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Best Effort Requirement in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Best Effort Requirement in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

What is the Best Effort Requirement of Chapter 13?

The bankruptcy trustee is appointed following the filing of the repayment plan. The trustee and your creditors will review your proposed repayment plan to ensure that it satisfies all bankruptcy requirements. Before being finalized, your repayment plan must also be approved (confirmed) by the court.

Paying your disposable income to nonpriority unsecured creditors (such as credit card companies) in your repayment plan will demonstrate that you are making every effort to repay your debts. After deducting allowed living expenses and mandatory payments, such as secured and priority debt payments, your disposable income is the amount remaining. (Secured debts are backed by collateral, such as a mortgage or an automobile loan. Priority debts are those that warrant advancement to the front of the payment queue. Examples include domestic support obligations and tax debt.)

You will apply your discretionary income to your remaining debt (nonpriority unsecured debt, like credit card balances and medical bills).

What Will I Pay Unsecured Nonpriority Creditors?

  • Using the Chapter 13 Calculation of Your Disposable Income form, you will subtract the following from your income to determine your disposable income:
  • Expenses for living based on national and regional norms, as well as some actual amounts
  • secured payments, such as mortgage or auto loan payments (and any delinquent payments), and
  • Priority debts include arrears on child support and certain tax debts.
  • Over the course of five years, you will be required to pay a minimum of your monthly disposable income to your non-priority unsecured creditors.

Why Will I Be Charged More If I Own a Large Property?

The analysis continues further. In determining whether to confirm your repayment plan, the judge will also consider whether your creditors will receive the same amount through your Chapter 13 plan as they would if you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Here is why this is important:

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee sells all nonexempt assets (those that are not protected by exemptions). The funds are allocated first to the priority creditors, and then, if anything remains, to the non-priority unsecured creditors.

  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, allows you to keep non-exempt property. However, your creditors will not permit you to receive a windfall. To ensure that your creditors receive the same amount as they would under Chapter 7, you must pay the greater of:
  • the sum of your total priority debt and your disposable income, or
  • the market value of your taxable property.

Except: If You Were Eligible for Chapter 7

If you qualify for Chapter 7 but file for Chapter 13 for another reason, such as to save your home, you will not be required to calculate a monthly disposable income figure. Your plan payment will be based on your financial situation. The bankruptcy court will typically approve your Chapter 13 plan even if you’re paying non-priority unsecured creditors little or nothing. Additionally, the duration of your plan is reduced from five to three years.

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Creditor Objection to Chapter 13 Plan

Creditor Objection to Chapter 13 Plan

Discover what it means if the bankruptcy trustee objects to your Chapter 13 plan’s confirmation and what you can do.

If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and your proposed repayment plan violates all applicable bankruptcy laws, the bankruptcy trustee may object to your plan’s confirmation (approval). The following sections will discuss why the trustee may object to your Chapter 13 plan and your options if the trustee does object.

The Chapter 13 Plan and Confirmation by the Court

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is frequently referred to as a reorganization bankruptcy due to the fact that you repay some or all of your debts via a repayment plan. When you first file for Chapter 13, you present the trustee, your creditors, and the court with an initial repayment plan. After filing your case, you must immediately begin making plan payments to the trustee (your first payment is typically due within 30 days). However, your plan does not become permanent until it is confirmed by the court (which can take up to several months). (For more information on the Chapter 13 repayment plan, click here.)

Generally, unless the trustee or one of your creditors objects, the court will approve your plan. However, if you fail to submit a workable plan that complies with all applicable bankruptcy laws, the trustee may object to its confirmation.

When a Trustee May Disagree with Your Chapter 13 Plan

Numerous requirements must be met in order for the court to approve your proposed Chapter 13 plan. Generally, the trustee will oppose your plan if:

  • In your plan, you do not pay all of your disposable income to unsecured creditors (learn about how your disposable income affects your Chapter 13 plan)
  • You lack the financial means to make your plan payments.
  • Your plan does not pass the test of being in the best interests of creditors (which states that your plan must pay your unsecured creditors at least an amount equal to what they would have received in Chapter 7 bankruptcy)
  • Your plan excludes certain debts that you are required to repay (learn about debts you must pay back in your Chapter 13 plan)
  • Your plan is either too short or too long in duration (learn about how long your Chapter 13 plan must last)
  • You do not provide the trustee with all of the necessary supporting documents (such as tax returns or pay stubs).
  • you are in arrears with your plan payments, or
  • Otherwise, your proposal is not made in good faith. (Learn about the Chapter 13 good faith requirement.)

What Happens If Your Chapter 13 Plan Is Rejected by the Trustee?

One of the trustee’s primary responsibilities in Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to maximize payment to your unsecured creditors. This means that the trustee will almost always argue that you should be contributing more to your Chapter 13 plan. As a result, trustee objections are extremely prevalent in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. (Learn more about the Chapter 13 trustee’s role.)

If the trustee wishes to object to your plan, he or she will typically file a written objection to confirmation with the court, outlining the reasons why the court should reject your proposed plan. If you do not respond to the trustee’s objection, the plan will most likely be denied confirmation by the court. If you wish for the court to approve your plan following the trustee’s objection, you must file a written opposition explaining why you believe your plan is ready for confirmation.

Your Alternatives If the Trustee Disapproves of Your Plan

In the majority of cases, you can:

  • rectify your errors
  • submit a revised plan, or
  • To resolve the objections, negotiate with the trustee.

However, if you are unable to reach an agreement with the trustee, you must be prepared to argue your case before a judge during the Chapter 13 confirmation hearing (discussed below).

Confirmation Hearing under Chapter 13

Following your Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, the court will schedule a confirmation hearing to determine whether or not to approve your plan. If no objections are raised by the trustee or your creditors to your proposed plan, the court will confirm it at the hearing. (Learn more about the confirmation hearing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.)

However, if the trustee files an objection to your plan and you are unable to resolve it prior to the confirmation hearing, you must explain to the judge why you believe your plan should be confirmed. Following your presentation, the trustee will have an opportunity to make an argument.

The judge will decide whether or not to confirm your plan after hearing both sides. If the judge determines that additional evidence is required, he or she may also continue the hearing or remand the case for trial or evidentiary hearing.

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What Happens If You Don’t Make Your Chapter 13 Plan Payments?

What Happens If You Don't Make Your Chapter 13 Plan Payments?

Defaulting on your Chapter 13 plan (failing to make payments) has a number of unfavorable consequences. This may result in your creditors obtaining court permission to foreclose on your home or repossess your car. Alternatively, the court may dismiss your case or never approve it at all. Discover some of the potential consequences of failing to make a Chapter 13 repayment plan payment, as well as options for resolving your bankruptcy.

