How To File For Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can get credit card debt relief, stop foreclosure on your home, and reorganize your debts and payments so that you can pay back debts more manageably without the harassment of phone calls and lawsuits. Under Arizona bankruptcy law, there are a lot of documents you need to gather and steps you need to take. At Judge Law Firm, we will inform you about those steps so that you are prepared to file.

Filing for bankruptcy is a complicated matter and is best left to an experienced bankruptcy attorney like Jeffrey P. Judge, who can properly advise you about filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection. That said, there is a lot you can do on your own to prepare for meeting with an attorney when you want to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. First, you can pull together the last six months of your (and your spouse's) pay stubs. Second, you can list all your debts and obligations, including credit cards, home and car loans, taxes, student loans and any other claims against you. Third, you can bring a copy of the last three years of your state and federal taxes.

Although not recommended, if you plan on filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy on your own, you will need to complete and file the official forms. Official bankruptcy forms are available where do-it-yourself legal documents are sold or you can download them online. The forms are also available at the bankruptcy court. In addition, you will need to file with the bankruptcy court a copy of your credit counseling class certificate and copies of the last 60 days of your pay stubs.

If you hire an attorney to handle your Chapter 13 case, they will complete the forms using their own system to ensure they're done correctly. Your attorney will also know what documents to file and when they need to be filed with the court. They will assist you in staying on top of the numerous rules and requirements in completing a Chapter 13 case.

Necessary Information To File For Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must submit the following to the bankruptcy court:

  • A schedule (list) of all your assets and liabilities, including your home, car, personal possessions and all your debts.
  • A schedule of your current income and expenses; list all sources of income, including child support or spousal support if applicable, and all your monthly and annual expenses.
  • A schedule of all executory contracts and unexpired leases. An executory contract is a contract between two people or entities under which at least one of the parties still has part of the contract to perform. For example, a housewife who accepted money to provide child care for someone and hasn't done that yet is under an executory contract.
  • A statement of financial affairs.
  • A certificate of your consumer credit counseling class.
  • Copies of the last 60 days of your pay stubs.
  • A declaration of Social Security number.

Note that under Arizona bankruptcy law married individuals who reside together and file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy must gather financial information (assets, debts, income and expenses) for their spouse even if they are filing separate bankruptcy petitions or only one spouse is filing.

Before you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you also must take part in a credit counseling program in which you will attempt to create a payment plan to repay all your debts. A certificate verifying the counseling and a copy of the payment plan, if possible, must be submitted to the bankruptcy court when you file.

What Happens After You File For Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

After filing your petition and necessary paperwork, all credit collection activities from creditors must stop, including mortgage companies, car loan companies and the companies you are seeking credit card debt relief from. This means that your creditors should not even be calling you and asking for payment. This is a huge relief for most people going through bankruptcy.

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will assign a trustee to your case. You are required to cooperate with a bankruptcy trustee, which will include sending the trustee the last two years of your state and federal taxes. That trustee will also schedule a meeting of creditors that will take place anywhere from 20 to 50 days after you file. During this meeting, the trustee will place you under oath and you'll be required to answer questions about your financial situation from creditors. This gives you a chance to put your full financial story on the record and ensures against fraudulent bankruptcy filings. Further, you must also complete a second class, a financial management course, and file your completion certificate with the court.

If the bankruptcy court approves your payment plan and bankruptcy petition, and none of your creditors object, you will enter into that payment plan for the next three to five years. At the end of your payment plan, any remaining unsecured debts will be discharged, so long as all criteria are met. The criteria for discharge are quite complex and your attorney will be able to tell which debts will be discharged and which will not or are unlikely to be discharged.

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