How do I file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
According to Chapter 13 bankruptcy rules, it is necessary for a debtor to attend credit counseling prior to filing for bankruptcy. After the completion of counseling, the debtor must pay a fee and provide the bankruptcy court with information about income, debt, expenses, and creditor holdings of secured and unsecured debt. Once the court receives the appropriate paperwork, a trustee will review the case. The trustee will request information from the debtor, communicate with creditors, and hold a creditors meeting. The debtor is also responsible for filing a repayment plan with the court. Once the bankruptcy court approves the repayment plan, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is complete.
Does filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy stop creditors from collecting a debt?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy rules state that a creditor may no longer pursue collection activities when a debtor files for bankruptcy. As soon as debtor files the appropriate paperwork and pays the filing fee, an automatic stay takes effect. An automatic stay prohibits creditors from further attempts to collect a debt. This means that any lawsuit proceedings must cease, a creditor may not report the debt to credit reporting agencies, and the debtor’s property and income are safe from seizure. Collection activities may continue for spousal and child support, tax debt, and pension loans, however.
Will a Chapter 13 bankruptcy erase my student loan?
A bankruptcy court will require repayment of your student loan debt. Chapter 13 bankruptcy rules treat student loan debt similar to priority debt–it is payable in full like back taxes and child support payments. Prior to 2005, student loan debt was only dischargeable when funded by a private lender. With the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, however, privately funded student loans are now treated the same as student loans guaranteed or issued by the federal government. This means that all student loan debt is only dischargeable upon a showing of undue hardship.
Typically, it is difficult to convince a bankruptcy court to discharge student loan debt. A bankruptcy court will consider such factors as poverty, the inability to pay the loan due to a permanent disability, and a debtor’s good-faith effort to repay the loan for a long period. To have a student loan debt dismissed, a debtor must file a separate action in bankruptcy court called a Complaint to Determine Dischargeability of a Debt.
If I miss a scheduled payment under my Chapter 13 repayment plan, can a creditor sue me?
If a debtor misses a scheduled payment, Chapter 13 bankruptcy rules allow the trustee to institute an action for dismissal with the bankruptcy court. Because the debtor agreed to repay creditors according to a court-approved Chapter 13 repayment plan, a trustee may request the dismissal of the case once those creditors are no longer receiving payments. A debtor may be able to prevent the dismissal of a case by establishing their ability to repay the debt under the current plan or by requesting that the court approve a new plan.
If the bankruptcy court dismisses the case, a creditor may reinstitute collection activities against the debtor. Bankruptcy laws that prohibit collection attempts no longer protect the debtor at this point. Consequently, creditors may collect the current amount owed on the debt and any interest on the debt that accrued while the debtor was in bankruptcy.
Changes to the Bankruptcy Law
In 2005, new bankruptcy laws required potential bankruptcy individuals to be involved in courses educating and informing them of their financial options. Before an individual files for a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must receive credit counseling from an approved agency. Any Chapter 7 Lawyer will tell you that it’s required. In addition, before a bankruptcy is discharged, the individual must attain a personal finance management course known as debtor education.
Do I have to get Credit Counseling?
The purpose of credit counseling is to assist an individual’s evaluate his or her financial options and to determine if he or she can repay debts through a repayment plan without filing bankruptcy. In credit counseling, the individual will usually provide information regarding his or her income, expenses, and debts. The counselor then evaluates the information and proposes a repayment plan.
Personal Financial Management and Debtor Education
Debtor education information is meant to instruct individuals to be responsible with their finances. The education is meant for the individual to learn from his or her mistakes and never be in the postion to file bankruptcy again. A debtor education course will usually provide tips in developing a budget, managing finances, using credit responsibly, and how to deal with financial emergencies.
As part of the new bankruptcy laws, people wishing to file for bankruptcy (under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13) must now complete a credit counseling program before they will be allowed to file a bankruptcy petition. In addition, bankruptcy filers must obtain debt management counseling before being allowed to complete the bankruptcy process. In order to comply with these credit counseling and post-discharge debtor education requirements, filers must work with agencies that have been approved by the U.S. Trustee Program (a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice that is responsible for overseeing bankruptcy cases).
Two lists of agencies that have been approved by the Department of Justice — the first a list of agencies that provide pre-filing credit counseling to those wishing to file for bankruptcy, and the second a list of agencies that offer post-discharge debtor education to people who are completing the bankruptcy process. The third link below includes tips on choosing a credit counselor, from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
On April 15, 2013, the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees (EOUST) announced new policies on credit counseling and debtor education requirements. The list below is some notable new rules.
• Quality – The quality of counseling must be consistent whether the debtor takes the course on the Internet, in person, and over the phone. In addition, the counseling must not be generic but individually specific to the debtor.
• Use the Cheapest One – Credit counseling agencies and debtor education information providers must charge a reasonable fee that is $15 or less. An individual’s income that falls 150% below the poverty line is eligible for a fee waiver. We reccomend that you use Debtorcc.org – they are fast and the cheapest one that we could find.
Is credit card debt included in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan?
To qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debtor must repay all secured creditors and priority debts in full and must repay a portion of the amount owed to unsecured creditors. “Secured debt” is a debt obligation backed by collateral such as a car or real property; “priority debt” includes child support payments and back taxes; and “unsecured debt” are those obligations that are not backed by collateral. Unsecured debt includes money owed on a credit card.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy places a filer’s debt into a repayment plan. A bankruptcy court will not approve a plan unless the arrangement requires that the debtor repay all priority and secured debt in full. The repayment plan must also require the debtor to repay unsecured creditors in an amount equal in value to the filer’s nonexempt property. Nonexempt property includes any interest held in real property, business assets, and artwork. Once a Chapter 13 repayment plan begins, a trustee will disburse the monthly payment made by the debtor to the creditors each month.
Free Consultation with Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you have a bankruptcy question, or need to file a bankruptcy case, call Ascent Law now at (801) 676-5506. Attorneys in our office have filed over a thousand cases. We can help you now. Come in or call in for your free initial consultation.
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