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Frequently Asked Questions—Bankruptcy Cases

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What is the Court's mailing address?
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Bankruptcy Terminology
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Should I file bankruptcy?
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How long will my bankruptcy show on my credit report?
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Do I need to have an attorney?
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What is a Pro Se Debtor?
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What is the difference between Chapter 7, 11, 12 & 13 cases?
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What information do I need to file a bankruptcy?
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When am I under bankruptcy protection?
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Will filing bankruptcy stop my wages from being garnished?
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Is my bankruptcy case public information?
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Can I file pleadings or documents at any Western District of MO Clerk's Office?
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How can I file before or after hours?
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Where can I get the forms to file bankruptcy?
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What documents (minimum) are required to get a case number?
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How many copies of a new petition or pleading do I need to file?
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How do I know which judge is assigned to my case?
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What is a matrix?
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Can I pay my filing fee in installments?
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Can I have my filing fee waived?
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What forms of payment are accepted?
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How long does it take for creditors to receive notice of my bankruptcy?
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What is a Meeting of Creditors?  Do I need to attend?
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Can I request a continuance of the First Meeting of Creditors if I cannot attend?
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Will I ever have to go before a judge?
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What is a trustee?
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How do I add a creditor to my petition that has already been filed?
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When will I get my discharge?
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Are all of my debts canceled by the Bankruptcy Court?
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Will all of my creditors be notified of my discharge?
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When will my case be closed?
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How do I get a copy of my discharge?
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How do I get copies of my bankruptcy?
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When can I file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case again?
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I have a complaint about my attorney, who do I contact?
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What is an adversary complaint?
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What do I need to file an adversary complaint?
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Can I fax file? 
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I have a judgment in another district and want to file the judgment in the Western District of Missouri. What do I need?
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When I am filling out Schedule C - Property Claimed as Exempt, how do I know what property is exempt?
bullet Where can I learn more about appeals?

What is the Court's Mailing Address? <back to top of page>
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Western District of Missouri
400 E. 9th Street, Room 1510
Kansas City, MO 64106

Bankruptcy Terminology <back to top of page>
Click here to view Bankruptcy Terminology.

Should I file bankruptcy? <back to top of page>
Whether or not you should file bankruptcy depends on your particular circumstances. It may be that after consultation with an accountant and attorney, you resolve your financial difficulties through other means. In some cases, declaring bankruptcy may be necessary. The decision to file for bankruptcy is a serious one. 

For more information about filing bankruptcy, go to the federal Website at http://www.uscourts.gov/bankruptcycourts/prose.html

How long will my bankruptcy show on my credit record?  <back to top of page>
The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 6 U.S.C. Section 605, is the law that controls credit reporting.  The law states that credit reporting agencies may not report a bankruptcy case on a person's credit report after ten years from the date the bankruptcy case is filed.  Other bad credit information is removed after seven years. The bankruptcy court has no influence over these reporting policies.

You may want to visit the Federal Trade Commission Website at www.ftc.gov for more information. Use their research window to locate the publications “How to Dispute Credit Reporting Errors” and “Fair Credit Reporting.”

If you have a complaint, you may also contact the Consumer Response Center at their toll free number: 1-877-382-4357

Do I need to have an attorney?  <back to top of page>
If you are an individual filing bankruptcy, you may represent yourself. This is referred to as being Pro Se.  The decision to go forward as a pro se litigant is a serious one and should only be taken after serious consideration. Individuals may represent themselves; business debtors must have an attorney in any proceeding involving presentation of evidence.

The bankruptcy law is complicated and not easily described, and you should, if possible, seek the advice of an attorney.  The Clerk's Office is prohibited by 28 U.S.C. Section 955 from giving legal advice or assisting with the preparation of forms.  The fact that an individual is filing without the benefit of legal counsel does not excuse him/her from knowing the United States Code. You will be expected to read and be familiar with both the Local Rules of this court and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The Missouri Bar Association Website at www.mobar.org provides information about attorneys who are accepting new clients in your area. Locations and contact information for Missouri Legal Aid offices are also provided.

The American Bankruptcy Institute also provides information about resources for pro se debtors. Go to their website at: http://probono.abiworld.org for locations and contact information.

What is a Pro Se Debtor? <back to top of page>
If you are representing yourself without the benefit of an attorney, you are known as a pro se litigant.  "Pro Se" is a Latin term meaning "for yourself."  As a pro se litigant, you enjoy every right entitled to you under the law.   Pro se litigants are expected to follow and abide by the rules that govern the practice of law in the Federal Courts.  Pro se litigants should be familiar with the United States Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and the Local Rules of the Western District of Missouri.

