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Because it doesn’t make any sense for someone to live the rest of their life with overwhelming debt.

A person trying to make ends meet, who just had his hours reduced (or was recently laid off), who is juggling overdue bills, whose child has enormous health problems (and therefore very high medical expenses), and who is struggling to put food on the table shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not he can make a minimum payment on his credit card on time (most of which is interest, as opposed to principle).

Some people reading this may look at the above paragraph, and say something like, “Hey, if you can’t handle the burden of paying all your bills, then you shouldn’t have gotten yourself into this mess in the first place!” Well, that’s all good and fine. But it’s not as if this individual wanted to lose his job; he doesn’t want to have to live off of credit cards; and he surely does not want his child to have medical issues. I have filed thousands of St. Louis bankruptcies over the years, and every one of these individuals are good people who have found themselves in situations beyond their control. Simply condemning these individuals, and trying to make them feel guilty about their particular set of circumstances, is completely unproductive.

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Yes, they will. Medical bills (whether they are from a hospital, specialist, or your regular family doctor) are described as “unsecured”. That means that these debts are subject to a complete discharge in a St. Louis bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of people each year who must file for bankruptcy protection because of a high amount of medical bills. This can occur to people who even have decent health insurance. The main reason behind this fact is that hospital systems mark up the cost of their services by an extraordinary amount. Recent reports indicate many examples of this phenomenon. A typical roll of gauze, for instance, that might be used to wrap an injury or surgery site, will show up on a patient’s bill four to five times greater than what it might be purchased for at Wal-Greens pharmacy. As you can see, once these charges are added up, the final bill can be astronomical.

Of course, the reason why medical bills are subject to a discharge has to do with the way in which this debt is classified. There are three broad categories of debt involved in the world of bankruptcy: 1) secured debt – this type of debt is typically associated with a car loan or home mortgage; 2) unsecured debt – the reason debts are “unsecured” is because there is no collateral attached to them, such as a piece of real estate; and 3) priority debt – this category would include back child support, maintenance (spousal support), and most tax obligations.

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Yes, you can. When you file a St. Louis bankruptcy, you have the option of keeping or getting rid of your secured assets (like a house or a car).

Most often, people wish to keep their property. But if you are in a situation in which you can no longer afford the real estate, or if you are just too far behind on the mortgage, or if it is simply falling apart, then surrendering the asset through the bankruptcy is an easy way to get out from underneath the debt. An experienced St. Louis bankruptcy lawyer can just make it clear to the court that your intent is to surrender the mortgage, and that is that.

In addition to letting go of your real estate, a St. Louis bankruptcy attorney can also get rid of your unsecured debts (like credit cards, medical bills, and payday loans). It will also stop any wage garnishments attached to your paychecks; it will unfreeze any bank levies attached to your checking account; and it will put an end to any lawsuits filed against you by a creditor.

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If it is the original creditor, then yes, they can do that. There are actually very little restrictions on what an original creditor can do. They can show up to your front door and demand payment from you if they chose. But if it is a collection agency, that is a much different story.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that very tightly regulates what a collection agency can and can’t do in their attempts to collect on a debt. If for instance a St. Louis collection agency calls you repeatedly each day, or if they make calls to you on a Sunday, then it is quite possible that they have violated your rights.

If in fact the collection agency has violated your rights, the FDCPA says that the debt collector has to pay you $1,000 in damages. The FDCPA also states that if your rights have been violated, it is the collector who has to pay for your attorney fees. This means that we never have to charge you any fees for the work that we do against a St. Louis collection that has violated your rights.

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It depends on what kind of debt it is. If we are talking about unsecured debt (such as credit cards, medical bills, payday loans, old utility bills, etc.), it is completely wiped out by the federal government in a St. Louis Chapter 7 (but some of it may get paid back in a St. Louis Chapter 13). If it is secured debt (like a car loan, or home mortgage), then it depends on what you wish to do with the property. For instance, if you choose to keep your car, then you would continue to make regular monthly payments to the creditor in a Chapter 7 (and in a Chapter 13, this debt would become part of your repayment plan). But you always have the option to surrender a major asset (like a house of car) if you wish, and get out from underneath that debt as well. In this kind of situation, the original creditor will take back possession of the asset (and any deficiency that results will be included in the bankruptcy).

A lot of people mistakenly believe that if a debt is discharged in a St. Louis bankruptcy that the IRS (or state of Missouri) will require you to pay income tax on those debts. This type of situation may occur in a debt settlement in which you reach an agreement with a creditor (for instance, if you owe $10,000, but the creditor is willing to take $5,000 to settle the debt, then it is possible in some circumstances that the taxing authority would consider the 5K that the creditor released is income to you, and therefore a taxable transaction). But in a bankruptcy, it is the federal government itself that is getting rid of the debts, so there is nothing to tax.

