Medical Bankruptcy Lawyers in Sunset Hills, Missouri
The most frequent reason for bankruptcy among Americans is medical debt, partly as a result of the enormous costs of healthcare in our country.
Your whole financial situation is assessed during bankruptcy, including all of your assets and liabilities. When filing for bankruptcy, some debtors sell off some of their possessions to pay back part of the money owed to them. In certain cases, consumers may be able to restructure their debt and come up with three- to five-year repayment terms for their medical debt without having to give up any assets.
Depending on your financial status and the sorts of debt you owe, the specifics of every bankruptcy case differ. You can get assistance from our knowledgeable Missouri medical bankruptcy lawyers as you navigate the difficult bankruptcy filing process.
At Doyel Law, we assist individuals from all around Missouri who are having financial difficulties as a consequence of unforeseen medical expenses. We have a wealth of understanding when it comes to American bankruptcy law, and our staff is equipped to support you in getting a new financial start. Contact us right now to speak with one of our committed medical bankruptcy lawyers about the specifics of your bankruptcy case.
Why Do You Need Our Medical Bankruptcy Lawyers in Missouri?
The lengthy and meticulous process of filing for bankruptcy can have a big impact on your financial and legal rights. You don’t want to make expensive errors. Our knowledgeable medical bankruptcy lawyers can help you by:
- Providing solid legal counsel based on years of experience, understanding of Missouri law, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Code
- Analyzing and researching bankruptcy legislation to find efficiencies and speed up the bankruptcy filing process
- Evaluating your income, obligations, and assets to see if bankruptcy is the best course of action for you
- Identifying whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is better for your case
- Determining whether your medical debts are eligible to be discharged after your bankruptcy case is resolved
- Timely and correct handling of documentation relating to bankruptcy
- Defending you from creditors’ and collection agencies’ harassing
You might feel more at ease and have less uncertainty during the difficult bankruptcy process if you have us on your side. You won’t have to worry about making expensive mistakes, losing important assets, or putting together trial arguments when we are fighting for your interests.
At each step of the bankruptcy procedure, our knowledgeable medical bankruptcy lawyers will advise you and fight for the best result.
What is Medical Debt?
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt is defined as “any obligation or alleged obligation of a consumer to pay money arising out of a transaction in which the money, property, insurance or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for personal, family, or household purpose.” This includes medical debt.
You agree to pay any fees your insurance company doesn’t cover when you sign a contract for treatment with a hospital, a clinic, a doctor, or another healthcare provider. Any costs that are not covered by your insurance may be your responsibility if they are not.
You have the right to contest the charges if you think you were erroneously billed. Unpaid medical costs are regarded as unsecured debt, like credit card debt, and can be dismissed in bankruptcy.
What is Medical Bankruptcy?
Medical bankruptcy is not an actual type of bankruptcy, but rather refers to the major source of debt that causes a person to file for bankruptcy. That is to say, you cannot pick and choose which debts are considered throughout the bankruptcy procedure.
People who are being hounded by debt collectors may file for bankruptcy primarily to discharge their medical debt, but a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will also discharge other types of debt besides simply medical debt.
Can You File Bankruptcy for Medical Bills?
The cost of your medical care could be the last thing on your mind when you are extremely ill or wounded. Your health should always come first, yet for American people and families, essential medical care may sometimes be exorbitantly costly.
Many people who have trouble repaying their medical costs think that declaring bankruptcy could be an option. Although there is no such thing as a “medical bankruptcy,” filing for bankruptcy can aid in your medical debt discharge. It’s important to understand, though, that you cannot pick and choose which debts to include or exclude in your bankruptcy case. All of your unpaid bills and assets may be fair game if you file for bankruptcy.
