Do I have to go to Court if I file for Bankruptcy?

When deciding whether to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, many debtors wonder if they will have to appear in court during the process.  Some let the thought of appearing in court deter them from filing a bankruptcy case; however, bankruptcy filings are a bit different than other types of law.  While you do need to appear in court one time post-filing, that is typically the only time you will need to appear in court.  Below is a list of questions that our clients typically ask regarding court, and helpful answers to assist you.

Do I have to appear in front of a Judge for my bankruptcy?

No, you do not need to appear in front of a judge for your bankruptcy. A Judge does oversee the bankruptcy process; however, you are not required to appear in front of him or her. Depending on your specific case, your attorney may need to appear in front of the Judge for certain motions or objections that may arise, but those are hearings you would not need to attend personally.  Your attorney would inform you of what you need to provide or do, if anything, and then take it from there.

Do I have to go to court at all for my bankruptcy?

Yes, you do have to go to court at least once after your case is filed. About one month after your bankruptcy petition is filed with the Bankruptcy Court, you are required to appear in front of a trustee who has been assigned to your case. This appearance is referred to as the “meeting of creditors”, or “341 Meeting”.

What happens at the meeting of creditors? 

The meeting of creditors is required under 11 USC §341 of the United States Code. This meeting is required in order to receive your discharge under both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.  This meeting is not optional; If you do not attend this meeting, your case will be dismissed and closed without a discharge.  (*There are exceptions to needing to appear including incarceration and serious health issues.  Permission from the court to not appear is required in these types of circumstances)

At the meeting of creditors, the trustee will ask you questions about your bankruptcy petition while you are sworn under oath. There are some questions that the trustee is required to ask you, and other questions that are asked depending on what you have listed on your petition, schedules, statements, and related documents. Generally, the questions are aimed toward verifying information you have listed.  Example questions include: Are all of your creditors listed? Is your income still the same at it was on the date the petition was filed?, etc.  This meeting typically takes only five to ten minutes, and is over with very quickly. Your attorney will be present with you at the meeting to help assist you with answering any questions you may become confused about as well.

If you were honest while assisting your attorney with preparing your petition (ie- you did not withhold information about certain assets), and you reviewed your petition for accuracy before it was filled with the court, you will have nothing to worry about at this meeting.

Are my creditors going to show up and tell me that I have to pay them back?

The answer to this question depends on your case. Creditors can appear at your meeting of creditors; however, they typically do not take the time to do so. Even if some of your creditors do show up, they cannot come up to you and tell you to pay them back. Their appearance at the Meeting of Creditors is permitted to allow them to ask you questions about your income, assets, etc.   It is important to note that a creditor appearing at this meeting is extremely rare, and hardly ever happens.  Most often, it is just you, your attorney, and your trustee at the meeting.

Who is the trustee and what does he do?

The trustee assigned to your case is appointed by the United States Trustee, an officer of the Department of Justice, who oversees the bankruptcy. The trustee’s role in your case is to determine whether there are assets that can be liquidated for the benefit of your creditors.  They are additionally appointed to make sure your bankruptcy complies with the bankruptcy code,  that you have disclosed all income and property you have, and that those items do not exceed that which is allowed in by bankruptcy code in order to receive a discharge.

In Closing….

Appearing in court for your Meeting of Creditors is nothing to be worried about. If you have been thorough and completed your forms honestly and accurately, then the process will be extremely easy.  All you have to do is attend the meeting, answer a few quick questions, and then you will be on your way.

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How Do I Make my Monthly Chapter 13 Plan Payments?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case requires that you make a monthly payment directly to your trustee, who then disburses the funds to your creditors.  Plan payments are due starting 30 days after your Chapter 13 case is filed, and need to be made on time every month until the base of the plan is completed. Often times, after entering into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, debtors wonder how they are supposed to go about making their payments to their trustee.  Options for making your monthly plan payment include sending a money order or cashier’s check through the mail to your trustee, making a payment online through the trustee’s website, and setting up a wage order.

