Articles Posted in St. Louis Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

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In most instances, yes, you do have the choice. A St. Louis bankruptcy is a voluntary act, and therefore filed only if you believe that is would serve your best interests. But there are only a couple of situations in which decision is limited.

To begin with, the bankruptcy rules state very clearly that you are only entitled to file a St. Louis Chapter 7 once every eight (8) years. So if you filed a Missouri Chapter 7 in 2009, you would have to wait until at least 2017 before filing another one. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is described as a straight discharge of unsecured debt (things like credit cards, medical bills, paydays loans, etc). In addition, such a filing will stop a wage garnishment, bank levy, and end any lawsuits against you.

There are other occasions in which your choice of bankruptcy is limited. This is usually because of the amount of income your household brings in. So for example, let’s assume you are a household of two (you and your child). According to the government, the average (or median) income for a household of two is approximately $52,000. If your household income is below this level (or not too far above it), then you can probably do a Chapter 7 (assuming you have not filed a 7 within the last eight years). But if you are substantially above this median income level, then you will most likely have to file a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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The simplest answer is that you have to because the Bankruptcy Code requires it. But there is actually a very good reason for this requirement (and it more often than not helps your situation).

When you file a St. Louis bankruptcy, the court demands that you disclose a great deal of information. For instance, you must tell the court about all of your assets, whether it is real or personal property (because your Bankruptcy Trustee has a right to know if you own anything that he might want to liquidate); a full list of all your debts (because your creditors have a right to know that the debt you owe them is subject to discharge); and an accounting of your household income, regardless of the source (this would include things like wages from you and your spouse’s job, but would also entail things like Social Security Income, Social Security Disability, unemployment benefits, retirement income, contributions from other family members, or even income from rental property).

Once all the household income is calculated, you can then determine if you are considered to be above or below the median income level for your particular household size. So for instance, let’s say you are a household of two (you and your spouse). According to the government, the median (average) income for a household of two is approximately $52,000. If the combined sources of income between you and your spouse is less than 52K, then you most likely will quality for a St. Louis Chapter 7. This type of Missouri bankruptcy is thought of as a straight discharge of unsecured debt (things like credit cards, medical bills, payday loans, etc). A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will also put an end to things like wage garnishments, bank levies, and lawsuits directed against you.

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Yes, there is. In fact, there is a great deal you can do about collection agency harassment.

When you file a St. Louis bankruptcy, the court requires that you list all of your creditors. This list would include things like credit card companies, medical and doctor’s offices, payday loan companies, and any debt collectors that have been hired to collect on the past due debt. In a St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy, these unsecured debts and obligations are discharged within a three to four month period. In a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy, some of your unsecured creditors are paid back over a three to five year period of time (but the goal would be to get the majority of such debt discharged).

But very often, collection agencies are overly aggressive in their tactics. And some will flat out break the law in their collection activities. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal statute that tightly regulates what a debt collector can and cannot do in its attempts to collect on a debt. For instance, the FDCPA makes it clear that if you are a collection agency, and you wish to call a person who owes on a debt, the collector has to identify itself as a debt collector in an attempt to collect on a debt. They have to inform you of that every time they contact you on the phone (or if they leave you a voice message).

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No, it does not look worse. Regardless of which chapter of bankruptcy you file for, it will still stay on your credit report for ten years. But the real question is what kind of a long term effect will the filing of a bankruptcy have you? This is the much more pertinent question, and I want to answer that right now.

Filing a St. Louis bankruptcy can be a difficult decision to face. Even under the best of circumstances, your stress level can be through the roof. This in turn can have a tremendous impact on your family life, your job situation, and even personal relationships. Hard economic times affect all aspects of your life.

But a St. Louis Chapter 7 is designed to eliminate this pressure, and put you back on the path towards financial wellbeing. Such a filing will discharge all of your unsecured debt (like credit cards, medical bills, payday loans, etc), stop wage garnishments, unfreeze a levied bank account, and put an end to any lawsuits filed against you. Keeping your assets, like a car or house, is also possible (along with all your other personal property, like clothes, appliances, jewelry, etc).

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Because not disclosing to the Bankruptcy Court a list of everything that you have an ownership interest in can possibly result in the court ruling that you have committed bankruptcy fraud. So it’s really not worth withholding information, especially when the item in question is just a simple piece of personal property.

When you file a St. Louis bankruptcy, it is necessary for you to do a number of things. These responsibilities will include providing evidence of household income over the six (6) months prior to filing (this is usually the last six month’s worth of paystubs), your most recent tax returns (which is usually your federal and state returns from the year before), and an accounting of all of your assets (whether it is in the form of personal or real property).

Real property is easy enough to disclose. You just provide a list of all the real estate in which you claim an ownership interest in. This could be your home, rental property, farmland, a camping site, or timeshare. The main thing that the Bankruptcy Trustee will be interested in will be whether or not there is any equity in the property. If there is substantial equity in any real property that you own, it is possible that the Trustee will either want to liquidate it in a St. Louis Chapter 7, or make you guarantee the amount of equity to your unsecured creditors in a St. Louis Chapter 13. Whatever the case may be, it is not as if disclosing to the court what real estate you own means that you will lose these assets. In today’s real estate market, with declining values and the number of foreclosures increasing yearly, the fair market value of most homes is less than what is currently owed on the mortgage loan (in other words, most houses are “upside down,” and therefore have no equity at all).

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No, not at all. In fact, if your attorney knows what he/she is doing, then it is quite possible that all of your belongings will remain with you (and therefore out of the Trustee’s hands).

