Let us answer your questions

We understand that Bankruptcy is a difficult and complicated ordeal to go through that often comes with a lot of questions. At BKTP Law firm, Jeff Carey walks with each client through the whole process, answering all your questions along the way. Ready below some of our most frequently asked questions about Bankruptcy.

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General Bankruptcy Info

What is Bankruptcy?

Jackson County bankruptcy lawyer Jeffrey Carey helps individuals and businesses needing relief under the bankruptcy code from their creditors. Bankruptcy law is an interaction of state and federal laws. Under the federal code, Title !!, individuals and businesses can either discharge or restructure their debts to allow them a fresh start. When debts cannot be restructured to be paid over time, individuals and businesses will file under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. When an individual has consistent income over time, Chapter 13 may either be mandated or the best strategic choice.Under a Chapter 13 plan, an individual can force a refinance of automobiles that they are upside down on, can cure a past due balance on a mortgage, and otherwise has significant flexibility to propose a plan that is fair to the debtor and creditors. Chapter 11 and other business bankruptcies are part of a range of business solutions available to a company in distress.  

What Can Bankruptcy Do for Me?

Bankruptcy can eliminate or restructure your debts and give you the ability to make a fresh start. Filing for bankruptcy protection allows you to:

  • Stop harassing phone calls;
  • Protect your assets you need to make a fresh start in life;
  • Discharge (wipe clean) your unsecured debts; 
  • Reorganize your secured debts and protect the collateral you have pledged like your home, cars, or household items;
  • Stop wage garnishments and other collection activities;
  • Prevent foreclosure on your home;
  • Prevent or reverse repossession of your automobile;
  • Discharge or modify repayment terms for state and federal tax debt; and 
  • Protect retirement investments and allow you to build for retirement.
What Doesn't Bankruptcy Do?

Bankruptcy is not a cure to every financial situation. Bankruptcy may not:

  • Shield any assets you may own from your creditors unless your property is exempt from attachment;
  • Allow you to save your home from foreclosure if you cannot afford to make your monthly mortgage payments;
  • Avoid paying your creditors if you have the financial means to do so over a reasonable period of time not to exceed five years;
  • Discharge non-dischargeable debts like money procured by fraud, damages caused by drinking and driving.  
  • Allow you to avoid (in most circumstances) spousal support, including child support and alimony. 
How often can I file bankruptcy?

It depends. A Chapter 7 filing following a Chapter 7 discharge is an eight year wait. You can file a Chapter 13 four years after obtaining a Chapter 7 discharge. When you file a Chapter 7 after a Chapter 13 (where you did not pay all of your unsecured creditors) you must wait six years. You only need to wait two years between Chapter 13 bankruptcies.

  • Chapter 7 - Chapter 7 = 8 years
  • Chapter 7 - Chapter 13 = 4 years
  • Chapter 13 - Chapter 7 = 6 years
  • Chapter 13 - Chapter 13 = 2 years
What Does It Cost to File for Bankruptcy?

It is important to file a bankruptcy lawyer with experience and who is willing to give you individual attention.  Our fees range based on the complexity of your case. In some cases, a portion of your fees can be paid from your future income. In most cases, your attorney’s fees and filing fees will need to be paid before your case is filed.  

Will I Have to Go to Court?

Most debtors only go to the 341 Meeting which is a meeting with yourself, your lawyer, and the Trustee where you testify under oath about your bankruptcy schedules. In the event there is an issue that cannot be resolved between the trustee and your lawyer, you may be required to appear at a Court hearing. Most of our clients have their 341 Meetings (when being held in person) here. Our clients also file cases with meetings and hearings held in St. Joseph, Joplin, Springfield, and Jefferson City.  

Types of Bankruptcy

What Different Types of Bankruptcy Should I Consider?

For most people, the choice is between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code. Most people, given a choice, elect to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You file and within a few months all of your unsecured debts are forgiven, your secured debts can be strategically reaffirmed or discharged, and you can begin rebuilding for your future right away.  

