Should I Tell Creditors I’m Filing Bankruptcy?

TelephoneWhen it comes to filing a bankruptcy, one of the most frequently asked questions are “what should I tell my creditor’s after I have decided to file a bankruptcy?” One of the main issues that people with unsecured debt struggle with is the constant and harassing phone calls from creditors. In order to defer some of those phone calls from creditors, clients can inform their creditors of their decision to file a bankruptcy and give them an idea of which chapter (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13) they will be filing.

For a client that has already retained an attorney and provided the attorney with their paperwork, the client may give the creditor their attorney’s contact information. The client should inform the creditor that they have retained an attorney and let the creditor know that they should no longer contact them, but instead, should contact their attorney.

By a client informing a creditor of their bankruptcy filing, the creditor will usually stop all contact with the client and begin contacting the client’s attorney. However, creditors are technically allowed to contact a client regarding the debt owed until the client has been issued a case number after their bankruptcy is filed. A client will not receive their case number until their bankruptcy petition has been filed with the court.

Why Is Confirmation So Important In A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Family Standing in Front of White House

When you initially file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy your Trustee and creditors get a copy of a proposed plan.  This tells the creditors how they are classified in the plan and how much you are estimating that they will be paid for the duration of the bankruptcy.   Both the bankruptcy Trustee and the creditors have the option of reviewing the plan and either accepting or objecting to the plan terms.

Once you file your bankruptcy, your attorney is required to mail a copy of your proposed Chapter 13 plan to all of your creditors within 5 days from the date the case is filed.  This gives everyone who is listed in the plan a chance to review how they will receive payment and whether or not they agree with the plan.  If they do not agree with the plan, they have the right to file an Objection with the court stating their reasoning.  At the 341 Creditor?s hearing (roughly a month after the case is filed), the Trustee will review your plan and have your attorney make any necessary amendments, if he agrees to the plan at that point, he will recommend confirmation.

Confirmation sets your plan in stone and is essentially put in place for your protection.  Once your plan is confirmed, there is no changing it unless a Motion and Order is filed with the court.  This prevents an unsecured creditor from coming up years later stating that they do not agree with the proposed payment.

How Can I Get Mortgage Statements Sent To Me Again After Filing Bankruptcy?

Male on White BackgroundOnce your case is filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and the creditors are notified of the filing, your mortgage company may stop sending you the monthly statements for your house payment.  This is a protective measure on their part.  The mortgage company may be in violation of the federal bankruptcy automatic stay if they send a statement attempting to collect a payment on your mortgage after you have decided to surrender or give up your home in bankruptcy.  This violation carries severe penalties against the mortgage company including fines, so they do their best to avoid this violation.

A few days after your bankruptcy is filed with the Court, a notice will be sent to the mortgage company and other creditors notifying them of your intention to retain or surrender your house and other secured items including automobiles and furniture.    If you filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy the creditor will receive a copy of the Chapter 13 plan.  If you are keeping your home they will usually resume sending monthly statements to you.  However, in many cases the Chapter 13 bankruptcy Trustee will be paying the mortgage on your behalf so contact your attorney prior to sending any payments to the mortgage company.

If you filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy the secured creditors including the mortgage company will receive the Statement of Intention.  Often this is sufficient notice for your mortgage company to resume sending you the monthly statements.  In other cases the mortgage company may send a letter requesting that you and your attorney sign a notice requesting that statements be mailed to you, while other mortgage companies may wait until after your bankruptcy is discharged before sending statements.  Regardless of whether you receive the monthly statement from your mortgage company, it is extremely important that you continue to make your monthly payment to the mortgage company if you wish to retain or keep your home after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  If you wish to keep your home but fail to make your monthly mortgage payments after filing bankruptcy, the mortgage company may file a request within the bankruptcy court to foreclose on your home. Should this occur, you would be required to pay the amount you are behind on your home plus additional cost incurred by the mortgage company.

