What Happens After you File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy


Dec 2016

What Happens After you File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

by Ellen Ray in

Once you have paid all the upfront fees you have been quoted and provided us with all the documents we have requested from you, we will set you an appointment to sign your petition and at that time, once you have reviewed all the paperwork thoroughly and signed where required, we will file the petition with the court.  At this time, and not before, you will have all the protections given by federal law against collection, repossession and foreclosure as well as from being sued in state court for nonpayment.

Within the first 30 days after the case is filed you will be required to make a payment to your assigned trustee. You will receive a letter from my office as well as from the trustee assigned to your case which will give you the address to send the payment as well as the name of the trustee you have been assigned.  The first payment must be in a money order or certified check form and must be made payable to your trustee and mailed within 30 days after you file the case.  If you do not make the first payment when it is due, you are at risk of having your case dismissed and you may have to start over and pay all fees to file another case if this happens. 

Within 40 days of filing the case, you will be required to attend a meeting with the trustee at the Federal Courthouse on East Broad Street.  This meeting is required and your case can be dismissed by the court if you do not attend. The meeting date and time is usually on a Thursday and is set by the court computer the day after your case is filed.  This date cannot be changed for any reason other than that you are in the hospital or in jail or something happens on your way to the meeting that makes it impossible for you to attend, like a car accident.  If any of the reasons listed here apply to you, you need to call my office immediately upon finding out that you cannot attend and we will give notice to the trustee that the meeting needs to be rescheduled.  If you do not contact us and provide one of the reasons listed above and you do not attend the meeting then you case will be dismissed and the only way to get it back on track is to have me filed a motion to reinstate the case with the court which will cost you a minimum cost of $250.00.  The meeting with the trustee does not usually take more than about 5 minutes, but you may have to wait for up to an hour for your name to be called after you arrive so it is important that you leave about 2 hours plus travel time to and from the courthouse on the date of your meeting.

At this meeting, the trustee will ask you if you have told the truth on the paperwork you signed, will ask if you have moved or changed jobs and will ask you to give him your payroll address, if you have one, so that he can set up the payroll deduction.  He will also ask you to show him your social security card and picture ID to prove that you are the person who filed the petition with the court.  You are not generally asked any questions that you have not already been asked and answered by my office, and the trustee does not usually ask you any personal questions about why you filed the case.  You will need to bring with you the two sided sheet he mails you, filled out with your name, address and payroll information.

You will be required to complete a second part of the counseling which is usually referred to as a financial management or budget class. We ask that you complete this class after you receive your case number and before you have your meeting with the trustee if you can.  If you direct the agency you do the class with to send me a copy of the certificate of completion, they will email or fax a copy to me and I will file it with the court as soon as I get it.  You cannot receive a discharge in your case if you have not received this certificate.

If none of your creditors or your chapter 13 trustee objects to your chapter 13 plan, the plan will be confirmed by the court about 3 months after you file the case.  You do not have to appear at any court hearing in order for the court to confirm the plan.  There may be a court hearing that you wish to attend if one of your creditors files an objection to your plan.  If you receive notice of an objection, always call my office before you come to the court hearing set because most of the time the objections are settled before the court hearing and there is no need for you to come to court. 

Approximately 5 months after you file the case, the date for all of your creditors to file their claims with the court will pass.  After this date passes, my office reviews all claims filed in your case to make sure that all creditors you owe for your house and your cars have filed claims properly so that they can be paid what you owe them, if you are proposing to pay them or catch them up in the plan you have filed.  We also make sure that all taxes you proposed to pay in your case are being paid in full, and we review all other claims filed to make sure that they are filed by creditors that you listed as owing at the time you filed your case.  It is not common, but sometimes there will be a claim filed in a case which is not a proper claim, and we will then object to the claim and get it removed from the list.  If you wish to call my office after the first 6 months of the case, we will be happy to let you know whether the claims were filed as we thought they would be or whether there is some change that needs to be made in your case to pay more or less than you are currently paying to the trustee.  If you do not contact us, we will contact you if there is a need for a change in the case.

When you have finished making all the payments over the 3 to 5 years of the case, we will send you a certificate to sign which states that you are eligible for a discharge, and then the trustee will send a notice to the court that you have completed the payments. About 20 days after the trustee alerts the court that you have made the final payment and you have signed and returned the certificate of eligibility for a discharge, the court will enter the discharge and send you a copy of the discharge in the mail.  If you have been paying for your vehicle in the case, you should receive the title to your vehicle after the discharge, but it may take up to 4 months for the company to release it.  If you do not receive the title after 120 days, call the company directly to inquire as to whether it has been mailed and then call my office if you have any questions or trouble getting information directly from them.

After your discharge, if you have any questions or concerns about your credit report or rating, you will need to file an inquiry directly with the credit reporting agency or agencies.  Due to privacy laws, I cannot fix your credit report for you and I cannot get any information from the credit agency directly.  If you need to prove that a debt was discharged in your case, you will need to send them a list of the creditors listed in your case and a copy of your discharge.  My office will have given you a full copy of your bankruptcy petition, chapter 13 plans filed during your case and a copy of your discharge.  If you have lost these documents or find you need additional copies from us, there will be a charge to receive them so it is important that you only send copies to others and always keep your copy in a safe place.