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Question
This is a follow up question to the one I posted yesterday.
 
I live in Missouri, where we have a homestead law that limits protected equity to $15,000. I was also told that my social security income was too low for me to be approved for Chapter 13. Does this make sense?

My account is in my name only. I live alone and, at this time, my only deposits are from SS. I understand that I should keep it that way. Did the new law that went into effect in 2011 help with this matter?

Two final questions: What should I expect to occur in the court hearing, and do I need to prepare for anything in particular? On the summons it reads, "You may be permitted to file certain responsive pleadings". What does this mean?

Thank you so much for your help.

Answer
Before the court hearing, you need to file an answer if you disagree with any of the allegations.  If you don't, the creditor will get a judgment in the amount pleaded, plus probably court costs and attorney fees.

It makes sense that you haven't enough income to file for Chapter 13.  However, you would probably be filing Chapter 7 if you were to file anything.  The only real question is the value of your house and amount of equity.  If the equity exceeds $15,000 (the homestead amount) the trustee in bankruptcy would probably try to sell the house to get money to pay your creditors.

If you have unpaid creditors beyond the one we have been discussing, you should really speak with a bankruptcy attorney about your options.

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Michael T. Hertz

Expertise

I can answer most questions concerning bankruptcy, whether business or personal, including questions by debtors, creditors, persons interested in purchasing assets from bankruptcy estates, and the like. Also have expertise in tort law, French and Canadian law.

Experience

Practiced bankruptcy for 27 years in California and taught bankruptcy for three years in Maine. This included Chapters 7, 9, 11, 12 and 13 cases, representing debtors, creditors (secured and unsecured), bankruptcy trustees, creditors committees, and persons interested in purchasing assets from bankruptcies. Debtors included persons with virtually no money up to large corporations.

Organizations
Inactive member of the Bar of the State of California. Nonpracticing member of the Bar of Massachusetts. Formerly member of the Maine Bar and conseil juridique in France. Certified by National Committee on Accreditation in Canada.

Publications
Georgetown Law Review; California Bankruptcy Journal; Maine Law Review; Dalhousie Law Journal; University of Toronto Law Journal.

Education/Credentials
Harvard Law School (J.D. 1970; cum laude) and Pomona College (B.A., 1967; cum laude)

Awards and Honors
Selected as a "Superlawyer" in 2005 and 2006 for Northern California.

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