Frequently Asked Questions about Chapter 13

If your bills keep piling up, but you are concerned about filing for bankruptcy because you do not want to lose your home, Chapter 13 may be a good option for you. Contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.

Orlando Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lawyer · Central Florida Bankruptcy Attorney

Are you over your head in debt but don't know whether filing bankruptcy is the right decision? The Law Office of Paul L. Urich has helped hundreds of people restructure a debt repayment plan through Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Under the court-supervised plan, Chapter 13 allows you to save significant money in monthly interest, penalties and other fees.

We invite you to learn more about Chapter 13 bankruptcy on this page. Contact our offices in Orlando to schedule a free initial consultation.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Q: How does a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case work?

A: Chapter 13 of the federal Bankruptcy Code allows a consumer to repay all or a majority of his or her debts through a payment plan approved by the Bankruptcy Court. When the plan is in place, creditors generally are prohibited from collecting debts directly from the debtor. Instead of paying his or her creditors directly, the debtor pays a certain amount every month to the Chapter 13 trustee, and the trustee distributes the money to the creditors, as provided in the Chapter 13 plan. When the last payment is made, the debtor is no longer liable for the remainder of his or her dischargeable debts.

Q: How long does it take to complete a Chapter 13 plan?

A: For those who earn less than the median income for the state they live in, a Chapter 13 plan can be completed in as little as three years (36 months), If the debtor's monthly income is higher than median income for their state, the plan will generally last for five years (60 months). By law, a Chapter 13 repayment plan cannot last longer than five years.

Q: How is Chapter 13 different from Chapter 7 from the point of view of the debtor?

A: The essential difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 is in the handling of the debtor's property. In a Chapter 7 case, all nonexempt property owned by the debtor is sold, and the proceeds are used to pay as many of the debtor's debts as possible. In a Chapter 13 case, a debtor's income is applied towards payment of as many of the debtor's debts as possible, but a Chapter 13 debtor typically retains more of his or her nonexempt property. In addition, the discharge issued in a Chapter 13 case is usually broader than a Chapter 7 discharge, and will relieve the debtor of liability for several types of debts that are not discharged by a Chapter 7 case.

Q: Why would a debtor choose Chapter 13 over Chapter 7?

A: Chapter 13 is the preferred choice for a person who wishes to repay most or all of his or her unsecured debts, and whose income is sufficient to allow him or her to do so in a reasonable amount of time. In addition, if the debtor has a considerable amount of nonexempt property, or a lot of valuable exempt property used as security for debts, this property could be lost in a Chapter 7 case, and so Chapter 13 may be the preferred option. Some other types of debtors, whose debts might not be discharged under Chapter 7 and those with one or more large debts that may be discharged only under Chapter 13, might opt for Chapter 13 over Chapter 7.

Q: What debts are paid by a Chapter 13 plan?

A: The plan may pay any and all debts of the debtor, including secured and unsecured debts, and even debts that are non-dischargeable, such as student loans and spousal and child support.

Q: How much must the debtor pay to the trustee?

A: The law says that all of a debtor's "disposable income" received during the time of the plan must be paid to the trustee. The law defines "disposable income" as all income earned or received by the debtor that is not reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and the debtor's dependents.

Q: Who is the trustee?

A: The trustee in a Chapter 13 case is someone who is appointed by the Bankruptcy Court to receive the regular payments from the debtor, distribute those payments to the creditors according to the Chapter 13 plan and administer the bankruptcy case until it is closed. The debtor is always required to cooperate with the Chapter 13 trustee.

Q: May a self-employed person file under Chapter 13?

A: Yes. A self-employed person meeting the eligibility requirements may file under Chapter 13 and may continue to operate her or his business during the resolution of the bankruptcy case and the completion of the plan.

Q: Should a married couple file a joint Chapter 13 petition?

A: If both the husband and wife owe a significant amount of money, they may wish to file jointly under Chapter 13, even if only one of them has income. Otherwise, the non-filing spouse could still be liable for the unpaid debts.

Q: May a debtor convert a Chapter 7 case to a Chapter 13 case?

A: Yes. A Chapter 7 case may be converted to a Chapter 13 case at the request of the debtor at any time before the case is closed, unless the case was converted previously from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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