How Do You Know Which State to File Bankruptcy In If You Live In the St. Louis Area? - By: Jim Brown

As a St. Louis bankruptcy attorney, I often have clients who live in Illinois and commute to Missouri, or vise versa. Or they maintain a residence on the Missouri side, but spend all their time with their girlfriend on the Illinois side. Or even clients who live in Illinois, but prefer to do all of their banking across the river in Missouri. So if you live in one state and work in another, does it really matter which state you file in?

Yes it does. There are a few reasons for this. While bankruptcy is governed by federal laws, each state has different bankruptcy trustees (a person the court assigns to oversee your bankruptcy case). There are also different local rules and exemptions for every jurisdiction and state. Exemptions are legal tools that allow you to protect certain dollar amounts of different types of property, and they vary from state to state.

So if you technically live in one state, but spend most of your time and money in a different state, how do you determine which state you file in? Can you just choose?

The rule is that you file in whichever state you've lived in for the last six months (and if you've lived in more than one state during the last six months, it's where you lived the majority of the time). When I say "lived in" a state, I mean the state where you've maintained a residence, held a driver's license, registered to vote, paid utilities, etc.

If you've moved several times in the past year or so, determining where to file your case can get pretty confusing. In fact, there may be certain benefits and advantages to filing in one state over another, so you should consult with an attorney who has experience in both Illinois and Missouri cases.

After 16 years of filing cases on both sides of the river, we made the decision to open an office in Fairview Heights, Illinois to make it more convenient for Southern Illinois families to get to us (supplementing our downtown and Wentzville locations). When you're hiring a bankruptcy attorney in the St. Louis area, make sure to verify that they have experience with both Missouri and Illinois. A good indicator of this will be attorneys who are licensed in both states, as well as office locations in both states.

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Author Resource : James Brown is a personal bankruptcy attorney in St. Louis, Missouri. He has filed over 30,000 bankruptcy cases and published many books and articles. You can request his free Missouri and Illinois bankruptcy guide( for the best tips on how to prepare for your bankruptcy and find a great bankruptcy lawyer.