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Discharging Post-Petition Debt in Chapter 13

February 1, 2010


A lot can happen during a Chapter 13 repayment plan which generally lasts three to five years. Sometimes large debts are incurred that the debtor is unable to pay. Fortunately, a Chapter 13 debtor is able to discharge a post-petition debt, but only after certain prerequisites are met.

First, the debtor must amend the repayment plan to provide for a post-petition debt. Second, the debtor must usually obtain the approval of the bankruptcy trustee prior to incurring the debt. This is not always obtainable, especially in the case of a large medical bill. Third, the creditor must voluntarily choose to file a proof of claim. And finally, the claim must either be a tax claim, or a claim for a consumer debt necessary for the completion of the debtor’s plan.

A common situation in which post-petition debts arise in a Chapter 13 case is where the debtor needs to purchase a different automobile. Repaying a post-petition car loan through a Chapter 13 plan is easily accomplished through coordination and cooperation from the trustee, the lender, and the court. The lender agrees to be paid by the trustee, the trustee agrees to sanction the debt, and the court approves the amended plan allowing the lender to be paid through the bankruptcy plan. 

In some cases it may not be practical to include a post-petition debt in the debtor’s Chapter 13 plan. In that case, the debtor may elect to convert the Chapter 13 case to one under Chapter 7. The Bankruptcy Code states that a debt that arises after the Chapter 13 filing date, but before the debtor’s conversion to Chapter 7, is to be treated as a pre-petition debt. The Chapter 13 restrictions and requirements listed in the preceding paragraph do not apply to debts in a conversion case. 

The Bankruptcy Code contains many flexible options for reorganizing your finances and dealing with your creditors. Even when there is an unexpected event that results in a debt, your bankruptcy attorney can provide you with choices for dealing with a post-petition debt.


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