Bankruptcy Overview

Detroit Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is different than Chapter 7 in several ways. Instead of debt being discharged completely,a person may repay all or a portion of his or her debts under the supervision and protection of the bankruptcy court. Click here for an explaination of Bankruptcy Terminology If you need help with Chapter 13 bankruptcy, trust your case, questions, and concerns to me, bankruptcy lawyer Walter Metzen.

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Under Chapter 13, if the court approves the debtor’s plan for the repayment of the debt, most creditors are prohibited from collecting their claims from the debtor during the course of the case. The debtor must make regular payments to a person called the Chapter 13 trustee, who collects the money paid by the debtor and disburses it to creditors in the manner called for in the plan. Upon completion of the payments called for in the plan, the debtor is released from liability for the remainder of his or her dischargeable debts. For more information, see my Chapter 13 Frequenty Asked Questions page.

I have been handling these types of cases for over 14 years. Though the new bankruptcy laws changed recently, you need not worry. I am well versed in the language of the new laws and can effectively explain how these changes may affect your ability to file for bankruptcy.

Contact me, Detroit Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney Walter Metzen today to schedule your free initial consultation. Flexible appointment times and same day appointments are available for your convenience.

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Chapter 13 is known as the wage earner or repayment plan bankruptcy. You can think of Chapter 13 as a debt consolidation, where you group all your debt together, and repay creditors over three to five years through an installment payment plan formulated with the help of your attorney. Chapter 13 can be filed more often than Chapter 7, as long as it is filed in "good faith".

The main advantage of filing under Chapter 13 is that your property is not liquidated by the trustee as in Chapter 7. You keep all of your property as long as you comply with the plan. But you are not completely discharging your debt. You must pay your creditors a percentage on the dollar established in accordance with your assets and ability to pay.

Not everyone can file under Chapter 13. For instance, there is a debt ceiling, or limit to the amount of debt you can have. Total secured debt cannot exceed $750,000, and unsecured debt cannot exceed $250,000.

The plan must also be feasible. To be eligible, you must have regular income such as wages, pensions, self-employment or other income sufficient to fund the plan. The plan cannot run longer than five years, and you must show the court that you have enough disposable income to pay your plan payments within that time.

Corporations cannot file under Chapter 13, and must use the more complex and expensive Chapter 11 bankruptcy if they wish to reorganize. A business proprietor that is not incorporated, however, can file under Chapter 13 provided the debt ceiling and other provisions under Chapter 13 are met.

The Chapter 13 Trustee acts as a disbursing agent. He collects your installment payments, and distributes them to creditors according to the plan.

All creditors may not be fully paid. Unsecured creditors, in many cases, may be paid only a small percentage on the dollar, and upon successful completion of the plan the remainder of their debt is discharged similar to Chapter 7.

To determine how much of your creditors will be paid in Chapter 13, the bankruptcy code provides two guidelines which determine the minimum amount unsecured creditors must receive through the plan. First, the disposable income test requires that you pledge all of your disposable income into the plan for at least a three year period of time. Disposable income is your monthly income after your monthly living expenses are paid. In other words, you must pay unsecured creditors as much as you can afford for at least three years. Second, under the Chapter 7 test, you must pay unsecured creditors the same amount through your Chapter 13 plan as they would get had your property been liquidated under Chapter 7. Put another way, your plan must pay unsecured creditors an amount equal to the value of your non-exempt property.

Let's take an example. Assume we have a husband and wife owning a home with $30,000 worth of equity. Remember, only $20,000 worth of equity can be exempted. That leaves $10,000 worth of equity which, theoretically, would have been distributed to unsecured creditors if a Chapter 7 petition were filed. So, under the Chapter 7 test, this means that unsecured creditors must receive a total of $10,000 over the duration of a Chapter 13 plan. Now, let's assume there is $14,000 in total unsecured debt. By dividing $14,000 into the minimum $10,000 to be paid, you arrive at the percentage to be paid to unsecured creditors. 10,000 divided by 14,000 equals 0.71 or seventy-one cents on the dollar.

What about priority and secured debts? In every case, your plan must pay priority creditors in full. Also, secured creditors are entitled to be paid an amount equal to the value of their collateral. The difference between the value of the collateral and the balance of the note is the unsecured portion of the debt, and is grouped together and paid the same percentage as the other unsecured debts such as credit cards.

You must also provide for a trustee commission of approximately 5% of the total debt paid through the plan. A simplified Chapter 13 Plan would look like the chart below. Let's assume this debtor owes $1,500 in back taxes, has $12,000 in credit card and other unsecured debt, and has a $6,000 loan secured with a car having a value of $4,000. Also, let's assume this debtor has no non-exempt equity and very little disposable income, which makes this debtor eligible to pay the minimum five cents on the dollar to their unsecured creditors.

Similar to Chapter 7, in Chapter 13 you must attend a Section 341 meeting of creditors, held within 45 days of the filing. Unlike Chapter 7, however, the meeting is followed by a confirmation hearing. At the confirmation hearing, the plan is presented to a bankruptcy judge for his review. If there are no objections, and the plan meets the requirements of Chapter 13, then the judge will confirm the plan, which makes it binding uponcreditors.

The first payment under the plan is due approximately 30 days after filing the petition. Thereafter, the payments must be made regularly under the terms of the plan. Debtors can make payments to the trustee themselves, or for convenience, the payments can be deducted directly from their wages.

Chapter 13 may have some advantages aside from allowing you to retain property which is otherwise non-exempt in Chapter 7. For instance, your co-signors are protected if the co-signed debt is paid in full through the plan. Delinquent mortgage payments, back property taxes and missed car payments can be paid through the plan to stop foreclosure or repossession.

Chapter 13 is commonly used to save a home from foreclosure. Under the code, a plan which proposes to pay all mortgage arrears through the plan can decelerate a mortgage default. You must, however, have enough disposable income both to fund the plan, and to start making the current mortgage payments once again directly to the lender as they become due after the petition is filed. You can pay student loans, child support arrears or restitution through the plan, and some debts which are non-dischargeable in Chapter 7 may be partially dischargeable as an unsecured debt in Chapter 13.


 

 

We are a Debt Relief Agency helping people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. Let us help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you.

Bankruptcy attorney Walter Metzen represents clients throughout Southeast Michigan, including the communities of Detroit, Southfield, Warren, Roseville, Farmington Hills, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Canton, Clinton Township, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Holland, Howell, Lincoln Park, Livonia, Macomb, Northville, Plymouth, Port Huron, Redford, Rochester, Saginaw, Southfield, Sterling Heights, Taylor, Trenton, Troy, Westland, Wyandotte, Ypsilanti, Mount Clemens, Howell, Oakland County, Macomb County, Wayne County, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, and all of the surrounding areas.
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Walter Metzen
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Detroit MI 48226
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