THE KEYS TO CHAPTER 13 SUCCESS
THE OFFICE OF THE CHAPTER 13 TRUSTEE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI RICHARD V. FINK, CHAPTER 13 TRUSTEE 2345 GRAND BLVD., STE. 1200 KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI 64108 816-842-1031 or 1-800-962-0369 (toll free)
MAIL PLAN PAYMENTS TO: RICHARD V. FINK, TRUSTEE PO Box 1839 Memphis, TN 38101-1839
MAIL CORRESPONDENCE TO:
RICHARD V. FINK, TRUSTEE
2345 GRAND Blvd., Ste. 1200
Kansas City, MO 64108
- This handbook has been developed to answer some of the most common questions asked by debtors participating in Chapter 13. My hope is that the information provided in this book can save you time, stress, additional attorney fees and unnecessary court appearances. Every Chapter 13 inquiry cannot be addressed here. You should contact your attorney whenever you have questions.
- My office administers your case. My staff and I are available to provide non-legal assistance to you as you move through your Chapter 13. We want you to successfully complete your case and leave Chapter 13 with a fresh start. My staff and I will provide you with factual information about your case, but we cannot give legal advice and any information we communicate to you should not be construed as legal advice.
- Chapter 13 is a legal proceeding under federal bankruptcy law that allows you to obtain relief from your creditors while providing a fair means for you to pay them back. In exchange for the protection provided by the Federal Bankruptcy Court, you agree to repay creditors over time. Depending on your income, this generally is a three to five year period. I commend you for taking this step towards a fresh start and repayment of your debts.
- My keys to Chapter 13 success are as follows:
- Hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Your attorney's role is to advise you. If you don't understand something, ask questions. Communicate with your attorney. Respond as soon as possible to your attorney's calls and correspondence.
- Develop an honest, straightforward, accurate, and complete Chapter 13 Plan, with your attorney.
- Read and confirm the accuracy of every document you sign.
- Make your payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee on time and in full.
- Pay attention to what is happening in your case. Access my website at www.wdmo13.com. Sign up at www.ndc.org. Open your mail. Read and respond to correspondence that you receive from your attorney, the Bankruptcy Court, the Chapter 13 Trustee's Office, and creditors.
- Keep your attorney informed as changes and events occur in your life. Those changes include marriage, name change, moves, divorce, death, job loss, salary changes, pending lawsuits, lawsuit proceeds received, inheritances, insurance proceeds received, gifts, etc.
- Develop a budget for your household and stick to it as best as you can.
2. The entities that are owed debts are referred to as “creditors”. Secured creditors are those whose debts have been secured by collateral you own (ex: mortgage, car loan). Unsecured creditors are those that do not have a lien on any collateral you own.
3. The Chapter 13 Trustee and his staff cannot give you or your attorney legal advice. Information communicated to you by the Chapter 13 Trustee’s office is not intended to constitute legal advice. You must consult with your attorney for all legal opinions and advice. Generally, the Chapter 13 Trustee's Office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. If you have an emergency, please contact your attorney, not the Chapter 13 Trustee's Office.
4. At the time your Chapter 13 Petition was filed, the Bankruptcy Clerk assigned your case a number. This number is important. You will need it whenever you correspond with the Chapter 13 Trustee's Office or make a payment to the Chapter 13 Trustee.
5. Generally, all creditors that you list on your Chapter 13 Petition are subject to the "stay" that prohibits them from contacting you once you filed your bankruptcy case. If you receive notices in the mail or are contacted by your creditors, immediately advise your attorney.
6. All of your debts and creditors must be disclosed in your bankruptcy schedules and dealt with through your Chapter 13 plan. If you realize after filing your bankruptcy case that you failed to list a creditor, you should inform your attorney immediately. Your attorney should then help you add the creditor to your case. If you fail to list all creditors on your bankruptcy schedules it can negatively affect you after your case’s completion.
7. Your first plan payment is due 30 days after you filed your Chapter 13 Petition. If your case converted from Chapter 7, your first payment is due 30 days from the date of conversion.
8. Chapter 13 plan payments can be made in the following ways:
Send a personal check, money order, or cashier’s check to Richard V. Fink, Trustee, PO Box 1839, Memphis, TN 38101-1839. DO NOT mail or bring plan payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee’s Office in Kansas City. To prevent any issues with the acceptance of your payment please do the following:- Make the check/money order payable to “Richard V. Fink, Trustee”.- Verify that the debtor(s) name is shown somewhere on the check.- Write the case number on the check.- Make sure the hand-written amount matches the numerical amount of the payment.- Sign the check.- Do not post-date the check.CASH IS NOT ACCEPTED BY THE CHAPTER 13 TRUSTEE. Pay electronically using the online ePay System. - You can access this on our website at www.wdmo13.com. You can also gain direct access to the online ePay System at www.tinyurl.com/kcepay.- You will need your case number, Social Security number, and a checking or savings account to use the online ePay System.- If you need the payment to post quickly this is a good option as it shows up in your account in one to two business days.
