Steps in a Typical Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case

Here is how a typical Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeds – from filing the petition to receiving the discharge.

Updated by , Attorney


When It Happens

1. You complete your official bankruptcy paperwork and take a pre-filing credit counseling course.

Before you file your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.

2. You file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

3. The automatic stay takes effect. It bars most creditors from taking any actions to collect what you owe.

When you file the bankruptcy petition and other official forms.

4. The court appoints a trustee to oversee your case. You will receive a Notice of Appointment of Trustee from the court.

Within a few days after you file the bankruptcy petition.

5. The court sends you and your creditors a Notice of Chapter 13 Case, which usually contains:

  • general information about Chapter 13 bankruptcy
  • the date of the meeting of creditors
  • the deadline by which creditors must file claims
  • whether the debtor's plan was filed, and
  • the date of the confirmation hearing.

Within a few days after you file your Chapter 13 plan.

6. Creditors can file written objections to your plan.

At least 25 days before the confirmation hearing.

7. You provide your most recent tax return and other documents to the trustee. The trustee might require other documents, as well.

At least seven days before the scheduled date of the first meeting of creditors.

8. You begin making payments under your repayment plan. (If your plan is never approved, the trustee will return your money, less administrative costs.)

Within 30 days after you file the bankruptcy petition.

9. You attend the meeting of creditors, where the trustee and any creditors who show up can ask you about information in your papers. A creditor could raise objections to your plan with the hope of getting you to modify it before the confirmation hearing but must file a written objection to get a court ruling. You must bring any documents the trustee requests and proof that you‘ve filed tax returns for the last four years.

Within 40 days after you file the bankruptcy petition.

10. You file a modified plan if necessary. It's common to amend (change) a Chapter 13 plan in response to an objection by the trustee or a creditor.

Anytime before the confirmation hearing. You must send a copy of the modified plan to all creditors, who are entitled to 20 days' notice before the confirmation hearing. If you don't give 20 days' notice, you will have to schedule a new hearing date.

11. You or your attorney attend the confirmation hearing, where the court addresses any objections raised by creditors or the trustee and decides whether to confirm (approve) your repayment plan.

The hearing must be held between 20 and 45 days after the creditors' meeting unless the court wants to hold it earlier and there is no objection to the earlier date.

12. Creditors file their Proofs of Claim, indicating how much they're owed. You might also have to file Proofs of Claim for creditors who don't file Proofs.

Within 70 days after the bankruptcy filing date (180 days for creditors that are government agencies). If you have to file Proofs of Claim on behalf of creditors, you must do so within 30 days after the 70-day or 180-day limit.

13. You or the trustee files a written objection to a creditor's claim if you have a reason to object.

As soon as possible after the creditors file their claims. You must notify your creditors at least 30 days in advance of the hearing on your objections.

14. The trustee sends you periodic statements showing:

  • the claims filed and for how much
  • how much money has been paid to each creditor, and the balance due each creditor.

Commonly, twice a year.

15. You give the trustee annual income and expense statements.

Every year while your Chapter 13 plan is in effect, if requested by the court, trustee, U.S. Trustee, or a creditor.

16. You file a Certificate showing that you completed a course in personal financial management.

Before you make your last plan payment.

17. The court grants your discharge. The court might schedule a brief final court appearance called a "discharge hearing." If there's no discharge hearing, you'll be mailed formal notice of your discharge.

About 36 to 60 months after you file if you complete your plan payments; sooner if you seek and obtain a hardship discharge or you finish paying a 100% plan (a plan in which you pay all creditors in full).

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