One of the most common questions is what your monthly Chapter 13 repayment plan will be if you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, the Chapter 13 bankruptcy forms are extremely complex, so what we did in collaboration with Ascend Finance is to develop a Chapter 13 calculator based on the forms that would provide you an estimate of your Chapter 13 plan.
Ascend built a Chapter 13 Calculator that doesn't require an email address and is based on the complex bankruptcy forms. You can take it here (source) to help you estimate your Chapter 13 3 or 5 year repayment plan. This calculator is the accumulation of over 3 years of work, so the estimate should be quite good.
You can also access the Chapter 13 calculator below.
The calculator is based on the Chapter 13 bankruptcy forms above and estimates the attorney fees based on the no-look fees in the area, the trustee fees based on the administrative expenses, and the disposable income calculator.
As a Chapter 13 repayment plan are based on forms, a Chapter 13 calculator can help provide an estimate before going to your free bankruptcy consultation.
Using a Chapter 13 calculator will help estimate your minimum payment under the new repayment plan by calculating your priority and secured payments which all Chapter 13 filers must pay. It can also help protect you from a Chapter 13 bankruptcy horror story. Our guide provides a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Payment Calculator. If you're interested, you can also take a bankruptcy quiz to help you sort through cost, qualification and alternatives.
We have also included an overview of Chapter 13 bankruptcy and other available alternatives to help you make an informed decision.
How to Estimate Your Chapter 13 Plan Payment
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also referred to as a wage earners plan because it suits individuals in debt since their disposable income is insufficient to meet their obligations. Therefore, they need a new debt payment plan to keep up with their debt. Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers regular earners an extension to repay their debts within three to five years using a Chapter 13 repayment plan.
When you file bankruptcy under Chapter 13, the court will try to see what your disposable income is every month. You can use this Chapter 13 calculator to estimate your Chapter 13 plan payments. The calculator mirrors the disposable income bankruptcy form which the court uses to calculate your payment. Therefore, it is accurate, and you can consider the results as an estimate for your payment plan.
2 Examples of Chapter 13 Payment Plan
Let us use two examples to help you understand how Chapter 13 calculator results differ. You can also check here an example of a Chapter 13 payment plan.
Before diving into the examples, let us highlight the factors considered in calculating your payment plan;
● Attorney fees
● Trustee fees
● Administrative fees
● Mortgage payments (if any)
● Secured payments (if any)
● Auto payments (if any)
● Disposable income(if any)
Here are examples putting the above factors into consideration;
Estimated Monthly Payment;
For 36 or 60 months
Your Monthly Payments
$90 or $60
$20 or $10
$70 or $50
$4,000 or $4,100
This is the highest payment plan because of the disposable income and auto payment considered during the Chapter 13 calculation. In some cases, you will have a 100% payment plan to pay for all outstanding unsecured debts.
Estimated Monthly Payment;
For 36 or 60 months
Your Monthly Payments
The payment is the least since the individual does not have disposable income or real estate in this scenario.
This often happens when one files Chapter 13 bankruptcy after filing Chapter 7.
An Overview of Chapter 13 Repayment Plan
Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers individuals a flexible repayment plan according to their disposable income. Thus, it allows them to keep their assets, unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which focuses on liquidation. Therefore, you risk losing assets. Here is an overview of the Chapter 13 repayment plan.
4 Items You Might Want to Keep
Let's now cover 4 items that you may want to keep if you decide to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
1. Would You Like to Keep Your House?
a.) If you would like to keep your house even after falling behind on your mortgage payments, you can set a payment plan that enables you to catch up on the missed payments. Figure out the amount you owe your lender and stretch out the payment plan to the maximum time allowed, usually five years. When your mortgage lenders don't understand your situation, stretching your arrears can be beneficial in retaining your home. A Chapter 13 payment plan makes it possible to catch up on payments and clear a second mortgage if you took one.
b) If you wouldn't like to keep your home, you don't need to pay back the arrears on your mortgage.
2. Do You Want to Retain Ownership of Your Car(s)?
a) To keep your car(s), you will need to pay them off by including the payment in your new plan. Ensure you fully pay off the vehicle by your repayment duration. However, you need to consider how long it has been since you bought the car. Was it 2.5 years before filing your bankruptcy or less?
b) If you bought the car within 2.5 years before filing for bankruptcy, you will enjoy a lower interest rate when making your repayments. A reduced interest rate is helpful, especially with a lower disposable income and if you are dealing with a high-interest car loan.
c) In the event that you bought the car more than 2.5 years ago before filing for bankruptcy, you can pay for the value of the vehicle if its value is lesser than your outstanding loan balance.
