Need Help with Your Debts?
This is a St. Louis bankruptcy law firm. I help people obtain relief from their debts. I handle Bankruptcy cases in the entire St. Louis area, including St. Louis, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Franklin County, Jefferson County and Madison, St. Clair, Monroe and Jersey Counties in Illinois.
This Law Firm is a Debt Relief Agency as defined under Section 101 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. We help people file for Bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. (Disclosure Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 528).We have over 25 years experience providing bankruptcy and legal services to the public. We do more than just prepare forms. This is a law firm and we are familiar with all areas of law. In addition to preparing documents, we render legal advice and represent you in court. We provide individual attention based upon the specific requirements of your case. We understand the impact and interrelationship of bankruptcy upon other legal proceedings, your current obligations and your overall financial position. Your case will be handled by an experienced attorney, not a paralegal or legal assistant.
Call us at (314) 725-1880 for a free consultation regarding your rights under the federal bankruptcy laws.
A Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can help you:
- STOP FORECLOSURES
- STOP GARNISHMENTS
- AVOID REPOSSESSIONS
- RECOVER REPOSSESSED PROPERTY
- DISCHARGE CREDIT CARD DEBT AND MEDICAL BILLS
- PAY BACK TAXES WITHOUT INTEREST
- CURE CHILD SUPPORT ARREARAGES AND COME CURRENT
- GET A FRESH START WITH FINANCIAL FREEDOM
HOW TO GET STARTED
Gather your last 2 months paystubs
Complete our Bankruptcy Questionaire (link below)
Call us at (314) 725-1880 for a free consultation.
The bankruptcy laws are designed to relieve the honest debtor of the debts that he cannot repay. “Bankrupt” refers to a state or condition where one is unable to pay his debts as they are, or become, due.” Black’s Law Dictionary. Bankruptcy is a federal court proceeding designed to provide individuals and business with a means of addressing and managing debt. Individual consumer debtors most commonly file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. The objective under each of these chapters is for the debtor to obtain a Discharge, a court order relieving the debtor of his debts.
Immediate Protection from Your Creditors: Bankruptcy Automatic Stay
Immediately upon the filing of a petition in bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 there is an automatic and immediate stay which operates as an injunction to prohibit the commencement or continuation of collection activity against a debtor, including lawsuits, garnishments, foreclosures, repossessions, harassing telephone calls and most collection activities against the debtor. There are exceptions to the automatic stay, several which are the result of the new bankruptcy law, which will be discussed below.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 is commonly referred to as “liquidation” or “straight” bankruptcy. In Chapter 7, the debtor discloses and places all his or her assets under the authority of a Trustee, appointed by the Bankruptcy Court, in exchange for a Discharge, a release from or forgiveness of all his or her dischargeable debts. The trustee is charged with the task of liquidating all the debtor’s nonexempt assets, turning them into cash, and paying the claims of the creditors from the available funds. There are exemptions under law which allow the debtor to retain a minimum level of property so that the debtor of modest means will typically be able to retain most, if not all, of his or her possessions. Chapter 7 is available only to debtors whose income falls at or below median income, as determined by the United States Trustee, and to debtors who have no disposable (“leftover”) income after paying their basic (“subsistence level”) living expenses. Chapter 7 is best suited to debtors with very low income and minimal assets. Chapter 7 is designed to give debtors a fresh start allowing them to proceed in life without the looming specter of overwhelming debt. Although the Discharge is broad in scope, there are a number of debts which cannot be discharged in chapter 7, these include: child support and domestic support obligations, student loans, most taxes, debts based upon fraud, embezzlement, false statements in writing, criminal fines, willful or malicious injuries to persons or property, injuries associated with driving or operating a vessel while intoxicated, to name a few.
Chapter 7 Discharge
A discharge in bankruptcy under chapter 7 relieves the debtor of all dischargeable debts, operates to void any judgment to the extent that it is a determination of personal liability, operates as an injunction against the commencement or continuation of any action, lawsuit, or process to collect or recover a debt. However, it does not relieve the debtor of certain “non-dischargeable” debts which include student loans, most taxes, child support and most debts associated with a divorce or dissolution of marriage, debts resulting from fraud, embezzlement or criminal activity, and debts related to driving (or boating, or flying) while intoxicated.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 is commonly referred to as a “wage earner plan” or debt adjustment plan. Chapter 13 is only available to individuals who have “regular income” from wages or other sources. In Chapter 13, the debtor typically retains all his or her property and files a plan to repay creditors in full, or in part. As in other bankruptcy proceedings, a Chapter 13 debtor must disclose all of his property, assets, income, expenses and creditors in his documents filed with the court. A Chapter 13 filing further assumes that the debtor has “disposable income” in excess of his basic living expenses. The debtor’s chapter 13 plan must pay essentially all of the “disposable income” on a monthly basis to the Chapter 13 Trustee . This monthly payment will be applied towards payment of the claims of creditors and the administrative expenses of the chapter 13 case. To be confirmed and approved by the court, a Chapter 13 Plan must provide that the debtor make his or her best efforts to repay creditors over a period of 36 months (for debtors at or below median income) and 60 months (for debtors above median income). A Chapter 13 Plan must also pay creditors as much as they would receive if the debtor filed a Chapter 7 and the debtor’s nonexempt property was sold to pay and the funds used to pay creditors. Chapter 13 is available to nearly any individual experiencing financial difficulty. Chapter 13 is designed to allow the debtor to repay what he or she can afford over the life of the plan, which is typically only a fraction of the actual debt owed. Among its other attributes, a Chapter 13 filing allows a debtor to Stop Foreclosures, Stop Repossessions, Stop Garnishments, Stop Lawsuits, Stop IRS Tax Levies, Reorganize, Adjust Debts and stretch out payments for up to Five Years.
