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  • Sobriety Testing, Part 1Sobriety Testing, Part 1

    Sobriety Tests, Part 1

  • Bankruptcy:

  • Can I stop my creditors from harassing me?Can I stop my creditors from harassing me?

    People choose to file bankruptcy for a number of different reasons.  We have found, that no matter what the underlying reason may be, a lot of our clients have to deal with some of the same issues.  One of the more annoying and troublesome issues facing many of our clients are collections efforts.  Collections efforts can be made by mail, email, or even telephone.  Even more problematic is that many creditors sell "bad debts", or accounts with unpaid balances, to other companies who really dial up the collections efforts.  It might seem like that is just something you have to deal with.  However, that may not be the case. 

    First and foremost, give us a call or come in and talk to us.  We can’t help if we don’t know there is a problem.  As soon as you decide to retain us to file your bankruptcy you can start letting your creditors know that you are represented.  If you give them our contact information we would be happy to inform them that you are preparing to file for bankruptcy.  Now, they don’t have to stop calling you at this point, but many creditors do.  They know they won’t be able to collect so they move on to the next person. 

    If you do keep getting letters or phone calls we may still be able to help.  You should record the times your creditor calls you, who you speak with, and what they say.  If it is the original creditor, for example your car lender or mortgage holder, there are not quite as many options.  However, these entities still should not engage in any offensive language or rise to the level of harassment. 

    Where we have even more remedies available is when your account is held by a debt collection agency.  The Federal Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) offers you a number of different protections.  It is imperative that you keep any written correspondence and that you make a record of any telephone correspondence.  These entities cannot call you after nine in the evening.  They cannot harass you or threaten you.  If they are calling you at work, or somewhere you are not permitted to receive calls, tell them that.  They are then not permitted to keep calling you there.

    We are seeing an increase in aggressive and illegal collections practices. Some lenders have threatened to have people arrested and even provided fraudulent arrest warrants.  We can turn these complaints over to the Bankruptcy Court and even the Attorney General.  We may also be able to sue on your behalf and collect damages.  If this is happening to you please let us know; we want to help!

    If you have questions about this, or any other matters, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • How does my income impact my bankruptcy?How does my income impact my bankruptcy?

    We meet a lot of people with a host of varying circumstances. We all know that the economy has been terrible for several years. We meet a lot of people that are unemployed or underemployed. We also meet a lot of people that have been laid off and can only find work at a fraction of what they were previously earning. Sometimes it is illness or increasing family size that causes a financial strain. Most of our clients never expected to be considering bankruptcy. We understand, and we are here to help.

    When you come in we will go over some personal information with you. We will ask about your employment, your family size, your education, what types of property you own, and how much money you make. We know these are personal questions, but we need to ask them and we need you to answer as honestly as possible to help you through this as smoothly as possible. We ask about your income because we are assessing what type of bankruptcy will best fit your needs. To file a chapter 7, also commonly referred to as a "straight bankruptcy" you must meet certain income guidelines. Basically, there is an income cap that is dependent upon your family size. Now, don’t fret, your "family" doesn’t necessarily mean that an individual has to be your spouse or child. We have a number of clients that support nieces or nephews or even parents. If that is something that concerns you we would be happy to discuss that with you in detail.

    Getting back to the income, there is what is called a Means Test. Basically, the bankruptcy petition looks at your current income for your present and future ability to pay, but also looks at your income for the last six months to determine eligibility for a Chapter 7. Now, like we discussed, there are some situations where in the last six months an individual may have had the ability to pay debts, however, that may not be the case moving forward. There are also situations where an individual may need or want to file a Chapter 13, however, the past six months make it look like he or she has more money to repay than he or she will moving forward.

    Don’t worry just yet. We may still be able to help. In many cases we can file the petition as include some additional information to show the change of circumstances. This is commonly referred to as a Lanning argument. We know that clients have been advised by others, or found on the internet, that they should to wait to file when there is change of circumstances. We want you to know that this may not always be necessary. If you have questions about this, or any other questions, please call your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • Can I Keep My Tax Refund When I File for Bankrutpcy?Can I Keep My Tax Refund When I File for Bankrutpcy?

    When we meet our clients for bankruptcy consultations we go through a lot of information. However, we find that many of our clients want to know what kinds of information to bring with them to consultations to make it more efficient. During this time of year especially we get a lot of questions about tax returns. It is important to understand that every case is different. This is meant only to be used for general information purposes, and if you have questions about this or your case you must contact us today to go over your specific circumstances.

    That being said, when an individual files for bankruptcy he has to declare all of his debts or liabilities and all of his assets on the petition filed with the court. A tax refund, even one that is not yet received, is an asset that must be disclosed. We know that a lot of our clients depend on tax refunds for important purchases, car repairs, and other household items. That is why we encourage you to tWhen we meet our clients for bankruptcy consultations we go through a lot of information. However, we find that many of our clients want to know what kinds of information to bring with them to consultations to make it more efficient. During this time of year especially we get a lot of questions about tax returns. It is important to understand that every case is different. This is meant only to be used for general information purposes, and if you have questions about this or your case you must contact us today to go over your specific circumstances.

    That being said, when an individual files for bankruptcy he has to declare all of his debts or liabilities and all of his assets on the petition filed with the court. A tax refund, even one that is not yet received, is an asset that must be disclosed. We know that a lot of our clients depend on tax refunds for important purchases, car repairs, and other household items. That is why we encourage you to talk to us. You can attempt to rid yourself of assets prior to filing for bankruptcy. But you are able to make some legitimate purchases and or repairs. It may be in your best interest to wait until after you have received and used your refund money to file for bankruptcy.

    If that will not work, there may be other ways to protect the money from needing to be turned over to the trustee as a part of the bankruptcy estate. There are certain exemptions that may be used to protect certain amounts of assets, including liquid assets. Those exemptions vary by state, and we practice in Missouri and Illinois, so we’ll have to go over those with you individually.

    It is also important to understand where there are some cases where it would be in a debtor’s best interest to file bankruptcy before receiving the tax refund. For example, in Illinois certain types of tax credits, including the Earned Income Credit (EIC) are exempt from the bankruptcy estate and the debtor is entitled to keep any money from the EIC, regardless of amount. A bankruptcy judge in the Southern District of Illinois recently ruled that where a debtor received her refund just hours before she filed that the debtor could not keep the money from the Earned Income Credit because once she has the money in her hand it was simply liquid assets, not an Earned Income Credit. In this case it would have been much better for the debtor to file her bankruptcy before receiving her tax refund. This is a very technical interpretation, but this case may set an interesting precedent for future cases.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy questions, please call a St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today to talk to us. You can not attempt to rid yourself of assets prior to filing for bankruptcy. But you may be able to make some legitimate purchases and or repairs. It may be in your best interest to wait until after you have received and used your refund money to file for bankruptcy.

    If that will not work, there may be other ways to protect the money from needing to be turned over to the trustee as a part of the bankruptcy estate. There are certain exemptions that may be used to protect certain amounts of assets, including liquid assets. Those exemptions vary by state, and we practice in Missouri and Illinois, so we’ll have to go over those with you individually.

    It is also important to understand where there are some cases where it would be in a debtor’s best interest to file bankruptcy before receiving the tax refund. For example, in Illinois certain types of tax credits, including the Earned Income Credit (EIC) are exempt from the bankruptcy estate and the debtor is entitled to keep any money from the EIC, regardless of amount. A bankruptcy judge in the Southern District of Illinois recently ruled that where a debtor received her refund just hours before she filed that the debtor could not keep the money from the Earned Income Credit because once she has the money in her hand it was simply liquid assets, not an Earned Income Credit. In this case it would have been much better for the debtor to file her bankruptcy before receiving her tax refund. This is a very technical interpretation, but this case may set an interesting precedent for future cases.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy questions, please call a St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • Why Cant I File the Bankruptcy without an Attorney Why Cant I File the Bankruptcy without an Attorney

    Why Cant I File the Bankruptcy without an Attorney

  • Avoid Turning Over funds from a Personal Injury ClaimAvoid Turning Over funds from a Personal Injury Claim

    Avoid Turning Over funds from a Personal Injury Claim

  • Personal Injury Claims and the Bankruptcy EstatePersonal Injury Claims and the Bankruptcy Estate

    Personal Injury Claims and the Bankruptcy Estate

  • Filing taxes after bankruptcyFiling taxes after bankruptcy

    Filing taxes after bankruptcy

  • Tax Refunds and Your BankruptcyTax Refunds and Your Bankruptcy

    Tax Refunds and Your Bankruptcy

  • Business and BankruptcyBusiness and Bankruptcy

    Business and Bankruptcy

     

  • Post petition debtPost petition debt

    Post petition debt

  • Dismissal of Chapter 13 Part 2Dismissal of Chapter 13 Part 2

    Dismissal of Chapter 13 Part 2

  • Dismissal of Chapter 7 - Part 2Dismissal of Chapter 7 - Part 2

    Dismissal of Chapter 7 - Part 2

  • Dismissal of Chapter 13 Part 1Dismissal of Chapter 13 Part 1

    Dismissal of Chapter 13 Part 1

  • Dismissal of Chapter 7 - Part 1Dismissal of Chapter 7 - Part 1

    Dismissal of Chapter 7 - Part 1

  • My car got repossessed. There is nothing I can do to get is back right?My car got repossessed. There is nothing I can do to get is back right?

    My car got repossessed. There is nothing I can do to get is back right?

  • Taxes were due prior to filing. They are discharged right?Taxes were due prior to filing. They are discharged right?

    Taxes were due prior to filing. They are discharged right?

