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Written by Canterbury Law Group

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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Written by Canterbury Law Group

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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Written by Canterbury Law Group

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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Written by Canterbury Law Group

Different Types of Separation

What does the term “separated” mean? Discover the distinctions between trial separation, permanent separation, and legal separation.

When it comes to marriage, separation is not synonymous with divorce—even if you have a court-ordered “judgment of separation.” Separation is when you live apart from your spouse but remain legally married until you obtain a divorce judgment. While a separation does not terminate your marriage, it does affect your financial obligations to your spouse until the divorce is final.

Separation is classified into three types: trial, permanent, and legal. In the majority of states, only one of the three (legal separation) alters your legal status—but all three have the potential to impair your legal rights.

Separation of Trials

If you and your spouse feel the need for a break from the relationship, one option is to live apart while deciding whether to divorce—a process known as “trial separation.” Legally, little changes during a trial separation—all applicable marital property laws remain in effect. For instance, a court will consider the money you earn and the items you purchase during the trial separation to be property acquired by a married person. This frequently means that you and your spouse jointly own the property (depending on your state’s property ownership laws).

If you and your spouse separate but intend to reconcile, it’s a good idea to write an informal agreement outlining the separation rules. For instance, your trial separation agreement may address the following:

  • whether you’re going to continue sharing a joint bank account or credit cards.
  • how you intend to budget your expenditures
  • who will continue to reside in the family home
  • how you intend to split expenses, and
  • If you have children, discuss how and when you will spend time with them.
  • If you decide to divorce, you may be able to use this trial separation agreement as a template for a marital settlement agreement.
  • If you and your spouse agree that reconciliation is impossible, your trial separation becomes permanent.

Permanent Distancing

If you live apart from your spouse with no intention of reconciling but are not divorced, the law considers you to be permanently separated.

How Separation from Your Spouse Affects Your Rights

Depending on the local law, a permanent separation may alter the property rights of spouses. For instance, in some states, assets and debts acquired during a permanent separation are considered to belong exclusively to the spouse who acquired them. Once a couple is permanently divorced, each spouse assumes sole responsibility for any debts incurred. Similarly, spouses who divorce permanently lose their right to any property or income acquired by the other.

Why Does the Date of Final Divorce Matter?

Due to the fact that spouses’ rights to each other’s property and obligations to pay debts change significantly as of the date of a permanent separation, spouses frequently argue bitterly about the precise date of their permanent separation. For instance, if your spouse left in a huff and spent a month sleeping on a friend’s couch, but you did not discuss divorce until after the month passed, the date the separation became permanent may be unclear. That means that if your spouse earned a sizable bonus at work during that month, you may be able to argue that you are entitled to a portion of the bonus.

If you move out of the house and do not anticipate a long-term reconciliation with your spouse, reconsider going out or spending the night together just for the sake of old times. If you reconcile briefly, you risk changing the date of separation and becoming financially responsible for your spouse during a time when you believed you were solely responsible for your own.

After you have legally separated from your spouse and reached basic agreements regarding your joint assets and debts, you are not required to divorce immediately. You may choose to remain married for a variety of reasons, including avoiding disruption of your children’s lives or retaining insurance coverage. Or, in some cases, preserving the status quo is simply more convenient than pursuing a divorce. On the other hand, you may decide to divorce as soon as the paperwork is finalized, or when the required separation or waiting period in your state expires.

Is Separation Required Prior to Divorce in My State?

Certain states’ laws require spouses to separate before a divorce can be finalized. State laws governing required separations vary in detail—for example, many states require spouses to live “separately and apart” for a specified period of time before the court will accept a divorce petition (formal request), while others do not require separation until after the petition is filed. If you file before meeting the requirements for separation, the court may dismiss your case. Other states may require spouses to live apart during the divorce process.

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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

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

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Cost 2021

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Cost 2021

If you’re attempting to get out from under a mountain of debt, you’re undoubtedly thinking if Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help. Your next queries are likely to be how much Chapter 13 will cost and whether it will work for you once you’ve decided it’s the best option for your financial position. We polled readers throughout the country about their recent bankruptcy experiences in order to acquire some real-life answers to these issues. What we gathered from people who filed for Chapter 13 is as follows.

What Are the Fees for Chapter 13 Lawyers?