When you file a St. Louis bankruptcy, it is necessary for you to disclose to the court in writing all that you have an ownership interest in. But let’s be clear: “disclosing” your assets and personal property is not the same thing as handing them over to someone. When you make a disclosure, you are simply saying “this is what I own.” And according to the Bankruptcy Code, it is your duty to make the court aware of all that you own.

Once this task is accomplished, your attorney will then attach the applicable state exemptions to your property in order to make it safe. Exemptions are like little shields of armor that are placed around your property to keep out of the hands of the Bankruptcy Trustee. Each state has certain exemptions to cover certain assets (if you have lived in the state of Missouri for at least the last two years, then MO exemptions are utilized). For example, the state allows for a $3,000 exemption for your personal property, such as furniture, dishes, appliances, etc. This may not sound like a large exemption to cover such things, but keep in mind that you will be giving “garage sale value” for these items. Garage sale value is considerably lower than what you paid for the item in the first place (or even what you think you should get for it, and certainly lower than any sentimental value attached to the item in question). Most people have household goods that are at or below this threshold, so exempting all of their things is no problem.

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It depends on a number of factors, but the main consideration to keep in mind is that if the transfer was significant or large, then it is possible that the Bankruptcy Trustee would want to investigate the matter.

But let me back up just a little bit. When you file a St. Louis bankruptcy, the court requires that you disclose a great deal of information about yourself. Included on this list would be everything that you own (cars, houses, clothes, furniture, and jewelry; but also things like bank accounts, stocks and bonds, mutual funds, and retirement plans; and then there may also be lawsuits that you are a part of from which you may receive funds). The reason why such a disclosure must occur is because the Trustee is entitled to know exactly what you own (or have an ownership interest in). This is because the Trustee’s main job is to determine if there are any assets you own that have a good deal of equity or value. If in fact there are any assets that have a good deal of equity or value, it is possible the Trustee would want to liquidate the asset, and use the proceeds to pay towards the unsecured creditors that will be discharged in your Missouri bankruptcy.

But the Trustee is also entitled to know if you have made any transfers of goods, assets, or money to an “insider”. An insider is described as a friend or family member (so obviously not a typical unsecured creditor like a credit card, medical bill, or payday loan). Whenever a transfer is made to an insider, the main thing that the Trustee will want to know is: how much was transferred. The Trustee has an opportunity to look into any insider transfers within the full year preceding the filing of your St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Yes, it is possible to keep a motorcycle (or boat, or some other non-traditional form of transportation). But there are a couple of different things you should keep in mind before your case is filed.

The easiest way to help you understand how your motorcycle will be affected is if we look at the two major chapters of bankruptcy side by side: in a St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to make the court aware of all the personal property you own. This obviously would include any and all modes of transportation, like a motorcycle. The motorcycle you own is either going to be paid in full (in other words, no lien is attached to it), or you have a loan against it (in other words, you are financing the bike by way of monthly payments).

In either scenario (whether the motorcycle is paid in full or it has a loan against it), the real question is whether is any equity in the bike. Equity is the amount of value (that exists on paper) beyond what is currently owed. So for instance, if you owe $5,000 on the balance of your loan, and the fair market value of the bike is $7,000, that means that there is $2,000 in equity (7000 – 5000 = 2000). In addition, you are given a $3,000 exemption to cover any equity in a vehicle. In the above scenario, the motorcycle will be completely exempted, and you will still have one thousand left over.

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No, that is not necessary at all. Some people are completely current on all their debts right before they file a St. Louis bankruptcy. And sometimes, individuals are several years behind on their bills before filing a petition.

The exact time you file a Missouri bankruptcy is dependent upon several factors. If you are facing a home foreclosure, and you wish to keep your house, then it will be necessary to file a case immediately. Or if your car has been repossessed, and you want the automobile back, it would be advisable to file as soon as possible. In both of these situations, there is a limited amount of time before either asset is disposed of. And once the car or house is sold, there is no getting it back.

Other factors that can make the filing of a St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy more urgent are wage garnishments (in which your paycheck has being deducted up to 25% of your net earnings), bank levies (in which the creditor puts a freeze against your accounts, making it impossible for you to access the funds inside them), and a pending lawsuit (in which a creditor has sued you based on breach of contract). And of course, it should be noted that the overall stress that comes with having to deal with a great many creditors and collection agencies can be quite a burden to deal with as well. So if you are one of the many people who are at their wit’s end in putting up with such harassment, then filing sooner than later can give you a great deal of relief.

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Yes, of course. When you file a Missouri or Illinois bankruptcy, having a large type of monthly expense is perfectly acceptable. However, if the expense is quite a bit larger than what would normally be spent by a household of comparable size, the United States Trustee may ask for documentation to prove up the expense. So long as you are able to provide such documentation, the expense you listed should be fine.

When you file a St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the government allows you to list out your typical monthly expenses that are incurred by you and your family. This allowance is made because the government recognizes that such expenses are normal, and should therefore be taken into account. This is significant because being able to include these expenses puts you in a much position to pass the “Means Test.” The Means Test is a mathematical formula that was devised by Congress in 2005 to determine who is and who is not eligible to file a Chapter 7. If, after all sources of income and all allowable expenses are taken into consideration you fall below the median income level for your particular household size, you may file a Chapter 7 (so long as you have not filed such a petition in the previous eight (8) years).

This is why an expense such as that paid towards medical and dental costs each month is so relevant. So let’s suppose that you are a household of three (you, your spouse, and your child). Between you and your spouse, you only expend the normal amount on medical or dental costs each month (say around $50.00 per month). But your child has a couple of different medical issues that require a larger portion of your expenses to go towards healthcare (say around $300.00 per month). If this is in fact the case, then you can rightfully state that the total amount your household spends each month on medical-related expenses is about $350.00.

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