Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Missouri: 3 Things You Need to Know

If you've hit a rough patch financially and you're thinking about filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Missouri, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind.
Information in this article does not constitute legal advice, it is for informational purposes only, and may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Readers should contact their attorney for advice on any particular legal matter.
  1. First off, you need to figure out if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and how much it costs to file in Missouri.
  2. Second, Chapter 7 bankruptcy might not be your only option. It's worth exploring alternatives before you make a decision.
  3. Lastly, if you're set on Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are some specific things you need to know about how it works in Missouri.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is pretty common in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if most of the 10,606 bankruptcies filed in Missouri between July 1st, 2020, and June 30th, 2021 were of the Chapter 7 variety.

If you prefer visuals over words, you can check out the Missouri Chapter 7 Calculator below. It'll give you an estimate of whether you qualify and how much it might cost you.

Let's dive in and find out why Chapter 7 is such a popular choice in Missouri.

1) How Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Works in Missouri

There are two main points to keep in mind when it comes to getting out of debt:

  1. How quickly can someone find some relief from their debt burden?
  2. How much is it going to cost them to get out of debt?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is generally the cheapest and fastest way out of debt. However, there are other options such as Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt negotiation, debt management, and debt payoff planning.

How Fast Do You Get Relief in A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

In Missouri, you can usually get a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge in as little as 120 days or four months.

When deciding to file a Chapter 7, you may hear the term "no-asset" in the Chapter 7 case. This means you may not have a house or any other valuable assets exceeding Missouri's bankruptcy exemptions. So, if you don't own any assets, this can be beneficial in Chapter 7, making it less complex, so a Chapter 7 may be a viable option for you. Remember that every case is unique, so you'll want to consult with an attorney if you are considering filing.

How Much Does It Cost To File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Missouri?

When it comes to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the cost can vary across the country. Generally, you can expect to pay somewhere between $500 and $3000. However, in Missouri, things are a little different.

Believe it or not, the cost of Chapter 7 bankruptcy can vary within Missouri itself. Let's take a look at Springfield and Saint Louis, for example. In Springfield, you might find yourself paying around $1,170 for a bankruptcy attorney fee. But if you're in Kansas City, that fee could jump up to $1,400.

There are cases where the cost of filing bankruptcy can be reduced thanks to a filing fee waiver. So, it's worth checking out the information on the Missouri filing fee waiver to see if you qualify.

How Do I Qualify For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Missouri?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is designed for those who cannot repay some debts. However, before you can file, you must go through an income evaluation to see if you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy income limit in Missouri. This evaluation is called the means test. If you pass the means test then you'll be able to wipe out most of your unsecured debts through Chapter 7.

Unsecured debts are debts that don't have any collateral attached to them. So, if you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can discharge medical bills, personal loans, particular old income tax debts, old utility bills, credit card debts, and most personal judgments. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is like a fresh start, allowing you to get back on your feet.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a chance to start fresh, just remember, it's not a decision to be taken lightly. Make sure you understand all the ins and outs before diving in.

What about secured debts?

If you're looking to wipe out secured debts, such as car loans and mortgages, Chapter 7 may be able to help. However, you'll have to give up the asset to your creditor and they will have to consider it as payment in full for what you owe.

IMPORTANT: Chapter 7 Qualification via Missouri Means Test

The Bankruptcy Means Test calculates your average monthly and annual income. It compares your income against the median income of other households in Missouri.

If your average income or median income falls below the Missouri median, you might qualify for a bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7. If you want to find out if you're eligible, try out this tool called the Missouri Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test Calculator which can help you estimate if you qualify. It's absolutely free, and you can find it below:

What if My Income Exceeds The Chapter 7 Means Test?

If your income is higher than the average income in your state, you might need to take a closer look at part 2 of the means test or explore other options. The Means Test is not a straightforward pass-or-fail situation. It's a two-part test that requires some extra consideration. So, even if you "fail" the first section, you still have a chance to "pass" the second section and qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Missouri Income Limits

Let's talk about the Missouri median income figures for the Means Test. Now, these figures are adjusted every now and then based on data from the IRS and the Census Bureau. So, if you're filing for bankruptcy in Missouri on or after November 1, 2023, here's what you need to know.

# of PeopleAnnual Income
1$57,248
2$73,751
3$87,722
4$101,726
5$111,626
6$121,526
7$131,426
8$141,326
9$151,226
  • Add an extra $9,000 for each additional family member.

These figures can change over time, so it's always a good idea to double-check the US Trustees website for the most up-to-date numbers when you're calculating the Means Test. Hope this information helps you navigate the world of Missouri median income figures for the Means Test.

Will I lose my belongings if I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Understand Missouri bankruptcy exemptions

Let's talk about bankruptcy exemptions and how they can protect your property in a bankruptcy case. In Missouri, there's something called the homestead exemption, which determines how much equity in your home is protected based on factors like age and marital status. Exemptions ensure that certain assets are protected from being sold off in a Chapter 7 liquidation case. So, if you have a property that's not covered by these exemptions, it might be able to be sold.