While there are a few different ways to make this monthly payment, one of the most successful means is through something called a “wage order”.  A wage order in a Chapter 13 is where a portion of your Chapter 13 plan payment is automatically deducted from your paycheck by your employer/your payroll department. Your employer then sends the money directly to the trustee. While it may seem like the same kind of process, a wage order is NOT a wage garnishment.  It is simply a deduction from your paycheck, similar to an auto-debit from a bank account.

The wage order amount that is taken out of your check is prorated depending on how you are paid through your employer (i.e.- bi-weekly, semi-monthly, etc).  The full monthly amount will not be taken out of one single check; it is broken up into an amount based on how often you are paid.  As an example, if your Chapter 13 plan payment is $300 per month, and you are paid bi-weekly (meaning you receive 26 paychecks per year), then $138.46 would be taken out of each paycheck (see calculation below).

$300/month plan payment × 12 months a year ÷ 26 weeks of bi-weekly checks = $138.46

Benefits to wage order:

  1. You do not have to worry about taking the time out of your schedule to send in a monthly payment to your trustee. The payment is done automatically, which will save you time, hassle, and worrying about the potential for a late payment.
  2. Your payments are guaranteed to be made (so long as your employer is following the order and withholding and disbursing the funds)
  3. You are not tempted to spend the money elsewhere
  4. It splits payments up into smaller amounts, so you don’t have to pay your plan payment out of an entire paycheck
  5. Potential issues with your case, such as Motions to Dismiss your Case for Failure to Make Plan payments, are eliminated.
  6. It allows for an overall successful completion of a Chapter 13 plan

InIllinois, wage orders are required if the Debtor is employed. InMissouri, while it is not required, it is strongly recommended as is ensures payments will be made to the trustee on a regular basis and on time.  Statistically, debtors who have a wage order in place are much more successful at completing the term of their Chapter 13 plans.

What are your payment options if you do not have a wage order?

Payments can be made in the form of a cashier’s check or money order and mailed to the trustee. You can also set up for an official bank check to be sent on a monthly basis directly to the trustee. Your trustee will NOT, however, accept a personal check from you.  You must make sure that you make the cashier’s check or money order out to your trustee and ensure that your name and case number are listed as well.  This will ensure that your payment is credited to your account.  Payments sent to the trustee in this way typically take a few business days to process.    If you are behind on your plan payments and are facing a motion to dismiss your case due to this, contact your attorney before sending in payments this way to see if there is enough time for the payments to be processed before hearing dates, etc.

In Missouri, there is also a new system in place that allows monthly plan payments to be made through the internet.  You can go to the trustee’s website at, and on the home page, there is a link for “ePay Online Payments” that will allow you make the payments through the site.  You must register for this option, and follow the directions on the website to complete payments.  While this option is not as highly recommended as a wage order, this option may be a more convenient option for making plan payments as opposed to sending in money orders via regular mail.  It will also save you money in service charges, as the trustee’s website is a one-time service charge, and using money orders can result in multiple service charges.

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Inheritance in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Often times, the situation of receiving large inheritances while in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy comes up.  Whether there was a death in the family, or there was a large suit you received compensation from, receiving a large, lump sum of money while in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can become an issue; however, it does depend on a few things.  A few factors that are taken into account are first, where the money is coming from, and, second, when you became entitled to the money.

As an example, if the money you are set to inherit is from something, other than an inheritance, and you became entitled to after your case was already filed, it is likely not part of the bankruptcy estate.  However, if you are entitled to receive an inheritance from a family member or loved one and the person passed away before you filed the bankruptcy or within 180 days of when your case was filed, chances are the inheritance will become part of the bankruptcy estate.  When the funds become part of the bankruptcy estate this means that you will have to turn them over to your trustee who will them disburse them to your creditors.  If it is determined that the inheritance, which is an asset, is a part of the bankruptcy estate, clients usually want to know why they have to turn over the money and what will happen if they do not turn over the money. The trustee’s job is basically to be the middle man between you and your creditors. The trustee is supposed to look for assets that could be liquidated and then disbursed to all or some of your creditors. If you choose not to turn over the asset to your trustee, he or she can dismiss your case or deny or revoke your discharge. Therefore, it is crucial that any property that is determined to be part of your bankruptcy estate is turned over to the trustee unless otherwise ordered by the court.

