Filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 puts an automatic stay in place that prevents creditor actions, including wage garnishments, foreclosure, and repossession. Apart from this, the other benefits of this chapter include lowering payment for unsecured non-priority debts (credit card balance, medical bills, personal loans, etc.), catching up on past due payments, etc. While Chapter 7 can get you a discharge earlier and without paying anything to the creditors, qualifying for this chapter is easier said than done. If you fail the Means test, Chapter 13 is the best way to get rid of your debts.
Benefits of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy
Some advantages of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy include:
- If you can pay for it through your repayment plan, you can keep your non-exempt property, including some equity in the home, an inexpensive car, funds in a qualifying retirement account, etc.
- You can catch up on past due mortgage or car payments through your three to five-year repayment plan to keep your property.
- If your home is underwater, and it is worth less than the primary mortgage amount, then you can get rid of junior liens through Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- With a cramdown, you can reduce your secured loan (primary home or vehicle). However, the entire reduced balance needs to be paid off through the repayment plan.
- Any collection actions, including bank levy or wage garnishments, are halted for the duration of your repayment plan.
- You can also reduce your student loan payments temporarily through the repayment plan.
- Compared to chapter 7, where you need to wait for eight years to file again for bankruptcy, in the case of chapter 13, you can file for bankruptcy after four years.
- You can discharge more debts in chapter 13, including those acquired due to willful and malicious damage to property, arising due to settlement, separation order, divorce, fines, and penalties payable to any governmental unit, etc.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy procedure
To qualify for this chapter, the debts of the individual bankruptcy filer should not exceed a specified amount. Filers should have a steady sufficient monthly income to finance their repayment plan. A skilled and experienced bankruptcy lawyer can draft the repayment plan depending on your disposable income, debts, and the non-exempt property you wish to keep. The plan’s duration depends on your income [below the state median (three-year plan) or above it (five years)]. The repayment plan also includes priority debts like domestic support obligations and overdue tax bills. Any disposable income that remains after paying for secured and priority debts is used to pay for the nonpriority unsecured debts.
The trustee and the creditors who can object to the proposed plan are inspected by the trustee. However, the ultimate decision lies with the judge. If the court does not approve the plan, you can adjust it within the stipulated time, or the case can be dismissed. While filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must submit your financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, pay statements, etc. Other requirements include attending the 341 meeting of creditors and the mandatory credit counseling course, one before filing and the other after filing for bankruptcy. Once the payments have been made as per the plan, any remaining dischargeable debt is wiped out.
If, due to a change of circumstances, you are unable to complete the Chapter 13 repayment plan, you have the option of converting it into a Chapter 7 case, seeking a hardship discharge, or allow the court to dismiss your case. However, it should be noted that converting the case into a Chapter 7 bankruptcyhttps://recoverylawgroup.com/chapter-7-bankruptcy/ case would lose some of your property.