To compare, in a Chapter 13 case, if you have non-exempt equity in your property, it could increase the amount you have to pay in your bankruptcy plan.

When it comes to protecting assets, most people are concerned about their homes. Here's the breakdown:

  • If you're single under or over the age of 65, you can protect up to $15,000 of equity.
  • If you're married under or over the age of 65, the exemption amount remains at $15,000.

According to Missouri law, the homestead exemption also applies to mobile homes, but joint owners can't double the exemption amount. So, if you and your spouse jointly own a property, you still can't protect more than $15,000. It's crucial to carefully review all the bankruptcy exemptions available in Missouri and select the ones that offer the best protection for your assets.

Be sure to stay updated with the most recent information because bankruptcy laws can change over time. While federal bankruptcy exemptions are detailed in the 11 U.S. Code §522, it's important to know that Missouri doesn't allow you to use these federal exemptions. You can find a list of federal bankruptcy exemptions on the National Consumer Law Center's website. Always check that you have the most current and accurate information when analyzing bankruptcy exemptions. It's better to be well-informed and prepared to protect your assets during this challenging process.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Pros and Cons

Like any debt relief option, Chapter 7 has its upsides and downsides. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there's a chance you might end up losing your home. Now, let's dive into the pros and cons.

Pros

  1. Affordable debt relief solution
  2. You can receive a discharge in about 120 days.
  3. Fresh start that allows you to discharge the debt.
  4. You may be able to keep your home and belongings due to exemptions.
  5. It can put a stop to debt collection lawsuits. No more constant phone calls, threatening letters, or fear of legal action.
  6. No more deficiency. This is when you owe more on a loan than what your collateral is worth and the difference is called a deficiency, but a Chapter 7 can wipe it away.
  7. Provides relief for unaffordable unsecured debts.

Cons

  1. There are income requirements for qualification that you need to meet.
  2. You may potentially lose your home and other belongings if your assets exceed the exemption limit.
  3. It'll have a negative credit report impact for 10 years.
  4. It may have a negative credit score impact.
  5. If you have non-dischargeable debt it may not be able to be wiped away. These are debts such as student loans and taxes that may not be able to be included.
  6. Difficult to prevent foreclosure

Now that we've covered the pros and cons of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, let's dive into the alternatives available in Missouri.

But what if you don't qualify for Chapter 7, have too many assets, or simply don't want to go down that road? Don't worry, there are alternatives available to you.

a) Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

What are some alternatives to Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Well, there are a couple worth considering. One option is to consider Chapter 13 bankruptcy over Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can restructure your debts into a more manageable monthly plan. This means you may be able to afford your house and car payments easier.

There are many benefits to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. First off, it can put a stop to foreclosures, repossessions, and even wage garnishments. You can also catch up on mortgage payments, past-due car payments, and tax debt over three to five years through the bankruptcy plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy might also allow you to reduce unpaid child support and alimony. However, it's important to note that you must continue making your regular domestic support payments to stay in Chapter 13. In a Chapter 13 plan, some people may be able to lower their car loan payments and potentially get rid of second mortgages, as long as they meet certain requirements.

In a Chapter 13 plan, some debtors can actually lower their car loan payments and even get rid of second mortgages. Of course, there are certain requirements you need to meet, but it's definitely worth looking into. So, if you're above the income limit for Chapter 7, don't lose hope. Chapter 13 bankruptcy might just be the solution for you.

Can you afford Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

A Chapter 13 repayment plan can be complex, so you may want to ask an attorney about it. There are the attorney fees as well as a repayment plan that looks at non-exempt equity and disposable income to determine how much, if any, of the debt you may pay back. Feel free to check out the Chapter 13 calculator to get an estimate.

Feel free to check out our calculator below to get an estimate.

ADD CALCULATOR HERE

b) Debt Relief

Did you know that debt relief in Missouri can actually be cheaper than both Debt Management and Debt Payoff Planning? If you're thinking of going the debt settlement route, there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, consider the impact it might have on your credit score.

When you partner with a debt settlement firm, they will make you fall behind on the accounts you choose to include by about 6 months. They will then negotiate with your creditors on a lower overall amount you pay back over 2-4 years. This may hurt your credit score since you have to fall behind.

Ultimately, it is up to your creditors if they want to agree or deny negotiations, so there is quite a bit of risk involved. If they agree, then you pay the lower amount through an escrow account, but they will expect you to keep up on all the payments. However, if the creditors disagree, they may try to sue you. However, you can choose which accounts to include in the program. There also may be potential taxes on the forgiven debt, so be sure to consult with the firm to understand more about the process.

c) Debt Management

Debt management companies focus on negotiating lower interest rates and the program usually lasts for about 3 to 5 years. Credit counseling is generally a more expensive option compared to the others. Some creditors, like some personal loan lenders, may not want to work with a debt management company. There is also a potential impact on your credit score.