Under a Chapter 13 plan, you have to pay for a minimum of 36 months and most plans range from 54 to 60 months. If you are trying to protect a house from foreclosure and are behind on your mortgage payments Chapter 13 may be the best choice for you. You will be encouraged (or more likely required) to have your monthly bankruptcy payment made by direct wage withholding. Many debtors report a great deal of relief simply because a single payment coming directly out of their paychecks allows them to satisfy all of their creditors’ claims.   

Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Right for Me?

It is easily the most popular chapter for individuals to file under. You file and within months have your fresh start. The easiest way to think about Chapter 7 is to examine whether you qualify for it. If you can afford to pay your debts over time, you don’t qualify for Chapter 7. If you own assets that you are unwilling to part (that cannot be protected by the bankruptcy exemptions) then you will not want to file for Chapter 7 as the point of the filing is to liquidate your non-exempt debts to satisfy all or part of your debts. The assistance of a bankruptcy lawyer for both exemption analysis but also for exemption planning can be of great value to the consumer.

Is Chapter 13 bankruptcy Right for Me?

If you can generally afford to pay your secured debts, but have accumulated a lot of credit card balances or medical debt, Chapter 13 may allow you to get rid of the unsecured debt and protect your family’s way of life. In general terms, you must be willing to commit your income to repayment of your debts over the course of three to five years. At the end of that time, you will emerge with your assets and all but your long term debt (like mortgages or student loans) repaid. 

Home, Property & Credit

What Property Can I Keep?

You can keep anything, provided your plan is fair to your creditors, under Chapter 13.  Under Chapter 7, you can protect the following exempt property:

Property                                                                                                    Value

Household furnishings, household goods, wearing apparel, appliances, books, animals, crops or musical instruments that are held primarily for personal, family or household use of such person or a dependent of such person


Wedding ring


Other jewlery


Wildcard (can be used to protect anything, but cash is most common use)


Professional or tradesmen’s tools and assets


Vehicle (equity after deducting outstanding loan balance from value)


Mobile home used as principal residence


Life insurance contracts (term and unmatured)


Life insurance contracts (whole)


Professionally prescribed health aids


Social security, unemployment, or local assistance benefits


Veteran’s benefits


Disability, illness, or unemployment benefits


Alimony, support, or maintenance


Pension or retirement plan (non ERISSA)

Amount reasonably necessary for support of self and family

Pension or retirement

Generally unlimited.  See important exceptions

Wrongful death award or benefit

Amount reasonably necessary to support self and family

Unliquidated worker’s compensation benefit


What Will Happen to My Home and Car If I File Bankruptcy?

In Missouri, you can protect up to $15,000 in home equity and $3000 for an individual and $6000 for a married couple in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The trustee, furthermore, will generally not pursue an asset where the value may technically exceed the exemption but liquidating the asset would not result in a net benefit to the creditors. If you have non-exempt equity, your only choices are letting go of the asset or proposing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan that provides your unsecured and priority creditors at least the value of your non-exempt assets. These creditors must also seek permission from the Court to repossess or foreclose on your property after the filing and you will have additional benefits under the Bankruptcy Code to protect your property.   

Are Utility Services Affected?

Your utilities cannot be disconnected because of your bankruptcy filing. The status of past due balances is complicated by factors such as local regulations and potential property liens.  

Can I Own Anything After Bankruptcy?

Yes. All of your exempt property will be yours after bankruptcy, free and clear of all but reaffirmed debts or debts exempted from discharge. Everything you acquire after your bankruptcy filing (with the notable exception of death benefits received within 180 days of filing) is yours and free from your pre-bankruptcy creditors’ claims.  

Will Bankruptcy Wipe Out All My Debts?

Generally yes, unless you choose to continue paying on a secured debt or the debt is otherwise non-dischargeable.  Non-dischargeable debts are primarily governed by 11 USC § 523 and include taxes, child support, debts procured by fraud, damages caused by drunk drivers, and other exceptions to discharge.  

Will Bankruptcy Affect My Credit?