After you file for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will determine whether your proposed repayment plan is feasible. Even though this “confirmation” (approval) process can take several months, you will begin making payments approximately one month after filing and will maintain current monthly plan payments until confirmation. If you do not keep up with your plan payments, your bankruptcy case will be dismissed.

Confirmations are frequently delayed when a trustee or creditor objects to the proposed Chapter 13 plan at the outset. If the confirmed amount is greater than the agreed-upon three- or five-year repayment period, the plan payment will be adjusted to ensure that you can complete the plan within the agreed-upon three- or five-year repayment period.

Creditors Could Be Exempt From the Automatic Stay

When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is triggered. Except in limited circumstances, the automatic stay prohibits creditors from initiating or continuing collection activities (such as foreclosure or repossession) without first obtaining permission from the bankruptcy court. Due to the fact that the majority of your creditors will be paid through the Chapter 13 plan, they may seek relief from the automatic stay (permission to resume collection activities) if you fall behind on your plan payments. The request is made through the filing of a motion to lift the stay.

You Might Have Your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Dismissed

Even if the court has already confirmed your case, you run the risk of having your case dismissed if you fall behind on your Chapter 13 payments. The bankruptcy trustee will petition the court to dismiss your case for failure to adhere to repayment plan requirements, and if granted, the court will dismiss your case without granting you a discharge of your debts (qualifying debts will remain unaffected).

What Are Your Chances of Avoiding Bankruptcy?

Financial difficulties during the Chapter 13 process are not uncommon. Even if you fall behind on your Chapter 13 payments, your case will not be automatically dismissed. You will still have options for resolving your bankruptcy and regaining possession of your property.

Eliminate Your Default

Even if the Chapter 13 trustee requests that your case be dismissed, you may still petition the court for additional time to cure (catch up on) your default. This is the simplest option if you missed a few payments due to an emergency but are now back on track and ready to begin repaying your debts. The majority of trustees and judges will grant you additional time if you demonstrate that you are capable of making up for missed payments.

Make Changes to Your Chapter 13 Plan

If your circumstances have changed since you filed bankruptcy (for example, if your income has decreased as a result of a layoff), you may petition the court to modify your plan and lower your monthly payments. This, however, may not be possible if the plan is solely used to pay priority debts and secured debts on property you do not wish to surrender. Due to the fact that these debts must be paid in full, the court will be unable to reduce your Chapter 13 plan payments.

Restore Your Bankruptcy Under Chapter 13

Even if the bankruptcy is dismissed by the court, you may be able to reinstate your case. However, you will typically be required to do so immediately following your dismissal, and you will be required to bring your plan payments current.

Convert to Chapter 7 or Obtain an Accelerated Discharge

Additionally, you may be able to convert your Chapter 13 bankruptcy to a Chapter 7 (in which case you will receive a discharge without making any plan payments). To do so, you must demonstrate that you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy because you are no longer able to afford a Chapter 13. However, keep in mind that Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not allow you to discharge priority debts or cure arrearages, so converting may not be in your best interest.

Similarly, you may file for a Chapter 13 hardship discharge early. You would, however, be subject to the same restrictions as Chapter 7.

Represent Yourself in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

In the majority of cases, you can immediately re-file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy following dismissal. However, you may be prohibited from refiling for six months if you violated court orders or voluntarily dismissed your prior case, particularly if a creditor obtains relief from the stay. These types of filing prohibitions occur when the court “with prejudice” dismisses your case. Additionally, if you file a subsequent bankruptcy within a year of your previous one, the automatic stay will be limited to 30 days, and you will need to petition the court to extend it.

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The Chapter 13 Confirmation Hearing

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Confirmation Hearing

You must propose a plan to repay part or all of your debts when filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The bankruptcy judge decides whether your plan can be approved at the confirmation hearing. Continue reading to learn more about the confirmation hearing, including when it takes place, who is invited, and what happens if your Chapter 13 plan is not approved.

The Repayment Plan for Chapter 13

In Chapter 13, you propose a three- to five-year payment plan. The month after you file your case, you’ll make your first payment. The funds are held by the Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee until the judge approves your Chapter 13 plan, after which they are distributed to creditors.

Hearing on Confirmation

The bankruptcy judge must approve (confirm) your Chapter 13 plan. The bankruptcy court judge will use the confirmation hearing to determine the following:

  • whether your plan is feasible and you’ll be able to make the payments on time, and
  • whether you filed your plan in good faith or not, your unsecured creditors will receive the same amount of money or more than they would have received if you had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Timing of Confirmation

Within 45 days of the 341 meeting of creditors, the court will schedule the confirmation hearing. The hearing will be announced to your creditors at least 28 days in advance.

Attendance

You are not required to attend the confirmation hearing if you are represented by an attorney, but you may do so if you wish. You must appear if you are not represented by counsel, or your Chapter 13 case will be dismissed.

What Takes Place During the Hearing?

You will report to the assigned judge’s courtroom when you appear for the confirmation hearing. Any plan objections that were not resolved before the hearing will be argued by the trustee or creditor when they are called. The judge will consider the arguments and determine whether your plan meets the requirements for confirmation. Both you and your creditors are bound by the plan once it is confirmed.

Objections at the Confirmation Hearing should be planned ahead of time.

The confirmation of your plan may be challenged by your creditors or the Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee. Among the most common objections are:

  • The plan does not commit all available funds for the three or five-year plan period, or it does not commit all available funds for the three or five-year plan period.
  • Under the plan, you haven’t adequately provided for creditors.

For example, if you want to keep the property that serves as collateral in Chapter 13, you must pay all past due amounts owed to secured creditors, which are usually the holders of a mortgage or car loan. In addition, you must pay off all of your unsecured debts, such as credit card balances, medical bills, and personal loans, with your disposable income. Furthermore, these creditors cannot receive less than they would have received if you had filed for Chapter 7. The “best interests of creditors” test is what it’s called.

In many cases, an objection can be resolved prior to the hearing. If the trustee or a creditor claims that the expenses listed in Schedule J are excessive, you can resolve the issue by providing proof of your expenses. Similarly, if a creditor claims you aren’t paying enough, you can settle the dispute by changing your payment schedule to increase the amount you pay.

If the Court Approves Your Plan During Your Hearing

Following confirmation, the trustee will use the monthly payments you send in to pay the creditors listed in your Chapter 13 plan. Making timely and regular payments to the trustee is critical to the success of your case. If you are unable to make your Chapter 13 plan payments, contact the trustee’s office right away. They can assist you in modifying your plan payments.

If Your Plan Isn’t Confirmed by the Court

If the court rejects your proposed plan, the trustee will refund your money, minus any adequate protection payments made to ensure that a secured creditor—usually the holder of your car payment—is not financially harmed during the confirmation process (a bankruptcy requirement).

