Restructure Your Debt with Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Des Moines, IA
What Is Chapter 13?
Chapter 13 is a consolidation of debts into one repayment plan and allows an individual to reorganize debts and to pay the unsecured debt without any further interest accumulating. It also protects the debtor from creditors while the debt is being paid off. Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a Chapter 13 petition does not ask for an immediate discharge of debts. Instead, he or she offers a plan to repay at least part of those debts over a period of time, usually three to five years, depending on the debtor’s disposable income. While a Chapter 13 plan is in place, the debtor is protected from lawsuits, garnishments, and other creditor action. The Chapter 13 debtor’s plan must be approved by the bankruptcy court. A person who files Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains in bankruptcy until all of the payments in the plan have been made, and the judge issues a discharge of the debts.
It is critical to know that Chapter 13 does not require all your debts to be paid one hundred percent or “dollar on the dollar.” As in Chapter 7, some debts cannot be discharged in Chapter 13 unless they are paid off in full. Simply stated, a Chapter 13 reorganization can help you reduce debts, eliminate interest charges, and spread payments over time. If you are behind in mortgage payments, a reorganization can help you catch up on back payments over time without losing your home. A Chapter 13 plan of reorganization may allow you to keep property that you may have been forced to liquidate, or turn over to the court, in a complete Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy. Iowa attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy law can assist you in determining whether a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you.
In what instances is Chapter 13 bankruptcy preferable to Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 is a more ideal option in comparison to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy when the goal of filing is to reorganize your debt. Whether you want or need to repay your debts, Chapter 13 can prove to be a more suitable option. An example of this is if the debtor is trying to avoid a vehicular repossession or home foreclosure. Other instances where Chapter 13 is a more appropriate choice is when an individual needs to repay student loans, fines, restitution, taxes, or child support payments, as well as reclaiming a driver’s license.
When the debtor is facing foreclosure and their home is in the process of being put up for sale, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help to prevent the foreclosure and help the individual keep their home. If you have the financial ability to make back payments on your mortgage while paying the current amount due, the mortgage company will have to accept the repayment plan. In this way, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is preferable to Chapter 7 bankruptcy as it forces your creditors to end all repossession and collection attempts through an official court order.
Chapter 13 allows you to protect your assets by ensuring that your creditors accept payments through a repayment plan. Whether you are repaying IRS tax debt or paying off a car loan, your assets will remain protected through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing that establishes a viable repayment plan. The debtor will be able to make payments over a period of three to five years making allowances for earning and budget fluctuations.
Another motivation for filing a Chapter 13 is that some debtors are simply ineligible to file a Chapter 7. If a Chapter 7 is filed, another one cannot be filed for the next 6 years. However if a Chapter 13 is filed, the debtor may file a Chapter 7 within those 6 years.
What happens after Chapter 13 is filed?
After your Chapter 13 bankruptcy has been filed, you will be immediately protected against attempts by your creditors to collect the debts. Approximately one month after your case has been filed, you will have to attend a proceeding which is called “The Meeting of Creditors.” This is generally a routine matter, and your attorney for bankruptcy will be there with you. The Meeting of Creditors will be conducted by an official appointed by the court called a trustee. The trustee will ask you a series of questions. These questions usually only take a few minutes. Your first monthly Chapter 13 plan payment will be due to the trustee within thirty days after the filing of your payment plan. This will usually be at about the time of your creditor meeting. You will have the option to make your monthly plan payments by payroll deduction or cashier’s check or money order.
What happens if circumstances change during Chapter 13?
Once your Chapter 13 payment plan is approved by the bankruptcy court, then the trustee will begin to pay your creditors from the funds you have been paying to the trustee. If your circumstances should change while you are making your payments, then there are options available to deal with them. Some of the circumstances which could affect your ability to pay would include lengthy period of illness, loss of job, birth of another child, or any other event which would significantly lower your income or increase your living expenses. Should any of these occur, then you may be able to modify your payment plan by lengthening the term or reducing the amount of the monthly payment. In certain cases, it may be appropriate to convert the case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and eliminate any remaining unsecured debts. Consult with your Iowa attorney for bankruptcy to learn what options are available to you.
How can Chapter 13 save my home from foreclosure?
When you get behind on your house payments, the creditor may elect to call the loan in default, accelerate the debt, and begin foreclosure proceedings. When a debt is accelerated, the full balance of the note, not just the monthly payments, is due in full immediately. This is usually preceded by the creditor’s refusal to accept monthly payments.
In the event a creditor begins foreclosure, you will receive a notice of the commencement of the foreclosure proceeding. Unless the creditor is willing to accept payments to reinstate the loan, you will have to either pay the full balance remaining on the loan, or file for protection in bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure sale.
The commencement of a bankruptcy case prior to the foreclosure sale date will stop the foreclosure sale from taking place unless or until the creditor receives permission from the bankruptcy court to proceed with the sale. Under an Iowa Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan, you can make regular monthly payments and be given a reasonable period of time to bring your loan payments current in order to save your property.
It is strongly recommended that you review your bankruptcy options as soon as you realize that you are behind on your mortgage payments. An Iowa bankruptcy attorney will be able to provide you with important information and clear options. To learn more, view my video about how to save your home from foreclosure with Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Can I protect my co-signers if I file bankruptcy?
When you file an Iowa Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the creditor can proceed against your co-signer, according to the terms of the debt agreement. However, if you file an Iowa Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a co-signer is protected to the extent that the plan proposes to repay the debt and if the following conditions are met—the debt is a consumer debt, is not a debt incurred pursuant to a business transaction, and the co-signer was not the sole benefactor of the debt.
As long as you are making the required payments under the Chapter 13 plan, the creditor cannot act to collect from the co-signer. The purpose of this provision of Chapter 13 is to allow you the opportunity to repay the debt without permitting the creditor to bring undue pressure on you by approaching the co-signer for repayment.