Category Archives: Chapter 13

How does Chapter 13 differ from Chapter 7 for a debtor?

Michigan Chapter 13

NOTE: This information is offered to provide general information only. It is not intended as legal advice. To find out about your particular situation, please contact us for a FREE office consultation. Call 734-722-2999 today.

What is Chapter 13 and how does it work?

Chapter 13 is that part (or chapter) of the Bankruptcy Code under which a person may repay all or a portion of his/her debts under the supervision and protection of the bankruptcy court. The Bankruptcy Code is that portion of the federal law that deals with bankruptcy. A person who files under Chapter 13 is called a debtor. In a Chapter 13 case, the debtor must submit to the court a plan for the repayment of all or a portion of his or her debts. The plan must be approved by the court. If the court approves the debtor’s plan, most creditors will be prohibited from collecting their claims from the debtor during the course of the case. The debtor must make regular payments to a person called the Chapter 13 trustee, who collects the money paid by the debtor and disburses it to creditors in the manner called for in the plan. Upon completion of the payments called for in the plan, the debtor is released from liability for the remainder of his/her dischargeable debts.

How does Chapter 13 differ from Chapter 7 for a debtor?

The basic difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 is that under Chapter 7 the debtor’s nonexempt property (if any exists) is liquidated (sold and turned into cash) to pay as much as possible of the debtor’s debts. While under Chapter 13, a portion of the debtor’s future income is used to pay as much of the debtor’s debts as is feasible considering the debtor’s circumstances. As a practical matter, under Chapter 7 the debtor loses all or most of his or her nonexempt property and receives a Chapter 7 discharge, which releases the debtor from liability for most debts. Under Chapter 13, the debtor usually retains his or her nonexempt property and must pay off as much of his or her debts as the court deems feasible. A Chapter 13 case normally lasts much longer than a Chapter 7 case and requires payments by the debtor.

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How does filing under Chapter 13 affect collection proceedings and foreclosures previously filed against the debtor?

The filing of a Chapter 13 case automatically stays (stops) all lawsuits, attachments, garnishments, foreclosures, harassment on the telephone and other actions by creditors against the debtor or the debtor’s property. A few days after the case is filed, the court will mail a notice to all creditors advising them of the automatic stay. Certain creditors may be notified sooner, if necessary. Most creditors are prohibited from proceeding against the debtor during the entire course of the Chapter 13 case. If the debtor is later granted a Chapter 13 discharge, the creditors will then be prohibited from collecting the discharged debts from the debtor after the case is closed.

A debtor who has previously filed a Chapter 13 case has an automatic stay for only 30 days after commencement of the case unless the court extends the automatic stay upon request  of the debtor for good cause. A debtor who has had two prior bankruptcy cases pending within a year will not have the automatic stay unless the debtor successfully obtains a grant of automatic stay from the bankruptcy court for good cause.

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How are secured creditors treated under Chapter 13?

There are four methods of dealing with secured creditors under Chapter 13:

  1. The creditor may accept the debtor’s proposed plan
  2. The creditor may retain its lien and be paid the full amount of its secured claim under the plan
  3. The debtor may surrender the collateral to the creditor
  4. The creditor may be paid or dealt with outside the plan

A debtor may not have to pay the full amount owed on: auto, household, furniture or jewelry loans that are subject to a lien. It is important to understand that a creditor has a secured claim only to the extent of the value of its security, which cannot exceed the value of the property securing the claim. However, there are two exceptions to this rule:

  1. The creditor of a motor vehicle, purchased by the debtor for the debtor’s personal use, sold within the 910-day (2.5-year) period preceding the date of filing Chapter 13
  2. The creditor(s) of any collateral purchased by the debtor within a one-year period prior to filing Chapter 13

Thus, a creditor with a lien on a $1,500 automobile cannot have a secured claim for more than $1,500, regardless of how much is owed to the creditor, if the debt is more than 910 days old at the time of filing. If the debtor is in default to a secured creditor, the default must be cured (made current) within a reasonable time. Also, interest must be paid on secured claims. But, the plan may provide for the debtor to pay less than the amount of interest the debtor previously agreed to on the original loan documents.

 

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What types of debts are dischargeable under Chapter 13?