3. Did You Take a Loan and Used Your Assets as Collateral that You Would Like to Keep?
According to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will only pay for the owed amount. For example, if you bought a dining room set at $5600 and it is worth $300 now, you will only pay for the $300 at a low-interest rate.
4. How to Keep Your Jewelry If You'd Like
When it comes to jewelry, if you have had it for more than a year after filing, you will pay the amount it's worth. Otherwise, you will pay the lesser of what you owe.
Debts That You MUST Pay in Chapter 13:
● Tax debt- If you owe tax to the local authorities, IRS, the state, or a school, the debt cannot be discharged. While the court might discharge the taxes, you will still have to pay them. However, you will not need to pay outstanding penalties or accumulated interest on the tax debt.
● Child Support and Alimony- these two go hand in hand, and they cannot be discharged. Therefore, you might also need to enter them into the payment plan.
What is Your Chapter 13 Minimum Plan Payment, and How Is it Calculated?
The minimum payment Chapter 13 calculator will help compute an accurate estimate of your minimum Chapter 13 plan payment. The minimum payment calculator does not consider disposable income and assets since these could increase your payments. Here is how the calculator achieves the output;
Debts in Arrears:
● Automobile Debt: It considers the total past due on the 1st and 2nd automobile loan, or the fair market value
● Real Estate Debt: It considered the total past due on the mortgage and the total past due on the second mortgage, if any
● Other Debt: balance on secured loans, the tax debts either owed to IRS, local authority, state, or school, as well as alimony and child support
The calculator does not consider:
● Claim for personal injury or death due to DUI
● Married Filers
● Total for less common priority debts classified under schedule E
● Trustee fee of 10%
● 60-month plan
● Legal fees of $3,500
● Interest in secured claims
The above is a great time-effective estimate of your minimum plan payment, but it is not precise.
Circumstances When Your Chapter 13 Plan Payment May Be Higher
The minimum payment calculator estimate above will consider the minimum amount you might pay under the Chapter 13 plan payment. However, the precise calculator considers more factors, which is helpful because not everyone qualifies for the minimum payment. Additionally, the precise calculator gives an accurate estimate, making it easy to compare filing bankruptcy with other available debt relief options. Here are some reasons why your Chapter 13 plan payment may be higher than the minimum payment;
1. You have disposable income:
The main aim of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to find a flexible plan to repay your creditors. Besides, the bankruptcy court aims to help you repay your creditors. So, when you file for bankruptcy, the court's role is to ensure you can make payments, even if it is the minimum plan payment.
When filing for bankruptcy, you will need to fill out these three forms to determine if you have disposable income to pay unsecured debts;
● Chapter 13 Calculation of Disposable income. This document uses location guidelines and adheres to the IRS standard to determine if the income available after paying your necessary expenses is enough to repay your creditors
● Schedule I: Your Income. This form is where you report your income from all your investments or other sources
● Schedule J: Your Expenses. You will self-report your actual expenses on this form
When filling out any of these forms, you must fill in actual and accurate numbers. Sometimes, the court might ask you to verify your claims, and failure to do so might result in the dismissal of your case.
2. You Have Non-Exempt Equity in Assets
When filing bankruptcy, some items are protected by state exemption. These exemptions, however, greatly vary from state to state in terms of what assets can be exempted and the amount to be exempted. So, if your equity in assets is more than the exempt amount, you will be held liable to pay some amount in your Chapter 13 plan payment.
These assets could be a vacation home, a house, an R.V., a car, jet skis, etc. If you have equity in such assets, consider filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy since Chapter 7 focuses on liquidation, and you might lose these assets.
How Is Chapter 13 Different from Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
You have two options when filing for bankruptcy: file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The two are different and handle bankruptcy in different ways. Chapter 7 focuses on liquidation and wipes out your debt, while Chapter 13 focuses on a flexible repayment plan. Here is an overview of each to help you understand how they are different;
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:
It is the type of bankruptcy that focuses on liquidation. However, there are income guidelines you must meet to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The guidelines mainly focus on your income, state, and family size, and the information is determined by the IRS and Census Bureau.
