This post describes what happens after a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is confirmed. Confirmation is the biggest hurdle in Chapter 13, but it's not the end. Congratulations, your Chapter 13 plan has been confirmed! (If our congratulations are early, don't worry--your turn will come too). Since you'll be in Chapter 13 for three to five years, you probably have a bunch of questions about what to expect. We'll tackle a few of these below. If you have other questions, please leave them in the comments below.
1. When do I make my first payment to the trustee? Your first Chapter 13 plan payment is due within 30 days of filing your case. The payment must be by money order to the P.O. Box specified on your welcome letter form the trustee's office. Future payments can be made by automatic debit from your bank account, if we arrange that ahead of time with the trustee's office.
2. Which of my bills should I pay while I'm in Chapter 13? You'll need to pay your new, ongoing bills on time. This always includes utilities, generally includes your mortgage, and sometimes includes your car loan and student loans. Every once in a while, it'll include a credit card if you have a cosigner. But your bankruptcy lawyer should have the final word on what bills to pay. If you're not sure, ask.
3. I'm still getting calls from creditors. What do I do? Your creditors are breaking the law if they contact you after you file Chapter 13. On the first call, you can tell the creditor you filed bankruptcy and give them your case number. If you keep getting calls, you should let your bankruptcy lawyer know right away.
4. I need to buy a new car. Can I take out a loan while I'm in Chapter 13? You'll need permission from the court to take out any new loan while you're in Chapter 13. If you absolutely need financing, call us first so we can take you through the steps of the process.
5. What do I do if I'm going to miss a payment? If you're in danger of missing a Chapter 13 payment, or if you already missed one, call your bankruptcy lawyer. In some cases, we can work with the Chapter 13 trustee's office to help you get caught up on your payments. Otherwise, we might be able to modify your plan. If you don't get in touch before missing a payment, the trustee can move to dismiss your case. The most important thing is that you let us know in advance so we can prevent this from happening.
You're probably starting to pick up on a trend here. If you have a question, call your bankruptcy lawyer. Most of the problems that come up with confirmed Chapter 13 plans can be avoided as long as we know about them in advance. But let us know in the comments below if you have other questions.