During bankruptcy proceedings, all of your debts are placed into one of three categories:
- Priority Debts. Such as tax debts, child support payments, and alimony payments, receive special treatment under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code
- Secured Debts. Debts that are “secured” by some type of physical collateral, such as a home or a car
- Unsecured Debts. Such as medical bills and credit card debts, which are not secured by any property and are not assigned special priority by law
Debtors who file for bankruptcy due to medical debt are often required to pay off all of their secured obligations to keep their collateral, as well as all of their priority debts.
However, non-priority unsecured debts, including unpaid medical bills, can qualify for bankruptcy discharge, which results in complete forgiveness of the debt.
How Does the Bankruptcy Code Treat Medical Debt?
According to bankruptcy law, a person’s debts to creditors are either “secured” or “unsecured.” Secured debt is debt that is backed by property that may be taken in the event of nonpayment, such as an automobile used as security for a car loan.
Unsecured debt includes amounts owing on credit cards, to government agencies, or for services like medical attention. The Bankruptcy Code classifies taxes, alimony, and child support as a priority debt, which is the third category of debt.
The law acknowledges that for a debtor to escape from bankruptcy, some debt must be forgiven. One may “discharge” some debt. According to the Bankruptcy Court, unsecured debt, which includes medical costs, has the lowest priority for repayment.
Unpaid medical expenses may be forgiven or may be lowered depending on the kind of bankruptcy filed—a Chapter 7 liquidation or a Chapter 13 restructuring.
What Type of Bankruptcy Can You File to Eliminate Medical Debt?
You may be eligible to declare one of two types of bankruptcy to get rid of your medical debt, depending on your specific situation:
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy under Chapter 7 may offer quick financial relief from debts and collection operations. If your income is below the current median income level for a household of your size and you are unable to pay back your medical obligations, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be right for you.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor often sells some of their possessions to raise money to pay creditors. Any unpaid debts, including medical obligations, are typically forgiven when debtors sell their assets to satisfy creditors for priority and secured debts.
By making use of state-legal exemptions, you might be able to prevent the sale of a significant portion of your assets. Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases can be finished in four to six months at most.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
If Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not a possibility for you and you have a regular income that might allow you to repay your obligations over time, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a better choice. Because, unlike Chapter 7, Chapter 13 permits debtors to preserve their assets and create a three- to five-year plan to repay their debts, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is sometimes referred to as the “wage earner’s plan.”
You need a regular source of income, unsecured debts under $394,725, and secured debts under $1,184,200 to be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Since Chapter 13 bankruptcy necessitates that debtors create a repayment plan that will last for years, cases involving this kind of bankruptcy can take substantially longer to settle.
Your failure to pay off any debt, including medical debt, by the end of the repayment plan period results in its discharge.
Steps in Filing Bankruptcy Due to Medical Bills?
Americans frequently experience medical bankruptcy as a result of the escalating expense of healthcare and health insurance. No matter how great their health insurance is, unexpected medical difficulties, job loss, and expensive medical treatments can cause families to go into debt.
In reality, virtually all personal bankruptcies contain substantial medical debt and unpaid medical bills. And depending on your financial condition, this move can be the best one.
Collate All of Your Financial Documents
You must gather all of your financial documents to demonstrate your income and living expenses as the first step in the bankruptcy process. You must have your most recent tax returns and proof of income from the last six months on hand when filing a Chapter 7 lawsuit. To fill out the paperwork, you will also need a list of your monthly living and medical costs.
You must also perform a Means Test as part of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition to determine your eligibility. The test compares your income with the state’s median household income. To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your average total income must be lower than the median income in your state.
Obtain Copies of Your Credit Report
Obtaining copies of your credit report is the next step. You may see the list of creditors, which should also include the medical providers you owe money to, in this report. You must identify all priority, secured, and unsecured debts on the bankruptcy paperwork, even if you only have a credit card or medical debt on your mind. Every year, you may get a free online copy of your credit report.
No matter how much the bill will cost or whether your insurance will cover enough of it, you must include all medical expenses and any medical debt when you file. Once your bankruptcy file is finished, you won’t be able to claim it, and you’ll have to pay the whole sum.