Here are the most recent guidelines on the median family income according to family size by the Census Bureau done on May 15, 2021. When your income is more than the median, the next step is determining if you have enough disposable income to repay outstanding debts. This Chapter 7 test will help determine if you are eligible to file Chapter 7.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
Unlike Chapter 7, which focuses on liquidation, Chapter 13 is an alternative way to settle debts, though it takes more time. While you can file and complete a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in less than a year, it might take you five years to complete a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. There is a limit to how much debt you can add under the payment plan. However, some people prefer beginning by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and later filing chapter 13.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy works like a structured settlement plan, just in debt settlement. Under chapter 13, you will pay some or sometimes all of your debts. However, the amount you pay will depend on the debts you include in the bankruptcy and your outstanding debts. Under chapter 13, there is payment priority, with the first being your lawyer and the least being unsecured creditors. The main advantage of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is you keep some assets thanks to state protections.
A Guide into How Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Works
We have discussed the Chapter 13 calculator, how it works, and illustrated examples of what is considered. So, if you think filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you, you need to understand how it works in depth to make an informed decision. Besides, since it is a long-term commitment that could take half a decade, it is best to understand how it works before committing. Here is everything you should know about Chapter 13.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy was introduced to help the average individual repay their debts or a fraction of their debts. The bankruptcy process in Chapter 13 involves the individual coming up with a repayment plan between a three and five-year period.
When your monthly income is less than the median income in your state, you can pay your debts over three years. On the other hand, if you earn more than the state's median, your repayment plan can be configured and extended to five years. Once you file for bankruptcy, the law puts an automatic stay on your accounts, and your creditors can neither pursue nor charge you when making payments under the new repayment plan.
Am I Eligible for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Although filing for bankruptcy helps you find an alternative to debt, not everyone qualifies to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You are eligible if;
● Your unsecured debt is less than $419,275
● Your secured debt is less than $1,257,850
These are Chapter 13 debt limits, and they are updated every three years, although the amounts barely shift. Also, partnerships and corporations are not eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It is only limited to individuals.
There are some Chapter 13 bankruptcy exceptions. For example, if you have filed bankruptcy within the past 180 days, and your case was dismissed due to failure to submit necessary documents, or failure to appear in court, you cannot file for bankruptcy. Also, if you fail to go for credit counseling before filing for bankruptcy, you do not qualify to file for bankruptcy. But if the U.S. trustee assigned to your case checks ascertains there weren't enough places to offer proper credit counseling, they may create an exception and allow you to file for bankruptcy.
Understanding How Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Works
Let's now cover how Chapter 13 bankruptcy works. Like with other court processes, the first step is to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy in a court within your area of residence. When filing, you will need to submit documents containing the following information;
● Your assets and liabilities
● Your current income and expenses
● Executory contracts you are a party to and unexpired leases
● Statement of financial affairs
Beyond providing this information, you also need to file proof of credit counseling you got before filing. Additionally, you will also need to submit a copy of a debt repayment plan if you made any. Proof of payment from employers, if available, should be submitted. You will also need to submit a statement of your net income every month and information on if you expect a change in income or expenses. Lastly, you will need to submit a record of your interest in either federal, state, or routine accounts.
The court will assign a U.S. trustee. You must submit copies of your tax returns beginning with the most recent tax year and any returns you may have filed when bankrupt. If you are filing bankruptcy as a couple, you can choose to either file a joint or individual petition,
Although filing bankruptcy helps you get out of debt, it is not free. You will need to pay a $235 case filing fee and an administrative fee of $75 to the county clerk. However, if you cannot afford to pay these payments, you can seek permission from the court to make these payments in installments.
The maximum number of installments allowed is four, and the payment must be made in 120 or fewer days after filing. However, the court might extend the 120-day time frame to no more than 180 days. When filing a joint petition, the fee is charged once. Failing to pay these fees on time could result in the dismissal of your case.
When filing for bankruptcy, you need to complete the required forms. The U.S. Courts need the debtor to provide information, including;
● The list of creditors, nature of claims, and the amount
● The source of income, amount, and frequency of income
● Monthly necessary living expenses like rent or mortgage, clothing, shelter, medicine, taxes, utilities, and transport, to mention a few.