 

 

Can I Still Use the Mortgage Deduction On Taxes If My House is Being Paid In A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Laptop KeyboardAfter filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you should confirm with your attorney whether the monthly mortgage payment is to be paid by you or the Chapter 13 bankruptcy Trustee.  Often the mortgage payment is included in your monthly Chapter 13 payment and disbursed to the mortgage company by the Chapter 13 Trustee.    Regardless of how the monthly payments are made to the mortgage company, you are eligible to deduct interest paid on your loan if you itemize your deductions on your tax return, and the mortgage interest meets the requirements established by the Internal Revenue Service.   The same holds true if the property insurance and taxes are escrowed in your mortgage payment or whether you pay them directly to your insurance agent and city and county tax collector.  They should be eligible for deduction on your taxes.

The mortgage company should continue to send you the Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement which will list the mortgage interest, insurance premiums and real estate taxes paid to them for the tax year.  This will only include taxes and insurance if they were escrowed in your monthly payment.  If you do not receive Form 1098 by early February following the tax year, you should contact the mortgage company and request they send the form to you.  The information on Form 1098 is the same information the mortgage company provides to the Internal Revenue Service regarding your loan.

Creditors' Meeting Information for Winston-Salem Chapter 13 Clients

Congrats! Your bankruptcy has been filed and now you are getting ready for your creditors’ meeting. Below are seven important things you need to know before your creditors’ meeting.

Microsoft Word - Document3First, you should have already made your first payment to the Trustee. If you have not done that you need to make that payment first thing Friday morning (or before) and bring the receipt to the Creditors’ Meeting. Call us immediately if you have any questions about that.

Microsoft Word - Document3Second, if you haven’t already completed the financial management (http://www.Hummingbird.org) and sent me the control number – do that ASAP. Just send me your control number in an email and we will take care of printing it all off – you would just need to bring the financial management fee in a certified check or money order made out to Duncan Law, LLP. We need to have all of that information before the creditors’ meeting on Monday.

Microsoft Word - Document3Third, you will need to be at the location for the creditors’ meeting at 12:45 PM sharp, if not a few minutes before hand, unless you hear different from me. You just want to make sure you’re not late! I may not be there right at 12:45 PM, don’t panic – I’m on my way. The creditors’ meeting is located on the first floor at 226 S. Liberty St. in Winston-Salem, NC. The creditors’ meeting building is extremely difficult to find so give yourself plenty of time to find it. If you want, check out this video to see how to get the creditors’ meeting from our Winston-Salem office.

Microsoft Word - Document3Fourth, you will need to make sure that you leave everything other than your financial management fee, driver’s license and social security card and any other paperwork that you need in the car. No cell phones, they won’t let you bring them in as you go through security. 

Microsoft Word - Document3Fifth, they are going to ask you a handful of questions. If you are there early you can get a good idea of the types of questions that they will ask. Generally, they will ask your name, where you live, if you’re employed and where, whether you have any domestic support obligation (child support and alimony), whether you are expecting a big inheritance and whether you reviewed your paperwork (that’s what we did in the signing appointment). They could ask you a few other questions specific to your case but those are the most common questions that they will ask. Of course, I’ll be there if you have any questions or concerns. Also, I’ve included some pictures of what the inside of the creditors’ meeting room looks like that way you have a better idea of what to expect.

Layout of the Winston Salem Creditors' Meeting

Winston-Salem, NC Creditors' Meeting

Microsoft Word - Document3Sixth, wear whatever you would wear on a typical day. You don’t need to get dressed up. 

Microsoft Word - Document3Seventh, check out the following link about what to expect at your creditors’ meeting. These are different blog posts that we have written about creditors’ meetings. Many of your other questions are likely to be answered within these blog posts. Of course, you can always contact us if you have any questions as well.

Finally, don’t stress over this. You put in the work getting us everything that we needed and we put in the work to make sure your bankruptcy was well put together for the Trustee. Since we together put in the work – everything should go smoothly. I look forward to seeing you on Friday afternoon!