What is the difference between Chapter 7, 11,  12 & 13 cases? <back to top of page>
Chapter 7 - Liquidation: This chapter of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code provides for an orderly court-supervised means of selling certain assets to pay your creditors. In a Chapter 7 case, a trustee is appointed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to take charge of your "estate" consisting of all your assets. The law may allow you to keep some of your property. The trustee will sell the rest to pay your creditors. Unless someone objects, some or all of your debts will be discharged within a few months after the bankruptcy petition is filed.

Chapter 11 - Reorganization: This Chapter of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code is available to individuals, businesses and other entities, but is primarily intended to allow an ongoing business to restructure its debts. Successful reorganization is dependent on the debtor filing what is called a "reorganization plan" and obtaining the acceptance of creditors and approval by the court for such a plan.

Chapter 12 - Family Farmer: This Chapter of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code is designed to assist family farmers who are presently unable to pay their debtors but would like to pay creditors over a period of time. To be eligible to file under Chapter 12, you must have a true family farm operation and aggregate debts of less than $1,500,000 of which 80% must be directly related to the farming operation.

Chapter 13 - Adjustment of Debts for an Individual with Regular Income: This Chapter of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code provides a court-supervised method for a debtor to pay back creditors over a period of time of up to five years. The debtor files a plan for repayment with the bankruptcy petition or soon thereafter. Payments must begin within thirty days after the case has begun. The payments are made to a trustee who will begin paying the creditors after the plan has been approved by the court.

What information do I need to file a bankruptcy? <back to top of page>

  • Home address
  • Social Security Number
  • Completion of the Credit Counseling Course within 180 days prior to filing bankruptcy
  • Employer's name and address
  • Salary and wage information
  • A list of all those to whom you legally owe money
  • A list of all your major property (for example: real estate, automobiles, boats, furniture, etc.)
  • A list of all your personal sources of income
  • A list of all your financial accounts (for example: checking and savings accounts, savings bonds, etc.)
  • A list of all your monthly expenses (for example: rent, food, child support, transportation, etc.)
  • A copy of your federal and state tax returns for the past two years.

When am I under bankruptcy protection? <back to top of page>
You are under bankruptcy protection when and after your petition is filed by a member of the Clerk's office and a case number is assigned.  The moment a petition is filed there exists an automatic stay, or suspension, of virtually all litigation and other action by creditors against the debtor or the debtor's property.  In other words, once a petition has been filed, creditors cannot commence or continue most legal actions, such as foreclosure of liens, execution on judgments, trials, (garnishments), or any action to repossess property in the hands of the debtor. Creditors can, however, seek to have the court allow them to pursue or continue legal collection actions.

Will filing bankruptcy stop my wages from being garnished? <back to top of page>
Yes, once you file bankruptcy, you are under protection of the court from most creditors. You should immediately notify the garnishing creditor and sheriff that you have filed a bankruptcy petition. 

Is my bankruptcy case public information?  <back to top of page>
Yes, bankruptcies are considered public record. Anyone may call the court and verify if you have filed bankruptcy or may come into our offices and review the file. Online access to bankruptcy records is available for a fee to persons who have a PACER login and password.

Social security numbers are protected. Only the last 4 digits of a debtor's social security number are available to the public.

Can I file pleadings or documents at any Western District of Missouri Clerk's office?  <back to top of page>
You may file in person or by mail in Kansas City. If an emergency exists, cases may be filed in the Springfield and Jefferson City District Court Clerk's office if prior approval is obtained from the Bankruptcy Clerk's office in Kansas City, see Local Rules 11002-2-(b). Contact our office at 816-512-1800, Extension 6, between 9:00am and 4:30pm to request approval for an emergency filing in Springfield or Jefferson City.

How can I file before or after hours?  <back to top of page>
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri is open Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays, from 9:00am to 4:30pm.  You may reach us by phone at 816-512-1800 between the hours of 9:00am to 4:30pm.  There is a drop box in the Courthouse lobby. Documents or cases may be placed in the drop box until 6:00 PM and will be deemed filed that day. Paper documents filed by pro se debtors must contain original signatures.

Where can I get the forms to file bankruptcy?  <back to top of page>
Forms can be purchased in some legal stationery stores or business supply stores. Check your local area yellow pages. You may also obtain FREE federal forms many of which are in pdf-fillable format from the federal website. For instructions on pdf-fillable forms and to obtain FREE federal forms, click here. If you plan to file bankruptcy, you should familiarize yourself with this Court's Local Rules and with locally-required forms that are not part of the official national forms. Local forms are available on the Forms page of this Website. See the local requirements for a list of required forms by chapter.

