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Five Reasons to Choose Chapter 13

January 20, 2010


A Chapter 7 bankruptcy debtor receives a discharge and the case closes generally within four to six months. Chapter 13 is a repayment plan that lasts three to five years. Why in the world would anyone choose to file Chapter 13? Below are five reasons why Chapter 13 may make sense:

Reason 1: A Forced Repayment Plan under Court Protection.

When a creditor is unwilling to work with you, a Chapter 13 can force the creditor to accept payments on your terms. Some debts, like child-support or taxes, are non-dischargeable through bankruptcy and must be paid. Chapter 13 allows the debtor to propose a three to five year repayment plan according to what you are able to pay. During this time the creditor is not allowed to take any collection action without permission of the bankruptcy court.

Reason 2: The Cram Down. 

In some cases a vehicle or other secured loan can be reduced to the value of the collateral. The debtor retains the property, but may pay a lower monthly payment and less in principle and/or interest. The loan term may be also lengthened or shortened in a Chapter 13.

Reason 3: Curing Home Loan Defaults and Lien Stripping

A debtor who has defaulted on a home loan can stop a foreclosure action and force the creditor to accept payments on the arrearage. Some debtors can receive a substantial benefit by stripping away a second or third mortgage.

Reason 4: The Effect of Bankruptcy May Be Shortened

While the federal law states that bankruptcy information can remain on your credit report for up to ten years, the “big three” credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union) will generally remove chapter 13 information seven years after the filing date. That means the bankruptcy will drop off your credit report two to four years after your last Chapter 13 payment!

Reason 5: Retain Non-Exempt Property

In some cases, a debtor may own property with equity that cannot be protected. Say, for instance, that the debtor owns a Harley Davidson motorcycle free-and-clear and the non-exempt equity is $10,000. In a Chapter 7 case the trustee will want either the motorcycle to sell, or a cash payment of $10,000 from the debtor. In a Chapter 13 the debtor does not lose the motorcycle, but will pay $10,000 through the bankruptcy plan to unsecured creditors over three to five years. 

Deciding between Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 requires careful deliberation. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can discuss the pros and cons of each bankruptcy chapter and help guide you to a healthy and successful fresh start.


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