  • Chapter 7 or Chapter 13Chapter 7 or Chapter 13

    Chapter 7 or Chapter 13

  • What do I need for meeting with attorney?What do I need for meeting with attorney?

    What do I need for meeting with attorney?

  • Choice of an AttorneyChoice of an Attorney

    Choice of an Attorney

  • Chapter 13 process Part 1Chapter 13 process Part 1

    Chapter 13 process Part 1

  • Chapter 13 process Part 2Chapter 13 process Part 2

    Chapter 13 process Part 2

  • Chapter 13 prrocess Part 3Chapter 13 prrocess Part 3

    Chapter 13 prrocess Part 3

  • Insider PaymentInsider Payment

    Insider Payments

  • What if I cannot appear at my 341 Meeting of Creditors? What if I cannot complete my Credit Counseling Course? What if I cannot complete my Financial Management Course?What if I cannot appear at my 341 Meeting of Creditors? What if I cannot complete my Credit Counseling Course? What if I cannot complete my Financial Management Course?

    What if I cannot appear at my 341 Meeting of Creditors? What if I cannot complete my Credit Counseling Course? What if I cannot complete my Financial Management Course?

  • I paid in money to the trustee in my Chapter 7 because of unexempt assets. What happens to my money? I paid in money to the trustee in my Chapter 7 because of unexempt assets. What happens to my money?

    I paid in money to the trustee in my Chapter 7 because of unexempt assets. What happens to my money?

  • RedemptionRedemption

    Redemption

  • I am in a Chapter 13 and received a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Make Plan Payments. Does that mean I am kicked out of the bankruptcy? I am in a Chapter 13 and received a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Make Plan Payments. Does that mean I am kicked out of the bankruptcy?

    I am in a Chapter 13 and received a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Make Plan Payments. Does that mean I am kicked out of the bankruptcy?

  • Payday Loans and Avoiding Them!!!! Payday Loans and Avoiding Them!!!!

    Payday Loans and Avoiding Them!!!!

  • I do not have money so how do you expect me to pay you?I do not have money so how do you expect me to pay you?

    I do not have money so how do you expect me to pay you?

  • Refund Anticipation LoansRefund Anticipation Loans

    Refund Anticipation Loans

  • I am not eligible for Chapter 7 yet so I will file Chapter 13 and then convert when I am eligible for Chapter 7 discharge. I am not eligible for Chapter 7 yet so I will file Chapter 13 and then convert when I am eligible for Chapter 7 discharge.

    I am not eligible for Chapter 7 yet so I will file Chapter 13 and then convert when I am eligible for Chapter 7 discharge.

  • Garnishments and Bank LeviesGarnishments and Bank Levies

    Garnishment and Bank Levy

  • Can I Leave Creditors Off Bankruptcy?Can I Leave Creditors Off Bankruptcy?

    Can I Leave Creditors Off Bankruptcy?

  • Surrending House Through BankruptcySurrending House Through Bankruptcy

    Surrending House Through Bankruptcy

  • Consumer or Business Debt for Purposes of Means TestConsumer or Business Debt for Purposes of Means Test

    Consumer or Business Debt for Purposes of Means Test

  • Credit Report DisputesCredit Report Disputes

    Credit Report Disputes

  • Only SSI IncomeOnly SSI Income

    Only SSI Income

  • Considering BankruptcyConsidering Bankruptcy

    Considering Bankruptcy

  • Can I leave some creditors off of my bankruptcy?Can I leave some creditors off of my bankruptcy?

    Can I leave some creditors off of my bankruptcy?

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

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

  • What happens if I get behind on mortgage payments while I am in a Chapter 13?What happens if I get behind on mortgage payments while I am in a Chapter 13?

    What happens if I get behind on mortgage payments while I am in a Chapter 13?

  • What is a wage order and what are the benefits?What is a wage order and what are the benefits?

    What is a wage order and what are the benefits?

  • Liens in BankriuptcyLiens in Bankriuptcy

    Liens in Bankriuptcy

  • Why do you need 6 months of income history?Why do you need 6 months of income history?

    Why do you need 6 months of income history?

  • Student Loans and Other Debts That are Not Discharged Student Loans and Other Debts That are Not Discharged

    Student Loans and Other Debts That are Not Discharged

  • Bankruptcy DefinedBankruptcy Defined

    Bankruptcy Defined

  • Forms Required - GenerallyForms Required - Generally

    Forms Required - Generally

  • Forms Required - Chapter 7Forms Required - Chapter 7

    Forms Required - Chapter 7

  • Forms Required - Chapter 13Forms Required - Chapter 13

    Forms Required - Chapter 13

  • Should I File Bankruptcy?Should I File Bankruptcy?

    Should I File Bankruptcy?

  • Family Law:

  • Filing Divorce without an Attorney Filing Divorce without an Attorney

    Filing Divorce without an Attorney

  • Custody & Support ModificationsCustody & Support Modifications

    Custody & Support Modifications

  • Family Law - FAQ's and Initial ConsultationFamily Law - FAQ's and Initial Consultation

    Family Law - FAQ's and Initial Consultation

  • How to Protect from Spouse Filing BankruptcyHow to Protect from Spouse Filing Bankruptcy

    Bankruptcy and Divorce

    Conquering both bankruptcy and divorce in a close time span can be challenging for anyone. The emotional strain can be hard on any party involved. However, some pre bankruptcy planning may make the process a little less painless and likely a lot cheaper all around.

    One important consideration if you are in need of both a bankruptcy and a divorce is whether to file the bankruptcy before or after the divorce. The answer is it depends. Of the many things to consider some of the most important include:

    1. Whether there are any non-exempt assets with equity. If so, doing the divorce first will allow you to use pre bankruptcy planning to preserve assets
      1. Example: Husband and wife have 2 houses, both with equity. If the bankruptcy is filed first, they will likely lose one of the properties. However, if the properties are divided ahead of time, each party moves into one of the properties and then each person files a personal bankruptcy since they would now be divorced; each person would likely be able to protect their own primary residence in the bankruptcy. This does however depend on the amount of equity in the properties.
    2. Whether there is marital debt that would have to be split up in a divorce. If so, filing the bankruptcy first to clear all of the debt would leave no marital debt to be divided.
      1. Caveat: If you and your spouse are at war this may not be the best option for you given that mutual documents and hearings are required.
    3. Whether a divorce before filing with shift income (child support/alimony), and thus making both parties eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy where they might have otherwise been disqualified. The “means test” in a bankruptcy looks at household income. If that combined income is too high they may be forced into a Chapter 13 which often creates hardship on the soon to be divorced debtors. In some instances, divorcing prior to the bankruptcy may allow both Debtors to file Chapter 7’s individually where they otherwise would be in the five year repayment plan.

    An additional benefit of filing the bankruptcy prior to the divorce is that the joint bankruptcy is then one set of attorney’s fees and one set of court costs whereas if you divorce first then you would each have to file your own individual bankruptcy with its own set of attorney’s fees, court costs, paperwork, etc.

    How to Protect Yourself if You Think Your Future Ex-Spouse Will File for Bankruptcy

    Does your spouse have a lot of debt that is in his or her own name? Do you think they may file bankruptcy after the divorce? You will want to keep this in mind while determining the terms of the divorce. While domestic support obligations such as child support, alimony, etc. are not dischargeable in any type of bankruptcy, property settlements are dischargeable in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Is your spouse “offering” to take on the house debt and in exchange will buy you out and give you ½ of the equity? If he agrees to that in a divorce decree/separation agreement and then files bankruptcy, then his so generous offer of owing you ½ of the equity was just discharged meaning you cannot sue him or require him to pay you. Keep this in mind. Instead of him owing ½ of the equity so that you can afford normal every day expenses, maybe you need support/maintenance also known as alimony but most importantly known as a domestic support obligation which is not dischargeable in any time of bankruptcy.

    DSO’s (domestic support obligations) should be distinguished from property settlements as one is dischargeable in certain types of bankruptcy and not dischargeable in other types of bankruptcy while the other is not dischargeable in any type of bankruptcy. A Domestic support obligation is any debt incurred before or after a bankruptcy filing that is owed to or recoverable by a spouse, child or governmental unit; in the nature of alimony, maintenance or support’ established pursuant to the terms of a divorce decree, separation agreement, property settlement agreement, court order or administrative determination. This is not dischargeable in any type of bankruptcy. Property settlements however are an obligation to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor that is incurred by the debtor in the course of a divorce or separation or in connection with a separation agreement, divorce decree or other court order, or a determination made under state or territorial law by a governmental authority is non-dischargeable in a Chapter 7 but is dischargeable in a Chapter 13. Attorney’s fees incurred in a child support or custody matter, guardian ad litem fees, and court services fees have all been held to be Domestic Support Obligations and therefore are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

  • Bankruptcy & Divorce - Which First?Bankruptcy & Divorce - Which First?

    Bankruptcy and Divorce

    Conquering both bankruptcy and divorce in a close time span can be challenging for anyone. The emotional strain can be hard on any party involved. However, some pre bankruptcy planning may make the process a little less painless and likely a lot cheaper all around.

    One important consideration if you are in need of both a bankruptcy and a divorce is whether to file the bankruptcy before or after the divorce. The answer is it depends. Of the many things to consider some of the most important include:

    1. Whether there are any non-exempt assets with equity. If so, doing the divorce first will allow you to use pre bankruptcy planning to preserve assets
      1. Example: Husband and wife have 2 houses, both with equity. If the bankruptcy is filed first, they will likely lose one of the properties. However, if the properties are divided ahead of time, each party moves into one of the properties and then each person files a personal bankruptcy since they would now be divorced; each person would likely be able to protect their own primary residence in the bankruptcy. This does however depend on the amount of equity in the properties.
    2. Whether there is marital debt that would have to be split up in a divorce. If so, filing the bankruptcy first to clear all of the debt would leave no marital debt to be divided.
      1. Caveat: If you and your spouse are at war this may not be the best option for you given that mutual documents and hearings are required.
    3. Whether a divorce before filing with shift income (child support/alimony), and thus making both parties eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy where they might have otherwise been disqualified. The “means test” in a bankruptcy looks at household income. If that combined income is too high they may be forced into a Chapter 13 which often creates hardship on the soon to be divorced debtors. In some instances, divorcing prior to the bankruptcy may allow both Debtors to file Chapter 7’s individually where they otherwise would be in the five year repayment plan.

