What is Chapter 13?

    Chapter 13 is one method under the Bankruptcy Code to obtain relief from your creditors,
    while at the same time providing a fair means to pay them back as much as you can.  People
    who file Chapter 13 cases are commonly referred to as “debtors”.  A Chapter 13 Plan cannot
    exceed 60 months.  Only an individual with regular income can file for relief under Chapter 13.
What are my Chapter 13 costs?

    The Trustee’s costs for administering your case are paid from the funds you pay into your
    plan.  The United States Code sets the maximum charge at 10 percent of the amount
    disbursed in the case.  The percentage fee will vary during the life of your case, but the
    percentage is generally less than 10 percent & would not be more than 10 percent at any time.  
    If your case is dismissed or converted to another Chapter prior to confirmation, the Trustee will
    return to you  funds on hand, less Court approved attorney’s fees and Court approved Trustee’
    s Administrative Fees.
Am I required to use an attorney?

    While use of an attorney is strongly encouraged, it is not required.  You may choose to
    proceed on your own, without assistance from counsel.  If this is your decision, you should
    understand that you will be fully responsible for representing yourself and will be expected to
    comply with the law and properly file all documents and motions.  Also, you should be
    prepared to disclose at the 341(a) meeting the name, address, telephone number and
    amounts you paid anyone who helped you with your filing.   Bring any receipts or business
    cards or written information you received from the person who assisted you.  If you would like
    legal assistance, but are unable to afford an attorney, please click on the following link for
    more information on the pro bono and legal aid programs offered in this state:  
    http://www.njb.uscourts.gov/pro-bono-programs
How do I make plan payments?

    Payments made by you must be in the form of a certified, cashier’s or bank check or a money
    order or through the e-Pay Portal.  We DO NOT ACCEPT personal checks, cash or internet
    bank checks.  If you send us an incorrect form of payment it will be returned to you.  Please
    make all payments payable to Marie-Ann Greenberg, Trustee and send them to our lockbox
    address: P.O. Box 520, Memphis, TN 38101-0520.  We are not permitted to accept payments
    at our office, if you send your payment directly to our office it will be returned to you.  Once you
    send your payment to the lockbox it takes approximately 3 to 5 business days before it is
    posted by our office.  Please keep a log of the payments you make to our office.  Every 12
    months you will receive a report of all payments posted to your case.  If a payment is missing
    please contact us immediately and let us know the receipt number so that we can trace it.  All
    payments are due on or before the first business day of each and every calendar month.  You
    may send in more than your monthly payment, but you still must make the next months
    payment.  We will not apply extra payments to preceding months.  If you do not make your
    monthly payments, your case may be subject to dismissal.  When you submit your payment to
    us, do not include your monthly mortgage payment.  Your monthly mortgage payment must be
    made directly to your mortgage company.

What takes place at the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors?

    The 341(a) Meeting of Creditors is a hearing where the Trustee or the Trustee’s Staff Attorney
    will ask you questions, under oath, about your assets, your liabilities and the feasibility of your
    plan.  In other words, everyone you owe money to, everything that you own, all sources of your
    income, the reasonableness of all budgeted expenses and whether your proposed plan
    payments are sufficient to pay off your creditors during the term you propose.  Any creditors
    who appear will also be given an opportunity to ask questions.  This meeting will be
    recorded.  Copies of the transcript may be requested from the Trustee’s Office for a fee.  You
    and your attorney are required to attend the 341(a) meeting.  If a petition was filed by a
    husband and wife, both must be present.  There are no accommodations for children.  If you
    fail to appear at the 341(a) meeting, your case may be dismissed.  If you cannot come on the
    scheduled date, you must request a new date from the Trustee’s office three (3) days before
    the date you are to appear and must have a valid reason for your request.  After the second
    date, if you fail to appear your case could be dismissed. You must bring with you: (1) recent
    pay stub, (2) U.S., State, or County Issued Picture I.D. (3) proof of social security number and
    (4) market analysis on any real estate.
What is a Motion to Vacate Stay?

