Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides a clean slate by selling assets and using the funds to pay back creditors. Any applicable balances that remain are then discharged. If you want to pursue chapter 7, but you’re worried about losing all that you’ve worked so hard for, keep in mind that many assets are exempt from liquidation. Here's what you should know about the exemptions in Missouri.
Do Missouri Residents Get State or Federal Exemptions?
Missouri is an “opt out” state, meaning it doesn’t follow federal guidelines for bankruptcy exemptions. While some of the federal exemptions can still apply, like those pertaining to veterans’ benefits, your case will primarily be governed by the state’s guidelines. As such, it’s wise to seek help from an attorney with in-depth knowledge of Missouri's bankruptcy laws.
What Are the Exemptions for Real Property?
Missouri’s homestead exemption aims to protect the property in which the petitioner resides. You are entitled to keep your home if you have up to $15,000 worth of equity in it (this is reduced to $5,000 for those who live in a mobile home).
If you have a lot more equity in your home, it may be possible to keep it. However, there's also the chance the trustee will sell it and give you a check for $15,000 and use the rest of the funds to pay back creditors. Keep in mind that unlike other kinds of exemptions, this one cannot be doubled even if you and your spouse file a joint petition.
What Are the Exemptions for Personal Property?
In general, Missouri allows petitioners to keep the personal property they need to lead a normal—but not especially luxurious—life. For example, you’re entitled to retain your motor vehicle as long as you have no more than $3,000 worth of equity in it. You may also keep up to $3,000 worth of clothing and household goods, up to $3,000 worth of tools of your trade, up to $1,500 of value in a wedding ring, and up to $500 of value in other jewelry.
Life insurance benefits, health savings accounts, workers’ compensation benefits, and Social Security payments are also exempt. However, this is not an exhaustive list, and everyone’s situation is unique, so it’s best to consult a lawyer to determine precisely what may and may not be liquidated.
If you're interested in filing for chapter 7, contact The Law Office of Christopher J. Swatosh. From their offices in Ava and Ozark, MO, this firm is proud to help clients navigate consumer bankruptcy proceedings. Backed by more than 20 years of experience, attorney Swatosh knows what it takes to secure a fresh start. Learn more about his bankruptcy services online, or call (417) 683-2987 to discuss your financial situation.
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