When you file Chapter 13, your bankruptcy attorney should be able to tell you when your case will end before your case is filed. However, most clients forget.
The good news in that in the Northern District of Georgia, you can set up an online account with the Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee and monitor your own account. When you log into your account, you will see a month and year in the top right corner. As a general rule, this is a the approximate date as to when your Chapter 13 bankruptcy will finish. However, you should not rely on the website. When you need a definitive answer, you must meet with your bankruptcy attorney and discuss the details of your plan.
Two Important Rules About the Length of Bankruptcy Plans
1. Any Chapter 13 bankruptcy must run for a minimum of 36 months or until all debts are paid in full.
This rule can be particularly confusing for a person who has a small amount of secured debt and has filed a Chapter 13 case. For example, a person in this situation will go to the trustee website and see that all of their attorney’s fees and secured debt is paid off. This person might incorrectly conclude that their case is paid out if it has not been at least 36 months since their case was filed. The bankruptcy case will continue for at least a total of 36 months even after all secured debts and attorney’s fees have been paid in full.
2. Any Chapter 13 bankruptcy with an applicable commitment period of 60 months must run for a period of 60 or until all debts are paid in full.
This rule probably angers people the most. In the Northern District of Georgia, if you are in a composition plan (meaning that we are wiping out unsecured debt in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy), the trustee will demand that you pay all future tax refunds (not to be confused with Earned Income Credit) to the plan. Assume you have a case where all of the secured creditor will be paid in full and the unsecured creditors will receive zero percent over 60 months. After year one, client pays his $5,000.00 tax refund into the case and assumes this will shorten the length of his case by $5,000.00. A client in this situation will typically hit the ceiling when they find out the the $5,000.00 tax refund paid in will actually be heading towards the unsecured creditors pro rata unless the plan is amended.
When will my Chapter 13 case finish? It sounds like such an easy questions to answer. Before you make any decisions based on when you think your case will finish, make sure you consult with your bankruptcy attorney.