Chapter 13 Discharge
A discharge under Chapter 13 relieves the debtor of the same debts that are dischargeable under Chapter 7, but also provides a means to cure mortgage and auto loan arrearages and repay debts for taxes, child support and other non-dischargeable obligations over a period of up to five years.
CHANGES UNDER THE NEW BANKRUPTCY LAW
In 2005 Congress passed and the president signed into law the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, the “BAPCPA”. This Act brought about the most extensive changes in the Bankruptcy Code since 1978 and made filing consumer bankruptcy (particularly Chapter 7) much more difficult. Although the new law has added much complexity and additional duties for debtors and their attorneys, Bankruptcy Relief is still available for individuals in financial distress.
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 has brought about a number of changes for consumers filing bankruptcy, including the following:
To be eligible for bankruptcy, all individual debtors must have received credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency within 180 days before filing. A Certificate of Completion must be filed with the petition or the case will be dismissed. Very limited exceptions apply in emergency situations. Additionally, in order to receive a discharge, all debtors in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 must also attend a financial education course after filing. Remember:
DEBTORS MUST RECEIVE CREDIT COUNSELING FROM AN APPROVED NON-PROFIT INSTITUTION WITHIN THE SIX MONTH PERIOD PRIOR TO FILING A BANKRUPTCY.
DEBTORS MUST COMPLETE AN APPROVED POST-FILING FINANCIAL EDUCATION COURSE WILL NOT RECEIVE A DISCHARGE.
The new bankruptcy law is designed to limit and restrict the consumer’s ability to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Accordingly, the new code implements a “means testing” procedure to determine whether the debtor has the ability to pay back all or a part of his or her debt. If the court is convinced that a debtor has the ability to pay at least $100.00 per month to his creditors, that debtor will most likely be required to file under Chapter 13. To determine the debtor’s ability to pay, the debtor is required to produce 6 months of payroll stubs or other proof of income, so that his “ability to pay” can be determined based upon his average income for the last six months. The debtor’s average monthly income is then compared to the average monthly income (“median income”) as determined by the US Department of Justice for households in the County where the debtor resides. If the debtor’s household income is more than the “median income” he will most likely be disqualified for chapter 7, although chapter 13 relief will still be available. If the debtor is above median income in chapter 13, he or she will need to pay 60 months of plan payments, as opposed to 36 month plans for those debtors at or below median income. The Department of Justice has also developed allowable spending limits (or ceilings) for household living expenses for each county in the country, which are compared to the debtor’s actual living expenses. In other words, if you are “living too high” the government will decide what your living expenses should be, and, if it appears you “should” have “disposable income” left over, then you will need to file a chapter 13 payment plan.
Click on the link below for the current median income guidelines for the Eastern District of Missouri:
CHANGES TO THE AUTOMATIC STAY
The automatic stay no longer operates to stop foreclosures where a court order allowing relief from the stay was entered in a prior bankruptcy case within the preceding two years, except under limited circumstances, the automatic stay is no longer applicable to landlords and will not stop an eviction where a judgment for possession was obtained prior to filing the bankruptcy, it does not operate as a stay of any action for dissolution of marriage, paternity, or to establish child support or collect a domestic support obligation.
An individual or entity may not file a bankruptcy petition if the debtor has had a prior case dismissed within the past 180 days for failure to pay filing fees, appear at the 341 meeting, or comply with a court order.
EFFECT OF PRIOR DISCHARGES
A debtor may file a subsequent case but may not be entitled to a discharge in the new case if the debtor received a discharge in a prior case within a certain period of time. In chapter 7, the debtor is not entitled to a discharge if the debtor received a discharge in the previous Chapter 7 or 11 case commenced within 8 years of the new filing or if the debtor received a discharge in a previous Chapter 12 or 13 case commenced within 6 years of the new filing. In Chapter 13, the debtor is not entitled to a discharge if the debtor received a discharge in a previous Chapter 7, 11 or 12 case filed within 4 years of the new filing or if the new filing or if the debtor received a discharge I a previous Chapter 13 case filed within the last 2 years.
Debtors must file all State and Federal Tax returns. Failure to file tax returns will result in dismissal of the debtors case. All debtors must also provide current tax returns to the trustee and, in Chapter 13, debtors must timely file future tax returns.
PENALTIES FOR FALSE STATEMENTS & INCOMPLETE DISCLOSURES
Bankruptcy schedules are signed under penalty of perjury. All information must be truthful and accurate. It is a Federal Crime to conceal assets or make false statements in a Bankruptcy Proceeding. The FBI investigates bankruptcy crimes. Bankruptcy is a useful, but complicated and specialized, legal proceeding.
I have been helping people handle their debts for over 25 years. I have helped hundreds of people through bankruptcy, chapter 13, and individual debt work-outs. There is no fee to discuss your situation. Call us for a free consultation at (314) 725-1880.
DISCLAIMER: THE PRECEDING INFORMATION WAS OF A GENERAL NATURE AND NOT MEANT TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR TO BE USED IN, OR APPLIED TO, ANY INDIVIDUAL SITUATION. THIS GENERAL INFORMATION IS APPLICABLE TO THE STATE OF MISSOURI AND MAY NOT BE VALID UNDER THE LAWS OF OTHER STATES. IF THE READER HAS SPECIFIC LEGAL QUESTIONS, HE OR SHE SHOULD CONTACT AN ATTORNEY.