Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – An Overview Of What To Expect

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is often referred to as a “wage earner plan” or a “debt repayment plan.” In some ways, a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is similar to the debt repayment program of Consumer Credit Counseling Service, but there are important differences.

In Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the debtor files a “Chapter 13 Plan” with the Bankruptcy Court agreeing to make the best effort to pay off as much debt as possible over a three to five year period of time. Some debts must be paid in Chapter 13; others need not be.

The debtor makes a monthly payment to a bankruptcy trustee determined by monthly take-home pay less monthly living expenses. (For example, if take-home pay is $2,000 per month, and living expenses are $1,800 per month, the payment to the trustee will be $200 per month.) Generally, in Chapter 13, secured debts must be paid in full, as well as “priority” debts (most back taxes and child support). Any funds left over after payment of secured and priority debts are split equally among the unsecured creditors. They each receive some percentage of what is owed, depending on the ability to pay. Most unsecured debts remaining at the end of the case are discharged. This is distinguished from Consumer Credit Counseling Service, where debts are paid in full over an extended repayment period.

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