Determining which assets are part of your bankruptcy estate can be extremely difficult, and very costly if determined inaccurately. Before spending any money that may be determined to be a part of your bankruptcy estate, contact your bankruptcy attorney right away.  It is always best to check with your attorney regarding spending potential assets before you spend them.   If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and have questions about your potential assets, contact our office for a free consultation.

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Knowing Debt Collection Tactics Can Help You

As anyone who is considering filing for bankruptcy knows, the constant beratement debtors receive from debt collectors can be extremely stressful.  No one enjoys repeated phone calls from mysterious numbers with voice messages containing cryptic messages. These phone calls can come at extremely inconvenient times, and cause even more anxiety during an already trying time.  In fact, the numerous phone calls and collections attempts are often what leads many people to file for bankruptcy.   However, with this in mind, there are a few things to know when speaking to a debt collector that can help you understand your rights and their motivations.

1. Debt collectors are not under oath when speaking to you over the phone. While there are some regulations on what they can and cannot say, debt collectors are likely to use strong language to convince you of the importance and magnitude of your unpaid debt.  They often times use threats and harsh words to convince you to pay your debts.

2. Debt collectors are far less interested in negotiating terms that work for your budget. They are interested in terms that result in the collection of your debt as quickly as possible. Offering you an affordable repayment plan is not something they are typically interested in.

3. Debt collectors are typically not sympathetic to your personal story or situation. Even though you may be in the middle of a very difficult time in your life, that does not matter to them; they are only interested in the amount of money you owe them, and how they are going to receive it from you.  It is a waste of time to spend energy trying to explain your situation to certain debt collectors, and unfortunately, it can sometimes complicate matters by divulging too much information.

4.  Debt Collectors are trained to associate your lack of payment as a lack of personal character, and they will use this in an attempt to collect from you. Making you feel bad for not paying your debt is a tactic often used to expedite receiving money.  It is important to remember not to take these kinds of tactics to heart; the debt collector is just trying to receive money from you.

5. Collection agencies have often purchased your debt at a discount from your original creditor. This means that if you pay your debt in full, or even a portion of it, they will receive a profit. Because of this, you may have more room to negotiate a settlement rate than you might have expected.

6. You cannot go to jail for not paying your debt, with the exception of taxes, child support, or a court ordered payment. Fear is a sales tactic in the business of debt collection, nothing more, nothing less.  Often, we have clients who contact our office in tears because they think they are about to be arrested for not paying on a certain loan, etc.  Many debt collectors use the threat of jail and arrest warrants to scare individuals into paying their debts.  Again, this is just a threat- your creditor cannot arrest you for not paying them.  They may be able to pursue legal action, such as receiving a judgment against you (which enables them to garnish wages), but you will not be sent to jail.

7. Your debt may be past the statute of limitations, which means it could be past terms for a garnishment or execution of a judgment. While the debt may still linger on your credit report, the debt collector may be trying to collect on a debt in which you can no longer be successfully sued from a creditor for in court.  It is important to check your credit reports and records for dates on when certain debts were incurred.  Doing your research can help you in the long run.

The most important thing to remember when you are receiving constant phone calls and threatening letters from debt collectors is that there are attorneys who will talk to you free of charge about your situation. An attorney has many years of schooling and experience, and will be able to help you understand your rights and options.  You should always consider your sources when understanding your personal rights; an attorney is much more likely to tell you the correct information regarding your rights as opposed to someone who is attempting to collect money from you.  As stated before, doing your research will only help you in the long run.

While these tips on handling debt collection tactics are important to remember, it is also important to note that filing for bankruptcy is generally the only way to guarantee your debt collectors will not continue to contact you. Filing for bankruptcy will automatically force your creditors to no longer contact you in collection attempts.  If you are in a situation where you cannot continue to pay your debts and would like to file for bankruptcy, contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney today for information.