Pay electronically using the TFS Bill Pay System.- You can access this on our website at www.wdmo13.com. You can also gain direct access at www.TFSBillPay.com. Contact TFS Bill Pay 24 hour support at 1-888-729-2413 with any questions.- You will need your Social Security number, email address, case number, judicial district in which your case is filed, and bank account information to access TFS Bill Pay.- Though this payment option takes longer to post, usually five to seven business days, it allows for pre-scheduling payments while the ePay option does not.
Pay by payroll deduction using an Employer Wage Order. - You can request that your employer make your plan payments by taking deductions from your pay. - An Employer Wage Order can either be requested on the plan or by a request from you or your attorney to the Chapter 13 Trustee’s office.- If you get a paycheck and your plan payment has not been deducted, you are responsible for making the payment directly and for checking with your payroll department why the deduction was not taken out of your pay.
9. If you become delinquent in plan payments a Motion to Dismiss your case may be filed and your case may be dismissed from Chapter 13. It is very important to contact your attorney if you ever miss a plan payment or expect that you will miss a payment in the future. If you have missed a Chapter 13 plan payment or you know that you will miss a plan payment in the future, your attorney may file a Motion to Suspend plan payments with Court. You should continue making your plan payments until you receive a Wage Order Cancellation from Court. If you stop making plan payments too early, you could be in jeopardy of having your case dismissed. If the Chapter 13 Trustee receives additional payments that are not required to satisfy the terms of your confirmed Chapter 13 plan, the excess funds will be refunded to you.
10. The Chapter 13 Trustee receives plan payments and disburses funds to creditors. Disbursements are usually made on or about the 1st of each month. In general, plan payments must be posted to your case by the 15th day of the month to be available for disbursement the following month.
11. Each debtor that files a Chapter 13 must attend a Section 341(a) Meeting of Creditors. You will receive notification from the Court regarding how to appear at your 341(a) meeting. Prior to your 341(a) meeting you will need to provide copies of two identification documents to your attorney to provide to the Chapter 13 Trustee’s office. To verify your identity our office will accept: a driver’s license, a state issued ID, a passport, and a military ID. To verify your social security number our office will accept: a social security card, a letter from the social security administration, a W2, or a 1099.
12. You must propose a Chapter 13 plan for repayment of your debts. You should review your plan with your attorney carefully and make sure you understand all of the terms you are proposing. The Chapter 13 Trustee and creditors will review your proposed plan and may file Objections to it. You are seeking to have your plan “confirmed”, which means approved by the Bankruptcy Judge. You must comply with all of the terms of your confirmed plan while in Chapter 13.
13. Payments made by the Chapter 13 Trustee to your secured creditors, such as your mortgage or car creditor, may begin prior to the confirmation of your Chapter 13 plan. These pre-confirmation payments are called “adequate protection” payments. Once the Bankruptcy Court issues an order confirming your Chapter 13 plan, payments to unsecured creditors may begin.
14. Creditors have “bar dates” that require them to file their Proofs of Claim in your Chapter 13 case within a certain time frame. For non-governmental creditors, the bar date is 70 days from the date you filed your Chapter 13 Petition. For governmental creditors, the bar date is usually 180 days from the date you filed your Chapter 13 Petition.
15. The Chapter 13 Trustee only distributes funds to creditors who have filed Proofs of Claim. The Chapter 13 Trustee cannot send money to creditors who fail to file claims in your case. Debtors may file a Proof of Claim on behalf of a creditor. Whether you should file a claim for a creditor who fails to do so is a legal issue that you should discuss with your attorney.
16. After your Chapter 13 plan is confirmed and the bar dates have passed you will receive a “Notice Allowing/Disallowing Claims” from the Chapter 13 Trustee. REVIEW THIS DOCUMENT CAREFULLY. It outlines which creditors have filed Proofs of Claim in your case, the types of claims they filed, and in what amounts. If you believe there is an error or something has been filed incorrectly, contact your attorney. Unless an Objection to Claim is filed with Court, the Chapter 13 Trustee will pay the claims as listed in this Notice.
17. You are required keep your address updated with the Bankruptcy Court. If you move you must notify your attorney so that a Notice with the Court can be filed. You will be in jeopardy of not receiving important documents from Court and the Chapter 13 Trustee if you do not update your address timely with the Bankruptcy Court.
18. Notify your attorney of any changes to your employment or income status. This includes an increase in income, obtaining a second job, working overtime, losing employment, etc. You may be required to file amended schedules and/or an amended Chapter 13 plan. The Chapter 13 Trustee may review your tax returns every year and if your income is understated the trustee may pursue an amendment to your plan or dismissal of your case. 19. You cannot sell, transfer, give away, or dispose of any of your property during your Chapter 13 without a Court Order. This applies to property that you had before the case was filed and property acquired after filing. Talk to your attorney before disposing of any of your property while in Chapter 13.
