Chapter 13 Overview

There are several types or ‘Chapters’ of bankruptcy. Each Chapter does something different but ironically, they do it in a similar way. A Chapter 13 is known as a “Wage Earner Repayment Plan’. People file Chapter 13 cases for many different reasons.

Like each of the Chapters, the case is commenced by the filing of a Petition, a set of Schedules which list your income, expenses, assets and liabilities and the Statement of Financial Affairs known as a SOFA. It contains a set of questions about your finances over the last few years and other historical financial information. All of these documents are filed with the Court and are public record, although they are seldom looked at by the public.

Before the case is filed, the Debtor is required to take a Credit Counseling Class and then file the Certificate with the initial Petition and Schedules. Chapter 13 requires the Debtor file a Chapter 13 Plan with the Court. The Plan is your guide to what you want to accomplish in your Chapter 13 case.

Chapter 13 can do many things. It has several methods to save the family home. It offers an opportunity to value the property, discharging and removing mortgages where the balance of the mortgage is more than the home is worth. You can value a car and car loan and restructure the remaining payment obligation to get a longer term, lower balance or a lower interest rate. Chapter 13 gives you a structured method to repay Student Loans and non-dischargeable tax liabilities. During your Chapter 13 consult, your Counsel will look at your particular situation and be able to explore the various opportunities and tools which Chapter 13 provides.

Once your case is filed, one of several local Chapter 13 Trustees will be appointed to your case. Your lawyer will forward various documents to the Trustee so they can look at your financial condition. The Trustee will also conduct a Section 341 meeting where you will appear and answer several minutes worth of questions about your income, expenses, assets and liabilities.

The ultimate goal of your 13 is to get your Chapter 13 Plan confirmed or ‘approved’ by the Court. The Order of Confirmation sets out how each of your debts are being modified or Discharged by the Court as a result of the Chapter 13. A 13 reorganization is a very valuable tool to stop all of the collection activity, identify who your creditors are, decide if you’re keeping or surrendering the house, the car, the electronics and how you treat each one.

Chapter 13 is a very valuable tool. The McIntyre Firm has extensive experience with helping consumers, small businesses and even big businesses to evaluate their debt load, look at their assets and see if a Chapter 13 or some other financial, non-bankruptcy strategy would be beneficial.