    An additional benefit of filing the bankruptcy prior to the divorce is that the joint bankruptcy is then one set of attorney’s fees and one set of court costs whereas if you divorce first then you would each have to file your own individual bankruptcy with its own set of attorney’s fees, court costs, paperwork, etc.

    How to Protect Yourself if You Think Your Future Ex-Spouse Will File for Bankruptcy

    Does your spouse have a lot of debt that is in his or her own name? Do you think they may file bankruptcy after the divorce? You will want to keep this in mind while determining the terms of the divorce. While domestic support obligations such as child support, alimony, etc. are not dischargeable in any type of bankruptcy, property settlements are dischargeable in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Is your spouse “offering” to take on the house debt and in exchange will buy you out and give you ½ of the equity? If he agrees to that in a divorce decree/separation agreement and then files bankruptcy, then his so generous offer of owing you ½ of the equity was just discharged meaning you cannot sue him or require him to pay you. Keep this in mind. Instead of him owing ½ of the equity so that you can afford normal every day expenses, maybe you need support/maintenance also known as alimony but most importantly known as a domestic support obligation which is not dischargeable in any time of bankruptcy.

    DSO’s (domestic support obligations) should be distinguished from property settlements as one is dischargeable in certain types of bankruptcy and not dischargeable in other types of bankruptcy while the other is not dischargeable in any type of bankruptcy. A Domestic support obligation is any debt incurred before or after a bankruptcy filing that is owed to or recoverable by a spouse, child or governmental unit; in the nature of alimony, maintenance or support’ established pursuant to the terms of a divorce decree, separation agreement, property settlement agreement, court order or administrative determination. This is not dischargeable in any type of bankruptcy. Property settlements however are an obligation to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor that is incurred by the debtor in the course of a divorce or separation or in connection with a separation agreement, divorce decree or other court order, or a determination made under state or territorial law by a governmental authority is non-dischargeable in a Chapter 7 but is dischargeable in a Chapter 13. Attorney’s fees incurred in a child support or custody matter, guardian ad litem fees, and court services fees have all been held to be Domestic Support Obligations and therefore are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

  • General:

  • Will the United States Supreme Court hear a Bankruptcy issue?Will the United States Supreme Court hear a Bankruptcy issue?

    We know that the decision to file bankruptcy is not generally an easy decision to make.  We do our best to help every step of the way.  However, there are some instances where people file for bankruptcy, and there is a change of circumstance after the filing.  This most commonly impacts our clients that file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, as any number of circumstances can, and probably will, change over a five year period.  Of course, there are instances where we look at converting to a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy from the originally filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. 

     

    In many cases, converting from a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will mean that some funds were distributed to creditors that would likely not have received funds had the case been filed as a Chapter 7 from the very beginning.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about the money that was distributed to creditors.  In most cases, due to the trustee’s payment schedule, when a case is converted there are still funds in the trustee’s management account that have not been distributed.  In this circuit those funds are distributed to creditors and the trustee. 

     

    However, two courts in the Third and Fifth Circuit have held that the debtor is entitled to a refund of any money held by the trustee that has not been distributed at the time of the conversion from a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy when the debtor converts in good faith.  Of course, we are not in those judicial circuits, but we watch all major developments across the country as those may be arguments we can make in our cases and could eventually become the law in our circuit. 

     

    This question of whether a debtor is entitled to a refund of money not yet distributed has now been sent to the Supreme Court of the United States.  There has not been a determination of whether the Supreme Court will hear this case.  If the Supreme Court chooses not to the determination of whether a debtor is entitled to a refund of undistributed money at the time of conversion will remain up to the laws of each judicial circuit.  However, should the Supreme Court decide to hear this issue we may see changes to the policy in each judicial circuit.  It is a bit too early to speculate as to possible outcomes;  however, it is certainly an issue we will keep an eye on.

     

    If you have any questions about this, or any other bankruptcy matters, please contact your St. Louis Area Bankruptcy Attorney Today!

  • Can Active Duty Military Members File for Bankruptcy? Can Active Duty Military Members File for Bankruptcy?

    Credit and bankruptcy issues impact people from all walks of life.  We have clients from varying backgrounds and varying occupations.  Some career fields present interesting challenges for individuals filing for bankruptcy.  However, there is no need to worry.  We handle bankruptcy cases all day and a very familiar with the occupational challenges that may exist for some of our clients.  One example of an occupational challenge is a residency requirement for our clients in the military.  We know that many people in any of the armed services move frequently, or may even consider their permanent residence in a state where they have not lived for many years. 

     

    Of course, there are residency requirements to file for bankruptcy and we will generally look at where you have lived for the previous 180 day period.  Don’t fret, there are different procedures for people in the military.  The Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) made it much easier for military members to make official state designations.  This designation would be effective for voting matters, licensing, and even bankruptcy.  If you have designated a domicile you are considered to meet the residency requirements of that state regardless of where you are physically located. 

     

    As you probably know by now, there is a 341 meeting, or Creditor’s Meeting, that is conducted in all bankruptcy cases, regardless of whether it is a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.  The debtor is required to attend.  However, there are also exceptions for service members that are active duty that cannot be present.  We have represented people in bankruptcy matters that have been deployed out of the country for the entire period of their bankruptcy.  We will work with you as best as possible.  This can be completed; however, will present the need for some additional paperwork.  Make sure to contact us as soon as possible so we can walk you through all of the additional steps we will need to take.

     

    If you have questions about this, or any other matter, contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney Today!

  • Is my debt dischargeable?Is my debt dischargeable?

    Discharge Q & A:

    Are my medical bills dischargeable?

    Yes, medical bills are unsecured debt.  A majority of people that have filed for bankruptcy or are going to file for bankruptcy have medical debt.  Many of our clients have medical bills from being uninsured or underinsured.  Many of our clients are concerned by the fact that some of the medical bills may have been incurred recently.  As long as the medical expenses incurred were reasonably necessary there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.  Incurring medical expenses close to the filing date is substantially different than taking about a fifty thousand dollar personal loan and spending the money in two days.  If you have specific concerns please call us, we’d be happy to discuss your specific situation. 

    Are my credit cards dischargeable?

    Yes, as long as they are unsecured credit cards.  A secured credit card typically requires a cash deposit.  That would not be dischargeable.  But any unsecured credit card balance is dischargeable.  This includes most store credit cards and consumer credit cards.  However, you do want to be mindful of making excessive charges or excessive payments in the time leading up to bankruptcy as this can cause complications later.

    Is the money I borrowed from my mom/roommate/etc. dischargeable?

    Yes.  As long as the loan was not secured against any sort of property, the loan is dischargeable.  (It would be very unusual to see a secured loan from a relative or friend—but if you are concerned we can have a look.)  In fact, you are required to list the person you borrowed the money from on your petition as a creditor and he/she cannot make any effort to collect the money in the future.

    Is my car loan dischargeable?

    It depends.  If you want to keep the car, no, the debt is not dischargeable.  If you do not want to keep the car we can discuss your options, but the debt is likely dischargeable.  There are also a number of options if you want to keep the car, depending on whether you are filing a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13.  Those may include paying the car off, reducing payments, or simply reaffirming (or renewing) your original contract.

    Is my mortgage dischargeable?

    It depends.  Much like a vehicle, if you want to keep your house the loan is not dischargeable.  If you do not want to keep your house you have the option to surrender the house and the debt will then be dischargeable.  Again, we can discuss this specifically in our office.

    If you have questions about this, or any other matter, contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney Today!

  • What is a preferential payment?What is a preferential payment?

    We meet people from all walks of life, with varying financial situations.  We understand that many people consider filing for bankruptcy months before they actually file for bankruptcy.  For some people they are trying to find alternative options because they are worried about the stigma of bankruptcy.  We’ve actually found that the stigma isn’t nearly what it used to be and in some cases our clients see their credit scores increase shortly after filing.  Others have told us they worry about the expense of filing.  If that is what is concerning you please come talk to us.  The consultation is free and you have no obligation to proceed.  However, if you decide to proceed we can discuss convenient payment plans and how to best fit your needs.

    No matter what the reason, this sometimes leads to payments being made on accounts.  We always advise our clients against making large payments prior to bankruptcy because these can be considered “preferential payments” and can be reversed by the bankruptcy trustee.  People do this for a number of reasons.  Some want to avoid listing certain creditors in the bankruptcy.  Others make payments to get a creditor to leave them alone.  No matter the reason, please consult us before making a large payment. 

    We mentioned that the trustee can reverse them.  Basically, what that means is that the trustee can get that money back from that creditor and can redistribute it to other creditors, less his or her fee.  In a case where there were otherwise no assets you may have just given money to the bankruptcy that you wouldn’t have been required to give.  Either way, if the trustee takes that money your goal of paying that particular creditor will not be accomplished.

