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Do You Understand Chapter 13?

July 24th, 2018 Comments off

The global financial crisis was a downturn of such unprecedented scale that many Americans were caught completely unawares and far from prepared. Without easy credit available many Americans found that their liabilities and expenses far outweighed their ability to pay for them. The number of bankruptcies filed increased dramatically due to the tightening of credit markets.

Many people considering filing for bankruptcy think of the more traditional Chapter 7 bankruptcy procedure first. This typically involves the wholesale liquidation of the petitioners assets, although there are some items that are exempt. Most unsecured debts, like credit card debt and medical bills, are discharged. Today, the United States Trustee who oversees Chapter 7 bankruptcies also imposes a strict means test, which may deny Chapter 7 relief to persons making enough money that the bankruptcy claim appears to be abusive.

However, there is an alternative to Chapter 7 bankruptcy available, Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also known as reorganization bankruptcy because it involves reorganizing the debtors finances in such a way as to allow eventual repayment. The Chapter 13 option is useful for people that have nonexempt assets that they wish to keep (assets that would be liquidated under Chapter 7) or people that have a predictable income and can technically pay off their debt if it is adequately restructured. Importantly, Chapter 13 also extends special protection to third parties that may be liable for debts, such as a co-signer or spouse. Unlike a Chapter 7 liquidation that discharges debt within a few months, Chapter 13 filings lead to the creation of a Chapter 13 reorganization plan that remains in effect for three to five years.

There are certain restrictions that come into play when considering a Chapter 13 petition because it is a reorganization of finances rather than a discharge of debts. To be eligible a debtor must be able to demonstrate a reliable income that will be steady for the duration of the reorganization plan. Once a steady income is proven, then living expenses are subtracted and if there is money remaining to make significant payments the petitioner will qualify. However, any unsecured debts over $336,900 and secured debts over $1,020,650 will disqualify a petitioner.

Along with the above restrictions, stockbrokers and commodity brokers are not permitted to petition for Chapter 13 protection, for business or personal finances. However, most people will qualify in spite of the basic restrictions involved.

Because the filing process for a Chapter 13 is so complicated, the filer needs the help of a professional to make sure paperwork is correct and complete. Because it is a bankruptcy a fee will generally be required up front before the professional accepts the job and it is important to begin the filing process before the situation is too dire. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a good solution for professionals and others with a solid income; self-discipline is absolutely necessary to make the reorganization work the way it should.

Wendy Polisi is the founder of Credit Repair College and Finance the Dream. Credit Repair College empowers people to take control of their financial future by learning everything they need to know to repair credit on their own. For more information on credit repair please visit them on the web. Finance the Dream offers lease options throughout the United States.