Need help with bankruptcy means test in Kansas City, MO?
Considering bankruptcy but struggling with the means test in Kansas City, MO? If so, you are not alone. Dealing with insurmountable debt can is challenging enough, but it can easily become unbearable when you add the complexities of a bankruptcy filing on top of it. Bankruptcy can provide the lifeline you need to pull yourself out of financial distress,
Our Kansas City bankruptcy attorney at Jeppson Law Office is dedicated to helping Missouri residents regain control of your financial life. We believe everyone deserves a second chance, and we are committed to providing personalized guidance tailored to your unique circumstances. If you are burdened by overwhelming debts and need help with your options, let Jeppson Law be your trusted companion on this journey to a fresh start.
What is means testing in bankruptcy?
The means test in bankruptcy is a way to limit which individuals or businesses can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It was added to the bankruptcy process by BAPCPA in 2005. The bankruptcy court uses the means test to determine whether you can afford payments to your creditors.
If your total household income is less than the average income in your state, you pass the means test and are eligible to file a Chapter 7. If your total household income is more than the average income in your state, then we must complete the means test formula to determine your eligibility.
If you fail the means test, you are not qualified to file Ch 7 bankruptcy, and must file for Chapter 13 instead.
The means test calculation involves subtracting taxes, insurance, and other deductions from your paycheck and your actual living expenses from your gross income to determine your disposable monthly income. The amount of disposable income is what the court uses to determine how much you need to pay your creditors for debts owed.
There are certain deduction that will be determined by your personal budget (such as income tax, health insurance, child care, charitable contributions), and others that follow the standard IRS allowance (such as rent, utilities, vehicle expenses).
How to Calculate the Means Test in Missouri
Like other states, the bankruptcy means test in Missouri follows federal guidelines outlined in the Bankruptcy Code. Since the primary purpose of means testing is to assess your eligibility for different bankruptcy chapters, here is how it’s calculated in Missouri:
Calculate your Current Monthly Income (CMI).
To start the means test, you will calculate your average monthly income in the last six months prior to your bankruptcy filing. This includes all sources of income, such as wages, salary, self-employment income, rental income, pensions, and government benefits, among others.
Compare your CMI to the State Median Income.
Once you have determined your CMI, you will compare it to the median income for a household of the same size in Missouri. The U.S. Trustee Program periodically updates the median income figures. You automatically pass the means test if your income falls below or is equal to the median income.
Determine your Disposable Income.
If your income exceeds the median income, you proceed to calculate your disposable income. Based on national and local standards, certain allowed expenses and deductions are subtracted from your CMI to arrive at the disposable income figure.
Complete the Means Test Forms.
Debtors in Missouri must complete the official means test forms, which are used to ensure accurate calculations and compliance with bankruptcy laws.
Determine your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Eligibility.
Based on the means test results, if your disposable income is below a certain threshold, you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, if your disposable income exceeds this threshold, you may be required to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which involves a court-approved repayment plan.
It is essential to remember that bankruptcy laws and regulations can change over time, so it’s crucial to consult with our bankruptcy attorney in Missouri, who has up-to-date knowledge of the state’s bankruptcy laws. Our experienced attorney can help you navigate the means test in Kansas City, MO, and determine the most appropriate bankruptcy chapter for your financial situation.
If you passed the means test in Missouri…
If you pass the bankruptcy means test in Kansas City, MO, it means that you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is often referred to as “liquidation bankruptcy.” Passing the means test indicates that your income and financial situation meet the requirements for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, allowing you to discharge your eligible debts entirely and obtain a fresh start financially.
- Eligibility for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Passing the means test means you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This chapter allows individuals or families to eliminate unsecured debts, such as credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, and certain taxes, without needing a repayment plan.
- Automatic Stay. An automatic stay goes into effect once you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The automatic stay is a court order that immediately halts all collection efforts by creditors, including phone calls, letters, lawsuits, wage garnishments, and foreclosure proceedings. This gives you temporary relief and breathing space to sort out your financial affairs.
- Appointment of Trustee. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, a bankruptcy trustee is appointed to oversee the process. The trustee’s primary role is to review your financial documents, assets, and debts to ensure compliance with bankruptcy laws and distribute non-exempt assets to creditors.
- Liquidation of Non-Exempt Assets. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can keep certain exempt assets, such as essential household items, clothing, and some equity in your home and car, depending on your state’s Chapter 7 exemptions. However, the trustee may sell non-exempt assets to pay off your creditors. Many Chapter 7 cases involve no asset liquidation due to generous exemptions.
- Debt Discharge. After the liquidation (if any) and completion of the bankruptcy process, you will receive a discharge order from the court. This discharge legally releases you from personal liability for the discharged debts, meaning you are no longer obligated to repay them. Some debts, such as student loans, certain taxes, and child support, are generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
- Fresh Financial Start. With your qualifying debts discharged, you have the opportunity for a fresh financial start. This allows you to rebuild your credit, budget wisely, and work toward a more stable financial future.
Don’t let debt control your life any longer. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and we will guide you through the means test process, analyze your financial situation, and explore the best options for your unique circumstances.
If you failed the bankruptcy means test…
If you failed the bankruptcy means test in Kansas City or anywhere in Missouri, your income or financial situation exceeds the allowable threshold to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, there are still alternative options you can take to seek debt relief and financial stability.
Here are some financial options to consider:
- Explore Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. If you fail the bankruptcy means test, you may still be eligible to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 allows you to create a court-approved repayment plan to pay off your debts, typically over three to five years. This option can help you manage your debt and avoid more severe consequences of outstanding balances.
- Seek Legal Advice. Consult our bankruptcy attorney to review your financial situation and explore other options thoroughly. We can help you understand your best course of action and guide you through bankruptcy, tailoring it to your specific circumstances.
- Review Your Finances. Take a closer look at your budget and financial obligations. Explore ways to cut costs, increase income, and manage debt effectively. With a clear picture of your financial situation, you can make informed decisions about your next steps.
- Consider Debt Negotiation or Settlement. Debt negotiation or settlement involves negotiating with creditors to agree on reduced payment amounts or partial debt forgiveness. This approach can be an option if you have some disposable income but need help meeting your current debt obligations.
- Explore Non-Bankruptcy Alternatives. Non-bankruptcy debt relief options include credit counseling, debt consolidation, or working with a debt management company. These alternatives can help you manage debt and develop a plan to repay your creditors over time.
- Address Underlying Issues. Sometimes, financial problems stem from issues beyond debt, such as medical expenses, job loss, or unexpected emergencies. Addressing these underlying issues can help you regain financial stability in the long run.
Financial challenges can be overwhelming, but resources are available to help you navigate them. Our Missouri bankruptcy attorney and means test lawyer can help you understand your options and make the most informed decisions for your financial future. Take proactive steps and stay committed to finding a solution that aligns with your goals and needs.
Consult a Lawyer for Your Means Test in Kansas City, MO
The bankruptcy means test is a pivotal element in the bankruptcy process, determining your eligibility for different bankruptcy chapters, such as Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Navigating this test alone can be overwhelming, but by collaborating with our Missouri bankruptcy attorney, you can significantly increase your chances of a successful bankruptcy case.
There are many viable options to explore to achieve your fresh financial start. Whether it’s pursuing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, meeting with creditors, or rebuilding credit after bankruptcy, you are not alone in this process. You can regain control of your financial life by taking proactive steps, staying committed to your goals, and seeking professional assistance. Contact us today and schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.