Chapter 13 rules and procedures are complicated and confusing. It’s easy to misunderstand or miss what’s expected.
Too much information can be a problem. When you file your case, you hopefully receive a set of instructions and requirements from your attorney. Your mailbox will almost instantly be flooded with more instructions, directions and requirements from the Trustee and the Bankruptcy Court: Are these new and different things, or are they the same things, phrased differently? Why do you keep getting notices to go to the “meeting of creditors” in your case if you’re not a creditor?! And what’s this “341 meeting” people keep talking about? Is that the same as the confirmation hearing? Why do people keep telling you to take credit counseling when you already took that course before you filed the case? (Answers to these questions are HERE)
If you have an attorney, you can rely on him or her – up to a point – to provide guidance and the occasional reminder. But you should also be aware that this is your case, and nobody is relying more heavily on your case’s success than you. That means you need to take all reasonable steps to make sure you are complying with all of the Chapter 13 rules requirements. A few simple best practices will help:
- Read Your Mail! Most of the important notices about your bankruptcy case still come by regular mail.
- Ask Questions. This stuff can be confusing. Odds are, you are paying an attorney to help you. Your attorney or the attorney’s staff should be happy to answer all of your questions. In most cases, their compensation depends on your success, so making sure you do what you are supposed to is in their own best interest. Whatever you do, don’t be shy! There’s nothing “dumb” about asking a “dumb question” to make sure your car stays protected by the bankruptcy case.
- Get Your Questions Answered. If you don’t understand the answer, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for clarification. Sometimes the “why” is as important as the “what.” If you aren’t sure why you are being asked to do something, your attorney should be able to explain what’s going on, how it relates to everything else in the process, why this is important, and what could happen if you don’t do it.