Suppose you are filing bankruptcy as an individual but are married. In that case, you need to present your spouse's information irrespective of if your spouse is not filing bankruptcy or if you are filing a joint petition.
Information on your spouse is essential as the court uses it to evaluate the financial situation in your household. After filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will assign an impartial trustee to administer your case. The trustee will evaluate your case and be in charge of collecting the payments you make and handing them to the creditor.
When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will put a hold on your property and accounts. However, there are exceptions where the collection action does not apply, and it can only be effective for a short duration. However, provided the hold is in place, your creditor cannot take any action to recover the debt or pursue its debt.
As soon as you file for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court clerk will issue a notice to all the creditors listed on the form you submit. The notice will communicate your action to file for bankruptcy.
Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy may help delay or stop your home from being foreclosed. Once you begin the filing process, the automatic stay the court grants apply to any ongoing foreclosure proceeding. Therefore, the payments that are due until you file for bankruptcy can be brought back and paid within a reasonable time frame.
But if your bank or mortgage company completes the foreclosure sale before you file for bankruptcy, the foreclosure can proceed. The foreclosure can also happen if the debtor fails to follow through with their mortgage payment after filing bankruptcy.
Between 21 and 50 days after filing for bankruptcy, the Chapter 13 trustee should hold a meeting with your creditor. You will be placed under oath, and the creditor and debtor can engage and ask questions. As a debtor, you must attend this meeting and answer any questions from your creditors concerning the proposed terms of payment under the new plan and your financial affairs.
If you are filing joint bankruptcy as a couple, you will both need to attend the meeting. The trustee precedes the meeting, and bankruptcy judges do not attend to avoid interfering with their independent judgment during the bankruptcy case. If there are any problems with the plan, they will be resolved during the meeting or shortly after. To ensure the meeting is a success and things run smoothly, consult the trustee before the meeting with your proposed plan.
When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, unsecured creditors can file their outstanding claims within 90 days after setting a date for the meeting with creditors. A government unit is allowed up to 180 days to file its claims. After the meeting with creditors, your creditors, the assigned trustee, and you can come to court for a hearing on the proposed repayment plan.
Everything You Need to Know About the Chapter 13 Repayment Plan
We have repeatedly mentioned the Chapter 13 repayment plan, but what is it, and how does it work?
When filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you need to have a proposed repayment plan and file it alongside the petition or within two weeks of filing the petition. You should submit your proposed repayment plan to the court for it to approve. The plan should include a precise proposal of the amount to be deposited and the frequency of the payments. If the court approves the plan, your assigned trustee will distribute these payments according to the plan. Sometimes, the creditors may not receive the full amount stated in their claims.
When the creditors file their claims, these claims can be categorized into three classes. It can either be-priority, secured or unsecured. Priority claims are considered special under bankruptcy law. They include costs of filing bankruptcy and some taxes. Secured claims are those debts where you put an asset as collateral. Therefore, the creditor has the right to take the collateral asset if the debt remains unpaid. Unsecured claims are those debts that you did not need collateral to take. So, even if the debts remain unpaid, the creditor doesn't have the right to take any assets to recover the debt.
Priority claims must be fully paid unless an exception is specified by the courts or unless you have agreed otherwise with the creditors. Unsecured claims don't need to be fully paid, provided the disposable income is paid throughout the applicable commitment period. Additionally, unsecured creditors receive the most payment they would have if you filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, disposable income is the income available after meeting your basic expenses. So, if you have a business, and you need to fund the basic operations of the business, the disposable income will be exclusive of the amount needed for the business.
The term applicable commitment period can be anything between three and five years. The specific duration will depend on your monthly income. If your income is less than the state median, you will have a three-year commitment period. In contrast, if your monthly income is above the state median, your commitment period will be five years. However, the plan can be short if you manage to pay the unsecured debt within a shorter duration.
30 days after filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can begin making payments to the trustee irrespective of whether your proposed repayment plan has been approved. If any payments become due as you wait for the court to approve your plan, you can make substantiated protection payments to the creditor.
What is the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Confirmation Hearing?
After holding the meeting with creditors, within 40 days, the bankruptcy court should hold a confirmation hearing. The purpose of the confirmation hearing is to determine if the plan is feasible for you and if it adheres to the guidelines in the Bankruptcy Code.