Posted in Automatic Stay, Bankruptcy filing, Bankruptcy General, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Collection Harassment | Comments Off on Knowing Debt Collection Tactics Can Help You

Definition of Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people and businesses can obtain a fresh start financially.  It is an option for people and/or businesses when they are to the point in their financial difficulties that they cannot repay their debts.  When a person or business files for bankruptcy and receives a discharge, the court eliminates all or a portion of that person’s or business’s existing debts under Chapter 7, or stretches out the monthly payments on those debts under the court’s protection and supervision under Chapter 13.  While in your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you have protection from your creditors being able to collect from you in any way including threatening phone calls, garnishments, and even foreclosure attempts.

The bankruptcy process can also protect your creditors in certain instances. Secured creditors are often in a better position than unsecured creditors because secured creditors hold a lien, which is an interest in the property of the debtor that backs up their right to payment.  An example of this type of creditor would be a car creditor or a mortgage holder; they hold your property as collateral for your loan.  If the debtor wants to keep the property, they also have to keep the loan.  While most loans would be discharged through a bankruptcy, a secured creditor has more ground to continue to receive payments. Sometimes even general unsecured creditors can obtain some money from a debtor’s estate, and will share equally in whatever payments are disbursed through the case if there is an asset the trustee liquidates to disburse. While the bankruptcy is pending most creditors cannot try to collect their debts from the debtor directly. Nor can they try to collect from the debtor after the conclusion of the case for all discharged debts. However, not all debts are discharged; therefore, the debtor may still be liable for some debts after the conclusion of the bankruptcy.

Filing for bankruptcy is a very personal and serious decision. Most people file for bankruptcy after they have attempted to repay their debts, but have no way to continue paying them. Once the person or business has made the decision to file, the person or business may declare bankruptcy by filing a petition with U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The person filing for bankruptcy must provide information about his or her assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, as well as additional information as it pertains to their specific case.

It is almost always in your best interest to have an attorney prepare and file your bankruptcy petition and other information, although some debtors do choose to represent themselves. However, a debtor who chooses to file the bankruptcy on their own rather than to hire an attorney is held to the same standard as someone who chooses to hire an attorney. Some of the required bankruptcy forms are detailed and some may be difficult to understand. It is important that the forms are filled out completely and accurately, and  failure to do so can delay the bankruptcy and result in the dismissal of your case. Contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney for assistance in filing your bankruptcy case!


Posted in Bankruptcy filing, Bankruptcy General, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Discharge of Debt, Secured Property, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Definition of Bankruptcy

What do I do after my Bankruptcy case is filed?

Many times clients are under the impression that once their bankruptcy case is filed, they are done with the process.  However, immediately after your bankruptcy case is filed, there are a few last steps you need to take to compete the bankruptcy process.  The first step the debtor needs to take is to complete a Course in Financial Management.  This course is referred to in many different ways including “2nd Certificate”, “FMC”, and “Financial Management Course”.  This course is similar to the first course the court requires debtors to take; however, it cannot be completed until after the bankruptcy case is filed.  It is extremely important to get this course completed as soon as possible post filing.  If this course certificate of completion is not filed with the court before you receive a discharge, your case can be dismissed and closed without a discharge.

The next step that debtors need to take after their case is filed is to attend the meeting of creditors.  The meeting of creditors is held at a courthouse (the location depends on where you live/where your case was filed), and is scheduled at a specific time.  You must attend this meeting and appear at the appropriate time, or your case can be dismissed.  At the meeting of creditors, you will meet with your trustee and essentially testify under oath that everything you listed on your bankruptcy petition was true to your best knowledge.  This meeting typically takes about five minutes once your case is called.  After the meeting of creditors is complete, your trustee will either file what is called a “report of no distribution” which states you have no assets to distribute to your creditors, or they will give instructions on what steps you and your attorney need to take next.  Sometimes, your trustee will require additional documents to ensure you do not have assets to distribute.  Once this is completed, typically the next step is to wait until you receive notice of your discharge.

