Filing Bankruptcy in Missouri Without a Lawyer

Learn how to find information you'll need when preparing a bankruptcy case in Missouri.

When you have too much debt, a Missouri bankruptcy case can be the answer. An excellent place to start is by becoming familiar with the differences between filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Once you know which chapter is right for you, it will be time to complete the paperwork. You’ll need additional information, such as official bankruptcy forms, Missouri means test figures, credit counseling providers, and your local bankruptcy court. You’ll find that here, as well as an explanation about protecting property in a Missouri bankruptcy.

Official Bankruptcy Forms

Before the Missouri bankruptcy court wipes out (discharges) your qualifying debt, you’ll disclose information about your property, debts, income, expenses, and financial transactions on official bankruptcy forms. You can complete and download the forms on the U.S. Courts form page, then file your paperwork in the Missouri bankruptcy court along with a filing fee or a request for a fee waiver and a certificate showing that you’ve completed a credit counseling course (additional information below).

Missouri Bankruptcy Information

Federal law governs all bankruptcy cases, but you’ll need some information and law specific to Missouri, too.

Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information

You can find two types of state-specific information on the website of the U.S. Trustee: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.

  • Means test data. You’ll need to determine whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy by taking the “means test.” A family income that is less than the median for Missouri qualifies automatically. If your income exceeds the median income, you might pass the means test after you take into account certain standard expenses. Income charts and expense figures can be found under “Means Testing Information.” You might also need these resources to determine a Chapter 13 bankruptcy monthly payment amount.
  • Credit counseling providers. Most people are required to take a credit counseling course within the 180-day period before filing for bankruptcy. After filing, you’ll take a debt management course before receiving a discharge. The approved providers list is under “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.” Scroll down to find the Missouri districts.

Missouri Bankruptcy Exemptions

Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t mean that you’ll have to give up all your property. Chances are you’ll be able to exempt (protect) most, if not all of it.

  • Exempt property. What you keep will depend on whether the asset appears on the list of Missouri exemptions.
  • Nonexempt property. The Chapter 7 trustee can sell any property that doesn’t appear on the list of Missouri exemptions. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can keep nonexempt assets as long as you can pay its value to creditors through the Chapter 13 repayment plan.
  • Jointly-owned property. Spouses who file joint bankruptcy in Missouri can double the exemption amount, except for the homestead exemption, but each must have an ownership interest in the property. If only one spouse owns the property, the exemption cannot be doubled.

You can learn more about the list of state exemptions at Missouri Bankruptcy Exemptions.

Missouri Bankruptcy Court Locations and Websites

Missouri has two bankruptcy court districts. On each court’s website, you’ll find local rules and the court’s instructions for filing your paperwork. In the Eastern District, click on “Info For Filing or Acting Without Attorney.” In the Western District, click on “Bankruptcy Court,” “Debtors & Self-Assistance,” then, “More…”

To determine which district has jurisdiction over your case, visit the Federal Court Locator page or call one of the offices listed below.

Eastern District of Missouri

Western District of Missouri

Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse
111 South Tenth Street, Fourth Floor
St. Louis, MO 63102
(314) 244-4500
United States Courthouse
400 East 9th Street, Room 1800
Kansas City, Missouri 64106
(816) 512-1800

This article cannot provide all of the information you’ll need to file for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy without an attorney can be challenging, and each filer must be knowledgeable about bankruptcy law. Depending on the complexity of your case, a self-help book such as How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D. might provide the additional support you need.

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