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341 Meeting of Creditors

What is Chapter 7 Debt Discharge?

The creditors’ meeting (341 hearing) is a critical component of each Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.

All Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtors are required to appear at a 341 hearing and meet with the trustee appointed to oversee the case. The trustee verifies the debtor’s identification and asks a series of questions about the bankruptcy paperwork during the creditors’ meeting. Creditors who attend may inquire about financial matters, though creditors rarely appear.

While it is natural for debtors to be concerned about the meeting, the majority are efficient and go off without a hitch. Here’s what you need to know to conduct yourself confidently during the meeting:

  • preparing for the meeting
  • what should be brought to the hearing
  • how to obtain access to the hearing
  • the nature of the questions that will be asked of you, and
  • what to anticipate if creditors show up.

Approximately sixty days after the trustee closes the hearing, the majority of Chapter 7 filers receive a discharge. For Chapter 13 filers, the next step is to have their Chapter 13 repayment plan confirmed at the confirmation hearing.

Recognize the Trustee’s Role in Creditors’ Meetings

The trustee’s job is to verify your identity, verify the accuracy of your paperwork, and ensure that your creditors receive the maximum amount possible. For instance, the trustee will evaluate your assets and property and verify the accuracy of your reported income in each case. Additionally, the trustee will look for any unreported sources of income or property to pursue in order to obtain additional funds for your creditors. Finally, the trustee will examine the file for indications of bankruptcy fraud.

In Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, the trustee has additional responsibilities. The Chapter 7 trustee will sell any property that is not exempt from bankruptcy and distribute the proceeds to creditors. The Chapter 13 trustee will determine whether your proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan is feasible. The Chapter 13 trustee will continue to distribute monthly payments to creditors if the judge approves the plan at the confirmation hearing. (With certain exceptions, debtors begin making proposed plan payments approximately 30 days after filing and receive the funds back if the court does not confirm the plan.)

Preparation for the Creditors’ Meeting

Prior to the creditors’ meeting, you’ll want to carefully review your bankruptcy petition. If you discover that you’ve overlooked something or come across an incorrect entry, you should:

  • if possible, file an amendment prior to the hearing, or
  • be prepared to call the trustee’s attention to the issue during the hearing.

A frequent occurrence is that your name is not listed exactly as it appears on your driver’s license, passport, or government identification card. At the start of the hearing, you will present one of these forms of identification along with proof of your Social Security card number. If they do not match, you will need to amend your petition and will almost certainly be required to return a second time.

How to Prepare for the 341 Hearing

In the majority of cases, you will have provided verifying documents to the trustee prior to the creditors’ meeting. Pay stubs, bank and retirement statements, and income tax returns are frequently sent to the trustee. Certain trustees require additional documents, which you will file with the court in some jurisdictions.

You should bring the following to the hearing:

a photograph deemed acceptable I.D.

  • your Social Security card or another form of identification that contains your Social Security number, and
  • any documents that reflect a change in your financial situation since you filed your petition.
  • You’ll probably want to bring a copy of your bankruptcy paperwork with you, as well as whatever else the trustee indicates will be required. Consult an attorney if you are unsure whether the item is appropriate.

The Creditors’ Meeting’s Logistics

Parking near a courthouse or other court facility is notoriously difficult. It’s a good idea to make parking arrangements in advance of the meeting so that you can arrive approximately fifteen minutes early. There may be multiple trustees meeting concurrently, and the additional time should allow you to find the appropriate room.

You should consult the calendar posted outside the hearing room’s door. The trustee will set approximately ten cases at the same time, so you’ll want to determine your position in the order.

There will be no judge present. The hearing will be conducted by the trustee. Creditors may also attend, although they do not appear in the majority of bankruptcy cases. You will be sworn in and the trustee will ask you a series of questions under oath. The trustee will conclude the hearing if he or she is satisfied. Otherwise, the trustee will extend it until the next business day. A continuance is uncommon if all required documents are submitted on time.

The 341 Hearing’s Length

You’ll be one of approximately ten debtors scheduled to appear at the scheduled hour. Once your case is called by the bankruptcy trustee, things move quickly. The bankruptcy trustee will ask a series of routine questions and will inquire about any outstanding issues or matters that require additional explanation. Creditors’ questions can also be brief. If they are not, the trustee will typically reschedule the debtor’s meeting to allow for additional questioning (more below). In most cases, the hearing lasts no more than ten minutes.

Typical Creditors’ Meeting Questions

The trustee will ask a series of standard questions to each debtor. The trustee will then inquire about any unique issues that have arisen in your case. Most bankruptcy attorneys are capable of anticipating the trustee’s questions and explaining the situation in advance—to both you and the trustee.

Typical questions include the following:

  • Have you gone over your bankruptcy petition and schedules with a lawyer before submitting them to the court?
  • To the best of your knowledge, is all of the information contained in your bankruptcy papers true and correct?
  • Are you certain you disclosed all of your assets?
  • Have you enumerated all of your creditors?
  • Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
  • Has anything changed in the time since you filed for bankruptcy?
  • Are you obligated to pay any forms of domestic support, such as alimony or child support?
  • Have you filed all required tax returns on time?
  • Have you made any payments to creditors that totaled more than $600 in the last year?
  • Is there anyone who owes you money for whatever reason?

One of the advantages of being near the bottom of the calendar is anticipating the trustee’s request.

Expectations If Creditors Appear at the 341 Meeting

While your creditors will be notified of the 341 hearing, the vast majority will not appear. A creditor may appear in the following circumstances:

  • The creditor wishes to obtain information regarding recent cash advances or credit card purchases.
  • The creditor is requesting information about disclosures that are not included on a credit application, such as the amount of your income, or
  • A creditor is an adversarial former business partner, spouse, or other person concerned about not being paid.
  • The majority of creditors use the meeting to conduct discovery. They’ll inquire about your interactions with them in order to determine whether it’s worthwhile to object to the discharge of your debt. If the creditor has a legitimate claim, they will almost certainly agree to resolve the matter without resorting to litigation.
  • If the trustee believes the matter is serious, he or she may adjourn the meeting to allow the creditor additional time for questioning. The trustee will be especially motivated to do so if the questioning reveals hidden assets, as the trustee is compensated based on the amount of money distributed.

Speak With Our Bankruptcy Lawyers In Phoenix & Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group should be your first choice for any bankruptcy evaluation. Our experienced professionals will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome. You can on the firm to represent you well so you can move on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation. We can assist with all types of bankruptcies including Business BankruptcyChapter 7 BankruptcyCreditor RepresentationChapter 5 ClaimsChapter 13 Bankruptcy, Business RestructuringChapter 11 Bankruptcy, and more.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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Bankruptcy Creditor Claims

What is Chapter 7 Debt Discharge?