Make a List of Your Assets
Along with your debts, income, and expenses, you must also list all of your properties and their respective values. A tax appraisal can assist you in figuring out the worth of larger and more expensive items like real estate and vehicles that you might not be aware of.
Complete the Credit Counseling Course
The bankruptcy counseling course is the first of two classes you must take when filing for bankruptcy. It must be obtained from a company that has received government approval, and since it includes many of the same questions about your income and spending, it helps you fill out your paperwork.
In Bankruptcy Course 1, the agency reviews your debt-reduction possibilities after hearing about your monthly expenses and income. They may also give you advice on if a loose repayment plan could help you get your finances back on track. A course is a useful approach to weighing all of your alternatives and deciding whether filing for bankruptcy is the best course of action for you.
After completing the course, you or one of our medical bankruptcy lawyers (if applicable) will be emailed a certificate of completion. You must file this certificate with your bankruptcy case. You must include it; otherwise, your case may be dismissed.
Complete the Required Bankruptcy Forms
You can find the documents online at the United States Courts website. There are at least 23 separate forms where you will need to list all of your total debts, personal properties, and any real estate that you own. Every detail of your financial life, including your marital status, all household costs, debt payments, and total family income, must be documented.
If you’re an individual debtor, these are the forms required to file a bankruptcy petition for your medical debt in America:
- Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy
- Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information
- Schedule A/B (Property)
- Schedule C (The Property You Claim as Exempt)
- Schedule D (Creditors Who Hold Claims Secured by Property)
- Schedule E/F (Creditors Who Have Unsecured Claims)
- Schedule G (Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases)
- Schedule H (Your Codebtors)
- Schedule I (Your Income)
- Schedule J (Your Expenses)
- Declaration About an Individual Debtor’s Schedules
- Your Statement of Financial Affairs for Individuals Filing Bankruptcy
- Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7
- Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers
- Chapter 7 Statement of Current Monthly Income (Only for Chapter 7 Petitions)
- Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation (Only If You Qualify for a Chapter 7 Petition)
If you want to pay the filing fee in installments or apply to waive the charge, you can fill out optional supplementary paperwork.
Pay Your Filing Fee
The American federal court charges a hefty filing fee to file a new bankruptcy petition. This cost has three payment options: full payment on the day your documents are filed, a payment schedule with installments, or a fee waiver request.
The Chapter 7 filing fee waiver is available online; print it off and bring it to the courthouse the day you file. To be eligible for the fee waiver, your household’s total income must be 150 percent below the federal poverty level.
File Your Bankruptcy Forms in Court
You must bring your bankruptcy documents, together with the filing fee, installment plan, or waiver, to your local courtroom. Your bank statements and other financial records go to the trustee who will be appointed to you later rather than being reported to the court.
You won’t have to worry about debt collectors or notices asking you to pay your medical costs after you’ve filed. Your bankruptcy process is still ongoing, though.
Mail Your Financial Documents to Your Creditor
If you’re filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will appoint a trustee for you. The trustee oversees your case and sells any non-exempt property to pay back your creditors.
Following the filing of your case, the trustee appointed to you will write to you and request financial records. Recent bank statements, salary stubs, and tax returns are a few examples. The papers must be quickly mailed following the letter’s detailed instructions.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
You must attend another bankruptcy course after submitting your paperwork to the courtroom. This is the Debtor Education Course, which must also be finished at a reputable company. It costs between $10 and $50 to finish online or over the phone, much as the first counseling course. You may, however, be exempt from paying this fee if you qualify. The course lasts for at least two hours.
To get your medical debt and other obligations discharged, you must take this course and submit your certificate of completion.