20. If you acquire any property while in Chapter 13, you must notify your attorney. This includes inheritances, life insurance proceeds, recoveries from legal actions, bonuses, gifts, etc. Whether you receive cash or an asset (such as real property or a car), do not take any action without speaking to your attorney. You likely will need a Court Order to deal with the property. You may be required to amend your plan to account for this additional asset.
21. If you are pursuing a lawsuit or administrative proceeding, including any class action, you must keep your attorney updated regarding the proceeding. You likely will need to have Bankruptcy Court approval of an attorney representing you in these actions. This applies to lawsuits pending when your bankruptcy is filed and those that come up after you filed your case. You may be in jeopardy of having your lawsuit dismissed if it is not properly disclosed in your bankruptcy filings. If you receive any funds from a lawsuit or settlement of a claim while in your Chapter 13 you must contact your attorney before spending any portion of the funds.
22. You may not borrow or use credit while you are in Chapter 13 without a Court Order or written approval from the Chapter 13 Trustee. The only exception for borrowing without prior approval is in the case of an emergency for the protection and preservation of life, health, and property.
Borrowing includes the following examples:using credit cards or business credit cards borrowing money from a finance company, payday loan establishment, bank, or credit unionsigning a "rent to own" contract or dealing with a "title loan" company receiving an advance on your salarybuying anything over time, such as a car or an appliance signing, co-signing, or guaranteeing an installment noteleasing a car, appliance, television, furniture, etc.financing or refinancing a houseincurring student loans for yourself or others
Requests to borrow more than $3,500.00 must be made to the Bankruptcy Judge with a formal motion. Requests to borrow $3,500.00 or less may be made to the Chapter 13 Trustee using a form that you can obtain from the Chapter 13 Trustee’s website www.wdmo13.com. All requests must include the following information: the name of the lender, the amount of the loan, the terms of repayment (including monthly payment amount and interest rate), the purpose of the loan, and the impact of the borrowing on your ability to continue to fund your Chapter 13 plan.
23. You must maintain insurance on your property. All assets must be insured against physical loss for at least the values stated in your schedules. If you operate a business or are self-employed, you must have liability insurance and other insurance customary for the industry, such as workers compensation, products liability, professional liability, etc. You may not operate your vehicles without insurance. Generally, for vehicles you are required to prepay at least three months of insurance, to have collision and comprehensive coverage with a deductible not to exceed $500.00 and to name the lienholder as a loss payee. You should always have access to copies of your insurance policies and declaration pages. Contact your attorney immediately if you encounter problems with any of your insurance policies. Insurance payments are usually not part of your Chapter 13 plan payment unless your homeowner’s insurance is part of an on-going mortgage payment being paid from your Chapter 13 plan payment.
24. You must remain current with all of your financial obligations that are not being paid through your Chapter 13 plan payment. This includes all tax obligations and utilities that come due after filing as well as any payments to creditors listed in your plan to be paid directly. Failure to remain current on direct post-petition payments may result in dismissal of your case or denial of your discharge.
25. Prepare and file your tax returns annually. You must pay all of your post-Chapter 13 taxes as they come due. You must submit a copy of your tax returns to the Chapter 13 Trustee upon request. If you receive a tax refund, contact your attorney before you spend it.
26. Once a year, you will receive a "Case Summary Report" from the Chapter 13 Trustee showing the financial activity in your case over the preceding year. REVIEW IT CAREFULLY. Examine all plan payments, claims filed and approved, and disbursements to creditors for correctness. Contact your attorney to discuss any issues you find in the Case Summary. The trustee recommends that you sign up for access to your case information at www.ndc.org and monitor your case regularly.
27. If you would like to obtain the amount necessary to pay off your plan, you will need to file a motion with the Bankruptcy Court. The Chapter 13 Trustee will not calculate the amount of money necessary to pay off your case without a Court Order.
28. DO NOT GAMBLE WHILE YOU ARE IN CHAPTER 13. If you fail to comply with this prohibition, the Chapter 13 Trustee may request additional funds be paid into your plan or file a Motion to Dismiss.
29. If you are required to attend a courtroom hearing in person with a Bankruptcy Judge, current locations of courthouses are as follows:
Carthage: (Before March 2023) Jasper County Courthouse 302 South Main Street, Div VI Courtroom Carthage, Missouri 64836
Joplin: (From March 2023 onward) Jasper County Courthouse 633 S. Pearl Ave Joplin, Missouri 64801
Springfield: United States Courthouse 222 North John Q. Hammons Parkway Springfield, Missouri 65806
Jefferson City: Christopher S. Bond Courthouse 80 Lafayette Street Jefferson City, Missouri 65101
St.Joseph: Buchanan County Courthouse 411 Jules Street St. Joseph, Missouri 64501
Kansas City: Charles Evan Whittaker Courthouse 400 East 9th Street Kansas City, Missouri 64106
30. Please visit our website at www.wdmo13.com to access more information regarding Chapter 13 in the Western District of Missouri. .