A full Chapter 13 discharge granted upon the completion of all payments required in the plan discharges a debtor from all debts except:

  1. Debts that were paid outside of the plan and not covered in the plan
  2. Installment debts whose last payment is due after the completion of the plan
  3. Debts incurred while the plan was in effect that were not paid under the plan
  4. Secured debts (i.e. debts secured by mortgages or liens)
  5. Debts that were paid outside of the plan and not covered in the plan
  6. Installment debts whose last payment is due after the completion of the plan
  7. Debts for alimony, maintenance or support
  8. Debts for death or personal injury caused by the debtor’s operation of a motor vehicle while unlawfully intoxicated
  9. Debts for restitution included in a criminal sentence imposed on the debtor
  10. Debts for educational benefits and student loans, unless a court finds that not discharging the debt would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and his/her dependents
  11. Debts incurred using false pretenses, a false representation or actual fraud
  12. Debts that are not dischargeable under Chapter 7

What Bankruptcy Records And Documents Are Needed?

The documents listed on this page provides an overview of the type of information we will need to get the bankruptcy completed.  Each case is different variations are common.

There are some differences between the documents required for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition and those required for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.

Typical documents and information taken into account during a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case include:

  • A list of your current personal property and its value. This includes assets such as:
    • Cash
    • Checking or savings accounts, certificates of deposit or annuities
    • Qualified educational or tuition accounts
    • Pension or profit sharing accounts
    • Household goods, furniture, electronics and computer equipment
    • Deposits with utility companies, landlords, phone companies, etc.
    • Collectibles such as books, art, antiques, etc.
    • Automobiles, trucks, trailers and other vehicles
    • Boats, motors and accessories
    • Aircraft and accessories
    • Clothing
    • Furs and jewelry
    • Firearms, sporting equipment, photographic or other hobby equipment
    • Interest in insurance policies
    • Stocks and business interests
    • Government or corporate bonds
    • Moneys due you by others, including tax refunds
    • Alimony, maintenance, support, or property settlements to which you are entitled
    • Interests in the estate of a decedent, life insurance or trust
    • Patents, trademarks and copyrights
    • Licenses and franchises
    • Office equipment, furniture and supplies
    • Machinery, fixtures and equipment used in business

A bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine which of this property can be included on the schedule of claimed exemptions and protected from liquidation.

  • A list of real property (real estate), including your interest in the property, the current value and the amount of any secured claim.
  • A list of your creditors, the amount that you owe them and any security on those accounts

A bankruptcy attorney can help you determine which debts belong on the secured schedule and which of your unsecured debts belong on the priority schedule and which on the non-priority schedule.

  • A list of any current contracts or unexpired leases, whether the debtor is the lessor or the lessee of the property
  • A list of the names and addresses of any co-debtors on any accounts, along with the names and addresses of the creditors on those accounts

Co-debtors can be affected by your filing. The impact on a co-debtor is different depending upon whether you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A bankruptcy lawyer can explain how each one affects any joint account holders or co-signers on your accounts.

  • The name and address of your employer, along with your occupation and the length of your employment
  • Documentation of your income from employment, including payroll deductions
  • Income from other sources, including alimony or maintenance
  • In some cases, a list of current monthly expenses
  • A list of any payments made to creditors during the past 90 days
  • A list of all payments made during the past year to creditors who are ‘insiders’. (Creditors with whom the debtor has another relationship, like family members)

A bankruptcy lawyer can provide you with the exact legal definition of ‘insider’ and help you determine whether or not you have made any payments that fall within this classification.

  • A list of any lawsuits or administrative proceedings the debtor was a party to within the year preceding filing
  • A description of any and all property that has been seized, garnished, attached, repossessed, foreclosed or returned during the preceding year
  • A list of any property that has been assigned for the benefit of creditors within the 120 days preceding
  • Any property that has been in the hands of a receiver, custodian or court-appointed official during the preceding year
  • Any gifts or charitable contributions you made within the preceding year
  • Losses from fire, theft, casualty or gambling during the preceding year
  • Payments related to debt counseling or bankruptcy within the preceding year
  • Any property transferred during the two years immediately proceeding filing
  • A list of any financial accounts closed, sold, or transferred within the preceding year
  • A list of safe deposit boxes (along with locations and contents) held presently or within the past year
  • A list of any set-offs by any creditor in the past 90 days
  • Any property held or controlled by the debtor for another person
  • All addresses at which the debtor has lived during the preceding three years
  • Nature, name and location of any businesses owned during the preceding six years

Having these items ready will help speed up the process.  Call us today for your free consultation 734-722-2999

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is it Better for My Credit Than Chapter 7?

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for the same amount of time; about ten years. Although they both have the same effect on your credit score, a particular creditor reviewing your report to decide whether to lend you money might view one chapter more favorably than the other. In particular, a creditor might be more willing to lend to you if you filed for Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 7.