Creditors' Meeting Information for Greensboro Chapter 13 Clients

Congrats! Your bankruptcy has been filed and now you are getting ready for your creditors’ meeting. Below are seven important things you need to know before your creditors’ meeting.

Microsoft Word - Document3First, you should have already made your first payment to the Trustee. If you have not done that you need to make that payment first thing Monday morning (or before) and bring the receipt to the Creditors’ Meeting. Call us immediately if you have any questions about that.

Microsoft Word - Document3Second, if you haven’t already completed the financial management (http://www.Hummingbird.org) and sent me the control number – do that ASAP. Just send me your control number in an email and we will take care of printing it all off – you would just need to bring the financial management fee in a certified check or money order made out to Duncan Law, LLP. We need to have all of that information before the creditors’ meeting on Monday.

Microsoft Word - Document3Third, you will need to be at the location for the creditors’ meeting at 1:15 PM sharp, if not a few minutes before hand, unless you hear different from me. You just want to make sure you’re not late! I may not be there right at 1:15 PM, don’t panic – I’m on my way. The creditors’ meeting is located on the first floor at 101 S. Edgeworth St. in Greensboro, NC. If you want, check out this video to see how to get the creditors’ meeting from our Greensboro office.

Microsoft Word - Document3Fourth, you will need to make sure that you leave everything other than your financial management fee, driver’s license and social security card and any other paperwork that you need in the car. No cell phones, they won’t let you bring them in as you go through security. 

Microsoft Word - Document3Fifth, they are going to ask you a handful of questions. If you are there early you can get a good idea of the types of questions that they will ask. Generally, they will ask your name, where you live, if you’re employed and where, whether you have any domestic support obligation (child support and alimony), whether you are expecting a big inheritance and whether you reviewed your paperwork (that’s what we did in the signing appointment). They could ask you a few other questions specific to your case but those are the most common questions that they will ask. Of course, I’ll be there if you have any questions or concerns. Also, I’ve included some pictures of what the inside of the creditors’ meeting room looks like that way you have a better idea of what to expect.

Greensboro Creditors' Meeting Layout

 

Greensboro 341 Full Room

 

Microsoft Word - Document3Sixth, wear whatever you would wear on a typical day. You don’t need to get dressed up. 

Microsoft Word - Document3Seventh, check out the following link about what to expect at your creditors’ meeting. These are different blog posts that we have written about creditors’ meetings. Many of your other questions are likely to be answered within these blog posts. Of course, you can always contact us if you have any questions as well.

Finally, don’t stress over this. You put in the work getting us everything that we needed and we put in the work to make sure your bankruptcy was well put together for the Trustee. Since we together put in the work – everything should go smoothly. I look forward to seeing you on Monday afternoon!

Creditors' Meeting Information for Greensboro Chapter 7 Clients

Congrats! Your bankruptcy has been filed and now you are getting ready for your creditors’ meeting. Below are seven important things you need to know before your creditors’ meeting.

Microsoft Word - Document3First, if you haven’t already completed the financial management (http://www.Hummingbird.org) and sent me the control number – do that ASAP. Just send me your control number in an email and we will take care of printing it all off – you would just need to bring the financial management fee in a certified check or money order made out to Duncan Law, LLP. We need to have all of that information before the creditors’ meeting on Monday.

Microsoft Word - Document3Second, you will need to be at the location for the creditors’ meeting at 8:50 AM sharp, if not a few minutes before hand. You just want to make sure you’re not late! I may not be there right at 8:50 AM, don’t panic – I’m on my way. The creditors’ meeting is located on the first floor at 101 S. Edgeworth St. in Greensboro, NC. If you want, check out this video to see how to get the creditors’ meeting from our Greensboro office.

Microsoft Word - Document3Third, you will need to make sure that you leave everything other than your financial management fee, driver’s license and social security card and any other paperwork that you need in the car. No cell phones, they won’t let you bring them in as you go through security. 

