Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also called a wage earner’s plan. It helps people with regular income to create a plan to repay all or part of their debts. If you are reaffirming debt in a Chapter 7, then your payment in a Chapter 13 may not be more than a Chapter 7, in fact it may be less.

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What will my payment be under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan?

This depends on several issues:

  1. What secured property (property they can take away if you don’t pay for it – houses and cars) do you want to keep and pay for? In the case of secured property there are two major options:
    1. Surrender the property back to the creditor and not pay anything;
    2.  Keep and pay for the property, and if it was purchased recently you have to pay the balance due plus interest, but you can lower the interest rate, or if you purchased a while ago (910 days for cars and 1 year for household goods), you only have to pay what you owe or what it is worth, whichever is less.
    3. With a house payment, there are three options:
      1.  If the payments are current, continue to pay it yourself and don’t pay it through the Chapter 13 plan; or
      2. Make the regular monthly payment through the plan, and if you are behind on the payment, catch up the payments in the plan. This way when the bankruptcy is over, you will be current and pick up and pay the normal monthly payment; or
      3.  Pay the balance in full within the plan.
  2. What is your Plan Length? The length of your plan can be a minimum of 36 months (3 years) and a maximum of 60 months (5 years). If you do not pass the means test and you are not paying everyone back in full, then the plan has to be 5 years.
  3. The calculation of your disposable income. Under the bankruptcy code your disposable income (how much money is left after you pay all of your necessary monthly bills) will be calculated, and you will have to pay at least that amount towards bankruptcy most of the time. There are exceptions. Also, courts typically allow debtors to keep an amount of money every month for entertainment purposes. Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not mean you have to live like a pauper for the next five years.
  4. What priority debts do you have? Priority debts are things such as taxes, wages owed to others, alimony, and child support. All priority debts, except child support, must be paid in full within the life of the plan. All priority debts will be paid through the plan except child support. You will continue to pay child support however you are directed to do so by the court.
  5. What non-dischargeable debt do you have to repay?  Non-dischargeable debt can include student loans, punitive damages, judgements based on fraud, etc. Student loans are the most common.
    1. Remember, any unpaid amount plus interest and any collection fees will be due after you get out of Bankruptcy.  You have two options:
      1.  Ignore the student loan and pay nothing through the plan; or
      2.   Pay your normal monthly payment and catch up what you are behind.
  6. What leased property do you want to keep and pay for? More often than not, lease-purchases are not financially wise transactions.  If you have leased property, you have three (3) options:
    1. Reject the lease and let the creditor have the property back and pay them nothing;
    2. Accept the lease contract as written, and continue to pay them directly, not through the plan, if your payments are current; and
    3. Accept the lease contract as written, and pay it through the plan, and if you are behind on payments, catch those payments up through the plan.
  7. What debts do you owe jointly with other people who are not filing bankruptcy? You have two options:
    1.  Pay nothing towards the obligation and let the responsibility fall on the co-debtor or person who jointly owes the debt.
    2. Pay the debt in full inside the plan so your co-debtor does not have to pay.
  8. What non-exempt property must you pay the value of? If you own property that is not exempt, then you will pay the value of the property to the Trustee. If you file a Chapter 7, this property would be taken as well as sold by the trustee to pay your debts.
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wh Law, is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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