    Interestingly enough, there are some cases where the trustee does not seek to reverse those payments.  All hope is not lost for that money.  There are provisions that allow a debtor to avoid (or reverse) the payment to the creditor and he or she may be able to have the money returned.  However, this is an adversarial bankruptcy action and you may incur more legal fees to have the money returned, assuming at the close of the case that it would in fact be returned.  Of course, the safest method is to call before making any large payments and/or to avoid large payments.  Now, we’re not saying ignore payments.  What we mean by “large” is making payments over and above what is required.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy matter, contact your St. Louis Area Bankruptcy Attorney Today!

  • How do my taxes impact my bankruptcy?How do my taxes impact my bankruptcy?

    We know that the decision to file for bankruptcy can be quite complicated and can involve a number of different issues and even a number of different people. We are here to help in any way we can. We have found, during our years of practice, that often times bankruptcy and tax issues often go hand in hand. Meaning, that individuals filing for bankruptcy may also have back taxes or unfiled taxes that will need to be addressed before filing for bankruptcy.

    When you file for bankruptcy you will be asked to provide copies of your most recent tax return. Of course, that means you had to have filed your tax returns. You may be asked for up to three years of tax returns in some instances. For that reason, we will ask you if you have filed your returns and we will ask for you to provide us with copies. If you were not required to file your taxes for any given year we will provide you with paperwork to document that for the bankruptcy estate.

    If you have back returns to file you should file them as soon as practicable. Now, if you owe the IRS money the bankruptcy courts will probably not say much about this. Though, remember, taxes are not generally dischargeable (even in a Chapter 7) unless they are very old and the returns were timely filed. So, if you are just filing them the amount owed will not yet be dischargeable. If you are owed money by the IRS we will need to discuss this with you personally. There are a number of different outcomes based on the amount expected and what you intend to do with that money. Though, as a general rule, we advise clients to wait until they have received the money and spent those funds on regular living expenses prior to filing to avoid those proceeds being absorbed into the bankruptcy estate. If that is not possible we may be able to exempt those amounts and you may be able to keep the proceeds. However, it is imperative that you discuss this with us prior to filing your bankruptcy.

    You are also required to file your taxes while in bankruptcy. If you file for bankruptcy near or during tax season the trustee may hold your bankruptcy case open to determine if you are entitled to a refund, and if so, how much of a refund you are expecting.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy questions, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney for a free consultation today!

  • Can I still use my credit cards if I am filing a bankruptcy?Can I still use my credit cards if I am filing a bankruptcy?

    We meet a lot of people with a variety of different financial situations. We want you to know that we understand and will do everything in our power to help you, no matter what your situation or how you got in your situation. We also know that money gets tight and a lot of people rely on credit cards and other loans to get by every month. We know that a lot of people pay their minimum balance on their credit card and then have to go right back out and charge groceries or other necessary items on their credit card. This can create a viscous cycle of indebtedness and make it feel impossible to get out.

    We can help. Many of our client are able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and discharge all credit card debt. Of course, you are probably wondering whether you will ever get another credit card again. It is probably easier than you think. In fact, after you file your bankruptcy you will probably start to receive a lot of credit card offers in the mail. This is partially because these creditors know you cannot file for bankruptcy again and discharge all of your debts again, which makes you a relatively low risk.

    Of course, we also have a number of clients who retain us to file bankruptcy before they are ready and have questions about credit card use prior to filing for bankruptcy. We know you are using them to get by, however, there can be negative consequences if you incur debt knowing you are going to file for bankruptcy. This debt could become non-dischargeable. It could be considered fraudulent and you may lose the ability to have any of your debts discharged. If this is something you are concerned about, or if you have incurred any type of debt recently we will need to discuss this in detail in our office. Of course, every situation is different so we cannot properly advise about every situation here. That being said, the general rule is to not incur any debt that you do not absolutely have to incur prior to filing for bankruptcy. Now, that certainly doesn’t mean that you need to skip a doctor appointment or not receive any sort of care that is necessary for your health. We have also been successful in arguing that some expenses, i.e. a new roof or a drivable vehicle, are necessary expenses.

    If you have questions about this, or any other questions, please contact your St. Louis Area Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • Nevada Court Ruling gives HOA's preference over mortgagesNevada Court Ruling gives HOA's preference over mortgages

    While we handle bankruptcies in the Eastern District of Missouri and Southern District of Illinois, we also monitor national news and trends in bankruptcy.  We do this for a few reasons.  First, rulings in other states may have an impact, either directly or indirectly, on the courts here in the Metro St. Louis Area.  Second, we like to be informed and ready for anything that might come our way.  That being said, there has been an interest ruling in Nevada that may have a nationwide impact on mortgage holders, debtors, and homeowners associations (commonly known as HOA’s). 

    It is very common for an HOA to have a secured interest in real estate.  Basically, the HOA fees are to be paid by the debtor.  In the event that they are not paid the HOA can get a lien on the property, and so long as that lien is properly perfected, the HOA could foreclose on the house.  This is true of any secured lender.  For example, let’s say an individual has a home worth 100,000 dollars.  Let’s say that he has two mortgages; the first is 80,000 dollars and the second is 10,000 dollars.  Either the first or second mortgage holder could foreclose.  If the first forecloses it is a relatively simple process where the first mortgage holder sells the property.  If the real estate sells for more than what is owed to the first mortgage holder the proceeds go to the second mortgage holder and then the individual.  If the second mortgage holder forecloses the first mortgage holder must still be paid first.  So, using our example above, the second mortgage holder would not have anything to gain if the house would only sell for $40,000 as the second mortgage holder would not get any of those proceeds. 

    What makes HOA’s unique is about 20 states have laws that give the HOA preference over all other mortgage holders.  Using our same example, this means that if a person owed the HOA $5,000 dollars the HOA could foreclose and would be paid before the first or second mortgage holders.  As you might imagine, this is resulting in houses being sold for next to nothing at auctions because the HOA has nothing to lose.  The mortgages are now unsecured and there is little recourse for the mortgage companies and the debts are easily discharged in bankruptcy.   This practice has been upheld by a Nevada Court. 

    It will be interesting to watch for a legislative response and what implications this may have nationally.  If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy questions, contact your St. Louis Area Bankruptcy Attorney today for a free consultation!

  • When can I file for bankruptcy again?When can I file for bankruptcy again?

    We often meet people that have filed for bankruptcy and are considering filing for bankruptcy again.  Many of the people we meet are concerned about filing again, both concerning what legal implications filing for bankruptcy multiple times may carry and with the ability to file a bankruptcy again.  The rules can be a little complicated, but there are some guidelines.  There is not actually a limitation on how often a person may file for bankruptcy, but there are limitations on how often a person may receive a discharge.  Rest assured, that prior to filing a bankruptcy we will verify your eligibility to receive a discharge and we will advise you if there are any issues or complications prior to filing.

    As we talk about discharge in a subsequent bankruptcy there are a few things you should keep in mind.  First, these time periods are from filing date to filing date.  For example, if you filed a Chapter 7 on January 1, 2000 you would be eligible to receive another Chapter 7 discharge for any Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filed on or after January 1, 2008.  This is true even though the first bankruptcy would not have been discharged for several months after filing.  Second, there are a number of reasons people consider filing for bankruptcy even if they are not eligible for a discharge.  Bankruptcy can provide effective reorganization, consolidate debts into manageable monthly payments, eliminate wage withholdings and/or garnishments, stop lawsuits, save property from repossession or foreclosure, and protect your assets. 

    If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and have previously filed for bankruptcy, you are eligible for discharge when:

    • If you previously filed a Chapter 7 you are eligible for another Chapter 7 discharge after eight (8) years.

    • If you previously filed a Chapter 13 you are eligible for a Chapter 7 discharge after six (6) years.

    • If you previously filed a Chapter 7 you are eligible for a Chapter 13 discharge after four (4) years.

    • If you previously filed a Chapter 13 you are eligible for a Chapter 13 discharged after two (2) years.

    If you are considering bankruptcy, even if you do not believe you are eligible for discharge, give us a call.  We can help you evaluate your options and determine if bankruptcy will address your needs.  As always, your initial consultation to discuss your specific needs with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys is completely free.  Call your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today to schedule your consultation!

  • Criminal Restitution Payments and BankruptcyCriminal Restitution Payments and Bankruptcy

    When considering filing for bankruptcy, any number of factors may impact that decision. While most are financial considerations, we know there are other factors. We also know there are different types of debt that may cause someone to seek relief from the bankruptcy code. Many people have credit card debt, or are upside down in a car or home loan, but there are other possible financial issues. One of those issues may be restitution ordered in a criminal case as a condition or a plea, condition of probation, or pursuant to sentencing after a trial.

    Now, please understand that court fees and criminal restitution are not dischargeable by bankruptcy. However, we may still be able to help you with your court costs and restitution. We know that those payments can range from very small amounts to large amounts that equal or exceed your monthly rent/mortgage payments. And in some case, particularly those where you accepted a plea offer, you may have agreed to those monthly expenses as a condition of probation. You probably thought you could figure out a way to make the payments, or maybe you were and something has changed. Don’t worry; all hope is not lost just yet.

    While the court fees and criminal restitution amounts are not dischargeable, they can be put into a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan. This can help in a number of ways. First, if you have other debts that are dischargeable the debts owed to the court may reduce the amount you pay to unsecured creditors. Second, like all bankruptcy plans, it consolidates your debt into one affordable monthly payment. This will likely lower the overall payments you are making and give you some breathing room.

    We have had questions about how this will impact probation. The legal answer, in Missouri (and a few other states), that you probation cannot be revoked for seeking relief under the Bankruptcy Code, as long as your restitution will be addressed. The automatic stay that applies to all creditors also applies to criminal courts and they cannot continue to make collection efforts or punish you for non-payment. In a Chapter 13, payments will be made; it is simply a matter of timing. Many judges are not aware of this, or are even under the misguided belief that probation granted to a defendant can be revoked despite the defendant filing for bankruptcy. We tell you this because you will probably have to fight this if it comes up, but not to worry, we can help you with that should the need arise. If you used a different firm for your criminal case, not to worry, we can still help.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy matter, contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today for a free consultation.