The law of bankruptcy is complicated and perplexing. Cases involving Chapter 13 can be very complicated, and mistakes might lead to major financial troubles down the road. So it’s no surprise that almost all of our readers (97%) hired a lawyer to assist them with the Chapter 13 bankruptcy procedure. Their legal fees often ranged between $2,500 and $5,000. However, the majority of readers (63 percent) paid $3,000 or less. Nonetheless, the average cost of $3,000 was more than double what other readers spent their lawyers to handle Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. Because Chapter 13 cases take longer and need more labor, attorneys charge more for them. However, Chapter 13 has a benefit in terms of how attorneys’ fees are normally calculated: While the great majority of bankruptcy lawyers charge a flat fee for their basic services, they usually only require a down payment before filing the Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. (You’ll also have to pay the filing cost, which is $313 as of December 2020.) The remainder of the attorney’s fee is then included in your Chapter 13 monthly payments, which means it comes out of the money that would otherwise go to your creditors.

When a Chapter 13 Lawyer Might Cost You More or Less

The fees charged by bankruptcy lawyers are determined by numerous factors, including their level of experience and location of practice. Attorneys’ fees, like other expenses, tend to be higher in large urban centers on the coasts. However, in Chapter 13 bankruptcy situations, there is another crucial issue to consider: The amount you pay your attorney must be approved by the court. Many courts set fee standards that they will automatically consider reasonable in order to make the approval process easier (known as “presumptive” or “no look” fees). The rules may also include a list of fundamental services that should be covered, as well as additional costs for business cases and additional services that may be required (such as filing plan modifications or motions). These assumed costs differ from one state to the next, as well as between districts within bigger ones. In a few populated states, examples of the range of presumed costs for essential services include:

  • $3,300 to $5,000 in California
  • $3,000 to $3,825 in Texas
  • $3,500 to $4,500 in Florida
  • $2,600 to $3,650 in Michigan
  • $4,000 to $5,100 in Virginia

Our findings backed up the conventional assumption that most lawyers will charge that amount or less for basic services in regions where the courts have set guidelines. However, if your case necessitates additional labor, such as when:

  • You own a firm as a solo owner.
  • Your home is worth less than what you owe, and you want to get rid of your mortgage obligation (or “discharge” it).
  • you wish to get rid of your college loans, or
  • When you declare for bankruptcy, you become a defendant in a lawsuit.

Source: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/chapter-13-bankruptcy-what-will-it-cost-and-will-it-work.html

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

How Do Bankruptcy Exemptions Work

How Do Bankruptcy Exemptions Work

If you’re one among the millions of people who lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, bankruptcy can help you clear your debts while keeping your retirement assets intact. You won’t lose your stimulus cash, though, because the new bankruptcy “recovery rebate” law preserves stimulus checks, tax credits, and child credits.

Exemptions from bankruptcy play an important role in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions are used in Chapter 7 bankruptcy to determine how much of your property you get to keep. Exemptions in Chapter 13 bankruptcy help you keep your plan payments modest. Learn more about bankruptcy exemptions and how they work by reading on.

What Are the Different Types of Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Exemptions allow you to keep a specific amount of assets, such as a cheap car, professional tools, clothing, and a retirement account, safe in bankruptcy. You don’t have to worry about the bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case taking an asset and selling it for the benefit of your creditors if you can exclude it.

Many exclusions cover specific property kinds up to a certain dollar value, such as a car or furnishings. An exemption can sometimes protect the asset’s total worth. Some exemptions, known as “wildcard exemptions,” can be used on any of your properties.

Is it okay if I keep my baseball cards? Jewelry? Pets?

The goal of bankruptcy is to give you a fresh start, not to take away all of your possessions. You’ll probably be able to protect other items as well, such as religious literature, a seat in a building of worship, or a burial plot, in addition to the fundamentals. Chickens and feed are even exempt in some states. However, you should not make the mistake of assuming that everything will be well.

  • Items of high value. There are no exemptions for boats, collections, pricey artwork, or holiday homes. Instead of filing for bankruptcy, owners with such valuable assets often sell the property and pay off their debts.
  • Jewelry. Many states provide protection for wedding rings up to a certain value. Don’t expect to preserve your Rolex, diamond necklace, or antique broach collection, though.
  • Pets. The dog or cat you rescued from the shelter is unlikely to fall into the trustee’s hands. Why? It’s not that you’ll have a specific exemption to protect it; rather, the trustee would have to pay more to sell it than it’s worth in most circumstances. However, if you own a valuable show dog or a racehorse with high breeding costs, you may be forced to sell it or pay for it in bankruptcy.

