Declaring bankruptcy can ease your financial stress by giving back control over your life. Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney, Jerry E. Smith, offers many ways to ensure the bankruptcy process is accessible to you. By providing free initial consultations (up to one hour) that can be done over the phone and options for weekend and evening appointments, we can help you regain your peace of mind.
You might not have ever imagined yourself in this situation, thinking you may need a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You worked all your life, paid your bills, and lived a comfortable life. You work, but you can’t keep up. You have mortgage or rent payments to make. You tried to stay afloat by using credit cards, but the amount you owe is out of hand. Chapter 13 bankruptcy could be the right choice to address your financial problems. Jerry E. Smith is the right attorney to help you make that decision.
Jerry E. Smith is an Indianapolis Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney who has helped hundreds of others like you, who is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and who wants the best for his clients. We started helping those with financial problems in 2009. Our Indianapolis bankruptcy attorney will:
Bankruptcy law can help people in debt by providing them with a fresh financial start. There are several chapters in the law to address different situations. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is known as a wage earner’s plan. A Chapter 13 lawyer in Indianapolis can help you decide whether you need bankruptcy protection, and if so, what chapter is right for you.
You would develop a plan to repay all or part of your debts by making payments over three to five years. During this time, creditors can’t start or continue collection efforts. If all goes according to plan, your dischargable debts will be discharged (you no longer need to pay them).
There are costs and benefits to different bankruptcy filings. Chapter 7 may force you to sell your home. That may be avoided under a Chapter 13 plan. You may be able to lower your payments by stretching them out over the life of your plan.
A bankruptcy trustee will evaluate your case, and if it’s accepted, you’ll make payments to the trustee. He or she will pay your creditors, so you won’t have to deal with them. Also, if you’re married, your spouse may file a joint petition with you or a separate one.
One early step to help you decide if Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you is to evaluate the total value of your debts. Generally, anyone is eligible for Chapter 13 relief as long as their unsecured debts are less than $419,275 and secured debts (debts where you agree property can be used as collateral) are less than $1,257,850. (Amounts are subject to change, please check with our attorneys for the most current information.)
A Chapter 13 case starts when you file a petition with the bankruptcy court. You also need to include:
You must also give the trustee a copy of your tax return for the most recent tax year and any returns that are filed while the case proceeds.
Filing a petition under Chapter 13 stops most debt collection actions against you or your property. During this time, creditors can’t start or continue lawsuits or wage garnishments or make telephone calls seeking payments.
The automatic stay provisions of Chapter 13 protect some co-debtors (a person who co-signed a debt with you). Unless the court states otherwise, a creditor can’t try to collect a consumer debt from you or the co-signer. Consumer debts are for personal, family, or household reasons.
A Chapter 13 proceeding may prevent a home foreclosure. When the petition is filed, foreclosure proceedings stop. You would have a reasonable time to make past-due payments current. However, the stay doesn’t apply to a foreclosure sale that was done before you filed for protection. You might lose your home if you don’t make the regular mortgage payments that are due after your filing.
Between 21 and 50 days after you file your petition, the trustee will hold a meeting between you, your attorney, your creditors, and their attorneys (if there are any). The trustee will place you under oath. The trustee and your creditors may ask you questions about your income, debts, and the proposed plan. If your creditors don’t like the plan, the parties work out their differences at this meeting.
That proposed plan should be included with the filing or provided to the court within 14 days. It must include regular payments of set amounts. If the plan is approved, creditors may get less than all the money they’re owed.
There are three kinds of claims that could be made against you: priority, secured, and unsecured.
Your disposable income is your income (other than child support payments you receive) less what’s reasonably necessary for maintaining yourself and your dependents. If you own a business, the disposable income would not include your ordinary operating business expenses.
After the meeting of creditors, there’s a confirmation hearing. The bankruptcy judge can decide whether your plan is workable and complies with the Bankruptcy Code. Creditors could object to its acceptance (or confirmation). There could be many objections, but mostly the objections involve proposed payments that are less than the creditor would get if your assets were sold or the plan doesn’t use all of your expected disposable income for the three- or five-year period. Typically, you are not required to be present at the confirmation hearing.
If the plan is confirmed, the trustee will distribute funds you provide as soon as it’s practical. If the court doesn’t confirm your plan, you can change it or file under Chapter 7. If your case is dismissed, the trustee will return whatever funds you provided, less costs.
The plan binds you and your creditors. You need to make payments on time. You can’t take on new debt without consulting the trustee, because you may not be able to pay it along with your previous debts.
After the plan is approved, your situation may change and you won’t be able to keep up the payments. You, an unsecured creditor, or the trustee could ask the judge to modify the plan. Lack of timely payments, a failure to make post-filing alimony or child support payments, or not filing your taxes could result in the bankruptcy judge’s dismissing your case or converting it to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
You might qualify for a hardship discharge (which may free you of some, but not all, of your debts) if your circumstances changed because:
There are a few restrictions of which you should be aware when you consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. You’re entitled to a discharge of your debts after you make all the planned payments and after you certify that any alimony or child support payments were made as well. You cannot have received a debt discharge in a prior case that was filed within two years for a Chapter 13 case, or within four years for an earlier Chapter 7 case. You must also complete an approved financial management course.
Debts that Cannot Be Discharged in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
The discharge releases you from all debts included in the plan. Creditors can’t start or continue any actions against you to try to collect the discharged debts. Debts that can’t be discharged include:
Chapter 13 is a way for working people to try to resolve serious financial problems. It may be the right choice for you and your family. If you need an experienced Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer who will explain the law, answer your questions, and listen to your side of the story, attorney and CPA Jerry E. Smith is the one for you. Call us at (317) 917-8680 for a free consultation (up to one hour) today.