Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney
Are you financially crippled with debt? Are you looking for ways to pay off debt while ensuring that your valuable property is protected from foreclosure? Do you earn a significant income?
Also called a wage earners’ plan, Chapter 13 bankruptcy enables debtors who have a regular income to create a repayment plan so that they can repay all or part of the debts that they owe. Under this type of bankruptcy, you (the debtor) can propose a plan for repayment and accordingly make installments to your creditors for 3 to 5 years.
However, if your current income per month is less than the state median applicable, then your repayment plan under Chapter 13 bankruptcy shall be for three years unless the court approves a more extended period. But needless to say, under no circumstance will the court allow debtors to provide payments over a time frame that is longer than five years. Moreover, during this time, by law, creditors are prohibited from making any type of collection efforts.
To qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, here are the criteria you need to meet:
- Debt Limits
The current debt limitations are:
- Unsecured debt of $419,275
- Secured debt of $1,257,850
Please note that these limitations are as of April 2019. However, they can change every three years. For secured debt, a creditor has the right to take your property if you fail to pay the debt, but unsecured debts don’t give them this right.
Thus, to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your total debt burden should be lower than the limit.
- Steady Source of Income
Another aspect that you must fulfill to successfully file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that you must provide the court evidence that you have a constant source of income to afford to pay into a repayment plan and meet your household financial obligations. In case if your income is not steady or too low, then the court shall not approve your repayment plan.
- Not a business
Here it is essential to understand that Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not offered to companies. This means that only individuals can benefit from it and that companies can’t file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. But if you’re solely responsible for business-related debts, they shall be included in your repayment plan. In other words, a sole proprietorship can benefit from it.
Other qualification criteria include:
- You should be current on filing taxes
- You cannot have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the last four years and Chapter 13 in the previous two years
- You cannot have filed a petition for bankruptcy in the previous 180 days that was dismissed because you failed to appear in the court or comply with the orders of the court
Some of the benefits of Chapter 13 bankruptcy are:
- Avoid Foreclosure
Individuals under Chapter 13 bankruptcy have an opportunity to stop foreclosure proceedings and save their property. Moreover, they can cure delinquent mortgage payments over time. Nonetheless, they must make all of their mortgage payments on time that is due during the Chapter 13 repayment plan. Put simply; it gives the filer a chance to make up for the mortgage and car debt payments missed.
- Impact on Credit Reports is less
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is only shown on the credit reports for seven years. This is three years lesser than Chapter 7, which is shown for ten years. As the impact of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is less, this will give you an advantage in the long run if and when you decide to finance a vehicle or rent a house. Creditors and lenders use credit reports to judge the applicant.
- Acts like a Consolidation Loan
This means that the trustee distributes payments to your creditors so you will have zero contact with creditors.
- Allows You to Reschedule Secured Debts
Other than your primary residence mortgage, the debtor can reschedule secured debts and extend them over the life of chapter 13 plan, which helps lower payments.
- Discharge of Debt
A debtor is entitled to a release upon completion of all payments under the Chapter 13 repayment plan and as long as the debtor:
- 1. Certifies that all their domestic support obligations that came during the repayment plan are paid
- 2. They had not received a discharge in a case before it filed within a specified period
- 3. Has completed an approved financial management course
Moreover, the discharge removes all debts provided for by the plan but with limited exceptions. Also, once discharged, creditors can no longer initiate and continue any legal action against the debtor for discharged obligation collection.
Here is a step by step guide on how the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process works:
- Credit Counseling
First things first, you must complete pre-filing bankruptcy counseling. This is carried through a non-profit credit counseling agency that is approved by the US Trustee’s office. This credit counseling session will help you evaluate whether you have adequate income to pay back your creditors or not. Additionally, the counselor will help create a draft for your debt repayment plan under Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- Hire an Experienced Bankruptcy Lawyer
Chapter 13 bankruptcy case filing and paperwork are complex and complicated. Improper filling a form or skipping a step can result in your case being rejected in the court. Thus, it is advisable to hire an experienced and qualified lawyer who can help you with paperwork filing and submission.
At Shiner Law Group, we are experienced in this domain. Our Florida bankruptcy can help you navigate through the complexities of Chapter 13 bankruptcy case and ensure that the legal work is completed smoothly and without any stress. We will help you at every step of the process. Our team will fill out and file all the paperwork and various forms required. This includes:
- 1. Assets and liabilities schedules
- 2. Schedule of expenses and current income
- 3. Unexpired leases and executory contract schedules
- 4. Financial affairs statement
Other paperwork that needs to be provided are:
- Credit counseling certificate
- A copy of the debt repayment plan’s draft developed by the credit counseling
- A copy of any payment from employers, if any, received 60 days before filing
- A copy of monthly net income
- A copy of any anticipated increase in revenue or expenses after filing
- A record of any interest that the debtor has in state or federal qualified education or tuition accounts.
- Submit Your Bankruptcy Petition
After completing all your paperwork, an attorney will submit the petition all much needed to begin the process. Once the petition is filed, the court will appoint a bankruptcy trustee to your case, and an automatic stay will come into effect. This means that most of the attempts from debt collectors will be ceased.
The debtor should provide the trustee with their tax return copy or transcripts for the recent tax year as well as tax returns filed during the Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.
- Payment Plan Submission
Within fourteen days of filing the petition, you will have to submit a proposed repayment submission plan. Also, you must start making payments on the policy within 30 days of filing your petition, regardless of whether it has or not been approved yet.
- Creditors Meeting
From 21 to 50 days after petition filing, the trustee appointed to your bankruptcy case will conduct a creditors’ meeting in which they will discuss all the issues that they have with you, and you’ll answer all their reservations and concerns.
- Confirmation Hearing
Within 45 days of the creditor’s meeting, the trustee and creditors meet in the court for a confirmation hearing of the payment plan.
As agreed under the payment plan, you will make payments to the creditors and pay off your debts. The trustee distributes the funds to the creditors accordingly and as per the status of the claims. The claims are divided into three types—priority, secured, and unsecured. The plan must pay off priority claims, and in full, these include child support, alimony, and tax obligations. However, there are certain exceptions to it.
The repayment length depends on your monthly income. But most filers will have a 5-year plan. The three-year program, on the other hand, is available to those who also qualify to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case but choose Chapter 13 instead perhaps to save their house or car.
- Education Course
Before your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case gets closed, you will have to complete a “debtor education course.” This is done through a qualified non-profit credit counseling agency.
- Debts Discharged
Once your repayment plan and education course are complete, you should show the court that you’re current on your alimony and child support obligations. If you can meet all the requirements, the balance remaining on the qualified dischargeable debt will be wiped out. You will be free from debt except for a student loan or mortgage, if any.
More benefits of Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be available in your specific situation. Call us right now to schedule your initial consultation. Our experienced Florida bankruptcy lawyers can provide you with quality guidance and assistance so that you can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy in conformance with the law and get full benefits.