Microsoft Word - Document3Fourth, I’m a visual person. If you are like me and like to know what to expect before walking in a strange place for the first time then check out the following pictures. To help you get a mental image of what it will be like in the creditors’ meeting I have put together these pictures from inside the creditors’ meeting room.

Greensboro Creditors' Meeting Layout

Greensboro 341 Full Room

 

Microsoft Word - Document3Fifth, they are going to ask you a handful of questions. If you are there early you can get a good idea of the types of questions that they will ask. Generally, they will ask your name, where you live, if you’re employed and where, whether you have any domestic support obligation (child support and alimony), whether you are expecting a big inheritance and whether you reviewed your paperwork (that’s what we did in the signing appointment). They could ask you a few other questions specific to your case but those are the most common questions that they will ask. Of course, I’ll be there if you have any questions or concerns. 

Microsoft Word - Document3Sixth, wear whatever you would wear on a typical day. You don’t need to get dressed up. 

Microsoft Word - Document3Seventh, check out the following link about what to expect at your creditors’ meeting. These are different blog posts that we have written about creditors’ meetings. Many of your other questions are likely to be answered within these blog posts. Of course, you can always contact us if you have any questions as well.

Finally, don’t stress over this. You put in the work getting us everything that we needed and we put in the work to make sure your bankruptcy was well put together for the Trustee. Since we together put in the work – everything should go smoothly. I look forward to seeing you on Friday morning!

Creditors' Meeting Information for Winston-Salem Chapter 7 Clients

Congrats! Your bankruptcy has been filed and now you are getting ready for your creditors’ meeting. Below are seven important things you need to know before your creditors’ meeting.

Microsoft Word - Document3First, if you haven’t already completed the financial management (http://www.Hummingbird.org) and sent me the control number – do that ASAP. Just send me your control number in an email and we will take care of printing it all off – you would just need to bring the financial management fee in a certified check or money order made out to Duncan Law, LLP. We need to have all of that information before the creditors’ meeting on Friday.

Microsoft Word - Document3Second, you will need to be at the location for the creditors’ meeting at 8:50 AM sharp, if not a few minutes before hand. The location in Winston-Salem is a little weird and tough to find so I would give yourself a little extra time to find it. You just want to make sure you’re not late! I may not be there right at 8:50 AM, don’t panic – I’m on my way. The creditors’ meeting is located on the first floor at 226 South Liberty Street in Winston-Salem, NC. If you want, check out this video to see how to get the creditors’ meeting from our Winston-Salem office.

Microsoft Word - Document3Third, you will need to make sure that you leave everything other than your financial management fee, driver’s license and social security card and any other paperwork that you need in the car. No cell phones, they won’t let you bring them in as you go through security. 

Microsoft Word - Document3Fourth, I’m a visual person. If you are like me and like to know what to expect before walking in a strange place for the first time then check out the following pictures. To help you get a mental image of what it will be like in the creditors’ meeting I have put together these pictures from inside the creditors’ meeting room.

Layout of the WS Creditors' Meeting

Winston-Salem, NC Creditors' Meeting
Microsoft Word - Document3Fifth, they are going to ask you a handful of questions. If you are there early you can get a good idea of the types of questions that they will ask. Generally, they will ask your name, where you live, if you’re employed and where, whether you have any domestic support obligation (child support and alimony), whether you are expecting a big inheritance and whether you reviewed your paperwork (that’s what we did in the signing appointment). They could ask you a few other questions specific to your case but those are the most common questions that they will ask. Of course, I’ll be there if you have any questions or concerns. 

Microsoft Word - Document3Sixth, wear whatever you would wear on a typical day. You don’t need to get dressed up. 

Microsoft Word - Document3Seventh, check out the following link about what to expect at your creditors’ meeting. These are different blog posts that we have written about creditors’ meetings. Many of your other questions are likely to be answered within these blog posts. Of course, you can always contact us if you have any questions as well.

