Fast Facts about Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Metro Atlanta and Athens, Georgia:
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed by debtors who are above median income, or by debtors who opt to file Chapter 13. You and I need to meet in order to determine whether you are above or below median income.
Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy can set you free from debt and also allow you to keep assets you might have to surrender in Chapter 7.
As a Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney, it is my job to propose a plan payment that you can afford, and that satisfies your creditors. I’m your Sherpa, and you’ll need me to get you through safely.
If you are my client, then I’ll be working with you to write a ‘Plan’ that proposes to repay creditors a certain percent of the money owed to all creditors over 3 or 5 years. During the plan, you will make all plan payments to the Trustee assigned to your case. The Trustee will dole out your plan payment to your creditors according to the plan. At the end of the plan, you are discharged, and the debts that you repaid according to the plan terms are erased–you get a fresh start.
Some people must file Chapter 13 because of the make too much money to file Chapter 7 according to the means test.
Other people choose to file Chapter 13 because filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows them to pay off missed mortgage payments, car loan payments , tax problems, child support, and alimony in the Chapter 13 plan. Chapter 13 also allows for the cram down of car note balances, and the stripping of second mortgages.
Fast Facts about Me–Atlanta Bankruptcy Attorney Shannon D. McDuffie:
I am a solo practice bankruptcy attorney in Decatur, GA. I am a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. My practice is exclusively focused on Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy cases for individuals and corporations. As I have been for hundreds of clients, I will be here from here to your Fresh Start.
As your Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney, I will be defending our calculations and deductions on the means test. I will be protecting your assets using Georgia’s bankruptcy exemptions. I will write the plan that we propose to pay back your creditors. Before we file (or even decide to file) we will discuss how your assets and liabilities will be impacted by the filing. You will always be able to speak to me directly. I will always be with you in court (I do not hire appearance attorneys to meet my clients in court.) Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy cases are all I do, and I keep my bankruptcy practice small enough that I know each of my clients’ cases better than they do. The bankruptcy code is perilous–you deserve a bankruptcy attorney who will guide you down the right path.
I want you to be able to afford your case because I want you to get the Fresh Start that the bankruptcy code allows.
Other Frequently Asked Questions About Chapter 13
Who’s Who In The Atlanta and Athens Bankruptcy Courts?
- You are the debtor who comes before the court seeking relief from debt that you are unable to pay.
- The Trustee is charged with marshaling assets to repay creditors and ensuring that you are complying with the provisions of the rules of court and law.
- The judge decides issues of law and fact in your case. There is no jury trial in the bankruptcy court.
- Your creditors will likely be represented by local counsel who they’ll have hired to represent them in court.
- Your attorney is your advocate and represents you in court. Choose carefully.
How Much Does Will I Pay Each Month if I file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
The code is designed to get you to pay all of your disposable income into the plan over its life. This is called your Chapter 13 plan payment. One can imagine how a debtor’s definition of disposable income might differ from a trustee’s. I will determine and defend the calculation of how much disposable income you’ll actually have based on what your income and expenses will be during the life of the plan. Chapter 13 allows you to pay most of your fees through the plan. Filing Chapter 13 means that you can start a Chapter 13 case with very little money up front.
Can I be forced to file Chapter 13 even though I’m retired and/or not working?
You must have regular source of income to qualify for a Chapter 13, but it is important to note that regular income includes money you get from your spouse’s income, annuities, gains on investments, and certain other types of income. Disposable income can also include unemployment benefits, social security benefits, and retirement income. You and I will discuss your source of income and decide what amount is really disposable.
How Is The Money I Pay into the Plan Allocated To My Creditors?
The percent paid is determined by the class of creditors. Some classes are treated less favorably than others. For example, your credit card is typically secured with a signature on the application. Since there is no collateral securing the loan, the debt is unsecured. Your house or your car, however, are both secured by the collateral you gave when you signed the loan documents. These are secured creditors. Secured creditors are generally given the full amount owed (not always). Unsecured creditors are given less–sometimes pennies on the dollar of what you owe. Tax debts, child support arrearages, alimony arrearages and certain other debts are unsecured but classified specially by the code to be paid 100% of what is owed through the plan.
Can I Discharge “ALL” of My Debt?
No. You cannot discharge alimony, child support, student loan debt (unless you and I can show undue hardship), tax liability for most years, damages you owe because of certain types of court proceedings (most commonly DUI damages).
Your plan will provide for the discharge of other debts upon completion of your plan.
Do I have too much debt to file Chapter 13?
The current limit on debt that can be put into a Chapter 13 plan is $1,081,400 worth of secured debt (your house, your car) and $360,475 worth of unsecured debt (credit card debt, signature loans). I will determine if you’re at the limit and if so I’ll explain your other options: Chapter 7 and/or Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Can You Help Me Save My House From Foreclosure?
Yes, with a properly filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition, you can slow down (and in some cases) stop foreclosure. This is a very fact specific situation. If you are behind on your mortgage, DO NOT DELAY in calling me to discuss your situation.
Can I get rid of my second mortgage and/or home equity loan by filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
Yes, you can. This is commonly referred to as stripping your second mortgage. Contact me for details. This is one of my favorite things to do for my clients.
Will I Be Able To Keep My House, My Car, My Boat, My Engagement Ring? What About Other Assets?
In general, you will be able to keep all assets in a Chapter 13. You will pay certain secured debts through your plan (your car note), and other secured debts directly to the creditor (your mortgage).
How Long Does It Take To Prepare The Petition?
The basic skeleton of a bankruptcy petition can be prepared in a few hours, and I will do this for you if we decide that it is the only way to save your home from foreclosure.
In all other cases, it will take 5-7 business days to prepare your petition from the time that I receive all of the documentation I ask you to provide.
What Happens Once I File A Chapter 13?
The instant your petition is filed, the automatic stay is in place protecting you from your creditors. Violations of the automatic stay are taken very seriously and met with actual and sometimes punitive damages. As long as the stay is in place:
- Foreclosure proceedings will stop.
- Suits that are pending will be put on hold.
- Calls from creditors will stop.
- Wage garnishment will cease.
- Repossessions will not occur.
One month or so after filing, the Meeting of the Creditors is held, and plan payments begin.
Two months or so after filing, the Proposed Plan is confirmed, and the trustee starts paying out money to creditors.
3 or 5 years after filing, the plan is paid off and you will be discharged.