When you file for bankruptcy, you must disclose your debts, referred to as “creditor claims,” on official bankruptcy paperwork. However, as simple as that may sound, categorizing claims can be a bit tricky.

To begin, you’ll classify the debt as either secured or unsecured. Then, you’ll categorize the unsecured claims as priority or nonpriority. This article will teach you how to properly label each debt and determine what will happen to it if you file for bankruptcy.

Incorporating Creditor Claims into Your Bankruptcy Documents

After you complete and file official bankruptcy forms, your bankruptcy case is initiated. The cover document, referred to as the petition, is where you will disclose personal information about yourself, such as your name, address, and the bankruptcy chapter for which you are filing. On schedules, you’ll detail your income, creditor claims (debts), and assets.

Creditor claims will be listed on one of the following schedules:

Schedule D: Creditors With Property-Backed Claims Secured claims, such as a mortgage, car payment, or other collateralized obligation, are included here.

Creditors With Unsecured Claims Schedule E/F This form is for listing unsecured claims. Part 1 is reserved for priority unsecured claims, such as unpaid taxes and child support. In Part 2, you’ll detail your non-priority unsecured claims (all remaining debts).

How Is a Secured Claim Defined?

In bankruptcy, a creditor with a secured claim has two things: a debt that you owe and a lien (also known as a security interest) on property that you own. If you default on your contract obligations, the lien enables the lender to seize the property, sell it at auction, and apply the proceeds to the account balance. For example, a mortgage lender with a lien may foreclose on real estate and a vehicle loan lender with a lien may repossess a vehicle.

Secured claims are frequently made voluntarily. For example, if you agree to pledge an asset as collateral for the loan (which is frequently done when purchasing a home or car), you voluntarily grant the creditor a security interest in your property.

Creditors may also place an unauthorized lien on your property without your consent. For instance, a credit card company may obtain an involuntary lien following a successful collection lawsuit. If you fall behind on your taxes, statutory law empowers the IRS to place a tax lien on your property.

Typical secured bankruptcy claims include the following:

  • mortgages
  • automobile loans
  • unpaid property taxes, and
  • other liens on real estate.
  • You’ll list all secured claims on Schedule D: Creditors With Property-Backed Claims.

What Happens to Secured Claims When a Debtor Files for Bankruptcy?

Creditors who have a secured claim are in a favorable position. A bankruptcy discharge (the court order that eliminates debt) does not eliminate liens on your property. It merely removes your obligation to repay the debt.

Due to the continued existence of the lien, the creditor retains the right to foreclose or repossess the property if the loan is not repaid. Therefore, if you file for bankruptcy and wish to retain property used to secure a loan, you must continue making payments to the lender until the debt is paid off.

However, if a home or car has significant equity, a Chapter 7 trustee will likely sell it. However, due to the lien, the trustee must obtain sufficient funds to repay the loan, return any exemption amount to you (the amount of equity you are permitted to protect), and pay off creditors with the remaining funds. If there is insufficient equity to make meaningful payments to creditors, the trustee will not sell the property.

If the property you wish to retain has a significant amount of equity, a Chapter 13 case is almost always a better option. However, you must have sufficient income to make a substantial monthly payment for three to five years (you must pay the value of the nonexempt equity in the plan).

Getting Rid of Liens in Bankruptcy Certain types of property liens are dischargeable in bankruptcy. For example, you may be able to petition the court to:

  • eliminate a judgment lien that interferes with your bankruptcy exemptions, or
  • In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can eliminate an entirely unsecured junior lien on your property.

How Are Unsecured Claims Defined?

A creditor who has an unsecured claim is not entitled to a lien. Unsecured claims fall into two categories:

  • Unsecured claims are given priority. These debts are not dischargeable in bankruptcy and will be paid before nonpriority unsecured claims if funds are available.
  • Unsecured claims with no priority. The majority of these debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy (except student loans). Priority debts must be satisfied before bankruptcy funds can be used to pay these debts.

Unsecured Non-Priority Claims

The bankruptcy discharge will eliminate the majority, but not all, nonpriority, unsecured claims. Among the most common unsecured claims that can be discharged in bankruptcy are the following:

  • debt incurred through credit cards
  • medical expenses, and
  • unsecured loans.

Although student loans are unsecured debts, they cannot be discharged unless you can demonstrate that paying them would cause you undue hardship (which is a difficult standard to prove).

Unsecured Claims with Priority

Priority unsecured debts are non-dischargeable and are treated differently. In bankruptcy, priority creditors receive payment before other creditors.

Among the most common types of priority claims are the following:

  • alimony
  • support for children
  • certain tax responsibilities, and
  • Debts incurred as a result of personal injury or death as a result of drunk driving.

Because Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not allow you to discharge priority debts, you will be responsible for any balance remaining after your Chapter 7 case (the bankruptcy trustee might sell some of your property and apply the funds to the debt).

If you file Chapter 13, you must repay all priority unsecured debts in full over the course of your three- to five-year repayment plan.

Unsecured claims will be listed on Schedule E/F: Creditors With Unsecured Claims.

Occasionally, it makes sense to file a proof of claim in your bankruptcy on behalf of a creditor who has not done so independently.

When you file for bankruptcy, the majority of your creditors will file a proof of claim – a document that details your debt – in order to be paid. Occasionally, a creditor will fail to file a proof of claim. In rare instances, you may wish to file a proof of claim on behalf of that creditor. This is why.

What Is a Claim Proof?

  • Whether your creditors receive anything in your bankruptcy case is contingent on a number of factors, including the following:
  • the nature of the creditor’s claim
  • regardless of whether you own non-exempt property
  • whether you have a source of revenue available to you, and
  • regardless of whether you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
  • If a creditor wishes to be paid in bankruptcy, he or she must file a document called a proof of claim with the court. The proof of claim informs the court about your debt and typically includes documentation substantiating the creditor’s claim.
  • Creditors will typically file their own proofs of claim. However, if one of your creditors fails to file a proof of claim, you may file one on its behalf if you wish to ensure that creditor receives payment during your bankruptcy.

Why Would a Creditor Choose Not to Submit a Proof of Claim?

Creditors file proofs of claim in bankruptcy in order to receive a share of any distributions made by the bankruptcy trustee in your case. If a creditor fails to file a proof of claim with the court, even if the creditor otherwise has a valid claim, the creditor will not be paid. However, creditors frequently fail to file proofs of claim in bankruptcy.