    A Motion to Vacate Stay is a formal request by one of your creditors to eliminate the protection
    of the Bankruptcy.  When a Court grants this request, the automatic stay is cancelled.  Your
    creditors will then be able to enforce their claims and resume collection efforts against you in
    State Court.  Motions for relief must be served on Debtor and Debtor’s Attorney.  Do not ignore
    a Motion to Vacate Stay.  If you do, the Court may grant the motion as unopposed.  The most
    common reason for a Creditor to file a Motion to Vacate Stay is when the debtor becomes
    delinquent in post-petition outside of plan payments.  In the case of a car loan, a motion may
    also be brought if the vehicle in question is not insured.
What is a Wage Order?

    Some debtors either voluntarily or by suggestion of the Chapter 13 Standing Trustee choose a
    Wage Deduction as a more convenient way to fund their Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.  A Wage
    Deduction Order, signed by the Bankruptcy Judge, will be issued to your employer.  Your
    employer will then make your plan payments for you by deducting the total monthly payment
    from your pay and sending that money to the Trustee’s lockbox address.  This money will
    never be deducted in one lump sum.  Amounts will always be deducted in equal installments
    determined by the frequency of your pay schedules (i.e. bi-weekly, semi-monthly or weekly).

    Debtor Responsibility: It is essential that you make direct payments to the Trustee’s lockbox
    until you actually see the plan payments being deducted from your paycheck.  It is also your
    responsibility to continue with the plan payments in the event there are missed days from your
    place of employment due to vacation, illness or termination.

    Change of Job:  If you change jobs, notify your attorney and the Trustee’s office immediately.   
    This notification must be made in writing.  A new Wage Deduction order must be prepared
    and sent to the new employer.  If there is a delay between the time payments through your old
    employer cease and payments through your new employer begin, you are responsible for
    making direct payments to the Trustee.

    Employer Responsibility:  It is a violation for an employer to discharge an employee or take
    any other disciplinary action because of a Wage Deduction Order.  Most employers have been
    very cooperative in assisting with payroll deductions for employees involved in Chapter 13
    Bankruptcy.  If your employer has any questions or concerns with wage deductions, advise the
    Trustee’s Office and we will contact your employer.

    Termination of Wage Order:  When the Chapter 13 Plan has been completed or if the case is
    dismissed for any reason, a letter by the Trustee’s Office will be sent to the employer
    terminating the Wage Order Deduction.
What takes place at the Confirmation Hearing?

    At the Confirmation hearing, your Judge will determine if your plan should be approved or your
    case should be dismissed.  The Trustee will recommend confirmation (approval) of your plan
    if the Trustee believes that the plan complies with the legal requirements for Chapter 13
    Cases.  If the Trustee determines that the plan is deficient, your attorney will be informed of
    the deficiencies by letter or e-mail approximately two weeks before the Confirmation Hearing.  
    Copies of any revised or amended documents must be received by the Trustee at least three
    (3) days prior to the Confirmation Hearing.  Your attorney must appear at any Confirmation
    Hearing.  If you are proceeding without an attorney, you must be present.
What is a Business Case?

    Debtors who are self-employed as a sole proprietorship, report income as independent
    contractors, or earn a salary from a partnership or corporation they have an ownership interest
    in, are considered to be business cases by the Trustee.  As a result, there are additional
    reporting requirements placed upon these Debtors under the Bankruptcy Code.  The debtor is
    required to submit to the Trustee the following:

    Proof of current insurance - business liability, workers compensation if there are employees
    or uninsured subcontractors, liquor liability if the business uses a liquor license, and
    automotive insurance for any business vehicles.

    License - proof of current license if the business is required to have one to operate.
    Examples include day care centers, physicians, pesticide applicants, etc.

    Income verification - copy of the previous year's Federal tax return for the individual and
    business, as well as monthly business reports (profit and loss statements, copies of
    business bank account statements, copies of canceled checks) for the current year through
    confirmation. Monthly business report forms are available from the Trustee's web site.

    If a non-debtor spouse is self employed, income verification for that spouse's business is
    required.
How are my creditors paid?