Once you have received your discharge, you are able to start rebuilding your credit. While this sounds relatively easy, some people may wonder how they should start this process, which can depend on the type of bankruptcy that was filed.  If the debtor just filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, he or she cannot incur new debt without first filing a motion with the court. If this motion is successful, and the debtor is able to purchase some sort of secured property, the positive payment history would be reported to credit bureaus, which will help to rebuild credit.

If a debtor filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, he or she has a few more options with regard to rebuilding credit.  Similar to a Chapter 13 debtor, a debtor who recently filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy can begin rebuilding his or her credit by purchasing some sort of secured property. A chapter 7 filing does not require a motion to incur new debt; the debtor is free to enter into a new contract without permission from the court.  Other options for smaller purchases to help rebuild credit could be to open a secured credit card, or a small store card somewhere that you can pay off each month in full.

It is very important to remember, though that anything you do that helps rebuild your credit can also damage your credit if payments are not made timely as originally agreed upon with the creditor. So, while it is important to focus on rebuilding your credit after filing for bankruptcy, it is even more important to make sure you do not do anything to damage it.

For more tips on the steps to take after your bankruptcy case is filed, contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney today!

Posted in Bankruptcy filing, Bankruptcy General, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy | Comments Off on What do I do after my Bankruptcy case is filed?

Why Should I file for Bankruptcy again if I am not Eligible for a Discharge?

Changes to the bankruptcy code have resulted in the implementation of time limits between bankruptcy filings and when a debtor is eligible to receive a discharge.  These time limits depend on the type of bankruptcy the debtor filed previously and the type of bankruptcy the debtor is attempting now.  The time limits are determined by looking at when the first case was filed, not at when the first case received a discharge.  If the debtor has filed a previous bankruptcy case, the waiting period starts from the time the previous case was filed.  The time limits are as follows:

Prior Bankruptcy                     New Bankruptcy                     Waiting Period

Chapter 7                                Chapter 7                                8 Years

Chapter 7                                Chapter 13                              6 Years

Chapter 13                              Chapter 7                                4 Years

Chapter 13                              Chapter 13                              2 Years

Many times, after seeing this chart, individuals will think that they are not able to file for bankruptcy again for a certain length of time.  However, this is not necessarily true.  The time limits prevent individuals from receiving a discharge through a bankruptcy, but they do not always prevent individuals from filing another bankruptcy case.  It is possible to file a bankruptcy case and receive the protection from creditors the bankruptcy filing imposes without the potential for a discharge.  Depending on your specific case, this could be beneficial to you.  Providing the reason you are filing, the length of time until a discharge can be received,  and the type of bankruptcy you want to file, you may be able to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This would assist with postponing garnishments, foreclosures, repossessions, and other types of collection by creditors.

For example, if a debtor just received a discharge through a Chapter 7 one year ago, and now they are behind on mortgage payments for a house that they want to keep and have a pending foreclosure, would they be of luck? Definitely not! A Chapter 13 plan can be proposed to pay the back payments on the house over 48 months. At the end of the 48 months, as long as all of the post-petition mortgage payments are made as well, the client is caught up on their house. Even though no discharge is received, since the waiting period for a Chapter 7 filing to a Chapter 13 filing is six years to be eligible for a discharge, the bankruptcy filing was still beneficial to the client.  They caught up on their house, and are able to keep it.

Depending on what debts you have and your income, a Chapter 13 with a discharge can provide many of the same benefits of a Chapter 7 without the longer waiting period. While many individuals do not like the idea of entering into a repayment plan, if you are eligible for a discharge through a Chapter 13, but not a Chapter 7, do not automatically eliminate the possibility of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy being a viable option for you.

For information on your specific situation, call your St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney to schedule a free consultation. An attorney from our office will provide you with the information that you need to make an informed decision.

Posted in Automatic Stay, Bankruptcy filing, Bankruptcy General, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Collection Harassment, Discharge of Debt, Foreclosure | Comments Off on Why Should I file for Bankruptcy again if I am not Eligible for a Discharge?