  • Student Loan LawsuitsStudent Loan Lawsuits

    We meet people almost every day that have large student loan payments. Unfortunately, as we have discussed in the past, most student loans are not dischargeable. While the payments can be made through a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, they will not be discharged. While we try to assist our clients in any way possible, the bankruptcy code and case law somewhat limit us in this area. This can leave our clients unsure of how to proceed. A quick internet search of loan options will produce an overwhelming amount of information, and much of that information is contradictory to other sources. It can be hard to know where to turn for answers. Another unfortunate truth is that many student loan companies do not do much in the way of offering help to the people that need it the most. Even when the companies do offer help they don’t always properly explain the options and the implications associated with those options.

    It is easy to see why people turn to student loan assistance companies. People think they are dealing with experts in their field, companies that understand and care, and companies that can actually help. Unfortunately, many of these companies are predatory in nature and these companies. Sadly, these practices primarily imp Remember, if they are offering to help you they are getting something out of the deal. This loan assistance companies are for-profit entities that are making money off of the advice they give you. Many of these companies offer the world and seem to ask for very little in return. Word to the wise: if it seems too good to be true it probably is!

    However, in the last few week the Illinois Attorney General has decided to do something about this. The Illinois Attorney General has filed two law suits this month, one against Broadsword Student Advantage, LLC and the second against First American Tax Defense, LLC. The long and short of the allegations the Illinois Attorney General has included in the complaint against Broadsword Student Advantage is that the offered to reduce payments, reduce interest rates, and or consolidate loans, however, they were charging people a fee of $499 up front and a recurring monthly fee of $49 when this information is available for free to lenders. Further, the services Broadsword claimed to offer we not all available to consumers.

    In the second case the Illinois Attorney General has filed, against First American, the state alleges that First American offered to get lower payments, obtain forgiveness of loans, and the ability to fix credit scores. First American was charging $1,199 and up for these services, which are otherwise free to lenders.

    Basically, you should take a few things from this. First, is to be careful. Second, while these cases were filed as violations of Illinois laws it will be interesting to watch and see how those cases come out and whether other states begin to follow suit.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy question, please feel free to contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • Why can't I discharge my student loans? Why can't I discharge my student loans?

    We meet people with varying types of debt and financial situations. However, we are seeing more and more people with student loan payments that are simply unbearable. In many situations the student loan payments are so high that other bills are not being paid. In some cases, the people we meet cannot make payments on student loans at all because they are unemployed or underemployed. Unfortunately, most student loans are not dischargeable. However, we understand that our clients want to know why they are not dischargeable.

    Laws come from a few different sources. Sometimes they come from a statute, other times they come from case law. The policy regarding discharging student loans came from case law. In the case a recent graduate attempted to discharge her student loans in bankruptcy. Notably, she was a very recent graduate who filed for bankruptcy within about a month of her payments becoming due without ever making a payment. The legal battle went back and forth, but ultimately, the court adopted a three part standard for evaluating whether student loans could be discharged. The courts are to evaluate whether:

    1. The debtor can maintain a "minimal standard of living" for themselves and any dependents if forced to repay the loans,

    2. There are additional circumstances that are likely to persist for a significant portion of the repayment period of the loan, and

    3. The debtor had made a good faith effort to pay the loan.

    The Court made a point to state in its decision that there was not any indication of additional circumstances by stating that she was not disabled, nor elderly, nor did she have any dependents. This is what creates the basic rule that most people will not be able to have their student loans discharged.

    What we find interesting, is that almost inarguably this particular individual did not meet the third prong of the test as she never made any portion or any payment, nor did she attempt to utilize any other available options, like a forbearance or deferment. Arguably this would make the first two prongs of the test what is called "dicta", meaning that it is an opinion of the court but doesn’t control the outcome of the case. If it doesn’t control the outcome of the case it is not binding authority on those issues. However, as this case has been followed for the past twenty five years, this case is certainly settled case law by now.

    Though, interestingly enough, there have been many changes to student loans and loan forgiveness since that time. Particularly, time period after which your student loans are forgiven is two and a half times what it was then.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy questions, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney today.

  • Can I file for bankruptcy if I own joint property?Can I file for bankruptcy if I own joint property?

    Many people that are considering filing bankruptcy own property or hold debts with another person. This may be a jointly owned home, perhaps with a spouse, or any other type of property. There are many different ways someone else could have an interest in the loan or the property, ranging from co-signing on the loan to joint ownership of inherited property. While this is meant for informational purposes, and cannot substitute for legal advice, we assure you that no matter what your situation we have the experience and knowledge to get you through it if you give us a call!

    The most important issue to understand if you are considering filing for bankruptcy is that the filing only impacts your personal financial responsibility for the debt. It doesn’t directly impact the ownership of the property in question (though we will discuss that more at your consultation) nor does it impact any other party’s financial responsibility or ownership directly. In English, what this means is that if you have a co-signor on a car you want to get rid of in your bankruptcy the co-signer is still financially responsible for the full amount of the loan. Now, if that person is also on the title he/she still has an ownership interest in the property also

    As a general rule this is a reason that married individuals with joint debts are encouraged to file a joint bankruptcy petition. If a house is foreclosed and only the wife files the husband is still responsible for any deficiency on the mortgage. Now, there are also any number of reasons spouses may not want to file together ranging from an impending divorce to the fact that only one party has substantial debt. That is certainly your decision, we just want to make sure you know your options and the possible outcomes of either decision.

    There are also some differences if you wish to file a chapter 13 bankruptcy. If a husband and wife own a house together and are facing a foreclosure one party filing for bankruptcy is sufficient to halt the foreclosure and all of the arrears can be paid through the chapter 13 bankruptcy plan. But, the filing spouse cannot include any debts into the plan that are solely the debts of the non-filing spouse. Of course, the debts and payments will be worked into your budget and calculated into the ability to repay certain debts.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy matter, please contact your St. Louis Area Bankruptcy Attorney today to set up your free, no obligation, consultation with one of our experienced attorneys!

  • What is a proof of claim? What is a proof of claim?

    We know that the decision to file for bankruptcy is a complicated and long process for most of our clients. We also know that most of our clients feel a huge sense of relief when they finally do make the decision to file, and even more so when the case is actually filed. For some people the fear of repossession or foreclosure is stopped and they can relax, for others it is just seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

    Of course, there will be a substantial amount of paperwork to complete. Don’t let yourself stress to much about that. We will go over exactly what will be needed and break it down as much as possible. We do want to warn you that the paperwork doesn’t all stop once your case is filed. There will be a substantial amount of documentation after your file. Again, no need to worry about that too much. We read and monitor all documentation in your case and it is always available for your review if you would like to go through those documents.

    Initially, one of the most important types of documents we will watch for are "proof of claims". Basically, this is just a written statement that notifies the bankruptcy court, the trustee, the debtor and his/her attorney, and any other potentially interested party that the creditor that has filed the proof of claim is asserting a right to distribution (money) from the bankruptcy estate. These are filed in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases. Creditors file proof of claims to ensure that they are paid, and the trustee will not make payments unless there is a valid proof of claim. Proof of claims are absolutely essential in a Chapter 13 case and Chapter 7 cases where there are assets.

    So, this all sounds technical, right? Here is what you need to know. There are specific forms that are used for this and we review any proof of claim filed. We review it for accuracy, we review it to make sure none of your private information (i.e. social security number) appears on public documents, and to ensure that it matches the amounts and types of debt we have listed. If it does not we will discuss this. From there, you can either object to the claim if you think it is wrong or modify the plan to pay the correct amount.

    There are time lines of when the proof of claims must be filed. They differ based on the type of debt. We will monitor this for you, but the practical impact is that creditors cannot generally come in at the end and insist on payment as long as they were properly notified of the bankruptcy.

    If you have questions about this, or any other matter, contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • How to Save your Home from a Tax SaleHow to Save your Home from a Tax Sale

    There are some common misconceptions about bankruptcy that we hear from clients and in the news quite frequently. Many people think that for an individual to consider filing for bankruptcy he or she must have a substantial amount of debt and that he or she must have been financially irresponsible to find themselves in such a situation. We know that neither of this things are necessarily true. Of course, when you consider filing for bankruptcy you should evaluate how much you actually owe because there are some situations where it may not be financially advantageous to file for bankruptcy. But, we know that the amount is different for everyone and depends on family income, family size, and assets. We also know that many of our clients have not been "financially irresponsible", rather there was some trigger to their financial situation like sickness, unemployment, etc.

    We also know that it isn’t just credit cards and purchases that contribute to financial crisis. We meet a number of people with tax debt and people that are behind on upside down mortgages. Now, we’ve talked about taxes before, and you know that those are not generally dischargeable. But, what you may not know is that people lose their homes everyday over tax debts. We have clients that are behind as little as a few hundred dollars in taxes. From there, the State can obtain a tax lien on your real or personal property. One there is a lien on the property the State can actually force a sale on the property if it remains unpaid.

    Even scarier than losing a home over a few hundred dollars is the fact that to redeem those liens on the property you could be looking at up to a 20 percent interest rate. Further, studies show that homeowners most vulnerable to default and tax sales are elderly people or individuals with cognitive disorders that are unable to understand the proceedings. In fact, there are plenty of lenders, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, that use the tax sales to make large profits off of homeowners. In some instances these lenders report profits of over 50 percent. Unfortunately, someone had to lose their home for that profit.