It is a significant event to all credit reporting agencies. You are required to report the existence of a prior bankruptcy to them for ten years after discharge. If you are being hounded by creditors or, even worse, sued by your creditors then your credit rating will likely not have any discernable negative change and could become positive more quickly than without bankruptcy. If you are still managing to juggle your debts like so many of us did with balance transfers and sleight of hand, then your credit may be better than your actual credit worthiness.  In this situation, your credit rating hit will prevent you from getting back into trouble too quickly.  

Can I Get a Credit Card After Bankruptcy?

Yes. The credit card companies know that you can’t file another Chapter 7 for eights years. They will immediately offer you credit, at immoral rates, and count on being able to squeeze many times the amount of the loan out of you. You should use bankruptcy as a chance to re-learn your relationship with credit. Begin by using cards for recurring and BUDGETED payments like gasoline or insurance. Then pay off the balance every month.

Other FAQs About Bankruptcy

Can I Be Discriminated Against for Filing Bankruptcy?

No. The general categories of protection are protection from governmental discrimination, discrimination in employment, and regard to eligibility for student loans. 11 U.S. Code § 525

What About Co-signers?

A bankruptcy discharge granted to one borrower does not impact the debt as to any other borrower or guarantor. Yes. Your dad is going to have to pay your car loan if you don’t. You can, however, plan your bankruptcy so that you so not default on that debt.  

I'm Married, Can I File by Myself?

Yes but it is inadvisable in most circumstances. Common marital debt will not be discharged as to the non-filing spouse. The couple, furthermore, would have more exemptions in the event of a joint filing. If all of the debts you are worried about are from your life before your current marriage, filing solo may be an option but your current spouse will need to cooperate with wage verification and other requests for information.  

Can filing bankruptcy stop bill collectors from calling?

Yes. As soon as you file. Many people find this to be the most satisfying part of the process, they day when they are happy to pick up the phone to give their creditors their case number so that the calls can finally stop.  

Can I erase my student loans by filing bankruptcy?

It is very difficult to erase federally insured (almost all of it) student loan debt. If you have had a major medical change, loss of or disqualification from employment in the field of your training, or otherwise have exceptional hardship you can sue your student loan carrier in a proceeding to prove that you should be discharged from the debt. The fees for this service are NOT included in the fees for a standard bankruptcy filing and must be negotiated separately.  

If I am going through a divorce how will my ex-spouse filing bankruptcy affect our divorce settlement?


  • Yes. Bankruptcy takes precedence over your divorce in general. If you begin filings for a bankruptcy during a divorce, it can delay the distribution of marital assets and liabilities until the bankruptcy is completed


  • Child support and alimony will still be owed. If past-due alimony or child support is owed as part of a divorce decree, these debts cannot be forgiven in a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The court will not even grant a Chapter 13 discharge to finalize the bankruptcy if past-due child support or alimony is still due. A Chapter 13 plan can be used to discharge property settlement agreements from a divorce decree.
  • Joint marital debts may still have to be paid. If you have to pay certain debts as part of your divorce decree, you might think about filing for bankruptcy to wipe them out. Your creditors can’t come to you for payment if you file for bankruptcy after your divorce, but they can still look to your ex-spouse for payment of debts you signed for together. In this case, your failure to pay these debts could result in a contempt order from the divorce Judge or even imprisonment. 
  • Bankruptcy will not eliminate certain divorce debts. A divorce decree might order one party to make payments to the other in exchange for property. They can’t be wiped out if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy but, if you file for Chapter 13, usually they can be added into a payment plan.
  • Property distribution. If money is owed under a divorce settlement that is not domestic support, the court won’t discharge the debt in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy but that is not the case with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 can allow you do discharge some marital debt obligations assigned in a divorce decree.
Do I need to list all of my creditors?

Yes. You need to list all creditors even if you intent to repay them after the bankruptcy filing. You will be asked, under oath, if you have listed all of your creditors. That answer must be truthful.

Are there any alternatives to bankruptcy?

In some cases, the firm will assist you with your debts through negotiated compromises or receiverships.   

Need Help Filing for Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is nothing to be ashamed of. We’ll help you get a fresh start and be on the path to a better life.

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