Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves committing to a repayment plan that addresses some (or in some rare cases, all) of your outstanding obligations. This plan will last between 3 and 5 years and consist of a single monthly payment that addresses all of your debts. The amount of this payment will be decided by your current disposable income – that is, your current ability to pay – not by how much you owe.
This repayment plan takes your debts and applies federal laws to determine which creditors get paid based on a tiered system of priority and secured interests. In layman’s terms, this means that your repayment plan may pay off outstanding vehicle payments and tax debt but not your credit card debt or medical bills. You may also have the opportunity to catch up on missed mortgage payments over time and protect your home from foreclosure. Once you complete your repayment plan, you can typically discharge all remaining qualifying debts.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a great choice for individuals and families that need structured debt relief but learn that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not right for them. Our Gilbert, AZ Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer can assess your situation and advise how this type of bankruptcy can help you. Our compassionate team at D.M. Bankruptcy Law Group, LLC has over 20 years of collective experience and has helped clients discharge millions of dollars in debt. We are committed to helping you obtain a fresh start and are ready to help you explore all of your relief options.
The Means Test is a formula that determines eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona. If a person does not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy through the Means Test, they can instead generally file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
The Means Test evaluates the preceding 6 months of your income to decide whether you have the “means” to partially repay creditors. If your current income is less than the average median income for your household size, you will automatically qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your current income exceeds the average median income, you will need to calculate your disposable income. If you have sufficiently high disposable income – and thus some “means” of repaying creditors – Chapter 13 bankruptcy will often be the only bankruptcy option for you.
What Is a Chapter 13 Plan?
A Chapter 13 plan is a legal document filed with the Bankruptcy Court that outlines which of your creditors will get paid, when, and by what means. In most cases, the “means” is your disposable income.
Most plans will have a duration of 5 years, or 60 months. Depending on your household income, plans can be as short as 3 years, or 36 months.
A Chapter 13 plan must get “confirmed” after it is filed. This means the plan must follow all relevant rules and laws governing Chapter 13 bankruptcies. It must also be able to withstand any objections registered by creditors. If a Chapter 13 plan is dismissed, you will not be eligible for a discharge and could be exposed to damaging collection actions. Our Gilbert, AZ Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney can prepare a strategic plan that maximizes relief while meeting all requirements.
What Is a Cramdown?
The word “cramdown,” when used in the context of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, refers to the process of getting an Arizona Bankruptcy Court judge to sign an order stating that you are only required to pay the fair market value of your vehicle (or some other personal property) instead of what is actually owed on the property. A cramdown is only available in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and is not an option for Chapter 7 filers. A cramdown is also only granted in very specific situations. We can advise whether a cramdown may be available to you.
How Can Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Stop Foreclosure?
If you fall behind on mortgage payments, you will eventually receive a “Notice of Trustee’s Sale,” which informs you that you will lose your home in 90 days through an auction or foreclosure. It can be terrifying to receive this notice, and some will assume there is nothing they can do to stop the process. Do not let this be you: You have options even when a foreclosure is imminent!
Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is in many cases the most effective way to stop a foreclosure on your home. You must file for bankruptcy before the date of the sale. At that point, you will benefit from the bankruptcy’s automatic stay, a court order that forces a halt on all collection actions – including foreclosure. We offer emergency filing options and same-day appointments if you are in immediate danger of losing your home.
Once you file and your Chapter 13 plan has been accepted, you can make payments on the arrears – or the back payments you owe your lender – over the course of your plan. In many cases, you will have as many as 5 years to cure these arrears. During this time, your lender cannot foreclose your home so long as you continue to make your plan’s monthly payments.
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Attorney Dutkiewicz is one of the most respected and sought-after debt attorneys in Gilbert. He has relieved millions of dollars of debt and guided over 1,500 successful cases.
In many cases, no, you will get to keep your vehicle. Nearly all vehicles with money owed on them will be paid through the Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan, and you will typically be able to avoid repossession. We may even be able to help reduce the interest rate on the amount owed.
Can Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Address Homeowner’s Association Fees?
Arrears (or back payments) on Homeowner’s Association fees can be paid back through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It is important to not neglect these costs, as a Homeowner’s Association has a lien on your house by statute and can, in certain circumstances, take your home from you. We can help ensure these fees are incorporated into your plan.
Can Federal and State Income Taxes Be Addressed in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Yes, money owed to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Arizona Department of Revenue can be discharged and repaid through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Income tax debt can sometimes be outright discharged depending on the year of the tax obligation, when the associated return was filed, and what activities have occurred on the account since filing.
Even if your tax debt is not eligible for discharge, tax debt is considered a “priority” debt and can be repaid through your plan. Paying back taxes through bankruptcy is often less expensive than paying them directly to the IRS or the Arizona Department of Revenue. We can review your tax obligations and advise whether any income tax may be able to be discharged.
The District of Arizona Bankruptcy Court has approved a flat fee for Chapter 13 bankruptcies. Individual filers will be required to pay $4,500 in most cases. Filing for businesses costs $5,500.
Practically all attorneys charge these amounts, but what varies is how much is paid up-front. At D.M. Bankruptcy Law Group, LLC, we offer payment plans that are flexible to your needs and budget. We aim to obtain $1,000 up-front – before you file – and collect the rest over the course of the Chapter 13 plan. If this does not work for you, we will work with you to find a compensation plan that does.
Our Gilbert, AZ Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer has successfully handled over 1,500 cases and is ready to guide you through each step of the process. When you come to our firm, we will help you understand what you will need to pay in a Chapter 13 plan and what types of debt you can expect to discharge. Our team can also work to efficiently file to help avoid damaging collection actions, including bank levies and wage garnishments.
Can You Stop A Vehicle Repossession?Depending on your financial situation, filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may help you keep the current vehicle and prevent repossession. Learn more about his process here.
How Long Does A Bankruptcy Take?The entire bankruptcy process depends on the type of bankruptcy filed. Chapter 7 often takes 2-6 months, while Chapter 13 can take up to 5 years.
Do You Negotiate Credit Card Debt?Yes, we help clients every day negotiate their credit card debt. This process works best if you can make a lump-sum payment. Learn more about debt negotiation here.
Can You Stop A Wage Garnishment?Yes, filing bankruptcy can put a STOP on wage garnishment. This “automatic stay” prohibits a creditor from garnishing your paycheck.
How Will I Be Kept Informed About My Case?April, our paralegal, and Chris will communicate with you regularly on the flow of your case. We believe in 100% transparency and rely on phone calls and emails to keep you abreast of your case.
Do You File Bankrupcty For Businesses?Yes, we do handle bankruptcy filings for businesses. Business cases are $5,500, as a flat fee.
How Much Is It To File Bankruptcy?While bankruptcy costs will fluctuate and increase the more complicated the case, a typical chapter 7 bankruptcy fee ranges from $1,200 to $2,000. Chapter 13 bankruptcy fee, in most cases, is $4,500.