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Utah Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
A Utah Chapter 13 bankruptcy is an individual’s reorganization. In a Chapter 13, you will make a regular monthly payment to help pay down your debt, called Chapter 13 plan payment. The trustee in Utah Chapter 13 bankruptcy–that’s the attorney who is appointed to represent creditors–will distribute the funds to creditors. After making the plan payment for the plan term–usually 36-60 months–the remaining debts will be discharged or forgiven.
There are significant additional tools in chapter 13 bankruptcy that aren’t available in chapter 7 bankruptcy . For example, in chapter 13 we may be able to reduce the amount owed on a vehicle when there is negative equity. This is called cram-down. We may also reduce the interest rate. In addition, some debts may be discharged in a chapter 13 that cannot be discharged in a chapter 7. As a result, Chapter 13 is sometimes called a super discharge. Finally, if you are behind on a mortgage or auto loan, but want to keep the property, Chapter 13 is the legal tool to bring your loan current over time.
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Many attorneys recommend a chapter 13 if the debtor can’t pay the attorney’s fees. We don’t do that. We recommend Chapter 13 when the person doesn’t qualify for Chapter 7, when a debtor is behind on a mortgage and wants to keep the home, or behind on a vehicle that they want to keep, where there is a substantial equity in that vehicle or favorable loan terms, or there is another substantial benefit to filing Chapter 13.
In a Chapter 13 case, the trustee never seizes any assets, so you will likely keep all of your property. If for example, own a boat that is worth $10,000 and there’s no loan on the boar, you will be able to keep the boat in a Chapter 13. In some case, if you are still paying on property that is deemed a “luxury”, the trustee could object to you continuing to pay on that item. In that situation, you may have to surrender the property.
The major differences are that you are going to be in it a lot longer, the Chapter 13 lasts a minimum of three years and the Chapter 7 is usually done within four to six months. Another major difference is in a Chapter 13, you are going to be paying back some money to your creditors. You have to be making a regular income; in a Chapter 7 case, your creditors get it absolutely nothing, they get zero. The other major difference is in a chapter 13, the trustee does not seize assets; and in a Chapter 7 case, a trustee may seize assets depending on whether there is an exemption or not that covers that item.
This is one of those things where you really ought to get some legal counsel because depending on the assets that you have, you may not have sufficient exemptions and if you file a Chapter 7, you may start losing things. I have had people file a Chapter 7 before and not realize that they had too much equity in their homes and their house was put on the market and sold by the trustee and they were handed a check for their homestead exemption when it was all said and done. So those types of surprises can really hurt you if you are not anticipating them. It depends on the factual circumstances that you are in, whether the Chapter 7 is better or the Chapter 13 is better.
If you have to roll dice and you have to guess, it is always safer to file a chapter 13 simply because the trustee does not take assets, does not seize assets. There is also a problem in some chapter 13’s, of them being completed successfully. I think nationwide, it is very low. The reason for that is if you are in a bankruptcy case where you have to make a regular plan payment every month on time for the next three years, the chances of a disaster happening or personal emergency or something tripping you up is very common. We do have cases that make it all the way through their three to five year plan all the time but it is a high failure rate overall across the nation.
They are easier or harder to file; they both require similar paperwork. There is a petition, there are statements and schedules that are required in every bankruptcy case. The schedules are lettered A through J. A deals with real property, B deals with personal property and there are different things for each schedule but there are certain papers that are not required in one case over another, but there is a substantial more amount of paperwork involved with the Chapter 13 case simply because the trustee’s office verifies several things. They have questions, they ask for additional documents for verification, so it is a much more thorough bankruptcy than in a Chapter 7. The Chapter 7 tends to be a little bit lighter on the paperwork and the amendments and things like that.
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