Debt management can be a good option for those who have a bunch of high-interest credit card debt. The firm will work to significantly lower those so you can pay on the principle.

If you're considering debt management in Missouri, it may be a suitable option if you have a significant amount of high-interest credit card debt. By reducing your interest rate from, let's say, 22-30% to a more manageable 10%, you can make your debt more affordable. This can be a beneficial solution for individuals in this particular situation.

d) Debt Payoff Planning

Debt can feel like a never-ending cycle, with interest piling up pretty fast. But don't worry, you have options, such as debt payoff planning.

Debt payoff planning involves cutting down on expenses and putting any cash flow you have toward your debts to avoid interest charges. This isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on the size of your financial hardship, it may not be feasible for everyone. Payoff planning means you are paying the full amount back, so it's helpful if you can afford your debt but want to pay it off more efficiently.

There is an app called the Savvy debt payoff planner that will help you prioritize your debts by combining efficient methods to create a plan to pay things off as quickly as possible. On average, it saves folks around $2,000 in interest.

So, my friend, if you're ready to take control of your finances and kick that debt to the curb, give our Savvy debt payoff planner a try.

3) Specific Missouri Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Information:

If you're wondering if Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the way to go, it's important to understand these key points before filing.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a legal process that allows individuals to wipe out their debts and start fresh. It's like hitting the reset button on your financial situation. One important aspect to keep in mind is that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is subject to certain eligibility requirements. You need to meet specific criteria, such as passing the means test, which evaluates your income and expenses.

Another thing to consider is that while it can help you eliminate unsecured debts like credit card bills and medical expenses, it won't wipe out certain types of debts, such as student loans or child support. So, if those are your main concerns, you might need to explore other options. Additionally, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will have an impact on your credit score.

However, the good news is that with time and responsible financial habits, you can rebuild your credit score and get back on track. Lastly, going through the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process can be a process. There's paperwork to fill out, court appearances to attend, and a trustee to deal with. It can be a complex and time-consuming process, so be prepared to invest some effort and patience.

Now that you have a better understanding of the benefits and challenges of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Missouri, you can make a more informed decision. Remember, it's important to consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney who can guide you through the process and help you navigate the twists and turns.

Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Courses

When you're going through the bankruptcy process, there are a couple of courses you need to take which are required if you want a discharge.

The first course you need to take is a credit counseling course. This has to be done before you file your bankruptcy case. It's designed to guide you and help you understand your financial situation better.

The second course is called a debtor education course. It's meant to educate you on financial management and give you the tools you need to make better financial decisions in the future and get back on your feet after the bankruptcy.

The United States Trustee's Office has approved certain companies in Missouri that offer these bankruptcy courses. You can find a list of these companies on the UST website and these courses can be completed online. There is a small fee involved, but they're designed to help you navigate through the bankruptcy process and improve your financial future.

Missouri Bankruptcy Court Locations

When filing for bankruptcy, you will have to attend the 341 meetings of creditors. A lot of these meetings have been happening over the phone or through Zoom. But, if you have a meeting that needs to happen in person, it's important to know where the courthouse is.

Here are the court locations for filing bankruptcy in Missouri, based on the bankruptcy district.

Eastern District

  • 111 South 10th Street,  St. Louis, Missouri, 63102.

Western

  1. 400 E. 9th Street, Kansas City, MO 64106
  2. 80 Lafayette Street, Jefferson City, MO 65101
  3. 222 N. John Q. Hammons Parkway, Springfield, MO 65806

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustees Missouri

DistrictNamePhone
EasternSeth A. Albin(314) 721-8844
EasternTracy A. Brown(314) 644-0303
EasternE. Rebecca Case(314) 721-7011
EasternKristin J. Conwell(314) 652-1120
EasternFredrich J. Cruse(573) 221-1333
EasternD. Matthew Edwards(573) 481-1111
EasternThomas K. O'Loughlin, II(573) 334-9104
EasternCharles W. Riske(314) 725-9400
EasternDavid A. Sosne(314) 991-4999
WesternPatricia A. Brown(417) 206-8358
WesternJames Kevin Checkett(417) 358-4049
WesternJanice A. Harder(573) 875-2880
WesternEric L. Johnson(816) 292-8267
WesternFred Charles Moon(417) 888-0770
WesternJill D. Olsen(816) 521-8811
WesternJohn Charles Reed(573) 635-8500
WesternNorman E. Rouse(417) 782-2222
WesternJanice E. Stanton(816) 421-7770
WesternBruce E. Strauss(816) 221-8855
WesternVictor F. Weber(816) 221-8855

Now, before you jump into filing a bankruptcy case, make sure to review Missouri's local bankruptcy rules. Keep in mind that these rules might have a few differences compared to the Federal Bankruptcy Rules.

Conclusion

So, now you're pretty clued up on Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Missouri. If you're curious about whether you qualify and how much it might cost you, you can try out the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test calculator below.

Most folks tend to work with a bankruptcy attorney when it comes to both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, but there's also an option to file without one, just be sure to do a lot of research!

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