The reason why the debts are discharged is so that you can receive a fresh start / clean slate. This gives you the opportunity to move forward with life so that you can get back on your financial feet. A St. Louis bankruptcy attorney at Brinkman & Alter, LLC can describe each step of the bankruptcy process to you, answer all of your questions, and explain your full range of options. Once it is determined which chapter of bankruptcy is best for your particular situation, we can forward as quickly as you wish.

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You should contact a St. Louis bankruptcy attorney right away, because such a lawyer can tell you if the debt collector has been violating your federal rights.

St. Louis collection agencies are subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This is a federal law that tightly regulates what a collector can and can’t do in its attempts to collect on a debt. What we have found is that more often than not, the collection agency flouts the law, and violates consumer rights habitually. The reason why is simple: there is far more profit to be gained in violating the law than in obeying it. If collection agencies actually followed the FDCPA, they would probably not make very much money.

The other reason that collectors do not spend too much time obeying the law is because the penalties are a slap on the wrist. If the court finds that the collector has violated the law, then it has to pay you $1,000. Now that may sound like a lot to you and me. But to a multi-billion dollar, publically traded collection agency, that 1K is a pittance.

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As a general rule, student loans cannot be discharged in a St. Louis bankruptcy. This is true whether the filing is a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. However, in a St. Louis Chapter 13, you are not expected to make any student loan payments while the repayment period is in affect.

When you file a Chapter 13, the court describes it as a repayment plan. This repayment plan pays back certain creditors over a period of between three and five years. Examples of what is repaid would be: arrearage on a mortgage (i.e. the amount that you have fallen behind on); a car loan (repaid at a much lower interest rate); and back child support. Most unsecured debt (like credit cards and medical bills) is discharged (and therefore not repaid).

But when it comes to student loans, the main benefit of the Chapter 13 is that you do not have to make any payments during the life of the plan. So if you are in four year repayment plan, you do not have to make any additional payments to the student loan companies for four years. This in turn gives you a sort of “deferment” for the next several years. Once the repayment plan (during which you pay off things like a car loan) is over, you can then begin picking back up regular monthly payments on the student loans.

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The first thing you should do is contact an FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) lawyer who understands the laws that regulate St. Louis collection agencies. Because there is a decent chance that the debt collector is violating your rights, and if they are, the collector has to pay you $1,000 in damages. The other nice thing about the FDCPA is that you don’t have to pay any attorney fees to have the case brought to court (because the law states that if a collection has violated your rights under the FDCPA, they have to pick up the bill).

There are many examples of the ways in which a collection agency can violate your rights. If they make threat to you about a wage garnishment, or filing a lawsuit against you, or calling you names and saying derogatory statements. A violation can occur even if they threaten to report the debt to the credit bureau (especially if they have in fact already done so).

Another example would be “overshadowing”. This is when the collection agency attempts to collect on a debt within the first thirty (30) days of having taken it over from the original creditor (or a prior collection agency). This first thirty days is described as the “validation period”. The validation period is supposed to be a time during which you can request that the collector provide you with verification of the debt. This verification could be as simple as a print out of the amounts owed (or a breakdown of the debt). But the collector is not supposed to actually collect during this period time. So if they demand payment from you during the validation period, then chances are they have violated your rights.

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No, there is not. People filing for bankruptcy have varying levels of debt, but there is no set amount that you must have before qualifying.

However, I would say that on average, I file bankruptcies for people who have high levels of credit card debt (5-10K or more), lots of medical bills (3-5K or more), and then a variety of other smaller debts, like payday loans, old utility and cellphone bills, and overdrawn bank accounts (1-2K or more). But other sets of circumstances exist as well.

Sometimes the reason you filing has nothing to do with unsecured debt, but rather having to do with you secured debts (like a home or car). If for instance you are facing a foreclosure on your home, filing a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop the sale and allow you repay the arrearage (the amount you have fallen behind on) over the course of three to five years. Or if your car was just recently repossessed, and you want to get it back, a Chapter 13 is the proper filing to make.

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Yes, you certainly can. But timing is of the essence. So if your car was recently repo’ed, then you will need to move quickly.

One of the main reasons why someone might contemplate a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a repossessed car that they wish to keep. So long as the case is filed during the period of time that the car creditor still has the car in its possession, filing a bankruptcy will prevent the creditor from re-selling the car. By Missouri law, the car creditor must hold on to the repossessed car at least ten (10) days after taking the back the automobile before it can turn around and sell it again. If your St. Louis bankruptcy is filed before that time, then you can get your car back.

A Chapter 13 not only allows you to get the car back, but it also allows you to repay the loan at a much lower interest rate. As of April 22, 2013, the interest rate on loans used by the bankruptcy court is 3.12%. That is usually quite a bit lower than the rate of interest used by most creditors (which can sometimes be as high as 25% or more). This repayment plan can therefore shave off several thousands off of what you would have owed otherwise.

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