Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lawyer in Cape Girardeau Explains How To File
In a Chapter 13 case, you make payments to the bankruptcy trustee for three or five years through your Chapter 13 Plan. Your main task is gathering information and completing forms for your attorney so that he or she can file the bankruptcy petition, schedules, and other forms, which will require you to list your debts, assets, financial transactions, and so on.
Your bankruptcy attorney will attend a minimum of two meetings or court appearances, usually more. Usually you only need to attend one meeting at the court.
Most of your work is at the beginning of the process before the bankruptcy “papers” are filed, since that is when you are gathering the information and reporting it to your attorney. When the case is over, you’ll receive a discharge of some or all of your debts.
Here’s what you can expect in a typical Chapter 13 from start to finish.
Steps in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Hire a bankruptcy attorney that will fight for you. Bankruptcy is a complex process that most people are not familiar with. It involves the federal court system and derives from federal laws, but also involves state laws regarding property and debtor’s and creditor’s rights. Be sure the attorney you hire is not just filling out forms and getting through your case without looking out for the best end result for you. Also be sure the attorney you hire is well-versed in all the bankruptcy chapters (options) so that they choose the best option for you and not just what they deal with. At Birk Law Firm, your bankruptcy attorney will meet with you and discuss your options with you and along with you decide on the best option for you for filing bankruptcy, or if you can avoid bankruptcy. If necessary, we will file additional court proceedings to void liens and other matters if they will benefit you and result in the best outcome for you. In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, it is especially important that your attorney works to keep your plan payments as low as possible.
Pay your attorney, filing fee, and other costs. The attorney fees we charge for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy are determined by the bankruptcy court and are included in your Chapter 13 Plan that you will pay over three or five years, so you don’t pay those to us directly. You reimburse us for the bankruptcy court’s filing fee of $310 because we pay that when we file your case electronically with the court. You will also incur a few other small direct out-of-pocket costs. In a typical Chapter 13 case, your total cost if you hire Birk Law Firm will be about $400 for the filing fee and these other costs, not including the attorney fees paid through the Plan. It is very rare in a Chapter 13 case but we may have to charge more if there are nontypical issues in your case. However, this will be discussed with you up-front.
Get mandatory credit counseling. You must receive credit counseling during the six-month period prior to filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. As your bankruptcy attorney, we can provide a recommendation for a provider of this required counseling that we know is good to work with and will charge a low fee.
Prepare your petition, the proposed Chapter 13 plan, and other forms. We as your attorney will prepare your petition and the many forms that accompany the petition (your bankruptcy “papers”). In these forms, you’ll be disclosing all of your property, debts, income, property transfers, and more. We will also prepare and submit a proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan. The repayment plan is the focus point of your Chapter 13 case. It’s fairly complicated to come up with a plan that meets all legal requirements.
File your bankruptcy petition, proposed plan, and other required documents. To start your bankruptcy case, we as your bankruptcy attorney will file your bankruptcy papers electronically with the bankruptcy court. We are also required to file your most recent tax return and proof that you’ve filed tax returns in the last four years.
The automatic stay takes effect. Once you file your papers, bankruptcy’s automatic stay goes into effect. The trustee will notify your creditors of your filing and the stay. The automatic stay prohibits most creditors from continuing with collection actions. A few exceptions to the automatic stay exist and some creditors might ask the court to remove the stay.
The court appoints a bankruptcy trustee to administer your case. The trustee is charged with reviewing your plan and ensuring it complies with the law, collecting payments under your plan and distributing them to creditors, and monitoring your monthly income and expense reports, among other things.
You make your first plan payment. Even though your plan will not yet be confirmed, you must begin making payments about one month after you file your papers.
Attend the meeting of creditors. Also called the 341 hearing, the bankruptcy trustee conducts the meeting of creditors in a room other than a courtroom. The trustee will ask you a series of questions about your papers and finances. Creditors can ask questions too, and may object to your proposed plan. Usually creditors do not attend this meeting, but the Chapter 13 Trustee always attends this meeting.
Get the plan confirmed. We as your attorney must go to at least one court hearing, called the confirmation hearing. This is where the court will address any plan objections made by either a creditor or the trustee. If all goes well, the court will confirm your plan. Often we will have to amend the plan once or twice in order to iron out some details and in order to not propose a higher plan payment than necessary the first time.
File or object to proofs of claim. Creditors file proof of claim forms so that they can get paid. You can object to a proof of claim. And if an important creditor doesn’t file one, we may file one for the creditor so that you can pay the debt as part of your case (for example, the mortgage on your house).
Comply with plan requirements and payments. For the duration of the repayment period, you must make your plan payments and might have to submit certain documents, like annual income tax returns.
Complete a personal financial management class. You must complete a debtor education class before the end of the case. This is separate from the credit counseling required before bankruptcy is filed.
The court grants a discharge and closes your case. When the repayment period ends, the court will grant a discharge. The discharge wipes out any remaining balance of qualifying debt. The court will mail you the notice without holding a hearing.
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Birk Law Firm is a small firm by choice that is big on client services. Attorney Kelvin Birk and his team are responsive to their clients’ needs. When we sign on as your law firm, you can count on us for strong legal counsel, from negotiations to settlement to trial.
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We provide personalized and compassionate service. We believe that each client’s matter is the most important matter in the world to them, and we strive to treat it that way.