What documents (minimum) are required to get a case number?  <back to top of page>
At a minimum, you must have the Voluntary Petition, Exhibit D to the voluntary petition, the Mailing Matrix typed list of creditor names and addresses, the Verification of Mailing Matrix (local form), and the Statement of Social Security Number (B 21).

How many copies of a new petition or pleading do I need to file? <back to top of page>
Pro Se Debtors may file an original petition in paper format. If you would like a file-stamped copy returned to you, please supply the court with a copy. If you are mailing original documents, please be sure to include a copy of the document and a self-addressed, stamped envelope for your copy to be returned to you.

How do I know which judge is assigned to my case?  <back to top of page>
From the initials which appear at the end of the case number. ABF = Chief Bankruptcy Judge Arthur B. Federman; CAN = Bankruptcy Judge Cynthia A. Norton; and DRD = Bankruptcy Judge Dennis R. Dow.

What is a matrix? <back to top of page>
A matrix is a list of all creditors in a bankruptcy case, including the names and addresses of each creditor.  The list is used for electronic noticing required during the course of your bankruptcy case.  The matrix should be submitted at the time of the filing of your case. More instructions are provided in the Appendix to the Local Rules.

Can I pay my filing fee in installments? <back to top of page>
Yes, if you are an individual, Bankruptcy Rule 1006 allows the debtor the right to apply for permission to pay the filing fee in installments.  The debtor must complete and sign the Application to Pay Filing Fees in Installments.  The application must state the proposed terms of the installment payments.  The entire filing fee must be paid within 120 days of the filing of the petition in four or fewer installment payments.  Failure to pay filing fee installments on time may result in dismissal of your case.  If your case is dismissed before all the installment payments have been paid, you are required to pay these fees that are due and owing to the Court.

Can I have my filing fee waived? <back to top of page>
If you are filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy and your income is below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, you may be able to have your filing fee waived by the court.  You must file an application to waive the filing fee and provide all information required by the federal form (AO B3B) which can be obtained at www.uscourts.gov/bkforms.

What forms of payment are accepted?  <back to top of page>
Pro se debtors may pay with cash, cashier's check, or money order. The Clerk's Office does not accept credit or debit cards, two-party checks or personal checks from the debtor in bankruptcy.  If filing an emergency filing in Jefferson City or Springfield, payment must be made by cashier's check or money order; cash is not accepted.

How long does it take for creditors to receive notice of my bankruptcy? <back to top of page>
You and your creditors will receive a notice of the first meeting of creditors within  3-5 days from the date of filing a new case as long as the list of creditors is filed with the case. If there is an urgent need to notify a creditor to stop a foreclosure or a garnishment, for example, you may need to notify the creditor of the bankruptcy filing yourself.

What is a Meeting of Creditors?  Do I have to attend?  <back to top of page>
The first meeting of creditors is required under Section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code and the debtor is required to attend.  The purpose of the meeting is to enable the appointed trustee to examine the debtor under oath regarding the information that has been filed with the Court.  The trustee or a creditor may inquire about the debtor's financial status, conduct and financial affairs, and any other matters that are relevant to the administration of the debtor's estate, including factors which bear on an individual debtor's right to a discharge or to the dischargeability of any particular obligation, or the debtor's claimed exemptions.  If a creditor wishes to do an in-depth examination, he or she should request a Rule 2004 examination from the Court.   Failure of the debtor to attend this meeting may result in dismissal of the bankruptcy case.  Individual debtors must provide picture identification and proof of social security number to the trustee to whom the case is assigned at the meeting of creditors.  The trustee may also request additional information pertaining to your case. Failure to provide information to the trustee may result in your case being dismissed. 

Can I request a continuance of the First Meeting of Creditors if I cannot attend? <back to top of page>
You must contact the trustee assigned to your case for instructions.

Will I ever have to go before a judge? <back to top of page>
All contested matters will be heard by the judge if one of the parties files a motion or a response or objection to that motion. As a pro se debtor, you will be notified of any hearings and will be expected to attend.

What is a trustee? <back to top of page>
A trustee is a person who works with the court to administer bankruptcy cases.  The  trustee does not represent the debtor or any individual creditor and cannot give legal advice.  Rather, the trustee has independent rights and duties that are set forth in the Bankruptcy Code sections 323, 327, 341, 343, 345, 363, 364, 365, 704 (chapter 7 cases) and 1302 (chapter 13 cases). In a chapter 7 case, the trustee may take possession of the debtor's assets, sell them, and distribute the proceeds to creditors.  In a chapter 13 case, the trustee administers the debtor's plan of payment, collects the funds, and pays the creditors.  The trustee will also oversee the first meeting of creditors.