Reaffirming a Mortgage

When you meet with your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney, he or she will go through the bankruptcy process and will likely explain what a reaffirmation agreement is.  A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement between you and your creditor that is signed after your bankruptcy case is filed and is typically applied to secured loans such as houses and cars.  The reaffirmation agreement is a contract that your creditor prepares that is stating that you agree to assume liability for the loan again, as if the bankruptcy did not happen for that specific secured debt.   While it is mandatory for you to sign a reaffirmation agreement for a car that you want to keep post-filing, it is not mandatory to sign a reaffirmation agreement for a mortgage.

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and have a house that you are current on and want to keep, you will be presented with the option of reaffirming your mortgage.  Whether or not the reaffirmation agreement is in your best interest, though, depends on your case.  By agreeing to reaffirm a mortgage, you are re-signing the contract you originally signed for your mortgage which states that you can afford to continue making payments and that you assume liability for the loan.  If you can afford to make the mortgage payment on time and for the remaining length of the terms of the loan, then reaffirming might be a good option for you.  Once you reaffirm your mortgage, your payment history will be reported to credit bureaus, and your credit score can begin to be rebuilt.  Reaffirming will also ensure that you will have no issues down the road with possible refinancing options, since many lenders require the reaffirmation to be in place before they can enter into any loan modifications, etc.

If you are unsure of your ability to remain current and on time with your payments, reaffirming might not be the best option for you.  Late and/or sporadic payments will not be reported to the credit bureaus, meaning you will be able to rebuild your credit in different ways. In addition to this, typically, as long as the mortgage company is receiving your payment, they will allow you to remain in the house.  If in a few years you decide you do not want to remain in the house or if the house has a significant decrease in value, if you do not have a reaffirmation agreement in place, you are able to walk away from the house and the loan just like you would be able to if you surrendered the property through the bankruptcy.

If you decide that you do want to reaffirm your mortgage, your mortgage lender will send your attorney a copy of the reaffirmation agreement, and your attorney will then forward you the copy with an explanation of what the contract is, and a set of instructions on how to fill it out (*your attorney may also be able to meet with you in person to assist you with filling out this contract).  Once you and your attorney have gone over the reaffirmation agreement, the paperwork will be sent back to the creditor, who will then file it with the bankruptcy court.  Your reaffirmation agreement must be filed with the court before you receive your discharge.

It is important to make sure that the reaffirmation agreement is actually filed with the court and approved, because this is what makes the reaffirmation agreement legitimate and in place.  On occasion, a creditor will receive the reaffirmation agreement that you and your attorney signed, and then will, for whatever reason, not get it filed with the court on time.  If this step is missed and your case is then closed, you did not reaffirm the property.   As stated before, as long as you continue to make payments on your mortgage, you will be able to remain in the property; however, this could become a major issue if you were interested in rebuilding your credit or if you want to refinance down the road.   If this happens, and is not realized until after your case is closed, you do still have options.  The court allows you to reopen your case to get the reaffirmation agreement filed. However, there are fees that are incurred by this, including court costs and potentially attorney fees depending on your case.   Once your case is reopened, and the reaffirmation agreement is filed, you will receive a new discharge date, and your case will be closed once again.

Deciding to reaffirm a debt is a serious financial decision, and should be considered very seriously by debtors before they sign anything.   Taking on the liability of a loan post-filing for bankruptcy in a way can leave you without a true fresh start that a bankruptcy typically provides.  While you do have the option to rescind a reaffirmation agreement within a certain time frame after it is filed, signing a reaffirmation agreement should be carefully considered by all debtors.



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Filing Bankruptcy on Behalf of Another Person

Occasionally, we hear from an individual who is interested in filing for bankruptcy on behalf of another person.  This is often due to military deployment or incarceration; however, many times, due to a variety of reasons, and individual is unable to come in to file themselves.  While it may sound surprising, it is possible to file for bankruptcy on behalf of another person.  To be able to file for bankruptcy on behalf of another person, you are required to have power of attorney for that individual.  If you are unsure on how to obtain power of attorney, a local attorney will be able to advise you on how to do so.