    While we don’t necessarily practice tax law, we can help you keep your home. While taxes cannot generally be discharged they can be addressed through bankruptcy. Further, your home and property will be protected while everything is sorted out and we get you back on track to financial stability.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy matter, please call you St. Louis Area Bankruptcy Attorney today to set up a free consultation!

  • What options do I have for my student loans?What options do I have for my student loans?

    We meet a lot of different people with a number of different financial situations. Often times, people considering filing for bankruptcy are people that never thought they would be in such a position. Many of our clients have gone to college, maybe even graduate school, and/or have had steady employment. Sometimes life just adds up and it becomes too much to handle on your own. We have a lot of clients that want to know if their student loans are dischargeable, and there is a lot of contradicting and wrong information floating about. So, while this is not meant to be a substitute for legal advice, we want to try to set the record straight.

    The general rule is that student loans are not dischargeable. This even includes private student loans that are not funded by the federal government. There are some very specific exceptions, including that repayment is a substantial hardship to the debtor. This is a much harder burden to prove that what it may seem. Basically, you would have to show that you cannot now, nor could you ever feasibly repay the student loan.

    That being said, if you are considering a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filing your student loans can be repaid through the plan and may impact the amount you are paying to unsecured creditors. Basically, your student loan, while not dischargeable, does factor into your budget and what will be paid to other debts that are dischargeable (i.e. credit cards and pay day loans).

    Now, there is some good news. Even though your loans are not generally dischargeable, there are still some options available. You will have to contact your loan servicer to discuss these options, but we can give you some general information.

    If you are struggling you can apply for a forbearance of deferment of your loans. A deferment is delays repayment for specific reasons (i.e. you are enrolled in school at least half time). A forbearance is more of a catch-all. A forbearance can delay your payments for other reasons, including enrollment in certain residency programs, inability to pay, or illness. These options may impact what you pay over the length of the loan, however, a forbearance/deferment may give you the time you need to get back on your feet.

    You can also look into different repayment plans. There is a standard plan that allows for up to ten years of payments. There is a graduated repayment loan, and in essence, the payments start out lower and increase every two years for a ten year period. There is an income based repayment plan which basically means your repayment is calculated by what you make, but this can stretch the length of repayment to up to 25 years. There may also be other plan options available, depending on your situation.

    If you have questions about this, or any other questions, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • Can I Surrender Property Though Bankruptcy?Can I Surrender Property Though Bankruptcy?

    We have discussed at length the fact that many of our clients are able to keep their property. This other side of this is that many of our clients also choose not to keep their property, or at least certain types of their property. There are any number of reason for electing to not keep property; including that it is in disrepair, the client is upside down in the property, the payments will not be affordable after bankruptcy, or they just want to move on. The reality is that no matter the reason, if you don’t want to keep your property we can help.

    We have helped a number of clients facing foreclosure. Some aren’t sure if they need our assistance because they don’t really want to keep the house. However, if your house is foreclosed you may end up owing the creditor money. For example, if you owe $150,000 on your home and the bank only sells it for $75,000 you will owe the bank $75,000. The bank can sue you, garnish wages, and make other collection efforts to try to recover that money. If the bank elects not to go after the money you owe them, and instead writes it off, that $75,000 write off may be taxable income for the year and may end up in a substantial debt to the Internal Revenue Service, which can bring on a plethora of new problems.

    Don’t fret just yet! If you don’t want to keep the house it can be surrendered through bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy you will be able to surrender the house (or other property) to your creditor and you will not owe any amount of money, no matter how much the eventual resale price of the property. Further, the amount of a discharge from bankruptcy is not taxable income, so this will not increase your financial obligation to the Internal Revenue Service or Missouri Department of Revenue.

    This all sounds good, right? We agree, however, there are a few things you should be aware of before you get started. If the property you wish to surrender is a vehicle or a car you are still responsible for the property until the bank actually takes possession. There are some situations where the bank refuses to take possession and the house may sit empty for months. We still encourage you to maintain insurance on the property as if anyone was injured on the property you would still be financially responsible. There are some ways around this, but the general rule is that you are responsible while it is in your name.

    If you have questions about this, or any other questions, please call your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today! Winter can take quite a toll on your vehicle and you don’t want any unexpected surprises on the side of the road!

  • What can I do if I am facing repossession?What can I do if I am facing repossession?

    We know that everyone faces tough times at one point or another.  Whether you have lost your job, are unemployed, underemployed, or are simply just financially over extended—we get it, things happen.  One missed payment can quickly snowball into a situation you can’t seem to dig yourself out of and you may find yourself facing repossession of a vehicle.  We also understand that without a vehicle you won’t be able to get to work or any of your other obligations.  Of course, if you are facing a possible repossession, you should call us today and set up your appointment to see if we can stop the repossession from happening.  However, we understand that sometimes the repossession comes earlier than anticipated or you just haven’t made it in yet. 

    Good news—We may still be able to get your car back.  This is very time sensitive so please contact us immediately.  Bad news—you may have to pay some fees to get your car back.  This is an area of the law that debtors’ attorneys have been contesting for years.  The bankruptcy code, per our reading and interpretation, doesn’t allow for a creditor to collect pre-petition fees from a debtor.  There is even case law that states that when an individual files for bankruptcy it is illegal for a creditor to "exercise control over the property of the estate".  Now, the only logical way to interpret this decision is to interpret is as applying to pre-petition seizures because a post-petition seizure would be an even clearer violation of the automatic stay.   There have been cases litigated that we stuck down because they did not comply with the bankruptcy code and the case law we previously discussed. 

    All of that being said, the Eastern District of Missouri has had a standing rule in place for a number of years that effectively allows the car creditor to require fees to be paid up front, and outside of the bankruptcy plan, to have the vehicle returned to the debtor.  The fees often include storage fees and repossession fees.  The car creditors also generally require proof of insurance, using the reasoning that they need to ensure that their asset is protected.

    The long and short of this is basically that while the legality of the practice seems a bit shaky, most of our clients are willing to pay the fees to ensure the prompt return of their vehicle.  The recourse if the fees are not paid would be substantial litigation.  Further, there are creditors that will agree that these fees can be addressed through the bankruptcy plan. 

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy questions, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

    We know that everyone faces tough times at one point or another.  Whether you have lost your job, are unemployed, underemployed, or are simply just financially over extended—we get it, things happen.  One missed payment can quickly snowball into a situation you can’t seem to dig yourself out of and you may find yourself facing repossession of a vehicle.  We also understand that without a vehicle you won’t be able to get to work or any of your other obligations.  Of course, if you are facing a possible repossession, you should call us today and set up your appointment to see if we can stop the repossession from happening.  However, we understand that sometimes the repossession comes earlier than anticipated or you just haven’t made it in yet. 

    Good news—We may still be able to get your car back.  This is very time sensitive so please contact us immediately.  Bad news—you may have to pay some fees to get your car back.  This is an area of the law that debtors’ attorneys have been contesting for years.  The bankruptcy code, per our reading and interpretation, doesn’t allow for a creditor to collect pre-petition fees from a debtor.  There is even case law that states that when an individual files for bankruptcy it is illegal for a creditor to "exercise control over the property of the estate".  Now, the only logical way to interpret this decision is to interpret is as applying to pre-petition seizures because a post-petition seizure would be an even clearer violation of the automatic stay.   There have been cases litigated that we stuck down because they did not comply with the bankruptcy code and the case law we previously discussed. 

    All of that being said, the Eastern District of Missouri has had a standing rule in place for a number of years that effectively allows the car creditor to require fees to be paid up front, and outside of the bankruptcy plan, to have the vehicle returned to the debtor.  The fees often include storage fees and repossession fees.  The car creditors also generally require proof of insurance, using the reasoning that they need to ensure that their asset is protected.

    The long and short of this is basically that while the legality of the practice seems a bit shaky, most of our clients are willing to pay the fees to ensure the prompt return of their vehicle.  The recourse if the fees are not paid would be substantial litigation.  Further, there are creditors that will agree that these fees can be addressed through the bankruptcy plan. 

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy questions, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • Can I file for bankruptcy if I have a co-signer?Can I file for bankruptcy if I have a co-signer?

    We know that there a number of reasons you might be considering bankruptcy. We also know that often times there are just as many reasons that you might be hesitant to file for bankruptcy. While bankruptcy may be a helpful financial tool for some, it might not be in the best interest of everyone. Our goal is to give you the best and most accurate individual advice for your particular situation. In order to do that, we have to make sure that you understand what bankruptcy can do and what it cannot, as well as to dispel many of the common myths and misunderstandings of bankruptcy.

    We have a lot of clients that have joint ownership interests in property with other people and they are often concerned about the impact on the other people. This can be a somewhat complicated issues, and if you have questions about this please come in and talk to us, as this is only meant to be a general explanation and cannot substitute for legal advice.

    One common example we see is that an individual has a jointly owned vehicle or a co-signer on a vehicle. First, filing for bankruptcy with not impact the joint owner or co-signers credit. It also doesn’t impact their ownership interest. In the example of a joint owner the other person still owns whatever percentage of the property he/she initially owned. If you want to surrender the vehicle it may create some issues. Your responsibility for the vehicle will be absolved in the bankruptcy, however, just like the bankruptcy doesn’t impact your co-signer’s credit it also does not impact their financial responsibility. On the other hand, if you wish to keep the vehicle, perhaps through a reaffirmation agreement, your co-signer or joint owner should not be impacted.

