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Are You Eligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

chapter 7 bankruptcy eligibility

Bankruptcy Attorney in St. Charles, Missouri

If you are struggling with debt, filing for bankruptcy can be your last resort in solving your financial problems. Bankruptcy is a legal process that can help you eliminate your debts, pay off a creditor, and reorganize your finances. It is one of the most common debt-relief options that can help you achieve a debt-free life and have a fresh start.

Bankruptcy laws may vary from state to state. In Missouri, there are bankruptcy rules that you need to follow when you file for bankruptcy. The federal Bankruptcy Code controls most bankruptcy procedures. A credible St. Charles bankruptcy attorney can help you abide by the state laws to ensure the success of your bankruptcy case.

Before you declare bankruptcy, you must know how to choose the most appropriate bankruptcy type that will solve your debt problems. Among the different types of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 is considered the simplest and quickest type of bankruptcy.

At Westbrook Law Group, our most trusted team of bankruptcy lawyers can help you maximize your rights under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. We have been providing legal services to clients who have or are going through bankruptcy for decades. We will help you ease the burden of bankruptcy so that you can focus on getting your financial freedom back.

Call us now at 636-245-0469 and schedule a free consultation.

What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as “liquidation bankruptcy”, is the most frequently filed bankruptcy in the United States. It is a type of bankruptcy that can clear most of your unsecured debts. These include credit card debts, medical bills, utility bills, payday loans, revolving debt accounts, or personal loans. A reliable bankruptcy lawyer in St. Charles can help you understand the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.

If you’re behind on your bills and don’t have the means to afford living expenses and monthly payments, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy could be your best option. However, you may have to give up some of your assets through liquidation. It involves selling a part or all of your assets for you to pay back your debts. This chapter can wipe out certain debts within several months, but a court-appointed trustee can sell your non-exempt property to pay your creditors.

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When you’re in debt, it’s difficult to focus on anything else. But there are steps that you can take to get out of debt – even if your credit is damaged or your income has been cut off completely! Call our St. Charles bankruptcy attorneys at Westbrook Law Group to find out how to escape the shackles of debt and get relief in Missouri.

How Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Work?

Filing for bankruptcy comes with both advantages and disadvantages. It is important to know the process, the benefits, and the consequences before making a final decision. A competent St. Louis bankruptcy attorney can help you understand how bankruptcy works.

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court imposes an automatic stay on your current debts. This prevents your creditors from collecting payments, garnishing your wages, foreclosing on your home, repossessing property, evicting you, or turning off your utilities. The automatic stay remains in effect until your bankruptcy case is closed.

After you file your voluntary bankruptcy petition, a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee will review your paperwork and look for evidence of bankruptcy fraud. He or she will handle the consolidation of assets, supervision of selling, and allocation of the collected funds to your lender. The trustee is responsible for reviewing your finances and assets and overseeing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

How Do I Qualify for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. A seasoned Missouri bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine whether you are eligible to file this type of bankruptcy. There are certain requirements that you need to meet before you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

You must pass the means test

One of the most important qualifications is to pass the means test. This test determines the amount of your disposable income by deducting certain monthly expenses from your current monthly income. It is designed to keep high-income filers from filing bankruptcy Chapter 7.

If your income is lower than the state’s median income, then you are qualified to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. On the other hand, if your income exceeds the state’s median income, you can still pass the second means test after you deduct the allowable expenses. If you don’t pass the means test, you may still be able to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

You need to take credit counseling sessions

To qualify for bankruptcy Chapter 7, you are required to finish an individual or group credit counseling session offered by an approved credit counseling agency within 180 days before filing. Keep in mind that you are required to take the courses before and after the bankruptcy filing.

You must have not received a previous bankruptcy discharge

You cannot be eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you have received a discharge of your debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case within the last eight years. Furthermore, if you attempted to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy but your case was dismissed, you must wait 180 days or more before filing again.

You have no record of court order violations

You must have no record of court order violation and no history of fraudulent filing. Even if you’re eligible to file for bankruptcy, a judge can dismiss your case if proven that you’re attempting to defraud creditors.

How Do I File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Missouri?

Filing for bankruptcy can be financially and emotionally stressful. A qualified bankruptcy attorney in St. Charles can guide you throughout the bankruptcy process. You need to know how to fill out the official bankruptcy form, pass the means test, protect your assets from liquidation, take credit counseling sessions from an accredited counselor, and coordinate with the local bankruptcy court.

  • Attend counseling sessions – Before you file for bankruptcy, you are required to take credit counseling sessions from an approved credit counseling agency within 180 days of filing.
  • Fill out bankruptcy forms – You may begin your bankruptcy filing by accomplishing the free and official online bankruptcy form from the website of the United States Bankruptcy Court. You need to fill out the forms with the complete details of your current financial situation. You need to declare all your assets, liabilities, monthly income, living expenses, bank account information, credit card debt, loan debt, and property transactions. You need to ensure that all information and figures in your paperwork are accurate before you submit it to the local court. 
  • Send verification documents to the trustee – Once your bankruptcy case has been filed, your bankruptcy trustee will verify the accuracy of the bankruptcy forms and documents that you have filed.
  • Attend the 341 creditors’ meeting – You must attend the creditors’ meeting. The trustee and the creditors may have questions regarding your current financial situation or about some of the documents you filed.
  • Attend budget counseling – You need to complete a second counseling session called the debt management course within 60 days from the date of the creditors’ meeting. These courses are also administered by accredited credit counseling agencies that will educate you on how to handle debt responsibly.
  • Wait for the discharge notice – If all goes well, the case will be discharged and eligible debts are forgiven. This usually takes place within three to six months after filing your petition.

How Do I Keep My Property When Filing for Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy doesn’t mean you’ll lose all the assets that you own. There are state bankruptcy exemption laws that can help you keep your property and save your assets. Missouri bankruptcy exemptions cover your homestead, motor vehicle, pension or retirement accounts, wages, and insurance benefits.

Missouri’s homestead exemption protects up to $15,000 of your home equity. When it comes to your personal property, you may protect up to $8,000 worth of household goods, like electronics, jewelry, tools, and furniture. In addition, your retirement accounts or public pension accounts are also exempted. Furthermore, spouses filing together can double the exemption amount if both own the property.

On the other hand, some assets cannot be protected and these are categorized under the non-exempt property. When a bankruptcy exemption doesn’t cover the property, you’ll either lose it in Chapter 7 or have to pay for it in the Chapter 13 repayment plan.

Hire an Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney Now!

Filing for bankruptcy Chapter 7 requires hard work and patience. To ease the burden of the bankruptcy filing, it is advisable to seek legal help from our experienced St. Charles bankruptcy attorneys at Westbrook Law Group. Our bankruptcy law firm will help you determine the best bankruptcy chapter for your case, prepare the required paperwork, and protect the property you want to keep while you focus on getting your finances back on track. We provide exceptional legal service, taking the hard work out of bankruptcy for you.

Schedule a free consultation now by calling us at 636-245-0469.

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