A creditor may choose not to file a proof of claim in your bankruptcy if one of the following applies:

  • You have a Chapter 7 no-asset bankruptcy (which means you do not have any property that the bankruptcy trustee can distribute to your creditors, thereby preventing them from being paid).
  • You owe the creditor a pittance, or
  • The creditor does not follow the court’s instructions or makes an error in any other way.

Justifications for Filing a Proof of Claim Against a Creditor

While it may seem strange to file claims on behalf of creditors in one’s own bankruptcy case, it is sometimes necessary. The following section discusses when it may be prudent to file a proof of claim on behalf of a creditor.

You Desire to Consolidate Your Nondischargeable Debts

Certain debts do not disappear simply because you file for bankruptcy. Nondischargeable debts include alimony, child support, certain taxes, and student loans. Due to the fact that you will be responsible for repaying your nondischargeable debts after your case is closed, you want to ensure that these creditors are paid before your other unsecured creditors (such as credit card companies) in your bankruptcy.

This means that regardless of whether you have nonexempt assets that will be distributed to creditors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy or are repaying a portion of your debts in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you want to ensure that any creditors with nondischargeable debts file proofs of claim with the court. If they do not, it is in your best interest to file a claim on their behalf to ensure that they receive a portion of the proceeds in your case.

You Wish to Make Up for Late Payments on Secured Debt

If you fall behind on your mortgage, car loan, or other secured debts, you may be able to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in order to catch up on your payments and keep your property. If the bankruptcy is being used to repay missed loan payments, you must ensure that the creditors you wish to repay (such as your mortgage or car lender) file proofs of claim with the court.

If they fail to file proofs of claim, the trustee may seek court approval to pay off your unsecured creditors in their place. This means that if a secured creditor to whom you intend to pay fails to file its claim, you may be required to do so on their behalf.

When Are Creditors Allowed to File Proofs of Claim?

The majority of creditors must file proofs of claim with the court within 90 days of your creditors’ meeting (government entities have 180 days from when you filed your case). Prior to filing a claim on behalf of a creditor, you must wait until the creditor’s deadline for filing its own claim has expired. After the deadline has passed, you have 30 days to file the creditor’s claim on your behalf.

Speak With Our Bankruptcy Lawyers In Phoenix & Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group should be your first choice for any bankruptcy evaluation. Our experienced professionals will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome. You can on the firm to represent you well so you can move on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation. We can assist with all types of bankruptcies including Business BankruptcyChapter 7 BankruptcyCreditor RepresentationChapter 5 ClaimsChapter 13 Bankruptcy, Business RestructuringChapter 11 Bankruptcy, and more.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Does The Chapter 7 And 13 Bankruptcy Trustee Do?

What Does The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee Do?

Learn more about Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustees, including what they do, how they are compensated, and how they manage your repayment plan.

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will appoint a trustee to manage your case. You’ll learn about the Chapter 13 trustee’s responsibilities, how the trustee is compensated, and the role the trustee will play in your case in this article.

The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee’s Responsibilities

The trustee’s job in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to:

  • Make sure your proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan complies with all legal requirements.
  • Before you file, make sure you’ve filed your tax returns for the previous four years.
  • take advantage of the plan’s payments
  • Distribute plan payments to your creditors according to the law.
  • keep track of the required monthly income and expense reports in a Chapter 13 case, and
  • If you owe back child support, you must provide certain information to the payee and your state’s child support enforcement agency.

How are Chapter 13 Trustees compensated?

Trustees in Chapter 13 keep about 7%–10% of the payments they make to creditors. When deciding whether Chapter 13 is right for you, keep this fee in mind.

The Function of the Chapter 13 Trustee in Your Case

Many Chapter 13 trustees are involved in the cases they oversee. This is particularly true in small suburban or rural judicial districts, as well as in districts with a high number of Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. A trustee might, for example:

  • provide you with financial advice, such as assisting you in the creation of a realistic budget (the trustee cannot, however, give you legal advice)
  • assist you in making any necessary changes to your plan
  • if you miss a payment or two, give you a temporary reprieve or take other steps to help you get back on track, or
  • Participate in any hearing about the value of a piece of property, and consider hiring an appraiser if necessary.
  • Your financial relationship with the trustee has its limits, despite the trustee’s interest in your finances.
  • You will have control over any money or property you obtain after filing, as long as you follow your repayment plan’s instructions and make all regular payments on your secured debts.

However, if your income or property rises during the course of your plan (for example, if you get a big promotion or win the lottery), the trustee can seek to amend your plan to pay your creditors a higher percentage of what you owe them rather than the lower percentage originally specified. If your income drops and you have to convert from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, the trustee may become involved.

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court appoints a bankruptcy trustee to oversee the administration of your case. You’ll learn about the specific responsibilities of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee in this article, so you’ll know what to expect before, during, and after the 341 meeting of creditors—the mandatory hearing for almost all filers.

What Does a Chapter 7 Trustee Do?

The Chapter 7 trustee examines the debtor’s bankruptcy paperwork and verifies his or her identification. However, these are minor responsibilities. The Chapter 7 trustee’s primary responsibility is to sell any property that the debtor is not entitled to keep and to distribute the proceeds to the debtor’s creditors. Thus, in any Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the trustee’s primary interest will be in your personal property and any property you claim as exempt (that you have the right to keep).

Certain individuals believe that the trustee’s role is to assist the debtor throughout the process. The trustee’s role is to protect creditors, not debtors—although the trustee will be courteous and assist the case in moving forward. The best way to grasp this dynamic is to understand how the trustee is compensated. Continue reading.

Payment to the Chapter 7 Trustee

A Chapter 7 trustee is compensated a pittance of $65 per case for performing a cursory review of a debtor’s bankruptcy petition (as of August 2020). A Chapter 7 trustee, on the other hand, stands to earn significantly more. The trustee is compensated by the court a percentage of the funds distributed to the debtor’s creditors.

The funds could come from a variety of nonexempt sources (property that the filer cannot protect with a bankruptcy exemption), including money in the debtor’s bank account, nonexempt property that the trustee liquidates (sells), or funds that the debtor agrees to pay in exchange for the right to keep nonexempt property (more below). The trustee receives 25% of the first $5,000, 10% of the next $50,000, and 5% of any additional funds up to $1,000,000.

The Chapter 7 Trustee conducts an examination of the Bankruptcy Petition.

If all of your property is exempt (you get to keep exempt property), your case is considered a “no-asset” case—creditors will receive nothing. The bankruptcy notice sent to creditors will inform them that they are not required to file proof of claim forms because there will be no money available to pay them. However, they will be informed that this may change.

Under the supervision of the United States Trustee, the trustee is required to review your bankruptcy papers for accuracy and indications of possible fraud or abuse of the bankruptcy system. The trustee will review the documentation and look for indications that you are concealing or mischaracterizing assets. The petition and schedules, as well as the 521 documents you submitted prior to the hearing, will be reviewed (bank statements, paycheck stubs, profit and loss statements, tax returns, and the like).