Bankruptcy &Your Credit Report and Score

Your credit report is important if you want to borrow money – the potential lender will review the report to determine if lending to you would be risky. Those with good credit are a low risk and are more likely to get loans with good terms; those with poor credit are high risk and may have more difficulty.

These lenders will look at your credit score and your overall credit history when deciding whether to lend to you. Your credit score is based on a multitude of factors, including the amount of available credit you have, the ratio of your balances due to your credit limits, your total amount of debt and any judgments or bankruptcies you have on record.

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy both affect your credit score the same – having a Chapter 13 bankruptcy on your credit report will not be any better for your score than a Chapter 7. However, the individual reviewing your report will look at more than your score.

Some Lenders Take Into Account the Difference Between Chapter 13 and Chapter 7

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves repaying some or all of your debt over a three- to- five-year period, while a Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves wiping out most of your debts without paying them back.

Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 theoretically leave you in a good position to take on new debt, as they both free you from the burden of old debts and give you a fresh start. Beyond that, if you have a Chapter 13 on your credit report, a lender looking at your report may see it as a responsible way to handle your debt, because you made a good faith effort to repay your debts despite your financial hardship. In that way, a Chapter 13 may be better for your credit than a Chapter 7.

Call Firebaugh & Andrews for your free evaluation today 734-722-2999

Advantages & Disadvantages to a Michigan Chapter 13 payment plan:

Advantages to a Michigan Chapter 13 payment plan:

  1. If you choose and you can afford the payment plan, you can keep all your property, exempt and non-exempt.
  2. While debts are not canceled as in a Chapter 7 discharge they can be reduced under a Chapter 13 payment plan.
  3. You have immediate protection against creditor’s collection efforts and wage garnishment.
  4. More debts are considered to be dischargeable (including debt you incurred on the basis of fraud and credit card charges for luxury items immediately prior to filing).
  5. If the Chapter 13 plan provides for full payment, any co-signers are immune from the creditor’s efforts.
  6. You have protection against foreclosure on your home by your lender as long as you meet the terms of the plan.
  7. You have more time to pay debts that can’t be discharged by either chapter (like taxes or back child support).
  8. You can file a Chapter 13 at any time.
  9. You can file repeatedly.
  10. You can separate your creditors by class where different classes of creditors receive different percentages of payment. This enables you to treat debts where there is a co-debtor involved on a different basis than debts incurred on your own.

Disadvantages to a Michigan Chapter 13 payment plan:

  1. You create a payment plan where you use your post bankruptcy income. This ties up your cash over the Chapter 13 plan period.
  2. Legal fees are higher since a Chapter 13 filing is more complex.
  3. Your plan and therefore your debt will last for 3 to five years.
  4. You are involved in the bankruptcy court process for the term of the 3-5 year plan.
  5. Stockbrokers, and commodity brokers cannot file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.

Michigan Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

There are a number of options to consider under the US Bankruptcy Code when it comes to dealing with debt and filing a petition. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a more complex form of petitioning and the main difference between it and Chapter 7 is that the former is a “reorganization” or “restructuring” of debt, whereas the latter is straight “liquidation”.
So what are the main characteristics of the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy under Michigan Bankruptcy Laws?
• Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is available as an option only for individuals
• It is an opportunity for them to start afresh and pay-off significant portions of their outstanding debts
• The debtor commits to repaying all or part of what he owns to his creditors under a 3-5 year repayment plan which has to be approved by the Court.
• The individual must be earning a regular income and have sufficient disposable income to apply for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
• Most commonly people use Chapter 13 when they are late with mortgage, tax or car payments or want stop their tax debt accruing interest.
Typically, debtors who apply under Chapter 13 have valuable secured assets, such as real estate or a car, which they want to protect as the equity in these assets is higher than the protected amount under Michigan bankruptcy exemptions.
How does it work?
The first step is to develop a repayment plan which is the key to a successful Chapter 13 petition as it describes in detail how much each of your creditors will get paid. The next step is to get the plan approved by the court. You then have 30 days after filing the case to make your first repayment.

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Michigan Bankruptcy Facts

Michigan residents who find themselves overwhelmed with debt can seek relief under the federal bankruptcy laws. There are two common forms of bankruptcy for individuals: Under Chapter 7, the courts sell off all non-exempt assets to pay off as much of your debt as possible and under Chapter 13, you keep all or most of your assets but must create a court-approved plan to pay off your debts over time. Although bankruptcy is handled in the federal courts, some of the details vary based on your being a Michigan resident.

