Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney
Chapter 13 refers to the Chapter in the Bankruptcy Code, which permits individuals with regular income to pay all or some of their debts through a convenient re-payment plan over several years. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is typically known as a "bill consolidation" Bankruptcy or a "wage earners plan."
Although Chapter 7 Bankruptcy provides powerful relief in many situations, it's not always the best solution. For example, if you have property that you want to keep or certain debts that cannot be
discharged and eliminated through
Chapter 7, then Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may provide more protection for you and your family. If you have experienced short-term financial hardships, such as unemployment, illness, or other unexpected expenses, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can help reestablish your financial situation over time. Most importantly, if you are being threatened with
foreclosure of your home or
repossession of your car, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is the best option -- and sometimes only option -- to protect your property.
The process of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may seem overwhelming and complex. We can help. I started the Westbrook Law Firm, PLLC to help homeowners and other consumers with this important leggal process. As a Houston Bankruptcy attorney, I can help you navigate through the Bankruptcy process from beginning to end. For a free consultation regarding Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, please call my office at
(713) 893-6204. You can also send an
Email or complete our
Free Case Evaluation. I look forward to assisting you. Stop letting debt ruin your life.
WHEN CHAPTER 13 BANRUPTCY MAY BE THE BEST OPTION
Filing for consumer Bankruptcy is a serious and difficult decision. Choosing between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 depends on your financial situation and individual circumstances. As a dedicated and experienced Houston Bankruptcy lawyer, I can help you decide if Chapter 13 is the best solution for your specific situation.
Many of my clients have found Chapter 13 Bankruptcy beneficial in the following situations:
They fell behind on mortgage payments or car payments. One of the main reasons to file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is to stop home foreclosures
They incurred significant tax debts that were not subject to discharge through Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
. Although some tax debts cannot be discharged through
, they can still be included in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and paid off over time.
They wanted to keep certain non-exempt property that would have been liquidated and sold through Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
, including boats, campers, stock/bonds, and investment property. Chapter 13 permits debtors to maintain ownership of their non-exempt property, provided they continue to make their scheduled payments during the Chapter 13 process.
They filed for Chapter 7
in the past eight years, which made them ineligible to file under
They wanted to protect co-debtors from liability. In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
cases, co-signers who do not file Bankruptcy are still responsible for discharged debts, even if the primary debtor received the discharge. In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, co-signers are protected from this liability during the Bankruptcy process, provided the debtor follows the repayment plan.
They incurred significant student loan debt. Student loans designated for an educational purpose are not dischargeable through Chapter 7
. However, this debt can be included in a Chapter 13 plan at a reduced amount per month. While you are responsible for the student loans at the conclusion of the case, the period of deferred payments can help create a brigher financial future.
ELIGIBLITY -- INCOME REQUIREMENT AND DEBT LIMITS
Although Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is much less restrictive than Chapter 7 Bankruptcy with respect to eligibility, not everyone qualifies. To be eligible, you must have future income that can be used to make installment payments over a period of three (3) to five (5) years, depending on the income level. You must also have adequate disposable income after making these payments to cover your necessary living expenses.
Generally, you will be eligible for Chapter 13 if your debts do not exceed specified dollars amounts in the Bankruptcy Code. As of April 2010, the debt limits in Section 109(e) of the Bankruptcy Code are $360,475 for all unsecured debts and $1,081,400 for all secured debts. If your debts exceed these limits, you must consider Chapter 7 (assuming you qualify) or Chapter 11. This is a major distinction of Chapter 13. Most of our clients qualify for Chapter 13, despite the income requirement and debt limits.
If you fail to qualify for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you may still be eligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Chapter 11 is also an option in rare and extreme cases. Please contact the Westbrook Law Firm, PLLC to discuss your options. As a
Houston Bankruptcy lawyer, I will personally review your case for FREE and determine whether you are eligible for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy relief.
FILING THE CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY PETITION
The process for filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy begins at my office. During our initial meeting, I will meet with you to discuss your various options and determine whether Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will provide the best relief and protection you need. After this consultation, I will need certain documents to proceed, including paystubs or profit/loss statements for the last 6 months, information on your mortgage and vehicle, tax returns for the last 4 years. I will also need an intake form completed, where you will list your assets, expenses and debts, personal property, and creditors. My office will then prepare your Bankruptcy Petition, along with each of the necessary attachments. We will also formulate a Chapter 13 plan that is feasible with your budget and current situation.
After submitting these forms with my office, you will need to complete an approved credit counseling course. My office can recommend several inexpensive courses to choose from, many of which can be completed online. The fee is usually $30 for a single or joint filing. Once you complete the course, you will receive a certificate of completion, which we will include with your Bankruptcy Petition. The certificate is required prior to filing.
Before we file your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Petition, you must provide a small down payment and the filing fee of $274.00. The remaining legal fees will be spread over the course of the Chapter 13 Plan, which is usually around $45 to $50 per month. Please call me. I would be happy to explain the fee structure and overall Bankruptcy process. We are here to help!
