If you’re struggling under the weight of unmanageable debt, bankruptcy might be a good choice for you. The two most popular types of consumer bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. If your income is too high for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or you want to be able to keep your non-exempt property, Chapter 13 might be the better choice for you. Chapter 13 bankruptcy may also provide you with a way to save your home if you are in danger of foreclosure. The Law Offices of Craig L. Cook can help you explore your options and determine whether Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a good choice for your particular situation. We can also explain how to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy and assist you with the entire process, from start to finish.
How to File Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
The first step that you should take when you are trying to figure out how to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer. Chapter 13 bankruptcies are typically more complex than Chapter 7, so an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer will come in handy throughout the process. Once your lawyer helps you confirm that a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will work well for your situation, he or she can help you with your schedules, your petition, and your plan.
Value Your Debts and Your Property
Next, you will need to total all of your debts. If they are too high, you will not qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and will have to choose a different chapter. The debt limits for Chapter 13 petitions are adjusted periodically. Currently, you cannot file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if your unsecured debts are $394,725 or more and your secured debts total $1,184,200 or more.
After you have totaled all of your debts, you should then value your property. You want to know exactly what you own and which types of assets might be exempt. While you are allowed to keep all of your property under Chapter 13, this type of bankruptcy requires you to pay some types of creditors an amount that equals the fair market value of your nonexempt assets.
Consider Your Income
In order to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must have a regular source of income that will allow you to make your bankruptcy payments. Your income should also allow you to pay your daily living expenses during your repayment plan. If you do not have a sufficient income, the bankruptcy court will not allow you to move forward with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.
Attend the Pre-Filing Credit Counseling Course
Before you are allowed to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy – or for bankruptcy under any other chapter – you must complete an approved pre-filing credit counseling course. You can obtain a list of approved providers from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Arkansas in Fayetteville or from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court locations in Oklahoma in Tulsa, Okmulgee, or Oklahoma City. When you complete the course, you will be given a certificate of completion that must be filed with your bankruptcy petition.
Complete the Paperwork
If you qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and have determined that it is the right chapter for you, you will next need to fill out all of the bankruptcy forms. There are multiple schedules in which you must enter your financial information. Our lawyers will assist you with the paperwork and with drafting your Chapter 13 petition. Part of this process is drafting your repayment plan. We can help you create a reasonable plan that your creditors and the bankruptcy court are likely to approve.
File and Pay Your Fee
After all of your forms and your repayment plan have been completed, you will file your petition and pay the bankruptcy filing fee. You will have to submit documentation of your income and assets to the trustee. In addition, you will have to attend the 341 meeting of creditors. At this hearing, the trustee will review your documents and ask you questions. Your creditors are allowed to attend and to ask you questions; however, in most cases, few creditors attend. Your creditors are allowed to object to your plan prior to the plan being confirmed, or all objections being satisfied or resolved.
After Your Plan Is Confirmed
Once your Chapter 13 plan is approved, the payments you have been faithfully making to the trustee’s office since 30 days after filing the case will begin being distributed to your creditors. If you miss too many payments, your Chapter 13 case will be dismissed.
Schedule a Consultation with the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook
Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases can be complex. While you are allowed to file them on your own, mistakes in your petition or repayment plan can result in the dismissal of your case. Getting help from the bankruptcy attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook may improve your chance of success. Call us today at 479-783-8000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.