Finally, don’t stress over this. You put in the work getting us everything that we needed and we put in the work to make sure your bankruptcy was well put together for the Trustee. Since we together put in the work – everything should go smoothly. I look forward to seeing you on Friday morning!

Steps To Requesting A Reduction In Your Chapter 13 Plan Payment

Questions About BankruptcyMost Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases are set to last for 36 to 60 months (3 to 5 years). During those years, you may experience a change in circumstances that put you in a position where you need to request for your plan payment to be lowered. The purpose of this blog post is to discuss the necessary steps to having your Chapter 13 plan payment reduced. Be sure to read everything carefully and contact our office if you have any additional questions.

When Can I Request For My Plan Payment To Be Lowered?

Receiving paychecks that are just slightly lower than when you filed the bankruptcy (for example, $50 or $100 per month) is generally not sufficient enough to get the court to lower your Chapter 13 payments. The Court is looking for a substantial change in circumstances. This could be a job loss, reduction in hours, medical issues, etc. If your circumstances have changed to the point where your income will not be what it was when you filed, follow our steps to requesting a review and/or modification of your plan payment.

Five Steps To Requesting A Reduction In A Chapter 13 Plan Payment:

Step 1: Email our office with documentation of all household income from the last 60 days. Your email should also include a completed Schedules I and J (click the blue link to get the necessary documents) and an explanation of what has changed and why you need a reduction in your plan payment.

Step 2: Give us a few days to review the information provided. We will contact you after we have reviewed the information and will let you know what we think we could request for your plan payment to be. If you agree with the request, we will prepare a motion to file with the bankruptcy Court.

Step 3: After the motion is filed with the Court, a hearing date will be set. You need to plan to attend the hearing.

Step 4: Before the hearing, you will receive a packet of information from the Trustee’s office. They will be asking you to fill out a budget and submit your last 60 days of income. The budget you provide to them needs to match the one we sent to you that you agreed on prior to the motion being filed.

Step 5: We will attend the hearing with you and if all goes as planned, your request for your plan payment to be lowered will be approved.

A few FYIs:

Not everyone qualifies for a reduction in plan payment. Everyone’s circumstances are different. If you are in a Chapter 13 and your entire plan payment is going to house, car, taxes, and/or other secured or priority debts, then your plan payment cannot be lowered without you being willing to surrender some of your property. In other words, there may be certain debts that the Court has to be able to pay in your case if you want to keep everything.

If you have a temporary change in circumstances (for example, you will be out of work for four weeks due to medical procedures), contact the Trustee’s office in writing and let them know what is going on, and ask if there is any way to have the payments reduced or stopped for one month.

Can I Sign A Reaffirmation Agreement On My Mortgage?

Laptop KeyboardWhen the bankruptcy laws were reformed in 2005, one of the new requirements for some Chapter 7 cases was a “reaffirmation agreement.” A reaffirmation agreement is a document that is often filed in Chapter 7 cases. However, there are only certain circumstances when a Chapter 7 debtor should sign a reaffirmation agreement.

What is a reaffirmation agreement?

A reaffirmation agreement is a document that is signed by the debtor (the person who filed bankruptcy), the debtor’s attorney, and the representative for the creditor. The purpose of a reaffirmation agreement is to keep you (the debtor) liable for the debt you owe to that creditor, even though you are filing bankruptcy.

My mortgage company is saying I need to sign (or should have signed) a reaffirmation agreement for my mortgage/house.

If you have a house that you want to keep after your Chapter 7 case is filed, then you do not need to sign a reaffirmation agreement. The way the bankruptcy laws are written allows you to keep your house as long as you stay current on your monthly mortgage payments. In fact, in the Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Durham) the bankruptcy Judges do not allow reaffirmation agreements to be signed on mortgages unless there is a substantial change in the terms of the loan that are benefiting the debtor.

So in other words, even if your mortgage company is pushing you to sign a reaffirmation agreement, unless they are agreeing to change the terms of the loan under the reaffirmation agreement by changing the interest rate or monthly payment, then you cannot sign a reaffirmation agreement on your house.