No, filing a St. Louis bankruptcy does not mean that you will automatically lose everything you own (including the shirt off your back). But there are many precautions that need to be in place first. Because in certain situations, it is in fact possible to lose something you wish to keep (but a good attorney can make sure that that does not happen).
When you file a St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is necessary to disclose (i.e. make the court aware of) all of your real and personal property. This would include things like real estate, rental properties, time shares, and farmland. Also things like books, clothes, furniture, appliances, and sporting equipment need to be listed. And even items like bank accounts, money market accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, any outstanding accounts receivable, or pending lawsuits in which you may receive money. But please keep in mind, just because you have a duty to make the court aware of all the things own (or have an ownership interest in), this does not mean that you will have to give any of these items up.
This is because for each piece of property you own, there is usually a state exemption that corresponds to the item. For instance, your household good and furniture (which would include pots, pans, appliances, beds, dressers, etc.) are exempted up to $3,000 in value. That may not seem like a lot, but the value that is used is not actual value, but “garage sale” value. Garage sale value is much less than actual or resale value. Once you apply a garage sale value to the household goods, most people find that the $3,000 exemption is more than enough to cover their things.
Another example would be your home. The state of Missouri allows for what is called a “Homestead exemption,” which is worth $15,000. So if you have up to $15,000 worth of equity in your home (a situation that is rare in today’s real estate market), then you can fully cover your home. If however you have a good deal of equity in the home (or at least equity that far exceeds the 15K exemption), your best bet might be to file a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This type of filing is described as a repayment plan during which you pay back certain debts over the course of three to five years. These debts would include car loans, tax debt, back child support, and mortgage arrearage. But a Missouri Chapter 13 makes sure that your assets (especially those assets that have a great deal of equity) are kept safe from the Bankruptcy Trustee.
Either way, the affordable St. Louis bankruptcy attorneys at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken have been helping people with their financial problems for over ten (10) years. Our goal is to make sure that you get back on your feet, and get the fresh start / clean slate that you deserve.
We have two locations: in the Central West End, at 1 North Taylor, St. Louis, MO 63108; and in the Twin Cities of Festus / Crystal City, at 1000 Truman Blvd (Highway 61/67), Jefferson County 63019. The initial consultation is free of charge. So contact us today to learn more!!