Chapter 13 Bankruptcy | Milwaukee

Should you earn an income over the threshold level, not pass the means test, and/or find yourself behind in mortgage or car payments, and wish to save your home and property from foreclosure, think about filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It may well be your best option to regain control of your finances, as well as your life.

The Chapter 13 Filing Process

A Milwaukee Chapter 13 requires an initial court fee of $310. You will need to take the same credit counseling course as required for a Chapter 7 which costs between $16-50. As a refresher, this course can be taken by phone, online, or in person. Any course option fulfills the requirement, regardless of the cost. You will be required to attend a 341 meeting with the court-appointed trustee, to which Attorney Burr will accompany you. You will also be obligated to take the financial management course. This course generally costs between $11-22 and is administered in the same way as the credit counseling course.

Chapter 13 vs. Chapter 7

A Chapter 13 differs from a Chapter 7 in that, instead of discharging your debts, it reorganizes them into a single monthly payment, with no interest or late fees. The only exceptions that would give a creditor interest are a secured creditor’s mortgage arrears, a vehicle paid through Chapter 13, or a secured tax claim.

Another difference is that, in a Chapter 13, you must file a repayment plan with a duration between 36 and 60 months. Your property, including your home, vehicle, and other personal property, are safe unless you voluntarily surrender it to your creditor. Mortgage or equity loans on homes are paid outside of the plan and must be on time and in full each month. In addition, during the Chapter 13, you are on a cash only basis and your trustee will require copies of your tax returns every year. For those below the median income level, the trustee will take 50% of your net tax refund and use them towards your debts. Those over the median income level can keep their full tax refund.

To have the funds for a Chapter 13, you must have both a stable income and discretionary funds remaining after reasonable monthly expenses. Your repayment plan will depend on your disposable income as well as secured debt paid through the plan and the means test results. This plan will include all unsecured debt and past-due taxes, mortgage arrears, and financed vehicles. Any leased vehicles fall outside of the repayment plan. Monthly payments will then be paid either directly to the trustee or by wage assignment. Your trustee will use the funds to pay your creditors as stated in the terms of your confirmed repayment plan. You might find yourself paying mere pennies on the dollar to your unsecured creditors. When you file Chapter 13, you are now able to keep your tax refund regardless of whether you are above or below median income when you file (updated June, 2018).

Chapter 13 vs. Credit Consolidation

While you may be tempted to opt for a credit consolidation service or program, a Chapter 13 is a better choice in many ways. It is more economically sound, as most of these credit consolidation programs have high monthly rates, and you would still be responsible for interest on your debt. In addition, under such programs, you would not be protected from creditor lawsuits; in fact, not all of your creditors may agree to the system. Your credit score would be in jeopardy, and the programs tend to last longer than would a Chapter 13.

Our FAQ page also answers common bankruptcy questions.

For clients in Waukesha or Milwaukee, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can mean financial renewal. To schedule a consultation, contact Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer Michael Burr. He will personally help you determine the best option for your unique situation.