Bankruptcy Laws > What to ExpectPosted on: April 6, 2017 at 1:10 pm
After Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
- Bankruptcy Notice
Two to three weeks after your Bankruptcy Petition is filed with the Bankruptcy Court, you should receive a Notice of Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors and Deadlines. If you haven’t received this notice by the end of the third week, please call our office. The notice will include the date, time, and location of your hearing. If you fail to appear at the scheduled time, the United States Trustee’s Office will notice your case for dismissal.
- Creditor Harassment
Your creditors will receive the notice about the same time you do. At that point, federal law requires they discontinue any personal contact with you. Sometimes, it can take four weeks or more for the creditor to process the information in their system until they stop contacting you. Thereafter, if you continue to get harassing phone calls from creditors, provide the creditor your bankruptcy case number and the date the bankruptcy was filed. Inform them that your Chapter 7 case was filed in the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. Do not engage the caller in any further discussion. If the caller persists, inform him or her that you have retained counsel, provide them our name and telephone number and hang up. If the creditor continues to attempt contact with you, after you have provided this information, contact this office and we will call or write the creditor demanding they discontinue contact with you.
- Secured Creditors
Once your bankruptcy has been filed, for those secured items you wish to keep (home, vehicle, large appliance, etc.), you should contact your secured creditors for their mailing address or account information. After the case is filed, your secured creditors may stop sending you monthly statements or coupon books. If you have automatic withdrawal for any regular payment, it may likewise discontinue. If you intend to keep the secured property, it is your responsibility to make sure the monthly payment is made. Keep evidence of payment, either by sending payment by certified mail, return receipt requested, by overnight mail, or through a third party bill payment service (such as PayTrust, www.paytrust.com, or your bank’s internet bill payment service. If you pay in person at a branch office, request a payment receipt. Always write your account number on your check or money order.
- Reaffirmation Agreements
As to each secured item (home, vehicle, or large appliance), you have three options:
Redeem the merchandise by making a reasonable offer of one lump sum payment equal to the current value of the collateral, to be paid within thirty (30) days. If you wish to redeem collateral and the difference between the amount of the debt and the value of the item is more than $3,000, you should retain our services to negotiate and litigate a redemption on your behalf. We charge additional fees for redemption advocacy services and we require a prepaid fee retainer. Please call us as soon as you decide to redeem your secured item. If the difference is less than $3,000, you should contact the creditor directly and make a reasonable offer of a lump sum payment. Very often, the creditor will negotiate the loan amount to one-half, one-third, or even less. If you are unable to agree on terms of redemption, we can assist you (again, for the additional fees and a prepaid retainer.)
Reaffirming your debt with Secured Creditors: You may choose to reaffirm a debt and continue making regular monthly payments pursuant to the terms of your original agreement. If we receive a reaffirmation offer for secured debt, we will forward it to you for signature. Unless you sign the agreement and return it to us, we will presume that you have decided not to reaffirm the debt. If you do not reaffirm the debt, most often you will not receive monthly reminders or payment books from the creditor who may decide to repossess the collateral. You are not required to reaffirm any debt. IF YOU DO NOT MAKE YOUR MONTHLY PAYMENTS ON SECURED DEBT (HOME, CAR, FURNITURE) THEY WILL REPOSSESS IT OR FORECLOSE ON YOUR HOUSE. If you reaffirm a debt, you may cancel the Reaffirmation agreement within sixty days after it is filed with the Court or before the Court enters your Discharge, whichever happens later. By signing a Reaffirmation Agreement, you agree to be responsible for the full amount of the debt. If you default on any payment installment after reaffirming a debt, the creditor can proceed with collection as though the bankruptcy never occurred.
Surrender the collateral. If you choose to surrender the collateral securing debt, you should contact the creditor directly to make arrangements for pick up or delivery.
Offers for Reaffirmation for Unsecured Debt. You are strongly advised not to reaffirm any unsecured debt. Therefore, unless you have instructed us otherwise, we will reject any unsecured reaffirmation offers that we receive on your behalf.
- Personal Contact Information
Please keep this office apprised of any changes in your personal contact information during the course of our representation. Specifically, you must inform us immediately if your address or telephone numbers change or if you have a significant change in your finances. We want to represent your interest zealously but we cannot unless you keep us informed as to how we can contact you. If your finances change such that you can no longer pay both the Trustee and a secured item (such as your mortgage or car payment), contact our office so we can advise you on how to proceed.
- Credit Counseling Course
You must take your 2nd course prior to your case being discharged. If you fail to complete the course before your bankruptcy case is discharge, your case will be dismissed and all your debt will remain. Please take your credit counseling course immediately.
After Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy proceeding, often called a wage-earner plan, is initiated by filing a petition. As in Chapter 7 cases, the filing of the petition automatically stays (stops) creditors from trying to collect on most of their debts. 11 USC §362. There is also a special automatic stay provision in Chapter 13 that protects co-debtors. A creditor generally may not seek to collect “consumer debts” from any individual who is liable along with the debtor. 11 USC §1301(a).
Along with the petition, the debtor must also file a schedule of assets and liabilities, a schedule of current income and expenditures, a schedule of executory contracts and unexpired leases and a statement of financial affairs.
The debtor must also file a certificate of credit counseling; evidence of any payments made by an employer received 60 days before filing; a statement of monthly net income and any anticipated increase in income or expenses after filing; and a record of any interest in federal or state qualified education or tuition accounts. 11 USC §521.
After filing the petition, a trustee is appointed to manage the case. 11 USC §1302. Within 20 to 50 days after the debtor files the petition, the trustee holds a meeting of creditors. The debtor must attend this meeting and answer questions regarding financial issues and the proposed plan terms. 11 USC §343.
The judge must hold a confirmation hearing within 45 days of the meeting of creditors, at which time he or she will decide whether the plan is feasible and meets the Bankruptcy Code’s standards for confirmation. 11 USC §1324, 1325. Creditors may ask questions about and object to the plan. If the court approves the plan, however, the creditors can take no action outside the plan’s scope to collect their debts.
Within fifteen days after the debtor’s filing of the petition, the debtor must file a plan that sets forth the details of how he or she intends to pay off creditors in the next three years (or, with the court’s permission, five years). Fed.R.Bankr.P. 3015. The plan must provide for fixed payments to the trustee on a regular basis and it will be submitted to the court for approval. If approved, the trustee will distribute funds to the creditors according to the plan’s terms. Within 30 days of filing, the debtor must start making payments under the plan to the trustee, even if the court has not yet approved the plan. 11 USC §1326(a)(1).
Let Us Help You through the Process of Bankruptcy
FL Legal Group is a full service law firm, practicing in the areas of Real Estate Law, Foreclosure, Bankruptcy, Loan Modifications, Short Sales, Condo and HOA laws, and Construction Law. Our main office is located in Tampa at 501 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL, 33602.
Call 800-984-9951 to schedule a consultation. You may also reach a member of our staff: Inquiry@FLLegalGroup.comAuthor: Nicki Asmer