Chapter 13 Repayment Plan

The Chapter 13 repayment plan is your roadmap to how you are going to pay all of your debts with your disposable income which was calculated on your forms in your bankruptcy petition. The previous article summarized the requirements of a confirmable chapter 13 repayment plan; this article presents more detail on how the chapter 13 repayment plan will actually work. A copy of your plan will be sent to the trustee and to each of your creditors. Most bankruptcy courts require the plan to be in particular format and they may have a local form — which can usually be found on the court's website — that you will be required to use to submit your plan. You can generally find the bankruptcy court for your district and its website by going to http://www.uscourts.gov and clicking the relevant links.

Most of your debts you will be paid through your plan. However, some debts may be paid outside of the plan, such as your mortgage payment. You will continue to pay most of your ongoing expenses, such as rent, utilities, and communication services, directly. Generally, the payments for your debts that are paid through your plan are sent to the trustee biweekly or monthly; the trustee takes about 10% —the usual commission — out of each payment and sends the rest to your creditors according to your plan. Hence, it would benefit you to pay as many debts as possible outside of your plan, to save on the 10% commission, particularly your mortgage. However, courts differ as to whether they will allow the debtor to pay their mortgage or car payment through the plan or not.

The trustee will send you periodic statements, showing:

Generally, you will have to pay in full all administration expenses, including the trustee's and your lawyer's fees, all priority debts, all secured debts that will contractually end within the duration of the plan and any arrearage on secured debt for property that you want to keep. The remainder of your payments will be paid pro rata to your unsecured, nonpriority creditors.

If your income is more than the state median for your household size, your plan must last for 5 years; otherwise, your plan may last for 3 years, but you can extend it to 5 years if you need that much time to pay the total value of your nonexempt property so that your plan can be confirmed. How much you pay to your remaining unsecured creditors depends on your remaining disposable income — they may get only a fraction of their debt or even none at all.

The length of your bankruptcy and the calculation used to determine your disposable income is determined by whether your family income — the income of both you and your spouse, if any — is more or less than the state median. If it is less — as determined by the means test — then you calculate your disposable income by subtracting the expenses listed on Schedule J, Current Expenditures of Individual Debtor(s), from either your current monthly income shown on Form 22C or the monthly income figures shown in Schedule I, Current Income of Debtor(s). If your income is more than the state median, then the law requires that you calculate your disposable income by completing Chapter 13 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period and Chapter 13 Calculation of Your Disposable Income, but not all courts enforce this and may allow you to use Schedule I if it is more representative of the your actual income.

Income Deduction Orders

If you are an employee with regular income, the bankruptcy judge may issue an income deduction order at the confirmation hearing so that your monthly plan payments will be automatically deducted from your wages and sent to the bankruptcy court, because it has been demonstrated that income deduction orders increase the likelihood that the debtor will complete the Chapter 13 plan successfully. Nonetheless, courts have different rules regarding income deduction orders: some order it automatically, some only if you request it, and in other jurisdictions, the court doesn't issue the order unless you miss a plan payment.

Allowed Claims

Generally, the trustee will only pay allowed claims. To have an allowed claim, the creditor must file a Proof of Claim in order to be paid by the trustee. Rule 3001. Secured creditors are the only creditors who do not have to file a proof of claim. The deadline for filing a proof of claim is 90 days after the first creditors meeting. Rule 3002. Usually, the confirmation hearing for your repayment plan must be held within 45 days after the first meeting of creditors, which may result in several creditors filing a proof of claim after your plan is confirmed. Because of this scheduling misalignment, you should include all creditors that you assume will file a proof of claim. If some do not file the proof of claim and they are dischargeable debts, then you can amend your plan to eliminate those payments, since they will not be allowed claims, and those debts will be discharged after the completion of the repayment plan.

If you have debts that are priority debts or are otherwise nondischargeable, you may want to file a proof of claim on behalf of those creditors, so that the debts are paid by the time you receive your discharge, which will give you a better fresh start, which is one of the major objectives of bankruptcy. However, you must submit a Proof of Claim for the creditor within 30 days after the creditors' deadline to file a claim. Rule 3004.

Your payment plan should provide full payment to all secured creditors listed in Schedule D, Creditors Holding Secured Claims, and all priority creditors listed in Schedule E, Creditors Holding Unsecured Priority Claims, except for child support owed to a government agency, and the amount that will be paid to all unsecured, nonpriority creditors listed in Schedule F, Creditors Holding Unsecured Nonpriority Claims. If you intend to object to any priority or secured debts listed in your petition, then you should also indicate that in your plan, although it is rarely beneficial, because even if you win, the money that you saved will be used to increase your payments to your unsecured creditors.

Plan Payments

Individual bankruptcy courts may have a local form for the chapter 13 repayment plan, and if there is a local form, then you should use that. However, if there is no local form, then you may be able to use the following sample provided by the Maryland Bankruptcy Court for the general content and format; however, be sure to modify the plan by any local rules, which also should be published on their website, that the court may require.

Sample Chapter 13 Repayment Plan Outline

The first part of a Chapter 13 repayment plan generally consists of a notice to creditors: what they have to do to file a proof of claim and how they may object to the repayment plan if they wish. Generally, a creditor can object to the plan by filing a written notice to the court and serving the notice upon the debtor, trustee, or other parties in interest no less than 8 days before the date set for the first meeting of creditors; otherwise the court may confirm the plan as drafted. The rest of the plan will generally have 1 or more of the following sections:

Because of the length of time of a chapter 13 bankruptcy, secured creditors may require adequate protection payments to protect their property until the plan is confirmed. The trustee generally pays these from the first payment that you make, which must be within 30 days after you file your petition.

Claim Classification

Generally, most Chapter 13 plans classify their creditors into various classes. The Bankruptcy Code does not specify how the various classes are named, but most schemes simply number the classes, with higher priority creditors being listed first. because every member of each class must be treated equally, your classes will depend on the number of different claims and your treatment of them. Your plan must specify how each class will be paid and the percentage of the debt that you intend to pay. Although claims can be classified in various ways, the following sample classification will give you a better idea of how claims are classified:

Your repayment plan may have far fewer classes than those listed above, depending on your debts and how you intend to classify them. Creditors really only need to be in a different class if you intend to pay them a different percentage of their claim or if they have a different legal priority, but everyone within the class must be paid the same percentage.

The repayment plan should also have additional clauses to satisfy legal requirements, such as:

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