    We also see situations where parties own a house together. In some instances the value of the property is more than we can protect in the bankruptcy. So, for example, Sibling A, Sibling B, and Sibling C own a house together that is paid off and worth 90,000 dollars. Sibling A files for bankruptcy and we can only protect 10,000 dollars of equity, leaving 20,000 dollars unprotected. The trustee will likely want that money. Sibling B and C still own their share, however, the trustee will end up owning a portion too and may be able to force a sale to recover the money owed. Of course, Sibling B and C would be paid their share, but that may not be what they want. There are options, including that Sibling B and C could pay the trustee without selling the house.

    As you can see, this can be very simple and can also be quite complicated. If you have questions about this please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • Can I Keep My Car If I File for Bankruptcy?Can I Keep My Car If I File for Bankruptcy?

    We meet people from all walks of life with various financial difficulties.  We understand that sometimes "life happens" and for whatever reason you may be experience hard times. These things happen.  They could happen to any of us.  We know that sometimes circumstances change and payments that use to be affordable can become overwhelming.  However, we have good news.  You can breathe now.  We are here to help. 

    One of the most common concerns we have from our new clients is concern about the ability to keep property.  The bankruptcy code explicitly protects some kinds of property by creating exemptions.  If you have a loan on your house or your car we can almost always help you keep them.  However, you do have some decisions to make.  Particularly in the case of vehicles, we often see individuals with high interest rates on old cars.  In some cases it is actually better for the client to surrender the old car and purchase a newer and/or better vehicle.  Don’t worry, this isn’t something you have to decide now.  We just want you to know that you have options.  With regard to vehicles, there are several options.  

    First, you can surrender your car.  If you decide that your car is to old, or not worth it for whatever reason we can help you surrender your car.  We may be able to make recommendations on how to go about getting a replacement vehicle. 

    Second, you can reaffirm the debt on your car.  This basically means that you will sign a new contract, post-bankruptcy petition with your car lender to keep making your payments and keep the original terms of your contract.  To do this your car payment must be current at the time of filing.  We also recommend that you contact your car creditor with your intent to do this as some car lenders have lengthy approval processes. 

    Third, you can redeem your car.  This basically means that you would pay off the vehicle in full and keep the vehicle.  There are a number of reputable companies that offer "redemption loans" that will pay off the old note and enter into an agreement with you for repayment of the loan, often at a better rate than what you were currently paying.

    Finally, in some cases we can "cram down" the car note.  Basically, if you qualify for this, you may be able to pay off only what the car is worth instead of the full balance of the loan. 

    We will discuss each of these options in further detail over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for a more detailed discussion.  If you have questions before then, or would like to specifically dicuss your case, contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney Today!

  • What can I do if my house is being foreclosed upon?What can I do if my house is being foreclosed upon?

    When considering whether to file for bankruptcy many people are worried about losing their houses, cars, or other types of property. In some cases we meet people that have already lost property (usually due to repossession or foreclosure) and they want to get it back. If this applies to you, or someone you know, please call us immediately as this is very time sensitive. We know that you work hard for your house and your car, and often times you may be financially invested as well as emotionally or sentimentally invested in a particular asset.

    While this is not intended to replace legal advice or a consultation with your attorney, we can try to give you a general idea of how this will work. The bad news is that if your house has been sold at a foreclosure sale we cannot get the property back. The good news is that if your house is set for foreclosure sale, even if that sale is tomorrow, we may still be able to help. We can file an "emergency" bankruptcy petition. Basically, there are rules that allow a bankruptcy to be filed in part, with the rest of the information to be filed within a few short days. Once the initial part of the filing is completed you are protected from any further foreclosure efforts, including an already scheduled sale.

    Now, this will take some work on your part. First and foremost, call us as soon as possible! These filings take a considerable amount of time and we want to make sure we have the proper amount of time set aside for your visit. You will have to bring some very specific information. We will need your social security number, your name and mailing address, the name and contact information of the company that is foreclosing, and a few other things. If you have questions about what you need feel free to give us a call. You will need to come in and go over the petition with us. After the initial filing you will have to come back and go over the rest of the bankruptcy petition and schedules. This is absolutely critical, as if the remainder is not completed in time the court will dismiss your bankruptcy and you will not be protected.

    As far as vehicles are concerned, if your vehicle has been repossessed we may still be able to help. There is a very short window (usually a matter of days) where the vehicle can be recovered, and it can only be recovered if it has not already been sold or destroyed. There may be some fees associated with the recovery of the vehicle, but those are specific to the creditor.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy questions, please call your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • How to List Creditors in BankruptcyHow to List Creditors in Bankruptcy

    The decision to file for bankruptcy can be a very difficult, and emotional decision. We understand that and will try to make the process as painless as possible for you every step of the way. That being said, filing for bankruptcy will take a bit of work. We are going to need a list of all of your creditors. There are two ways to go about this. First, you can simply provide us with a a list. We will need the names, the contact information, the type of debt, the approximate amount of the debt, and the date you incurred the debt. The second option is that we can actually run a credit report on your behalf and obtain a list of your creditors. We certainly recommend this option, however, even with this option you will need to review the list for accuracy and completeness. It is important to list all of your creditors so that they receive notice of the bankruptcy. Failure to list a creditor can have very serious consequences, up to and even including that particular debt not being discharged or your bankruptcy being dismissed without discharge (in the event the court believes you were being fraudulent).

    Now, when we say this, we often have people express concern that they may have forgotten a creditor or even that a debt has been sold so many times they don’t know who holds the debt. Rest assured, if a creditor is inadvertently omitted we can add them later if necessary. There may be some fees associated with this, however, the peace of mind is totally worth the minimal fees. There are some instances where you may not need to amend your schedules, including if you are filing what we call a "no asset chapter 7". Basically, if the debt omitted is to an unsecured creditors and there is absolutely no way that creditor is going to get any money we may not need to amend the schedules.

    Where it can be more complicated is if you are in a Chapter 13. Of course, whether the debt is unsecured (like a credit card) or secured (like a car) matters. Either way, the creditor should still be added, but here we will have to look at whether your plan payment is still correct or whether it will need to be modified to reflect the added creditor. In some cases there are not any changes at all, but in some there are. This is a very fact specific analysis, so we can’t really say what happens as a general rule.

    If you have questions about listing creditors, or amending your already listed creditors, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • Will my bankruptcy help with the IRS?Will my bankruptcy help with the IRS?

    There are a number of reasons why different individuals file for bankruptcy every day. One of those reasons is that filing for bankruptcy offers a certain set of protections that are not available in any other way. We’ve discussed the protection of the automatic stay on property and even that your creditors cannot continue to contact you or attempt to collect a debt. However, like all things, there is a notable exception to this rule: the Internal Revenue Service. Many of our clients are indebted to the IRS. This can have a number of different outcomes, depending on the situation and case. Remember, this does not constitute legal advice, and if you have questions about this you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

    Let’s start with the big picture. Taxes are rarely dischargeable. There are some instances where taxes can be discharged, but it’d be best to discuss that with your attorney. So, generally in a Chapter 7, you will have the protection of the bankruptcy, but the debt is not discharged. Basically, this means that after your bankruptcy the IRS can still continue to contact you, garnish wages, and make any other type of collection efforts (including intercepting any tax refunds for subsequent years).

    If you are filing a Chapter 13 this gets a little more complicated. We will go over this in person, but you are required to have all of your tax refunds filed for the previous four years when you file for bankruptcy. If they are not filed we will instruct you to do so immediately. In some cases this may happen just after your bankruptcy, or so close to it that the IRS does not receive or process the returns until after your bankruptcy is filed. And even though an ordinary creditor wouldn’t be able to collect, if you are entitled to a tax refund for a year prior to your bankruptcy it can be intercepted to satisfy any debt owed to the IRS for years prior to the bankruptcy. This is because the tax was already due to the IRS. However, the IRS cannot continue to intercept for tax years during the Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

    If all of your tax returns have been timely filed it remains fairly straightforward as far as the IRS is concerned. However, it may not be straightforward as far as the bankruptcy is concerned. Missouri and Illinois have different rules regarding tax refunds and credits and how they are handled. However, if you are expecting a tax refund during a bankruptcy it is imperative that you consult with your attorney immediately and do not spend any of the refund until you attorney advises you of how to proceed.

    If you have questions about this, or any other matter, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney Today!

  • How Often Can I File for Bankruptcy?How Often Can I File for Bankruptcy?

    In our practice we meet all types of people. We meet people that have never previously filed for bankruptcy and people that have filed for bankruptcy multiple times. We want you to know, that no matter the circumstance, you are in good hands and we will help you through every step of the way. Our clients often want to know how often an individual can file for bankruptcy. The truth is that an individual can file for bankruptcy as often as he or she would like. However, there are certain time limitations for receiving a discharge. Basically, there are rules that govern when an individual is eligible for a second discharge, as follows:

    If the individual previously filed a Chapter 7 he or she is not eligible for a subsequent Chapter 7 discharge for eight years after the filing date.

    If the individual previously filed a Chapter 13 he or she is not eligible for a Chapter 7 discharge for six years after the filing date.

    If the individual previously filed a Chapter 7 he or she is not eligible for a Chapter 13 discharge for four years after the filing date.

    If the individual previously filed a Chapter 13 he or she is not eligible for a subsequent Chapter 13 discharge for eight years after the filing date.

    It is important to understand a few other issues surrounding these rules. First, the time period is measured from filing date to filing date. This means that it doesn’t matter when the debt was discharged. It only matters when you filed. Rest assured, we will check this before we file your case to ensure there are not any issues. Second, these rules only apply if debt was discharged. There are a number of situations where debt is not discharged. For example, if your bankruptcy was dismissed or if all of your unsecured creditors were paid in full by the conclusion of your bankruptcy through the plan. Now, if your case was dismissed there may be some other issues for us to discuss. There are waiting periods for re-filing in certain situations, which can be up to 180 days, depending on the situation. If your discharge was denied you may not be entitled to a discharge of debts listed in the first case.