After discovering nothing, the trustee will lose interest in the case. When the trustee has no property to seize and sell in order to pay your unsecured creditors, there is no commission to motivate the trustee.

The 341 Creditors Meeting Is Conducted by the Chapter 7 Trustee

You’ll meet the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee at your creditors’ meeting, which you must attend in order to avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed. The trustee will verify your identification, ask the mandatory 341 questions (along with any other issues raised by your paperwork), and allow any creditors who appear to ask questions (they rarely show up).

Generally, if all of your assets are exempt, the trustee will call the meeting to a close and you will not hear from the trustee again. You’ll complete your debtor education course and await the discharge of your debt.

If, however, you are unable to fully respond to the trustee’s questions, the trustee will postpone the creditors’ meeting and request that you submit appropriate documentation in the interim. Occasionally, the trustee may retain an attorney to pursue nonexempt assets you appear to own, or may refer your case to the United States Trustee’s office for further action if it appears as though you engaged in fraudulent activity.

Nonexempt Assets Are Seized by the Chapter 7 Trustee

If the trustee needs to seize and sell nonexempt assets, you must cooperate in delivering them to the trustee for disposition. Additionally, you can “repurchase” nonexempt assets from the trustee at a negotiated price or substitute exempt assets for nonexempt assets. Numerous trustees discount the property’s value by 20% and occasionally grant the debtor a few months to pay.

Search by the Trustee for Non-Exempt Assets

Many people are unsure whether a trustee has the authority to search their homes to ascertain whether they are concealing property. While such searches are unusual, as part of your obligation to cooperate with the trustee, you may be required to give the trustee a guided tour of your home or storage space. And if you refuse to cooperate, the trustee can obtain a court order compelling you to comply.

Abandonment of Non-Exempt Assets by the Trustee

If you own nonexempt property that is not worth much or would be difficult for the trustee to sell, the trustee can — and frequently will — abandon it, allowing you to keep it. For instance, regardless of how much your used furniture is theoretically worth, many trustees will avoid selling it. Arranging for the sale of used furniture is time consuming and rarely results in a significant profit for the creditors.

The Chapter 7 Trustee Issues Notices of Support Arrears

If you owe back child support, the trustee must notify the support claimant and the state child support agency in order to assist them in locating you following your bankruptcy discharge. Specifically, the trustee will inform the payee of his or her bankruptcy-related rights. The trustee will notify the state child support enforcement agency of the back support, the discharge, the debtor’s address and employer information, and the identity of any creditor holding a nondischargeable, reaffirmed, or a claim.

Both the payee and the child support enforcement agency have the right to request your last known address from these creditors. These creditors are permitted by law to release such information without incurring any penalties.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Can I File for Bankruptcy If I Can’t Leave the House Due to Coronavirus?

Can I File for Bankruptcy If I Can't Leave the House Due to Coronavirus?

Learn how to file for bankruptcy while adhering to the COVID-19 outbreak’s quarantine and social distancing rules.

Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic’s uncertainty is especially difficult for those facing bankruptcy. Fortunately, many courts have temporarily relaxed rules, making it easier for bankruptcy attorneys to represent clients who have been quarantined. Therefore, if you are quarantined due to the coronavirus, rest assured that a large number of bankruptcy attorneys are prepared to assist you in getting out of debt.

Learn more about the temporary changes to bankruptcy procedures that have been implemented to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

Locating a Bankruptcy Attorney During the Coronavirus Epidemic

Due to the difficulty of representing yourself during the coronavirus outbreak, especially if you have ongoing health problems, your first hurdle will likely be hiring a bankruptcy attorney.

Because conducting in-person interviews will be impossible, you may wish to seek referrals from friends, family, and other attorneys. Additionally, you can search for a lawyer online or through your local or state bar association.

When contacting candidates, ensure that the office is capable of representing you while you are isolated, and that necessary accommodations are made, such as the following:

  • For attorney-client meetings and document review, telephone or video conferencing is used.
  • Options for submitting and signing documents include online, email, or dropbox.
  • the possibility of making a telephonic appearance at the 341 creditors’ meeting (the one hearing all filers must attend).
  • Additionally, inquire about the office’s free initial phone consultations. Discover the benefits of hiring a bankruptcy attorney.

Bankruptcy Filing During the Coronavirus Outbreak

While you are in quarantine, you will communicate with your lawyer and the court via technology. You will almost certainly require a computer, a printer, and a scanner (although some lawyers might let you use your phone to copy documents). Additionally, documents can be mailed or delivered by a friend or family member.

Here’s why these details will be critical.

Due to COVID-19, bankruptcy documents can be exchanged virtually.

Filing for bankruptcy is a time-consuming process. You should anticipate that your attorney will request that you complete a lengthy financial questionnaire. Additionally, you’ll need to gather numerous financial documents to substantiate your questionnaire responses.

Normally, the lawyer would hand you a packet and ask you to return it to the office later. Naturally, this will not work while you are quarantined. However, numerous attorneys already have functional systems in place.

For example, some attorneys begin the process by sending debtors a link to a website where they can complete the questionnaire online and possibly upload pay stubs, bank statements, and other documents required when filing for bankruptcy.

Others will email the bankruptcy questionnaire to the client and request that they scan and return it via email. If scanning is not possible, you can mail the documents in or have them dropped off at an office dropbox by a friend or family member (assuming that essential travel is permitted). Bear in mind that, according to some reports, the coronavirus can survive for an extended period on paper and cardboard.

Completion of Mandatory Bankruptcy Courses

You’ll complete two online courses—one prior to and one following your bankruptcy filing. Your attorney will assist you in obtaining access to the courses. Learn more about credit counseling and bankruptcy debtor education courses.

Meeting With a Bankruptcy Attorney Is Virtually Impossible Due to COVID-19

You should expect three to four consultations with your lawyer before the office files your case. The office can arrange meetings over the phone or via video conferencing.

Acquainting yourself with the attorney. You’ll ask questions, listen to the attorney’s assessment, and decide whether or not to retain the lawyer during the initial consultation. A lawyer familiar with your case may advise you of your options during that meeting.

Choosing a course of action. It is not uncommon for debtors to forget critical details inadvertently or to be unaware of the significance of certain information during the initial consultation. You’ll discuss anything new that came up in your questionnaire during this meeting. As a result, this will not be necessary unless the information contained in your questionnaire responses and financial documents contradicts what you and your lawyer discussed during the initial meeting.

