Reasons to File Chapter 13

By Kevin Owen

Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition enables a debtor to pay back debts over a three-to-five year period, through a court appointed trustee. Unlike other forms of bankruptcy, the debtor does not risk losing his home or car through liquidation as long as his monthly payments are current. After successful completion of the Chapter 13 plan, all unsecured debts, such as credit card debt, listed at the time of the bankruptcy filing, are discharged and the debtor's secured debts, such as a car loan or mortgage, are returned to good standing.

Protection from Creditors

Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides debtors protection from harassment and bill collection efforts of creditors. The filing of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy triggers an automatic stay that prevents home foreclosure and vehicle repossession, as well as most other debt collection efforts. Creditors who violate the automatic stay by continuing to call the debtor may be sued in bankruptcy court and ordered to pay damages to the debtor. Most creditors are also forbidden from imposing any interest or penalties on the debtor while the debtor is in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Easier to Qualify

Unlike Chapter 13, filing under Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges debts without requiring a repayment plan. However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy imposes a strict debt-to-income means test that limits debtor eligibility. Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not impose a maximum income limitation for filing, thereby enabling most petitioners to qualify for bankruptcy protection. If a debtor does not qualify for Chapter 7, he must file under Chapter 13 to be able to file for bankruptcy.

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Payment Reorganization

The Chapter 13 bankruptcy system organizes all of the debtors debts into a monthly payment plan overseen by a trustee. This payment plan enables the debtor to include all debts -- not simply those that are dischargeable only in bankruptcy -- into a more affordable amount. Chapter 13 will enable the debtor to reorganize student loans, tax liens and alimony payments, and to potentially reduce the amount due each month.

No Mandatory Liquidation of Assets

Under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a debtor may be required to sell assets, such as a car, home, jewelry or stocks, in order to satisfy debts before they are discharged. Chapter 13 does not impose any liquidation requirements. As Chapter 13 imposes a payment plan which the debtor must keep current, the debtor may still need to sell stocks or other property to meet his payment obligations.

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Wage Earner Plan Vs. Bankruptcy
 

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What Does a Discharge in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Mean to Debtors?

Bankruptcy allows a debtor to obtain relief from his creditors if he meets certain legal requirements. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation of assets, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves repayment of some, or all, of the debt owed. If a debtor’s income is above the state median income and he has enough disposable income to repay his debt, Chapter 7 is not an option. In both types of bankruptcy, there eventually is a discharge of debt.

Provisions of Chapter 13 of the Federal Bankruptcy Laws

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a form of personal bankruptcy that allows an individual’s debt to be adjusted if he has a regular income. Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a Chapter 13 proceeding allows the debtor to keep property and pay debts over time rather than liquidating assets to pay creditors. One advantage of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the opportunity for the debtor to save his home from foreclosure and even stop a foreclosure already in progress.

What Documents Are Required by a Trustee After a 341 Hearing During Chapter 13?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is popular among debtors who want to keep property such as the family home. Debtors filing under Chapter 13 enter into a repayment plan in which they pay creditors over a three-to-five year period. Before repayment begins, however, Chapter 13 debtors must participate in a 341 hearing, known as a meeting of the creditors, in which debtors provide certain documents and disclose important information to the bankruptcy trustee.

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