Often times the secret to success is keeping things simple. Many attorneys will tell you that Chapter 13 is very complex and complicated. I tell my clients, yes, maybe Chapter 13 can be complicated, but guess what, I am usually able to distill the process into a few simple steps, so that their Chapter 13 is as easy and painless as possible. So here is my formula for having an easy and successful Chapter 13.
I like to tell my clients that they should be grateful and appreciative that our government gives them the right to file Chapter 13, because Chapter 13 is a very powerful process that protects people from such things as losing their home, having their vehicles repossessed, getting sued and having their wages garnished and bank accounts frozen, and lots of other bad things that creditors could normally do to them.
By filing Chapter 13, my clients can shift the balance of power in their favor. Instead of being bullied by the big corporate giants (the banks, the credit card companies the mortgage companies, the car finance companies, etc.), my clients now really have power and control. Instead of feeling like a helpless victim, they can now take charge, take control, and fight back.
I imagine you have heard of David vs. Goliath. If Las Vegas were taking bets and laying odds back then, David probably would have been facing the biggest underdog ever in the history of the whole world. But as things happily turned out for the Israelites, David was perhaps the most surprising underdog winner in history. As a lawyer, I love fighting for the Underdogs. I love surprising and defeating the big corporations. I love to win and have my Underdog clients come out on top. In fact, I'm thinking of referring to myself as the Underdog Advocate, and if I'm your attorney, I'll fight hard and I'll advocate hard to get you the victory that you deserve.
FREE IN DEPTH NO OBLIGATION CASE EVALUATION AND ANALYSIS, AND CREATING THE WINNING GAME PLAN. So how do we start Chapter 13? First, let's learn as much as we can about your present situation. We give you a completely free in depth, no obligation assessment, evaluation, and analysis of your situation. After that, our goal is to create a winning game plan for you. Chapter 13 is going to give you up to five years to pay off whatever debts you have to pay back, and you will probably also be able to wipe out all or a lot of your other debts as well. For example, you might get 5 years to pay back the amount of money you are behind on your mortgage payments and also get 5 years to pay off your car loan at a reduced rate of interest, while you also wipe out all of your credit card bills, medical bills, personal loans, pay day loans, old income taxes, and even surcharges on your drivers license. So the goal is to pay back certain select bills over a 5 year payment plan, and wipe out all of your other bills. And you do all of this while at the same time keeping whatever property you own.
LET'S LEARN ALL ABOUT YOU AND YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION. To give us our best opportunity to win, we have to learn as much about you as reasonably possible. Common sense tells us that we have to know all about your income, your expenses, your bills, your debts, your property and the assets that you own. We will also need copies of your tax returns for the last 2 years, proof of your income, and your spouse's income or your partner's income for the last 6 months, and copies of your bank statements for the last 3 months. We need to know all of this in order to accurately complete your chapter 13 paperwork. Many attorneys stop once they have all of this information, and then they complete your bankruptcy papers and submit them to the court. But one of the many things that makes us so very different is that we want to learn much more about you personally. We want to know who you are and what do you stand for. What makes you tick? What are your challenges, your fears, your frustrations, and your worries?. What makes you happy? What makes you sad? What are your wants? What are your needs? Everyone's got a story, and the more we learn about your story, the better are our chances of creating the best possible winning game plan for you and your family.
WE CREATE A GAME WINNING PLAN AND SUBMIT IT TO THE COURT. In addition to providing us with the informtion and the documents we need, you also need to do something called credit counseling - that's where you get on the internet or the phone for about 30 minutes and provide certain financial information to a credit counseling company. You pay them about $10 to $20 and they give you a certificate which now makes you completely eligible to file for Chapter 13. Once you have done all of the above, and you have paid us the initial legal fee and court costs, we are ready to prepare your game winning Chapter 13 plan and paperwork, and file it with the court. To get all of this properly done, we will need to meet with you for an hour or two and go over with you the exact questions that need to be answered so that we can file your game winning plan and paperwork with the court. After the paperwork is completed, we review it with you, and once you determine that everything is accurate, and you agree with the plan, you sign everything that needs to be signed. Shortly thereafter we electronically file everything with the court, you are given a specific case number, your creditors are notified, and you now have the complete protection that is legally given to you by the Bankruptcy Court. Nobody can now start a lawsuit against you, pending lawsuits are automatically stopped, and you hopefully have a much greater feeling of power, because you now have the opportunity to take charge and take control over your finances, your bills, and your debts. If you follow the game plan, a lot of your debts are going to be wiped out, you will pay the debts that legally have to be paid back, and you will keep whatever assets and property that you want to keep.
LET'S DO A QUICK PHONE CONFERENCE WITH THE CHAPTER 13 TRUSTEE. About 30 days after your case is filed, we'll have maybe a 10 minute phone conference with one of the lawyers that works at the Chapter 13 trustee's office. You will be making payments every month to the trustee, and the trustee is authroized to question you under oath to make sure that all of the information and documents we have provided are complete and accurate. If the trustee needs more documents or information, the trustee will give us a reasonable amount of time to provide everything that is needed. The goal here is to give the trustee everything that is required so that we can win by getting your Chapter 13 plan confirmed by the court.
LET'S WIN THIS THING. After the conference with the trustee, we will know what still has to be done to get your case confirmed. Also, creditors have a right to object to our plan, and if they do, most of the time we can work things out with them. If not, we might be required to fight it out by presenting our arguments to the Bankruptcy Judge. Once everything is resolved, and as long as you are paying the required payments to the trustee, and you are doing whatever else you are legally required to do, your case should be confirmed. That's sort of like scoring the game winning touchdown.
THE FINAL GOAL IS GETTING THAT DISCHARGE. Keep making your payments to the trustee every month, and pay your normal monthly bills as required, and now you are well on your way to getting your discharge. You will need to take a short debtor education class by phone or on the internet before you can get your discharge, and you will have to sign a few more papers. Once you have completed all of your trustee payments and done whatever else has to be done at that point, you will probably have to wait 2 or 3 more months until you get your discharge and that means that you have officially pulled it off. It's over and you have won this thing. You have wiped out the debts that you were legally permitted to wipe out, you have paid the debts that you were legally obligated to pay, you have kept the properties and assets that you wanted to keep, and you are now on your way to a fresh financial start, with a hopefully much brighter and very optimistic outlook on the future for yourself and your family. Congratulations, you most certainly deserve it.