Exemptions: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Whether you’re filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, exemptions play a significant role.

Bankruptcy under Chapter 7

A liquidation bankruptcy is one in which the appointed trustee sells your nonexempt assets to satisfy your creditors. Because the bankruptcy trustee cannot sell exempt property, exemptions assist you protect your assets in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your state offers a $5,000 motor vehicle exemption and you only own one automobile worth $4,000, for example, you can keep it. See Exemptions in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for more details.

Bankruptcy under Chapter 13

You can keep all of your property and rearrange your debts with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (which can mean paying less on some of them). The amount you must pay specific creditors, however, is still determined by how much property you can exclude. Unsecured creditors who are not priority (such as credit card companies) must be paid an amount equal to your nonexempt assets. Exemptions assist keep your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan payments modest by lowering the amount you must pay creditors. See Exemptions in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for more details.

Bankruptcy Exemptions at the State and Federal Level

There are bankruptcy exemptions in each state. A series of exemptions is also provided by federal law. (See The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions for further information.) Some states force you to use their exemptions, while others allow you to choose between their exemptions and the federal system (you cannot mix and match the two).

The state exemption rules you’ll be able to use will be determined by where you lived in the previous two years (called the “domicile requirements.”). Read Which Exemptions Can You Use In Bankruptcy? for more information on the distinctions between state and federal exemptions and domicile requirements.

Nonbankruptcy Exemptions in the United States

In addition to state and federal bankruptcy exemptions, there are a number of federal nonbankruptcy exemptions. These exemptions work in a similar way to bankruptcy exemptions in terms of preserving your assets. Nonbankruptcy exemptions from the federal government are only available if you use your state’s exemptions (you cannot combine the federal bankruptcy and nonbankruptcy exemptions). You can use nonbankruptcy exemptions in addition to state exemptions if you are using state exemptions. See The Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions for further details.

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Written by Canterbury Law Group

5 New Year’s Resolutions for a Happier Marriage

A new year means a fresh start for many. It’s a chance to begin something new, whether or not you have been working at it for years before.

A new year can be just what some couples need, especially if the word divorce has come up in the past. There are New Year’s resolutions you can make that focus on you and your spouse to work at your marriage and fix any issues that have been bothering you.

Even after working at your resolution to help your marriage and it’s still not working, there is always your divorce lawyer in Scottsdale to help you evaluate your next path. Before that though, try some of the following New Year’s resolutions for couples who want to work at a happier marriage.

Have More Date Nights

A healthy marriage is one in which the couple spends time together with just the two of them. Regular date nights are a way to ensure that you have that quality time.

Date night could be anything from sending the kids off on a sleepover and having a movie night at home, to going away for the weekend to your favorite destination. Either way, the purpose is to spend alone time with your spouse.

Turn the Phone Off

Smartphones can quickly become an issue in a relationship. If you spend more time browsing your phone than you do talking with your partner, there’s a good chance an issue will come up, if it hasn’t already.

Have times during which you turn your phone off so that your attention is on your spouse and family. Don’t think that you can multitask and talk with your spouse while on your phone. It just doesn’t work that way.  The phone will alienate your spouse and your children.  Put it down for the night and focus on your spouse and kids.

Show How Much You Care

Sometimes, all a marriage needs to keep it on track is for the partners to show each other that they still care. It’s easy to forget that we still need that attention and affection after many years of marriage. We may know that our spouse loves us, but if they don’t ever say it and show that they do, that confidence can quickly fade away.  We’re all vulnerable and need affirmations of love and respect from our spouse.

Work on Communication

Communication is key in any relationship, especially in a marriage. Many fights could be avoided if the couple would properly communicate with each other.  Good communication should include when things are negative as well as when they are good. Your partner should be able to sit down and talk through any problems he or she may have, and vice versa.

Grow Your Passion

The longer you’re together, the easier it is to let the passion between the two of you fade away. Not only that, many start to lose their passion for their everyday activities in general. When that passion fades, it’s hard to be happy.  The average healthy couple who does not divorce is romantically together only 11 times a year! That is not a lot for most couples, but consider making a mutual goal to be together at least once a month to stay the course and make the marriage last for 20, 30 or 40 years or more.

Make 2019 a year that you and your partner grow your passion between the two of you, and with life. Remember why it is that you are with each other and focus on that. Take trips that will boost your passion and reignite that connection all over again. Fuel your passion for your own life by getting back into the things that you love.

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