Attend the 341 Meeting With Your Trustee
About a month after you submit your case, the court will have notified you of the time, date, and location of your meeting with your trustee. The trustee’s primary goal in the 341 meeting is to verify your identity and ask you the usual questions. Although they are permitted to come and interrogate you about your financial condition, creditors rarely do. The average meeting lasts barely five minutes.
Your social security card and photo ID from the United States government are required for this meeting. The 341 meeting cannot go forward if you do not have an approved form for both. You should also bring the documents that the trustee asked for in their letter.
What Are Some Other Strategies for Dealing With Medical Debt?
Setting up payment plans is the first and simplest step. Never undervalue the power of a phone call, and don’t ignore medical bills in hopes they will go away. When you have high medical bills, most hospitals, and healthcare providers, unlike many other creditors, will work with you to develop a payment plan.
Determine how much you can afford to spend toward your medical expenditures each month by creating a monthly budget. Call the financial department of the hospital or medical facility to talk about establishing a payment schedule.
If you adhere to your payment plan, many hospitals won’t charge interest for the first year and won’t send your debt to collections. They could offer you a sizable reduction on the price of treatment and services if you don’t have insurance. Ask if there are any financial forgiveness programs available as well.
Fighting the medical insurance company is an additional option. It’s always a good idea to challenge your insurer’s decision if the main cause of your medical debt is because they denied coverage. It can be extremely challenging to go up against an insurer and win appeals on your own, but having one of our experienced medical bankruptcy lawyers represent you and fight for your interests can help you save thousands of dollars.
What If Medical Bills Are Due to Injuries Sustained in an Accident?
Your medical fees, lost wages, and other losses may be covered by the negligent party if you had to undergo expensive medical care as a result of injuries. For instance, you might be able to make a claim with someone else’s vehicle insurance carrier if you sustained significant injuries in a car accident that was their responsibility.
Our medical bankruptcy lawyers at Doyel Law will consult with personal injury attorneys to evaluate whether this situation would be relevant to your case. If so, we can assist you in understanding your legal options and pursuing financial compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.
Will Filing Bankruptcy Hurt Your Credit?
Your credit may be impacted by filing for bankruptcy in both positive and negative ways. After declaring bankruptcy, your credit is going to take a hit.
Bankruptcies filed under Chapter 7 have a negative effect on your credit score and are reported for 10 years after the date of filing. Bankruptcies under Chapter 13 have a similar detrimental effect on your credit score but are only reported for seven years.
The effects of bankruptcy will, however, fade with time.
Lenders will be able to view your bankruptcy for many years in the public records part of your credit report, regardless of the kind you choose to file for. A bankruptcy filing on your credit record can be taken into account negatively by potential lenders in the future. It’s conceivable that lenders will refuse to give you specific sorts of loans, fair interest rates, or advantageous loan conditions.
Although filing for bankruptcy may initially damage your credit, you will eventually be able to recover it. If you just don’t pay your medical costs and never get the chance to improve your financial situation, things might get even worse.
In addition, many individuals discover that after declaring bankruptcy, their credit score increases, or they are given additional credit options. Our knowledgeable medical bankruptcy lawyers can assess your financial position and help you decide if filing for bankruptcy is the best course of action.
Medical Bankruptcy Lawyers Available to Help Clients Throughout Missouri
Please get in touch with our team at Doyel Law if you are drowning in medical debt to see if filing for bankruptcy might provide you with a fresh start. Our competent Missouri medical bankruptcy lawyers have helped people in situations similar to yours restructure their debt obligations and move forward without a burdensome weight of medical debt.
We are aware of the financial strain that medical debt may have on you and your family. We are prepared to assist you while you investigate your legal alternatives to find redress. Although we never attempt to persuade anyone to file for bankruptcy, we will always be open and honest with you regarding the actions you must follow.
Utilizing bankruptcy is applying a legal instrument designed to assist honorable individuals to deal with massive debt and reconstruct their lives. For each client, we aim for the best. Make an appointment with one of our medical bankruptcy lawyers by contacting us right away.