Once the confirmation hearing is done, your creditors will receive a 28-day notice and have the right to object to it. The main reason creditors object to the new payment plan is that they will receive less than they would if you opted for liquidation under Chapter 7. They may also object if they think the plan does not fully distribute our disposable income over the repayment period.
The Chapter 13 trustee will begin distributing funds to creditors as soon as the court confirms the plan. In the event that the court rejects the plan, you are allowed to file a revised plan. Alternatively, you might convert the case to a Chapter 7 liquidation case
If you resubmit the plan and the court rejects it, the court will likely dismiss the case. In this case, the trustee can use the funds to cater for their costs and return the surplus to you.
Sometimes circumstances could alter your ability to complete your payments as stipulated in the new plan. It can be a creditor’s objection or your failure to cover all the creditors in the creditors' form. In this case, you can modify the plan either before or after filing. An unsecured creditor, trustee, and debtor can request a modification of the plan.
What You Can Do to Make Your Chapter 13 Plan Work
When the court confirms your proposed repayment plan, it will bind you and your creditors. After approval, it is your responsibility to follow through and ensure the plan succeeds. Therefore, you should ensure you make direct payments or follow through with payroll deductions. It is crucial to avoid new debt at this stage as it could interfere with your ability to complete the repayment plan successfully. Here are helpful tips to ensure your Chapter 13 repayment plan works;
● Create a Chapter 13 budget
● Communicate with your Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney frequently
● Avoid taking on new debt
Following through with your payments is important since a missed or late payment could result in the court dismissing your case. Your case could also be dismissed if you fail to make your domestic support payments or if you fail to make the required payment for taxes needed after filing bankruptcy.
Understanding Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Discharge
Before filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it is essential to consult a bankruptcy attorney on Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge. There are numerous changes made to the Chapter 13 bankruptcy guidelines, and thus, a legal counsel keeps up with these changes and can advise you accordingly.
After successfully completing your payments under the new repayment plan, you will get a debt discharge. However, you also need to have completed your domestic support payment and not have previously received a debt discharge within a given time frame. In addition, you need to have completed a financial management course to be eligible for discharge.
The court can only grant a discharge after notice and a hearing to ensure there is no proceeding that might limit your bankruptcy homestead exemption. Once the court grants you a discharge, it relieves you of the liability to repay debts that are either in the plan or that are disallowed
After getting a discharge, creditors who may have received payment in part or in full according to their claims can no longer take action to collect the debt. Therefore, the discharge will apply to all debts, but there are exceptions.
Exceptions apply to mortgages, child support, federal educational loans, and some taxes. Depending on the amount you have paid for these loans, you might still be responsible for these debts even after discharge. The Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge is broader than the Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge. However, it includes more discharge from debts, most of which would not have been discharged under Chapter 7.
What is the Chapter 13 Hardship Discharge?
In some cases, once the court confirms the repayment plan, a situation may arise where you cannot complete your repayment plan. For example, if you lose your job, you don't have a disposable income to channel to your repayment.
If such a scenario happens, you can apply for a hardship discharge with the court. You are only eligible for a hardship discharge;
· If the reason you are unable to complete your prepayment is beyond your control
· If the repayment plan cannot be modified
· If you have made payment to your creditors that equals what you would have paid under Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
A common reason you might need a hardship discharge beyond unemployment is an illness. However, a hardship discharge is more limited than the regular debt discharge, and it doesn't apply to debts that are not discharged under Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
What Are Some Alternatives to Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
When you are in debt, you need to consider the best option to manage debt and restart your financial life. Although most people think filing for bankruptcy is the only way out of debt, there are other debt-relief options available like;
Each of these debt relief options has its unique advantages and disadvantages. Smoke has criteria that you must meet before being eligible. Therefore, you might need to consult an expert to help decide the best debt-relief option for you.
Should I File Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
You may be wondering whether you should file bankruptcy. You can take a "should I file bankruptcy quiz" or you can look below at the calculator. Our guide outlines everything you need to know about Chapter 13 bankruptcy. But is it right for you? If you have consulted a bankruptcy attorney or weighed your options, you can try our Chapter 13 payment calculator.
The estimate will help you understand if Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the right option for you. However, besides the payment plan, there are different factors you will need to consider. Therefore, schedule your consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer before signing the documents and filing your petition.