Certain courts have temporarily waived the requirement that a bankruptcy attorney obtain an original or “wet signature” on the bankruptcy petition before electronically filing it with the court. This rule relaxation is extremely beneficial to both lawyers and clients during the coronavirus pandemic. It restricts the amount of contact that must occur prior to filing a case. Each day, more courts adopt similar rules.

If your local court has waived the requirement for a “wet signature,” your attorney should be able to immediately file your case online. Even if your local bankruptcy court has not yet relaxed this requirement, some attorneys may agree to a different arrangement. For example, the attorney may be able to review documents via phone or video conferencing and file the case after receiving the wet signature via mail or dropbox.

Bringing Your Bankruptcy Case to a Successful Conclusion

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all that remains is to await your discharge—the court order that eliminates your debt.

In a Chapter 13 case, your attorney will appear via telephone at a Chapter 13 confirmation meeting (as will you, if necessary—this will depend on the court’s practice). If the court approves your repayment plan at the confirmation hearing, you will make payments for three to five years on the agreed-upon schedule.

Speak With Our Bankruptcy Lawyers In Phoenix & Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group should be your first choice for any bankruptcy evaluation. Our experienced professionals will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome. You can on the firm to represent you well so you can move on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation. We can assist with all types of bankruptcies including Business BankruptcyChapter 7 BankruptcyCreditor RepresentationChapter 5 ClaimsChapter 13 Bankruptcy, Business RestructuringChapter 11 Bankruptcy, and more.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

What Does The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee Do?

What Does The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee Do?

Learn more about Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustees, including what they do, how they are compensated, and how they manage your repayment plan.

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will appoint a trustee to manage your case. You’ll learn about the Chapter 13 trustee’s responsibilities, how the trustee is compensated, and the role the trustee will play in your case in this article.

The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee’s Responsibilities

The trustee’s job in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to:

  • Make sure your proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan complies with all legal requirements.
  • Before you file, make sure you’ve filed your tax returns for the previous four years.
  • take advantage of the plan’s payments
  • Distribute plan payments to your creditors according to the law.
  • keep track of the required monthly income and expense reports in a Chapter 13 case, and
  • If you owe back child support, you must provide certain information to the payee and your state’s child support enforcement agency.

How are Chapter 13 Trustees compensated?

Trustees in Chapter 13 keep about 7%–10% of the payments they make to creditors. When deciding whether Chapter 13 is right for you, keep this fee in mind.

The Function of the Chapter 13 Trustee in Your Case

Many Chapter 13 trustees are involved in the cases they oversee. This is particularly true in small suburban or rural judicial districts, as well as in districts with a high number of Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. A trustee might, for example:

  • provide you with financial advice, such as assisting you in the creation of a realistic budget (the trustee cannot, however, give you legal advice)
  • assist you in making any necessary changes to your plan
  • if you miss a payment or two, give you a temporary reprieve or take other steps to help you get back on track, or
  • Participate in any hearing about the value of a piece of property, and consider hiring an appraiser if necessary.
  • Your financial relationship with the trustee has its limits, despite the trustee’s interest in your finances.
  • You will have control over any money or property you obtain after filing, as long as you follow your repayment plan’s instructions and make all regular payments on your secured debts.

However, if your income or property rises during the course of your plan (for example, if you get a big promotion or win the lottery), the trustee can seek to amend your plan to pay your creditors a higher percentage of what you owe them rather than the lower percentage originally specified. If your income drops and you have to convert from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, the trustee may become involved.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Which Debts Are Discharged in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and DIsposable Income

Which Debts Are Discharged in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Determine which debts are discharged at the conclusion of your Chapter 13 repayment period.

You’ll get a discharge order after you finish your Chapter 13 repayment plan, which will wipe out the remaining sum of qualified debt. In fact, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge is much broader than a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge because it eliminates debts that aren’t dischargeable in Chapter 7.

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which debts are paid?

In bankruptcy, not all debts are treated similarly. Each one belongs to a specific category, which indicates whether the obligation must be paid or if it can be canceled.

The first stage is to determine if a debt is secured (backed up by collateral) or unsecured (no property may be taken if you don’t pay).

Priority and nonpriority unsecured debt are two types of unsecured debt. Priority unsecured debts are not dischargeable and are paid before nonpriority debts. Nonpriority unsecured debts are only paid if there is money left over, and the debt is usually dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Here are some of the most important details:

  • Debts that are secured. If the obligation is secured by collateral, you must either pay as promised or surrender the collateral (usually a house or car). Long-term debts, such as a 30-year mortgage, are not need to be paid in full under a Chapter 13 plan. If you’re behind on payments, you’ll have to make up the difference in the plan. The debt becomes a nonpriority unsecured debt if you surrender the collateral.
  • Unsecured debts take precedence. In a bankruptcy proceeding, these debts do not disappear. Priority claims must be paid in full in a Chapter 13 plan.
  • Unsecured debts that aren’t priority. The bulk of nonpriority unsecured debts are discharged in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Credit card debt, personal loans, medical costs, and utility bills all fall into this category. Although student loans fall into this category, they aren’t dischargeable unless you can show in an adversary procedure (a separate litigation) that paying the debt will cause you undue hardship. You won’t have to repay your school loans in full under your plan because they are long-term debts.
  • Most non-priority unsecured debt balances will be discharged once your Chapter 13 repayment plan is finished. Student loan balances, on the other hand, will remain your responsibility.

Debts Eligible for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Some of the most prevalent types of non-priority unsecured debts are listed below.

  • Debt owed on a credit card. Most people who file for bankruptcy have credit card debt that they want to pay off. Because credit card debt is considered nonpriority unsecured debt, any leftover balance will be discharged once your repayment plan is completed.
  • Medical expenses. You can discharge your medical costs through Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you have to acquire debt because your medical care was not fully covered by insurance.
  • Personal loans that aren’t backed up by anything. Any uncollateralized personal debts (like as a payday loan) are discharged at the end of your Chapter 13 case, much like credit card debt.
  • Tax obligations from the past. The majority of tax debts are non-dischargeable priority debts. Certain taxes (such as back taxes) may be designated non-priority debts and dismissed following completion of your case if you did not conduct fraud (and, in some jurisdictions, timely filed your returns).
  • Breach of contract or debt resulting from negligence. You can usually dismiss a judgment against you through Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you broke a contract (failed to pay or perform as required) or performed a negligent (accidental) act that caused personal or property harm. However, a debt for willful or malicious injury to a person will not be discharged under Chapter 13.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Discharges Debts But Not Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The following are examples of the debts that will be discharged in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy but will not be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

  • Property Damage Caused By Willful and Malicious Acts
  • You can discharge debts deriving from willful and malicious damage to another person’s property (the harm was intentional, not accidental) but not willful injury to another person through Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • Debts incurred in the payment of non-dischargeable taxes
  • If you pay your tax debt with a credit card, the debt is usually nondischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can, however, discharge debts incurred to meet nondischargeable tax obligations in Chapter 13.