    If a discharge of debts is your goal we will certainly help you get there. However, there are reasons to consider filing even if you are not eligible for a discharge. For example, you are looking to consolidate debts or you are facing foreclosure. Bankruptcy may still be a viable option for you and is usually less damaging that alternative options.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy matter, call your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today.

  • Can I discharge debts from my divorce settlement?Can I discharge debts from my divorce settlement?

    Often times we meet people at the end of their financial rope. Many people do not meet with a bankruptcy attorney for many months, or even years, after they began thinking about filing for bankruptcy. It seems like a scary and daunting process. What many of our clients don’t really know until they’ve talked to us is that in many cases bankruptcy gives people a breath of fresh air and our clients tell us that they can finally start moving forward. We also know that a number of different circumstances lead people to file for bankruptcy. Many financial issues can be addressed in bankruptcy. There are ways to keep your house and car in almost every situation. We will work with you regarding any other property and how to deal with those issues. However, all of that being said, there are some issues that can become complicated by bankruptcy.

    We’ve discussed before that debts can be discharged, even when ordered by a court, in personal injury situations. In fact, that is a very common reason for filing for bankruptcy. However, there are some situations that we need to discuss in more detail.

    If debts that are owed were divided in any type of separation agreement or divorce we need to know that right away. For example, if a husband and a wife divorce the two usually allocate property and debts between the pair. This ultimately results in a court ruling to that end. If the husband later files for bankruptcy and his debts are discharged the creditors cannot continue to attempt to collect from him. However, if the debts were joint, the creditors may attempt to collect from the wife. As she has not filed for bankruptcy that would be perfectly legal as far as the creditors are concerned. However, it is important to understand that the husband may be found to be in violation of his court order and may even be found in contempt of court. The wife may be able to sue the husband for any amount she paid towards the debts allocated to him in the divorce.

    Don’t despair just yet. There are some options available to you in this situation. Please remember, however, that these are only general options and they may or may not work in your situation. It is imperative that you come speak with us personally. In some cases spouses file together in preparation for divorce to give both parties a clean start. In other cases we can look at a repayment of all debts with a structured payment plan to ensure compliance with the previous court order. No matter the situation, there are options and we can help.

    If you have questions about this, or any other bankruptcy matter, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

  • Do I have to file for Bankruptcy with my spouse?Do I have to file for Bankruptcy with my spouse?

    We meet people each and every day with differing circumstances. In some instances we meet people that are married and would like to file bankruptcy individually, or without their spouse There are any number of reasons people want to file individually. These may include that only one spouse has substantial debt or that one spouse has already filed bankruptcy and is not currently eligible for a discharge. We also meet people that want to file without informing their spouse that they are filing for bankruptcy.

    If any of this applies to you there are some things you should know. First, if you are filing without your spouse we represent only you. We will not, and cannot, inform your spouse that you are filing for bankruptcy without your permission. We will try to advise you of possible implications for your spouse, but remember, we only represent you.

    Even though we only represent you, we will need some information from or about your spouse. If you are married and living together we will need information about your spouse’s income and assets. Even if you file without your spouse his or her income must still be accounted for as a part of your monthly budget and your qualification to file for bankruptcy. This means we will need about six months of pay stubs or other qualified income documentation from your spouse. Of course, if he or she does not work that is not a problem. This information is necessary because the bankruptcy court will want to look at your entire budget as a whole. Now, you should also provide us with any expenses your spouse has, even if they only come out of his or her income. Some examples may include student loans, car payments, or child support and/or alimony.

    We also understand that there are situations where legally married individuals so not live together and share expenses. If that is the case you will not be required to provide income and expense information for your spouse.

    On the other hand, we sometime have situations where married individuals are not living together, but still wish to file bankruptcy together. This can happen when the debt is all shared or even in some cases where a couple intends to separate or divorce, but wants to address the debt together. In this case, as long as the two individuals are married at the time of filing they can still file together. We will simply sit down and go over each individuals income and expenses. Of course, we will want to go over the specifics of this and our representation to make sure that everyone is on the same page at all times.

    If you have questions about this, or any other questions, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney Today!

  • Can I Keep My Jewelry When I File For Bankruptcy?Can I Keep My Jewelry When I File For Bankruptcy?

    Often times we meet with people unsure about whether to file for bankruptcy.  We know this is a very difficult decision to make for our clients.  However, we can tell you, that we will make it as simple as possible for you every step of the way.  That begins with information about what to expect.  We know that many of our clients are worried about losing property and possessions.  The bankruptcy code provides some avenues of protection for houses, cars, and certain amounts of personal property.  However, many of our clients have things that may not be protected or even items that they still owe money for, but can afford and want to keep.  

    The bankruptcy code, with the exception of houses and cars, does not allow you to pick and choose the debts you list on your petition.  You are required to list every debt owed, no matter the size of the debt or whether or not you can afford the particular debt.  You even have to list things that are not generally dischargeable, like student loans and tax debts.  Many of our clients tell us that if they got rid of certain debts they could afford others.

    A scenario we have seen many times is a client or clients that are filing bankruptcy to discharge debts, but have financed engagement and/or wedding sets through a jeweler and they are still making payments.  We understand that you do not want to lose your engagement or wedding ring, however, we will still have to list it.  Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to be required to surrender the item.   It is very important that we discuss this prior to filing, because every situation is different and we cannot give blanket advice about whether people can keep engagement and wedding rings.  What we can tell you is that most of our clients are able to keep their property when we discuss things prior to filing.

    The bottom line is that there are options.  In some cases jewelers will send what is called a reaffirmation agreement.  This is basically a document that says that you will continue to pay for the item even after your bankruptcy.  This is something we can negotiate for you and it will be sent to our office.  When considering this option it is important to consider whether you can truly afford to continue paying for the item.  Once a reaffirmation agreement is signed you financially responsible for payments and that cannot be discharged in your bankruptcy.

    If you have questions about filing for bankruptcy, including what property you will be able to keep, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney for a free consultation today!

  • Bankruptcy and Continuing Medical CareBankruptcy and Continuing Medical Care

    When considering filing for bankruptcy there are a number of factors to evaluate. Many of our clients are facing serious financial and emotional losses, perhaps even including foreclosure of a home or repossession of a vehicle. We can help with these issues and many others. When you file a bankruptcy petition creditors are not permitted to keep contacting you for payment. Now, there are some exceptions; for example, if you want to keep your house you may find it easiest to discuss small matters (like a payment address or a change in escrow accounts) directly with your lender. If you would like to do this we can discuss this and fill out the proper paperwork to allow that type of communication.

    Though there are exceptions, the general rule is that your creditors cannot continue to contact you after you file for bankruptcy. This protection is called the "automatic stay". However, you should know that this protection has limitations. While the creditor cannot try to obtain payment from you or contact you regarding payment, the creditor does not have to continue to do business with you in the future. In most cases credit card companies will close accounts of cardholders that file for bankruptcy.

    Where this can be particularly troublesome is when your doctor or hospital is listed as a creditor. We have many clients, both with and without medical insurance, that owe their doctor or hospital money. This can range from a small copay to thousands of dollars for medical care. Once you file bankruptcy your doctor or hospital does not have to continue to provide you with services. Of course, there are exceptions if you require emergency care as medical professionals are required to provide anyone needing emergency care with services, regardless of ability to pay or other considerations. However, the provider would only have to stabilize you and then could refer you to another provider.

    We know this sounds a bit scary, but there are various options available. If the amount owed is very small, and you can afford it, you may be able to pay the amount prior to filing for bankruptcy and not be required to list your doctor or provider as a creditor. Please note, that it is absolutely imperative that you speak with us before doing this, as certain types and amounts of payments prior to a bankruptcy can be considered fraudulent and will complicate your bankruptcy. If payment is not an option you may be able to contact your provider and explain the situation to find out their policy in advance. You may also choose to voluntarily repay the debt. The doctor cannot ask for that, or require it, but in some cases doctors have accepted the payments and continued treatment. Finally, if these solutions will not work, we can talk about different bankruptcy options that involve repayment of creditors.

    If you have questions about this, or any other matter, please contact your St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney today!

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  • A&L, Licker Law Firm, LLC Will Help You With Your Car Accident, Family Law or Bankruptcy Case In Western Illinois or MissouriA&L, Licker Law Firm, LLC Will Help You With Your Car Accident, Family Law or Bankruptcy Case In Western Illinois or Missouri
    A & L, Licker Law Firm, LLC provides bankruptcy, personal injury, and family law legal services to residents of St. Louis County, St. Charles County and Jefferson County, Missouri and to nearby Illinois residents. While our cases may seem small to other attorneys, we understand that your case impacts your life in a big way. We pride ourselves on providing affordable and professional legal services that get results.We will do our part, so you can move past this difficult time in your life

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1861 Sherman Drive
St Charles, MO 63303
Phone: 636-916-5400

At Hwy 94 and Hwy 70.

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3470 Hampton Ave, Suite 101
St. Louis, MO 63109
Phone: 314-353-0834

Close to the corner of Hampton Ave and Chippewa. By appointment only.

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South & Jefferson County office

7321 S. Lindbergh Ave., Suite 222
St. Louis, MO 63125
Phone: 636-916-5400

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1281 Graham Rd, Suite 300
Florissant, MO 63031
Phone: 314-921-1880

At North Hanley and Hwy 270.

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2 Park Place Professional Centre
Belleville, Illinois 62226
Phone: 618-977-9560

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3600 Nameoki Rd, Suite 201
Granite City, IL 62040
Phone: 618-977-9560

Across Shop'n Save, by appointment only.

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