Attorney Vicki Dempsey saw an injustice in Missouri law and has been successful in getting it changed. Dempsey has practiced bankruptcy law for 28 years and has represented thousands of people in Chapter 7 and 13 cases. In 2011 she filed a case for a couple in Missouri who had substantial medical bills. Sadly, a few months after the case was filed, the husband died of cancer. He had a $15,000 life insurance policy and the wife wanted to use some of that for funeral costs.
Unfortunately Missouri was the only state of 50 that did not protect some, if not all, of these matured life insurance proceeds. Federal bankruptcy law has a rule that any inheritance or life insurance arising from a death within six months from the date the bankruptcy was filed becomes an asset upon which the court will administer. Dempsey filed a request for her client to use $7000 of the $15,000 to cremate her husband, but the court ruled in April of 2012 that all the life insurance must be turned over to the Trustee. As a result of this decision, Dempsey determined to change the law.
She drafted an amendment to the Missouri law on bankruptcy exemptions. She approached the Commercial Law Committee of the Missouri Bar in the fall of 2012. She agreed to chair a sub-committee comprised of trustees, creditor attorneys and debtor attorneys. After a number of meetings, she hammered out language that was unanimously agreed upon by the sub-committee. Dempsey traveled to Columbia to get unanimous approval of the full committee in 2013, then on to Kansas City for the approval from the Missouri Bar Association Board of Governors in 2014.
She testified before the state senate in Jefferson City in the spring of 2015 and Bill 164 was passed on July 10, 2015. Governor Nixon signed the bill which allows debtors to use up to $15,000 for the funeral and burial costs of a spouse, child or parent who dies in that six month window.
Persistence paid off. This is just another example of how the attorneys at Dempsey & Dempsey fight for the rights of sick and poor people. We are all proud of Vicki Dempsey!