Below is a Chapter 13 timeline outlining the steps in Chapter 13 you can expect to encounter after filing. If you want to know how long it takes to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, complete the steps outlined below, and receive a Chapter 13 discharge, the answer is most filers complete the process in 60 months—possibly less if your income is low enough or you're paying 100% of your debts.
Because some dates overlap, you'll want to consult with your attorney for specifics or read more about how to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
You'll want to find your financial documents, determine whether you're eligible for Chapter 13, and complete your official bankruptcy paperwork. You'll also take a pre-filing credit counseling course during the 180 days before filing your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.
Find out how to get the bankruptcy petition and other official forms.
Your case will begin when you submit your completed paperwork and filing fee to your local bankruptcy court. If you have counsel, your lawyer will file your case online.
Learn how to benefit from an emergency bankruptcy filing when you don't have time to complete the entire bankruptcy petition.
The Chapter 13 trustee is responsible for administering your case. You will receive a Notice of Appointment of Trustee from the court in the mail.
The bankruptcy court will send you and your creditors important information in a Notice of Chapter 13 Case, including the meeting of creditors date, the creditors' claim deadline, and the confirmation hearing date (we explain more about these dates below).
You'll begin paying the amount proposed in your Chapter 13 plan about 30 days after filing. The court won't have approved your plan yet, but making your monthly payment before the confirmation hearing allows you to complete the case within the 36- or 60-month requirement. Find out more about how long your Chapter 13 plan will last.
If the bankruptcy court doesn't approve or "confirm" your plan, the trustee will return your money, minus administrative costs and certain interest-incurring secured payments like car payments. It's important to pay these debts on time to prevent a buildup of unpaid fees and interest that could undermine plan completion.
You'll provide the trustee with bank statements, paycheck stubs, four years of tax returns, and other documents. Other financial information a trustee might require include proof of insurance; mortgage and car loan balances; retirement, stock, and investment statements; and income and expense statements if you own a business. Learn about 521 bankruptcy documents.
You attend the Chapter 13 meeting of creditors, where the trustee and any creditors who show up can ask you about your financial affairs. You must bring any documents the trustee requests and proof that you‘ve filed tax returns for the last four years.
The trustee or a creditor could object to your plan at or after the 341 meeting. In many cases, problems are resolved informally. Otherwise, a modification requires a written objection requesting a court ruling.
Creditors file proof of claim forms stating the amount owed and the debt type, along with a contract or other supporting documents. If a creditor doesn't file a proof of claim by the deadline, you'll have 30 days to file it for the creditor.
You or the trustee will file a written objection to a creditor's claim if you have a reason to object. You'll want to file it as soon as possible to give the creditor the proper notice.
You or your attorney attend the confirmation hearing. The court reviews your proposed plan and objections raised by creditors or the trustee before deciding whether to "confirm" or approve your repayment plan.
If the court approves your plan, you'll continue making your proposed payment. However, suppose the trustee or creditor raises a valid objection. In that case, the court might give you time to modify your plan and continue the Chapter 13 confirmation hearing. It's common to "amend" or change a Chapter 13 plan in response to an objection by the trustee or a creditor.
Depending on your jurisdiction, the trustee will send you periodic statements showing creditor payments. You might be able to access the information on the trustee's website. Contact the trustee for instructions.
It's important to keep track of the payments and pay any late fees assessed for a delinquent mortgage or car payment. This situation can occur when you fall behind on a plan payment, preventing the trustee from sending the funds on time. If you don't pay the fees separately, the outstanding balance will continue to grow, and you'll owe a significant amount at the end of your case.
The court, trustee, U.S. Trustee, or creditor could request annual tax returns while your Chapter 13 plan is in effect.
You will file a certificate showing you completed a debtor education course before making your last plan payment. Also, you'll likely verify that you're current on support payments and provide other information.
The court grants your bankruptcy discharge erasing the remaining balances of qualifying debts after you complete your plan and fulfill other requirements. The court might schedule a brief final court appearance called a "discharge hearing." Otherwise, you'll receive a discharge notice by mail about a month after completing your plan payments or receiving a hardship discharge.
Did you know Nolo has made the law easy for over fifty years? It's true—and we want to ensure you find what you need. Below you'll find more articles explaining how bankruptcy works. And don't forget that our bankruptcy homepage is the best place to start if you have other questions!
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