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Generally, the debtor can avoid problems by making sure that the petition and plan are complete and accurate, and by consulting with the trustee prior to the meeting. The plan need not pay unsecured claims in full as long it provides that the debtor will pay all projected "disposable income" over an "applicable commitment period," and as long as unsecured creditors receive at least as much under the plan as they would receive if the debtor's assets were liquidated under chapter 7. The parties typically resolve problems with the plan either during or shortly after the creditors' meeting. The debtor should consult an attorney to determine the proper treatment of secured claims in the plan. This chapter of the Bankruptcy Code provides for adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income. The debtor must provide the chapter 13 case trustee with a copy of the tax return or transcripts for the most recent tax year as well as tax returns filed during the case (including tax returns for prior years that had not been filed when the case began). A husband and wife may file a joint petition or individual petitions. With the court's permission, however, they may be paid in installments.
Individuals will have no direct contact with creditors while under chapter 13 protection. Filing the petition does not, however, stay certain types of actions listed under 11 U. The stay arises by operation of law and requires no judicial action. The individual may then bring the past-due payments current over a reasonable period of time. § 362(b), and the stay may be effective only for a short time in some situations. The automatic stay stops the foreclosure proceeding as soon as the individual files the chapter 13 petition. Between 21 and 50 days after the debtor files the chapter 13 petition, the chapter 13 trustee will hold a meeting of creditors. Unless the court grants an extension, the debtor must file a repayment plan with the petition or within 14 days after the petition is filed. (3) Secured claims are those for which the creditor has the right take back certain property (i.e., the collateral) if the debtor does not pay the underlying debt. If the debtor wants to keep the collateral securing a particular claim, the plan must provide that the holder of the secured claim receive at least the value of the collateral. The applicable commitment period must be three years if current monthly income is less than the state median for a family of the same size - and five years if the current monthly income is greater than a family of the same size.
After the meeting of creditors, the debtor, the chapter 13 trustee, and those creditors who wish to attend will come to court for a hearing on the debtor's chapter 13 repayment plan. Priority claims are those granted special status by the bankruptcy law, such as most taxes and the costs of bankruptcy proceeding. The "applicable commitment period" depends on the debtor's current monthly income. During this meeting, the trustee places the debtor under oath, and both the trustee and creditors may ask questions. In order to preserve their independent judgment, bankruptcy judges are prohibited from attending the creditors' meeting.