How do I add a creditor to my petition that has already been filed? <back to top of page>
You must file a Notice of Amendment to Schedules, Amended Schedule D, E, or F along with a verification of the amended schedule D, E, or F, an amended matrix and verification of amended matrix along with the current filing fee. The debtor is responsible for serving the Notice and Amendment(s) on the new creditor(s). For more information, see Local Rule 1009.

Are all of my debts canceled (discharged) by the Bankruptcy Court? <back to top of page>
No, certain debts are not canceled (discharged) by the US Bankruptcy Court. Examples include taxes, school loans, debts resulting from fraud, alimony and child support payments. Other debts are canceled (discharged) only if your petition is approved by the US Bankruptcy Court.

Specific questions you have should be directed to an attorney or financial advisor. The Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court can answer questions about court procedures for you but is prohibited by law from giving legal advice.

When will I get my discharge? <back to top of page>
Individual debtors are eligible to receive their Chapter 7 discharge 60 days from the date set for the 341 meeting, unless a creditor objects in a timely manner or the court orders otherwise.  In the normal case where no complaint objecting to the discharge is filed, the debtor will receive a discharge within five working days after the 60 days has passed. If a notice of amendment to schedules is filed to add creditors, the discharge will be delayed an additional 30 days from the date of filing the notice. Failure of the debtor to complete the Personal Financial Management Course and to file the required form (AO B23) will delay the debtor's discharge and, if the case is otherwise ready to close, may result in the case closing without issuing a discharge to the debtor.  If this occurs and the debtor wishes to file the required forms and apply for a discharge, the case will need to be reopened and the required reopening filing fee paid.

Will all of my creditors be notified of my discharge? <back to top of page>
All creditors who were listed on your mailing matrix and any amendments thereto will be notified.

When will my case be closed? <back to top of page>
Since all cases bear unique circumstances, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact time that your case will be closed.  Many chapter 7 no asset cases are closed within 90 days from filing if no disputes have arisen.  Chapter 7 asset cases require that the trustee liquidate the assets which often takes several years. Chapter 13 cases remain open as long as the plan payments are being made, generally for three to five years after the plan has been confirmed.  Chapter 11 reorganization cases are more complicated and may remain open longer than three years even if a plan has been confirmed.

How do I get a copy of my discharge? <back to top of page>
You will receive a copy of your discharge in the mail after it is entered.  However, if some time has passed and you have not received your discharge or you need another copy please call the Clerk's Office (816-512-1800).

**After filing, it is very important that the debtors retain his/her bankruptcy papers for future reference.  Sometimes the information may be needed for a future home purchase or other business transactions that will require proof of filing and discharge.** 

How can I get copies of my bankruptcy?  <back to top of page>
View photocopy information.

If an attorney files a case on your behalf, the attorney is responsible for supplying you with a copy of the petition and all other documents pursuant to the declaration of electronic filing.  If you file as a pro se debtor, it is your responsibility to retain copies of your documents.  However, should you need additional copies, you may contact the Clerk’s Office for assistance in obtaining copies.  All cases filed after March 1, 2001 will be available electronically at the Clerk's Office.  If your case was closed before March 1, 2001 it will most likely be at the Federal Records Center; you will need to contact the Clerk's Office to receive information on how to obtain the file.

When can I file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy again? <back to top of page>
The court cannot grant a discharge to a debtor under Chapter 7 if he or she has been granted a discharge within eight years of the date of filing the petition. 

I have a complaint about my attorney, who do I contact? <back to top of page>
Link to State Bar of Missouri web page.

What is an adversary complaint? <back to top of page>
An adversary complaint is a "case within a case." It is civil litigation, usually involving funds or property which may have an impact on the bankruptcy estate.

What do I need to file an adversary complaint?<back to top of page>
An original, signed paper copy of the complaint and the required filing fee, if applicable. If the debtor is the plaintiff, there is no filing fee.

Can I fax file?  <back to top of page>
The Western District of Missouri does not permit fax filing.

I have a judgment in another district and want to file the judgment in the Western District of Missouri. What do I need?  <back to top of page>
A certified copy of the judgment from the originating District Court (28 U.S.C. § 1963), form AO B265 - Certification of Judgment (Instructions), and a money order or cashier's check for the required filing fee payable to the Clerk, United States District Court. The case will be filed with the District Court, not the Bankruptcy Court. Find out more about photocopies.

When I am filling out Schedule C - Property Claimed as Exempt, how do I know what property is exempt? <back to top of page>
Under state and federal laws, debtors are entitled to keep certain exempt property. The Clerk's Office cannot give legal advice. You can, however, research Title 11 of the US Code, Chapter 5, Subchapter 11, Section 522 as well as the Missouri Revised Statutes for more information on allowable exemptions.

Where can I learn more about appeals? <back to top of page>
See our local page on bankruptcy appeals or the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel Website.

 

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