District Bankruptcy Courts in Michigan

Michigan’s bankruptcy court is divided into the Eastern District, with the main court in Detroit, and the Western District, with the main court in Grand Rapids. Each district also has divisional offices where you may file so long as you file in the district where you live.

Can I File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

You may file Chapter 7 bankruptcy if your average monthly income for the six months before you file is less than Michigan’s median income for a family of your size. For example, if you are married with two children, you must earn less than Michigan’s median income for a family of four, which is $6,037 monthly for 2012. If you make more than this, you must pass a stringent means test to qualify for Chapter 7.

How Long Is a Chapter 13 Repayment Plan?

The amount of time you must spend paying your creditors also depends on your income as compared to Michigan’s median income. For example, if you make less than the median income, your repayment plan will usually be up to three years. If your income matches or exceeds the state median, your plan will be five years, unless you’re able to pay off all unsecured debt in less time.

Can I Keep My House and Car?

Both federal and state laws allow you to exclude certain personal property from your bankruptcy case. Michigan lets you choose whether to use the state or the federal exemptions, but you must pick one or the other, you cannot mix and match from both lists.

The federal and state lists include similar exemptions, although specific items and values vary. Some of these exemptions include:

  • Personal items such as family pictures, clothing, jewelry, and household goods
  • Public benefits
  • Retirement accounts
  • Tools of your trade

Exemption values for your home and car also differ. Michigan adjusts the dollar value of exemptions every three years. As of 2011, the state allows a homestead exemption up to $35,300 of equity or $52,925 for people aged 65 or older or disabled. The federal exemption is $21,625 or $43,250 for married couples filing jointly. The state allows you to keep up to $3,250 of equity in one vehicle, while the federal vehicle exemption is $3,450.

If you have moved to Michigan within two years prior to filing for bankruptcy, you must use the exemptions from your previous home state.

Call us today to get your free consultation 734-722-2999

Michigan Bankruptcy Chaper 7 & 13 facts and requirements.

Michigan residents who find themselves overwhelmed with debt can seek relief under the federal bankruptcy laws. There are two common forms of bankruptcy for individuals: Under Chapter 7, the courts sell off all non-exempt assets to pay off as much of your debt as possible and under Chapter 13, you keep all or most of your assets but must create a court-approved plan to pay off your debts over time. Although bankruptcy is handled in the federal courts, some of the details vary based on your being a Michigan resident.

District Bankruptcy Courts in Michigan

Michigan’s bankruptcy court is divided into the Eastern District, with the main court in Detroit, and the Western District, with the main court in Grand Rapids. Each district also has divisional offices where you may file so long as you file in the district where you live.

Can I File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

You may file Chapter 7 bankruptcy if your average monthly income for the six months before you file is less than Michigan’s median income for a family of your size. For example, if you are married with two children, you must earn less than Michigan’s median income for a family of four, which is $6,037 monthly for 2012. If you make more than this, you must pass a stringent means test to qualify for Chapter 7.

How Long Is a Chapter 13 Repayment Plan?

The amount of time you must spend paying your creditors also depends on your income as compared to Michigan’s median income. For example, if you make less than the median income, your repayment plan will usually be up to three years. If your income matches or exceeds the state median, your plan will be five years, unless you’re able to pay off all unsecured debt in less time.

Can I Keep My House and Car?

Both federal and state laws allow you to exclude certain personal property from your bankruptcy case. Michigan lets you choose whether to use the state or the federal exemptions, but you must pick one or the other, you cannot mix and match from both lists.

The federal and state lists include similar exemptions, although specific items and values vary. Some of these exemptions include:

  • Personal items such as family pictures, clothing, jewelry, and household goods
  • Public benefits
  • Retirement accounts
  • Tools of your trade

Exemption values for your home and car also differ. Michigan adjusts the dollar value of exemptions every three years. As of 2011, the state allows a homestead exemption up to $35,300 of equity or $52,925 for people aged 65 or older or disabled. The federal exemption is $21,625 or $43,250 for married couples filing jointly. The state allows you to keep up to $3,250 of equity in one vehicle, while the federal vehicle exemption is $3,450.

If you have moved to Michigan within two years prior to filing for bankruptcy, you must use the exemptions from your previous home state.

Information Is Not Advice

This article provides a general overview of bankruptcy in Michigan, but it is not legal advice. You should contact a Firebaugh and Andrews bankruptcy attorney for specific information related to your unique situation for a free consultation 734-722-2999