Depending on the particular situation, it could be difficult to file for bankruptcy on behalf of another person.  Even though the individual is unable to file for themselves, everything that would need to be listed on the petition by the individual needs to be listed by the person who has the power of attorney.  The requirements of the petition itself do not change simply because power of attorney is filing rather than the Debtor themselves. This requires a very in-depth knowledge of the person’s financial situation, as well as knowledge of all types of property owned, including everything from household goods and furnishings to houses and cars.  Documents that are required include a copy of the power of attorney as well as information on the Debtor’s income, expenses, finances, personal property, etc.  In all bankruptcy cases, certain courses are required to be done prior to filing; these course are called credit counseling and financial management courses.  If the debtor is incapacitated in some way, there are waivers available that can be obtained in place of these courses.  Additionally, in typical cases, debtors are required to appear at a meeting of creditors.  If the debtor is incarcerated or deployed, obviously this would not be a possibility.  Because of this, waivers are also available for the meeting of creditors appearance.

Receiving the fresh start that a bankruptcy provides may be a good option for individuals who are coming home from military deployment or also for an individual who is incarcerated.  This would allow the individual to receive a fresh start after a trying time.  If you are interested in receiving power of attorney and filing for bankruptcy on behalf of another individual, and you have questions, contact a St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney today.

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Bankruptcy and Divorce

Considering divorce and bankruptcy at the same time can be extremely stressful and confusing for all parties involved.  Often, individuals wonder what the best option is for them when considering bankruptcy and divorce.  Depending on the debt involved, the type of bankruptcy that is filed, and the circumstances it could be better to proceed with the divorce before you file, or sometimes even after.  The order of events does have an effect on the options that are available.

A joint bankruptcy petition can be filed if the two parties are still legally married, regardless of if there is a divorce looming in the future or not.  Even if a couple has been separated for years, if they are still legally married, they can still file the petition jointly.  While you may wonder why a couple would want to file a bankruptcy together when they are planning to file for divorce soon thereafter, it often times makes very good sense.   A joint bankruptcy filing would mean that there are one set of attorney fees, one set of court costs, and one set of any other fees that may be incurred; you can end up saving a substantial amount of money.   A joint bankruptcy filing prior to filing for divorce will also resolve several issues that can arise in a divorce proceeding, which is also another potential way that you could save money in attorney fees during the divorce.   If the bankruptcy wipes out all of the unsecured debt that you currently share, there is typically a lot less to settle and assign out in the divorce.   Discharging the debt prior to the divorce can allow both individuals to move forward from the bankruptcy and the divorce with a true fresh start.

While it is sometimes in your best interest to file for bankruptcy prior to filing for divorce, it is also sometimes not in your best interest.  There are some instances when it is not recommended to file a joint bankruptcy petition when there is an impending divorce.  One of the main instances that filing a joint bankruptcy prior to a divorce would not be recommended is during a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.   A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can last anywhere from 3 years to 5 years.  Given the extensive amount of time that you will be in this type of bankruptcy together, often times individuals have to remain in contact and rely on one another to hold up their end of the filing as far as making plan payments and following all of the requirements of a Chapter 13.  Even though you can file a Chapter 13 together, this is not typically recommended and may not even be desirable for certain individuals, especially if the relationship is not very civil.   Another reason to avoid filing a bankruptcy jointly and to wait until a divorce is finalized to file a bankruptcy petition singly directly relates to income and assets.  If you file jointly with a spouse, all income and assets need to be listed on the petition, which could lead to issues with eligibility to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  However, if you are already legally divorced, your bankruptcy filing would only include your income and assets, which may be in your best interest.

Deciding to file for bankruptcy and divorce at the same time is a complex process.  If you are unsure of what your best option would be, contact a St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney today!

Posted in Bankruptcy filing, Bankruptcy General, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Discharge of Debt, Means Test | Comments Off on Bankruptcy and Divorce