Property Settlement Debts Resulting from Divorce or Separation

Alimony and child support are always non-dischargeable domestic support obligations. You can, however, discharge your duty to your spouse or former spouse for other obligations allocated to you in divorce or separation proceedings through Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Example. Assume you were assigned and obligated to pay a joint credit card you shared with your husband in your divorce judgment. If you don’t pay it, the credit card company has the right to pursue both you and your former spouse, despite the fact that the debt was assigned to you by a family court judgment. You can discharge your debts to creditors but not to your former spouse if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your ex spouse is forced to pay the debt, he or she has the right to pursue you for the money. However, Chapter 13 relieves you of your debts to both the creditor and your former spouse.

Homeowners’ Dues After the Petition

You’ll be responsible for property taxes, utility payments, and homeowners’ dues until the home’s title is no longer in your name if you let go of a home in a Chapter 7 case (in other words, until the lender sells it in foreclosure). If you surrender your property as part of a Chapter 13 plan, some bankruptcy courts, but not all, will not hold you liable for homeowners’ dues.

Fines, penalties, and forfeitures imposed by the government

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll be entitled to discharge any debts you owe to a city, county, state, or other governmental agency, including those stemming from fraud. You will, however, be responsible for any restitution or criminal fines imposed during your criminal sentence.

Debt from an Unsuccessful Bankruptcy Case

You could be eligible to get rid of debt in Chapter 13 if the court found that you weren’t entitled to a discharge in a previous bankruptcy case (say because you didn’t fulfill the Chapter 7 means test) or if you waived your discharge. You won’t be able to get rid of a debt that a judge has declared nondischargeable by filing another case.

Liens that have been stripped or crammed down

A creditor’s security interest (such as a mortgage or vehicle lender’s lien) on your property is usually not removed by bankruptcy. If certain circumstances are met (for example, the debt isn’t fully secured by the collateral and the property is worth less than the obligation), Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be used to eliminate an entirely unsecured junior lien or consolidate a secured debt (reduce the loan to match the property value). The percentage that has been stripped or reduced is classed as an unsecured obligation and discharged at the conclusion of the case.

Other Specimen Debts

You may also be eligible to discharge the following debts:

a debt incurred as a result of a wrongful conduct against a federally insured bank or credit union

a prisoner’s court fees for filing a lawsuit, motion, appeal, or other court document, and

Debts incurred as a result of securities law violations.

When will you be discharged under Chapter 13?

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must repay a specific amount of your obligations through a repayment plan before receiving a discharge. However, it isn’t based on the overall amount of debt you owe. Instead, the amount of your repayment plan is determined by the type of debt you have, the value of your home, your income, and your outgoings.

Specifically, you must pay your unsecured creditors the larger of the following amounts:

your disposable income (what’s left after you’ve deducted all of your allowable expenses), or

the value of your nonexempt property (that which is not protected by a bankruptcy protection).

The bankruptcy trustee distributes funds to creditors according to the priority of each debt. Unlike non-priority unsecured debts, certain priority debts (such as recent taxes, alimony, and child support) must be paid in full.

While it’s possible that you’ll pay less than you owe (especially if you have a lot of credit card or medical debt), you’ll repay all of your debt if it’s priority debt, such as current income tax liabilities and support obligations.

Any remaining qualified balances are wiped out once you’ve made all of your plan payments. Creditors will no longer be able to pursue you to recover debts.

You must devote all of your disposable income to your Chapter 13 repayment plan if you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13. You pay 100 percent of certain debts and a portion of other debts through the plan, which lasts three or five years.

Keep in mind that even if you can fund a Chapter 13 plan with your disposable income, you must still pay your unsecured creditors at least as much as they would have received if you had filed for Chapter 7. Your plan will not be confirmed if you are unable to do so. (See The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Repayment Plan for more information on the plan, including which debts must be paid in full and how much your unsecured creditors must receive.)

It can be difficult to calculate your “disposable income” for the purposes of your repayment plan. And the formula changes depending on whether your income is higher or lower than the state’s median income. Here are the fundamental guidelines.

Current Monthly Income Calculation

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you take your average monthly income for the six months prior to filing for bankruptcy to determine your current monthly income.

Gross wages, salary, tips, bonuses, overtime, commissions, income from a business, rental income, interest, dividends, and royalties, pension and retirement income, unemployment compensation, income from someone else who contributes to your household on a regular basis, and income from other sources must all be included.

What happens if your actual income is significantly different from your six-month average income? In the case of Hamilton v. Lanning, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that bankruptcy courts can take into account changes in your current income and expenses when calculating your disposable income.

Expendable Income

The amount of income left over after paying required creditors and allowing for monthly expenses is referred to as disposable income.

Finding the Median Income in Your State

The median income in your state can be found on the United States Courts’ website (at www.uscourts.gov). Select “bankruptcy” and then “means testing” from the drop-down menu.

If your income is less than the state median income, you must calculate your disposable income.

Use your current monthly income minus child support, foster care payments, and disability payments necessary for the care of a child if your income is below the state’s median income.

To calculate your disposable income, subtract the following amounts:

  • expenses that are reasonably necessary to support yourself and your children (such as rent, utilities, costs of clothing, food, medical and dental expenses, etc.)
  • payments in installments
  • debts with the highest priority
  • secured debt arrearages (such as back mortgage or car payments), and unsecured debt arrearages

Liens are used to secure debts.

You must pay this amount to your plan each month if you have income after deducting these expenses. You won’t be able to fund (and the court won’t confirm) a plan if you don’t have any income after deducting these expenses.

If your income is higher than the state median income, you must calculate your disposable income.

Calculating your disposable income becomes more difficult if your income exceeds the state’s median income. You must use the IRS-approved expense amounts, which may differ from your actual expenses. You also deduct the following:

  • Expenses for medical care paid out of pocket
  • Income taxes, self-employment taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes are some of the most common types of taxes.
  • payroll deductions that are required
  • payments for child support and alimony, and
  • Priority claims are paid first.

Speak With Our Bankruptcy Lawyers In Phoenix & Scottsdale

Canterbury Law Group should be your first choice for any bankruptcy evaluation. Our experienced professionals will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome. You can on the firm to represent you well so you can move on with your life. Call today for an initial consultation. We can assist with all types of bankruptcies including Business BankruptcyChapter 7 BankruptcyCreditor RepresentationChapter 5 ClaimsChapter 13 Bankruptcy, Business RestructuringChapter 11 Bankruptcy, and more.

*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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