Bankruptcy is a court proceeding which lets a person or business have some or all of their debts discharged. It should usually only be considered as an option of last resort, because it can have serious long-term consequences, even if it can stave off financial disaster. This means that the costs and benefits need to be carefully considered before filing. Bankruptcy is governed by federal law and handled in federal courts, so the procedural and substantive rules involved in Missouri are often the same as anywhere else in the U.S. However, individual bankruptcy courts have slightly different rules for items such as exemptions, so it would be a good idea to consult with a local St. Joseph, Missouri bankruptcy lawyer beforehand.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in St. Joseph, Missouri
There are 2 common forms of consumer bankruptcy in St. Joseph, Missouri: Chapter 7 and 13. Chapter 7 requires that a certain percentage of the debtor's property be liquidated to pay off at least a small part of their debt. However, many types of property are exempt, and do not need to be liquidated, such as cars, homes, insurance policies, and retirement accounts.
Once the non-exempt property is sold, the rest of the dischargeable debt is eliminated. Some types of debt, however, is non-dischargeable, including student loans, criminal fines, and others. If most of your debt in St. Joseph, Missouri is not dischargeable, Chapter 7 may not be the best option.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in St. Joseph, Missouri
Chapter 13 bankruptcy in St. Joseph, Missouri is markedly different. It may or may not be a better option than Chapter 7, depending on the facts of your particular case. Chapter 13 does not discharge debt, but restructures it instead. Usually, various debts are consolidated into a single monthly payment. This is designed to make the debt more manageable, giving the debtor the chance to pay off the debt over a longer period of time, without all of it coming due at once. This is usually manageable, as long as the debtor can make some sacrifices.
Which Type of Consumer Bankruptcy Should I File in St. Joseph, Missouri
Whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the right choice for you depends heavily on your individual situation. If you have a steady income stream, and a lot of non-exempt property, Chapter 13 might be right for you. If you don't have a steady income, and most of your property is exempt, Chapter 7 might be a better way to go.
Of course, you should always seek the counsel of an experienced local St. Joseph, Missouri bankruptcy attorney before you make the decision to file. He or she will be able to advise you of your options, and suggest the best possible course of action for your particular situation.