Unlike Chapter 7, which is a liquidation bankruptcy, Chapter 13 requires debtors to create a reorganization plan lasting three to five years. Under the reorganization plan, the debtor makes monthly payments on various debts, some of which must be paid off in full in order for the plan to succeed and the bankruptcy to be discharged. While every debtor’s reorganization plan will ultimately be unique, there are a few basic principles that generally apply in California Chapter 13 cases. Our Roseville bankruptcy attorneys explain some key information about the required payments in Chapter 13 reorganization plans.
How Much Do I Have to Pay in Chapter 13?
If you are a resident of Folsom, Sacramento, or Roseville who plans to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will likely do so in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California, which has jurisdiction over Sacramento and Placer Counties, among many others. Your Roseville Chapter 13 lawyer will assist you with this process and the documentation that is required.
The court will assign a person called a “trustee,” who will oversee the bankruptcy proceedings, to your case. One of the trustee’s most important jobs is to distribute your monthly payments to your creditors according to how your debts are categorized. Generally speaking, debts are paid in the following order in Chapter 13:
1. Secured Debts – Debts secured by collateral, such as mortgage debt, where the collateral is your house.
2. Priority Debts – Debts which are given special priority despite not being secured by collateral. Examples include alimony, child support, certain tax-related debts, and any earnings you may owe employees, where applicable.
3. Unsecured Debts – This category covers all other debts, ranging from medical debt to personal loan debt to credit card debt.
Chapter 13 debtors are generally required to pay secured debts and priority debts in full, plus interest. Unsecured debts are of lesser importance in bankruptcy. Creditors holding unsecured claims are not necessarily required to be paid in full, but must receive at least the amount they would have received if you had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This standard is called the “best interest of creditors test.” Moreover, Chapter 13 cases require the debtor to put all of his or her disposable income toward the plan. Additionally, some debtors are approved for a three-year plan, while others are required to disperse payments over a period of five years, which, perhaps needless to say, can have a significant effect on payment amounts.
These factors – the duration of your repayment plan, the amount of disposable income you have, and your ratio of secured debts to unsecured debts to priority debts – all have an impact on the amount you will pay in order to satisfy your Chapter 13 plan. If the plan becomes too expensive and unmanageable while the case is underway, you may be required to convert your case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
California Chapter 13 Payment Calculator
Be wary of any Chapter 13 payment calculators you find on the internet. There are numerous websites that feature these calculators, but no matter how much detail they require you to input, they invariably fail to account for the financial complexity of reorganization bankruptcy. An online bankruptcy calculator may be able to give you a rough idea, but you should not rely on the calculator’s estimate as an accurate reflection of what your final plan will be.
Remember, the repayment plan you propose must gain approval from the bankruptcy court. Moreover, one or more of your creditors might object to the Chapter 13 plan that you initially propose. Many pitfalls can arise in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, which is why it is so critical to be assisted and represented by a knowledgeable Folsom Chapter 13 attorney with prior experience handling cases similar to yours.
Contact Our Roseville Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorneys
Bankruptcy has an unfair and rather exaggerated reputation. Despite the many pernicious myths about bankruptcy, the reality is often quite different, and many people go on to say that filing was one of the best financial decisions they ever made. Not only can bankruptcy help erase liability for various debts – it can also help you protect your car from repossession, save your home from foreclosure, and put an end to harassment by debt collectors.
If you’re a California resident and are struggling to manage debt that has grown too overwhelming, we urge you to contact The Bankruptcy Group for a free and completely confidential consultation regarding your legal options. Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the optimal solution for getting your finances back on track. For a free consultation with our Sacramento Chapter 13 attorneys, contact The Bankruptcy Group at (800) 920-5351 today.