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Filing a St. Louis bankruptcy does not automatically mean that you will lose your assets, like a car or house. In fact, it is the number goal at Brinkman & Alter to make sure that you keep all of your belongings (whether it is personal or real property).

The state of Missouri allows a St. Louis bankruptcy attorney to use what are called “exemptions”. Exemptions are legal tools to keep your property safe. So for instance, let’s say you have a 2011 Honda Accord with a loan balance of $10,000. And let us assume that the value of this vehicle is $13,000. On paper, your car has equity of $3,000 (13,000 – 10,000 = 3,000). But the exemption for a car in Missouri is $3,000 for an individual (and $6,000 for a joint married couple). So in the example provided, the $3,000 of equity is eliminated by the exemption for $3,000. This in turn will keep your car safe and in your hands.

In terms of real estate, Missouri allows for a $15,000 exemption in your residence. So if your home has equity of up to $15,000, this exemption will protect your house. For household goods, the state exemption is $3,000 for an individual (and $6,000 for a joint married couple). There are also exemptions for things like jewelry, clothes, 401K, books and artwork, etc.

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When you file a St. Louis bankruptcy, your unsecured debts (like credit cards, medical bills, payday loans, old utility bills, overdrawn bank accounts) are eliminated forever.

This means you will no longer have to put up with the following:

= no more angry phone calls from debt collectors

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Filing a St. Louis bankruptcy can help in a number of different ways:

1) It will get rid of all your unsecured debts (like credit cards, medical bills, payday loans, old utility bills, overdrawn bank accounts, etc)

2) It will stop any St. Louis wage garnishments that might be attached to your paychecks 3) It will unfreeze any bank levies on your checking accounts 4) It will put an end to any lawsuits that have been filed against you by one of your creditors 5) It will prevent collection agencies from harassing you day and night with phone calls 6) It will wipe clean your record of debts so that you can concentrate on rebuilding your credit score 7) It will give you a fresh start / clean slate so that you can move forward with life

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When you file a St. Louis bankruptcy, you assets are protected in two primary ways:

1) The filing of a St. Louis bankruptcy creates an “Automatic Stay” which puts an immediate stop to all creditor activity. This would include things like threatening phone calls and nasty letters. But it also includes putting an end to wage garnishments, bank levies, and lawsuits filed against you. In addition, the automatic stay halts a creditor’s efforts to foreclose on your house, or to repossess your car.

2) The state of Missouri allows certain legal exemptions that can be applied to your property and assets. This in turn adds another level of safety. An experienced St. Louis bankruptcy attorney can use these exemptions on specific assets so that neither the Bankruptcy Trustee nor your creditors can get their hands on them.

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A St. Louis bankruptcy will stop your car creditor from trying to repossess your automobile. Once the bankruptcy petition is filed with the court, an experienced St. Louis bankruptcy attorney can contact the creditor and let them know that they must put an end to their efforts to repo the car.

Or in the alternative, if your car has already been repossessed, there is still a chance to get your automobile back to you. The creditor is required by Missouri state law to hold a repossessed car for at least ten (10) days after they regain possession before they sell it to someone else. If in fact a St. Louis bankruptcy is filed within that period of time, then the creditor must give the car back.

Once the car is back in your possession, the usual route is a St. Louis Chapter 13. This is a repayment plan in which certain debts are paid back over a period of three (3) to five (5) years. Included in this repayment plan is your car loan (using an interest rate of 4.75% as of July 2013), any tax debt you might have, back child support, or mortgage arrearage (i.e. the amount you have fallen behind on your home loan).

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When you file a St. Louis bankruptcy, all creditor activity comes to a halt. This would include things like a wage garnishment, bank levy, lawsuit, collection on debts, car repossessions, and also a St. Louis foreclosure.

The reason why these things come to a halt is because once the bankruptcy petition is filed, the court orders that an “Automatic Stay” go into effect. The automatic stay is a fancy way of saying that the creditors must put a stop on all their efforts to collect money, or demand payment, or take any action that might deprive you of your assets (like your home).

The primary tool that an experienced St. Louis bankruptcy attorney uses in such a situation is a Chapter 13. This is described as a repayment plan over the course of three (3) to five (5) years. During this time, certain debts are paid back. First and foremost would be the amount that you have fallen behind on your mortgage loan.

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A creditor may only garnish your wages after it receives a court order saying that it can. In other words, the creditor must first do the following first before they can begin to garnish:

1) Sue you for breach of contract

2) Have you served with a summons

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A wage garnishment is stopped by either paying the debt in full (with interest), or by filing a St. Louis bankruptcy. Once the bankruptcy petition is filed, a St. Louis bankruptcy attorney can contact the creditor who is garnishing your paycheck and have it stopped immediately.

Most St. Louis wage garnishments take up to 25% of your net earnings (but you can get that dropped to 10% if you claim Head-of-Household on your taxes). This can have a tremendous impact on your ability to pay all of you bills (let alone rent or mortgage). In fact, a lot of people will take out new credit cards to make up the shortfall from the garnishment just so they can buy necessities like groceries and put gas in the car.

But life does not have to go on like this. Living with this kind of stress can be overwhelming. Filing a St. Louis bankruptcy will not only put an end to the garnishment on your check; it will also get rid of the underlying debt that caused the problem in the first place.

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A St. Louis bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for ten years. This change was made in 2005 by the United States Congress. However, most people mistakenly believe that this in turn means that you will not be able to incur new debt until that period of time lapses. This is incorrect.

The bankruptcy court and the federal government describe a St. Louis bankruptcy as a “fresh start / clean slate”. It is a chance to wipe the slate clean so that you can move forward with life. It is a chance to regain your financial freedom by getting rid of all your unsecured debts. Once the debts are knocked out, your credit score will start to improve dramatically. On average, most people can expect to see a one hundred (100) point bump upwards in their score within the first twelve to eighteen months after filing.

As a result, dealing with new creditors in the future will be a much more pleasant experience. Things like financing a new car, or securing a mortgage on a new home, or even getting new credit cards, will be very doable. And as you begin to rebuild, your credit score will only improve more.

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It may seem like a crazy statement, but the difference between a large, industrial city like Detroit, and a regular man or woman living in St. Louis, is minimal. On the surface, this sounds way off base. But in actuality, both examples are looking for the same thing: a fresh start / clean slate.

The City of Detroit has seen its fair share of economic hardship. It was a booming metropolis up until the late 70s, early 80s, when the major car manufacturers faced stiff competition from places like Japan and Germany. Fast-forward a few decades later, and what you have is a city that still has incredible potential and pride, but has taken a pretty big punch on the chin. All the talent in the world lies within their borders, along with the know-how, hard-work, and eagerness to move forward. But its debts have weighed down so heavily against it that the city can barely make payments on time, meet its basic obligations, and is struggling to keep up with necessities. They just need a break.

This set of circumstances may sound very familiar to an individual (or married couple) who have worked hard all their life, and trying to make a decent living. But because of a failing economy and the loss of a job, they have had to take out lines of credit just to get by. Maybe even a few high interest loans so that they can bridge the gap between the next paycheck and keeping the lights on. These people are smart, hard-working, full of ambition, and want to make sure that they can provide for their families. And boy, do they just need a break!