A filing under Chapter 13 is technically referred to as “individual reorganization.” It is a way for people to “reorganize” their debt into a manageable, monthly payment plan that is fair for the individual’s creditors. A Chapter 13 Plan must pay out the greater of the individual’s monthly disposable income aggregated over a certain period or the amount creditors would have received in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if the individual’s property were liquidated. As in a Chapter 7, an individual in a Chapter 13 Plan gets to exempt a certain amount of property. In order to qualify for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a client must be an individual and have regular source of income (either from employment or from another source).
One of the principal advantages of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that it allows a client to bring certain secured debts, such as home mortgages and car loans, current. Under a Chapter 13 Plan, a client is able to consolidate all their debt together, including the arrearage on a house or car, back taxes owed and unsecured debt. This plan would require debtors to pay back the secured debt and certain back taxes in full, but allows the client to only repay a small percentage of the unsecured debt. Clients can also use Chapter 13 to reduce their tax liability and/or create a payment plan for tax liabilities. In many cases, Chapter 13 will even eliminate penalties and stop interest from accruing on all or a portion of their tax debt.
The debtor’s plan is a document outlining to the bankruptcy court how the debtor proposes to dispose of the claims of the debtor’s creditors. The debtor’s property is protected from seizure from creditors, including mortgage and other lien holders, as long as the proposed payments are made and necessary insurance coverages remain in place. The plan generally requires monthly payments to the bankruptcy trustee over a period of three to five years.