declare bankruptcy, you won’t lose access to your transportation. The motor vehicle exemption allows you to safeguard up to $3,000 of the equity in a vehicle in Missouri.
Missouri Wildcard Exemption
Any property you select is protected by a wildcard exemption. In Missouri, you can choose nonexempt property worth up to $600 that you want to keep. An additional $1,250 in value in any asset, plus an additional $350 for each of your children if you are the family’s head.
How Do I File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Missouri?
You are ready to start the Missouri bankruptcy filing procedure after deciding which assets you want to exempt and learning which court you need to file in. The basic steps in filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are the following:
Gather the Documents You Need for Bankruptcy
It will be easier on your end to have all the documents and information you need right next to you when you file. By doing this, you avoid having to look for information and fill out forms when you want to get it over with instead.
The following is some of the necessary information you’ll need to file for bankruptcy in Missouri:
- Your social security number
- Your home address
- Your income and wage details
- Your employer’s name and address
- A complete list of your creditors
- A list of every critical item you own, such as your homes, land, cars, and valuables
- A list of all your financial accounts, such as bank accounts, investment accounts, and other accounts of a similar nature
- A thorough breakdown of your monthly expenses, such as rent, mortgage, child care, and groceries
- Two years worth of your state and federal tax returns
Take A Credit Counseling
In Missouri, you must complete a credit counseling course that has been approved before filing for bankruptcy. These courses are typically provided online and are not too difficult to complete. After finishing the course, you will receive a certificate that entitles you to file for bankruptcy at any point during the subsequent 180 days.
Fill Out Forms
There is even more paperwork: the official bankruptcy documents, besides your complete financial data and your completion certificate from your credit counseling course. Many of the details on the form, including your list of assets and your current income, will come from your financial records, which vary depending on the Missouri court.
Filling out these forms is crucial because mistakes could cause your bankruptcy file to be delayed or harmed. Call a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney now, and they may complete the documents on your behalf and ensure that all information is accurate.
Pay the Filing Fee
It isn’t entirely free to file for bankruptcy in Missouri if you earn more than a specific amount of cash. If your income is at least 1.5 times the federal poverty level, you must pay a $338 filing fee. However, you can ask for an installment plan or even a charge waiver if you cannot pay all at once.
File Bankruptcy Forms in Court
It’s time to print off your documents and bring them to court to be filed after you have all of your information and paperwork collected. Make sure the printed forms are printed on clear, white paper with an easy-to-read layout, and don’t staple or alter them.
Send Materials to A Bankruptcy Trustee
The automatic stay goes into effect once you file your bankruptcy forms, preventing your creditors from pursuing further payments. You are also given a bankruptcy trustee, who will be in charge of many parts of your case.
You must mail your trustee your most current tax return shortly after filing. They might also contact you if they require any further paperwork or details. This can be stressful, but it is necessary — and required by law — that you comply with your trustee throughout the process.
Take the Next Bankruptcy Course
You must enroll in a second financial course and submit a certificate of completion to the bankruptcy court within 90 days of declaring bankruptcy in Missouri. This second session focuses more on handling your finances once bankruptcy has been discharged. Ensure the course you take, which will likely be online, is being offered by an authorized provider of debtor education programs.
Attend the 341 Creditor’s Meeting
A 341 meeting, commonly known as a meeting of creditors, will happen if you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy about a month after filing. Your creditors are welcome to come here and raise objections to your bankruptcy filing and enquire about your case. Although creditors can attend and answer honestly to all queries, they frequently choose not to do so at 341 meetings. The conference will consist mainly of you, your lawyer, and your bankruptcy trustee having a brief conversation about your case.
Receive Your Debt Discharge
Your debts will typically be dismissed in three to four months once you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Once that is over, you are done.
How Do I File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Online?
Online Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings are typically not encouraged. Declaring bankruptcy entails multiple strict requirements, procedures, and confusing legal constraints.
The steps required to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in person at the court or with an attorney’s help are substantially the same when done online. The person must understand how to conduct the means test, evaluate their assets and resources and be sure that Chapter 7 is the appropriate bankruptcy chapter to file under before they may apply for Chapter 7.
Call our Trusted Bankruptcy Attorney in Missouri Now!
We hope that this in-depth look into Missouri bankruptcy laws has been beneficial and helped relieve some of your concerns and worries about the bankruptcy process. We believe the measures mentioned miss one crucial step that can further reduce stress —speaking with a Missouri bankruptcy attorney.
A trusted bankruptcy lawyer will assist you through every step of the bankruptcy procedure. You may pay more attention to your life and get off to a fresh financial start more quickly and with less stress.
Doyel Law aims to assist Sunset Hills, Missouri, residents in filing for bankruptcy as fast and successfully as possible so they can resume their lives and those of their families. Our law office has done this for many families, and we’re prepared to assist you. Contact us now for legal help on bankruptcy issues and even family law.