AFTER THE CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY PETITION IS FILED
After we file your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the Court will send a notice to each of the creditors listed in your case. Your friends, bank, employer, and relatives will not be sent notice unless they are either also a creditor, a co-Debtor with you, or otherwise financially impacted by your Bankruptcy filing (e.g. your friend is also your landlord and you want to break the lease through the Bankruptcy process).
As soon as the documents are filed with the Court (which is all done electronically), a protection known as the "automatic stay" will take effect. The automatic stay prevents creditors from foreclosing your home, repossessing your car, or conduting any collection activities while the Bankruptcy is pending. This is a primary reason to file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, depending on your circumstances. Unlike Chapter 7, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy extends the automatic stay protection to co-debtors while the case is active.
Through the automatic stay, your creditors will be prohibited from calling you, sending collection letters, or conducting any type of harassment. In addition, your creditors will be prohibited from taking or continuing any legal action against you. The automatic stay specifically STOPS:
repossession; utility shut-offs; lawsuits and wage garnishments; and some IRS processes (including tax levies and property seizures).
The automatic stay will remain in effect until you successfully complete the Bankruptcy or the Court lifts the Bankruptcy protection for various reasons (including where you surrender a property interest in the Bankruptcy). In most cases, the automatic stay lasts for the duration of the Bankruptcy.
Once the Bankruptcy process begins, the Court will assign a Chapter 13 Trustee to oversee your case. There are 2 Trustees in the Southern District of Texas (which covers the Counties of Harris, Galvestion, Brazoria, Fort Bend, and Montgomery). The Trustee is a federal employee appointed by the Court to monitor your Bankruptcy and determine whether it should be confirmed or dismissed. As a dedicated Chapter 13 Bankruptcy lawyer in Houston, I will work with your Chapter 13 Trustee closely and do everything possible to obtain a successful resolution to your case, including confirmation of the Chapter 13 Plan and discharge of your debts.
THE CHAPTER 13 REPAYMENT PLAN
After I meet with you and analyze your financial information, I will formulate the most feasible Chapter 13 Plan possible. The Chapter 13 Plan significantly distinguishes a Chapter 13 from a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Instead of a quick resolution and liquidation of some non-exempt property in
Chapter 7, the Chapter 13 Plan allows you to maintain possession of both exempt and non-exempt property both during and after the Bankruptcy. The Chapter 13 Plan also resolves your past due debts and keeps you current on future payments. This is helpful for re-establishing your credit after the Bankruptcy is resolved.
The Chapter 13 Plan requires that you pay back all of your creditors based on priority. For example, if you are behind on a mortgage, you will be required to pay the ongoing mortgage as well as the mortgage arrears over the course of the Plan. You may also be responsible for paying your unsecured creditors (such as credit cards and medical bills) over the course of the Plan, although this can range from 1% to 100% based on your disposable income. The disposable income you show each month (i.e., your income minus all reasonable expenses) helps determine the Plan payment and how much of the payment will go to your creditors.
The period allowed by the Court to repay your debts will vary between three (3) to five (5) years, depending on your income, expenses, and other factors. If you are behind on a mortgage, the Plan will always last 5 years. During this time, you will make scheduled payments to the Trustee. The Trustee will then distribute your payment in various amounts based on the priority of the debt. Secured creditors, such as mortgage companies and government lenders, receive payment first, and any remaining disposable income is distributed to the unsecured creditors. If problems arise during the Bankruptcy process, including missed payments, we can file a Motion to Modify with the Court to adjust your plan and avoid a dismissal.
After completing the Chapter 13, your unsecured debts will generally be discharged, including credit card debt, medical bills, and private loans. Nevertheless, you will still be liable for any domestic support obligations, most student loans, certain taxes, most criminal fines and restitution obligations, certain debts and judgments for acts that caused death or personal injury, and certain long term secured obligations (such as your mortgage).
The Court must approve your Chapter 13 Plan before it can take effect or be "Confirmed". As a dedicated Chapter 13 lawyer, I do everything possible to create the most reasonable and manageable Chapter 13 Plans for every client. My office has an excellent success rate with our Chapter 13 cases. My goal is to get every case Confirmed. This means brighter financial futures for my clients! To learn more about Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and what my office can do for you, please call us at (713) 893-6204.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY TODAY
The mere thought of Bankruptcy can be stressful and overwhelming. The Westbrook Law Firm, PLLC understands. Consulting with my office is not a final decision -- it's the first step in learning about debt relief and whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the right solution for you.
Many times, people wait too long to discuss their options, and realize they have only a few days to stop a foreclosure of their home or stop a
repossession of their vehicle. While my office is fully prepared for these emergencies, it is always better to seek help sooner than later. To schedule a FREE consultation regarding Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, please contact me at
(713) 893-6204. You can also send an
Email or complete the
Free Case Evaluation. I look forward to helping you. The road to financial freedome starts here.
3730 Kirby Drive #1200, Houston, TX 77098
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