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Definition of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in California
In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you keep your property, but pay back all or a portion of your debts over a three to five-year period. This is unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, where most of your debts are cancelled but you may have to surrender some property to the bankruptcy trustee to pay your creditors. You could end up paying some percentage of your debts over time in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, that could be as high as 100% or as low as 0%, depending on your financial situation.
Chapter 13 Eligibility
Chapter 13 bankruptcy isn't for everyone. Because Chapter 13 requires you to use your income to repay some or all of your debt, you'll have to prove to the court that you can afford to meet your payment obligations. If your income is irregular or too low, the court might not allow you to file for Chapter 13.
If your total debt burden is too high, you are also ineligible. Your secured debts cannot exceed $1,149,525 and your unsecured debts cannot be more than $383,175. A "secured debt" is one that gives a creditor the right to take a specific item of property (such as your house or car) if you don't pay the debt. An "unsecured debt" (such as a credit card or medical bill) doesn't give the creditor this right.
(For details, see Do You Qualify for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?)
The Chapter 13 Process
Before you can file for bankruptcy, you must receive credit counseling from an agency approved by the United States Trustee's office. (For a list of approved agencies, go to the Trustee's website at www.usdoj.gov/ust and click "Credit Counseling and Debtor Education.") These agencies are allowed to charge a fee for their services, but they must provide counseling for free or at reduced rates if you cannot afford to pay.
In addition, you'll have to pay the filing fee, which is currently $274, and file numerous forms. For comprehensive information about the process, contact Rupert Corkill today!
Bankruptcy services and resources
A Few Fast Facts on Chapter 13 Bankruptcy:
- You keep your property, but pay back all or a portion of your debts.
- Total debt burden cannot exceed $1,149,525
- Unsecured debts cannot exceed $383,175