    The money you pay to the Trustee is used to pay your creditors, your attorney’s fees, if any, and
    the Trustee’s fees.  Creditors have 90 days from the first meeting of creditors to file a proof of
    claim with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.  Government agencies have 180 days from the first
    meeting of creditors to file a proof of claim.  The Trustee can only pay those creditors who file
    a proof of claim with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

    Creditors fall into three basic categories: Priority (income taxes, past due child support, real
    estate taxes); Secured (mortgages, auto loans); and Unsecured (credit cards, medical
    expenses).

    Unless your plan specifically provides for a different order of distribution, the Trustee will pay
    the unpaid balance owed to your attorney first; then the priority creditors are paid in full, the
    secured creditors will then be paid in full, and finally, the unsecured creditors are paid.  
    Payments to your creditors will begin after the Bankruptcy Court has confirmed your case.
What happens if I forget to list a creditor in my petition?

    Creditors not listed when you file your case may cause problems.  There are two kinds of
    unlisted creditors; those you owed money when you first filed your plan and forgot to list (“pre-
    petition creditors”), and those creditors who have a bill that was incurred after you filed your
    plan (“post-petition creditors”).

    If either circumstance does occur, notify your attorney immediately so that he can evaluate the
    situation and file the appropriate paperwork with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
What happens if I lose my job?

    If there is any disruption in the normally scheduled payments required under your Chapter 13
    Plan (due to illness, layoff, job termination, etc.) please contact your attorney immediately.  The
    Trustee’s Office conducts a monthly review of all cases to determine which are in default, and
    from this review, prepares a list of cases to dismiss for nonpayment.  The Trustee’s Office will
    attempt to work with you to rearrange your payments temporarily to avoid dismissal of your
    case.
Can I sell or refinance my property during the Bankruptcy?

    You cannot dispose of any of your property, including land, without obtaining permission from
    the Court.  If you sell any of your property for a profit, some of that profit may have to be applied
    to your Chapter 13 debts.  If you dispose of your property without Court authorization, the
    transaction may be set aside and your plan could be dismissed.  Please remember that any
    real estate broker you wish to utilize must also be approved by Order of the Court.  If you have
    entered a Contract to Sell any of your property, you should immediately contact your attorney,
    so he or she can file an appropriate motion with the Court.
How do I read my Six (6) month report?

    For an explanation on how to read your Six (6) month report, please click here.
What happens when I complete my case?

    When all of the creditors in your Chapter 13 plan have been paid, your case has been
    completed.  Once all of the checks that have been sent out to your creditors have been cashed
    and clear with the bank, a Final Report will be created.  However, it may take up to 4 months
    from the date your case is completed for all of the checks to be cashed and clear with the
    bank  Occasionally, one of your creditors will not cash a check and we will have to cancel it.  
    Once we cancel the check, we send the funds to the United States Bankruptcy Court Registry
    where the creditor will need to file a motion to claim them.  Once the Court Registry deposits
    those funds, we will then issue the final report.  A copy of the final report will be sent to you and
    a copy will be electronically filed with the Bankruptcy Court.  The Bankruptcy Court will process
    the Final Report and within 3 to 5 business days, they will issue your discharge paperwork to
    you and your creditors, if applicable.  You should confer with your attorney as to any additional
    documents or classes you must take in order to obtain your discharge.  The Final Report
    explains to you how much you sent to our office for your case and how those funds were
    disbursed to your creditors, attorney and trustee.  The Discharge Order is the document that
    lets you and your creditors know that the case has been approved as completed by the
    Bankruptcy Court.
How do I check my credit rating?

Frequently Asked Questions

Marie-Ann Greenberg

Chapter 13 Standing Trustee
Who is my Chapter 13 Standing Trustee?

    Marie-Ann Greenberg is the Trustee in your case.  The Trustee represents the bankruptcy
    estate.  The Trustee is not your legal representative nor is the Trustee the legal representative
    for any creditor.  The primary function of the Trustee is to administer the bankruptcy estate, i.e.,
    oversee timely receipt of your plan payments and make prompt and accurate payments to your
    creditors.  The Trustee also provides information about Chapter 13 cases to debtors, creditors
    and to the Court.  Neither the Trustee, nor any member of her staff, may give you legal advice.
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