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Making Your First Chapter 13 Payment

May 26, 2010

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case the debtor proposes a plan to pay back creditors.  That plan is composed of monthly payments to satisfy all or part of the creditors’ claims over three to five years.  Monthly payments are made to the Chapter 13 Trustee, who then pays your creditors. 

There is often confusion over when the first plan payment due. Section 1326 of the Bankruptcy Code directs that the first payment must be made within 30 days after filing the bankruptcy case, even if the debtor’s bankruptcy plan has not yet been approved by the court.  Often the first meeting with the Trustee (also known as the "341 meeting" or "meeting of creditors") is scheduled more than 30 days after the filing date, so the Trustee expects your first payment before that meeting.  The Trustee will hold all payments until the plan is approved by the Bankruptcy Court (called "confirmation"), and then make distributions to creditors. 

It is critical that you make this initial payment within thirty days after filing.  It is especially important to monitor the status of this first payment when you have instructed your employer to pay the Trustee from your wages.  It is your responsibility to ensure that this first payment is made, and neither the Trustee nor the Bankruptcy Court gives much latitude to a debtor who misses the first deadline in the case. 

Making a timely first Chapter 13 payment allows your plan to proceed to confirmation and will expedite the bankruptcy process.  Failure to commence making payments can result in delays, additional expenses, or even dismissal.  Consult with your bankruptcy attorney regarding payment details, and make that first payment on-time!


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