Chapter 13 Trustee General Information
Much of the information you may wish to know about a case will be posted on the www.trustee13.com website. Only a party of interest will be able to access the website, and access will be on a case by case basis only.
The website provides general case information (case filed date, plan filed date, 341 meeting date/time and more) as well as detailed case information (payment history, disbursement history, list of claims, and more).
- Username: The first seven digits of the case number. When entering the number you must use a dash between the second and third digit (i.e. 99-99999)
- Password: The last four digits of the debtors social security number. If a couple files together, it is the social security number of the first listed debtor.
- If you received a username and password (i.e. T0100) from us prior to April 10, 2007, it is inactive and can not be used. As of April 11, 2007, we will no longer assign usernames and passwords to individual creditors or update previously assigned usernames and passwords.
INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER 13
- Chapter 13 is a method to obtain relief from your creditors while providing a fair means to pay them back as much as you can. It allows you to keep most or all of your property during the time you are paying creditors back, and it permits you to modify some contract payments, interest rates, and length of obligations. It stops most collection actions.
- Completion of Chapter 13 generally takes three to five years. It is simple in some ways, and not simple in others. This is meant to answer some of your questions, and make things easier for you.
- This cannot answer all your questions, although it is the best place to start when problems come up. If you cannot find your answer here, contact your attorney. He or she will be able to answer almost all questions, and should be your primary resource.
- If you still have questions after talking with your attorney, contact our office and we will attempt to help you. We can answer simple questions over the telephone, but due to the volume we handle anything beyond simple questions must be sent in writing, either by email, mail, or fax. We will answer all correspondence in the order in which is was received as timely as possible.
- We cannot answer legal questions or provide legal advice; for these issues, you must contact your own attorney. He or she will be your best guide and helper as you go through the Chapter 13 process.
YOUR CASE NUMBER
At the time your Chapter 13 petition was filed the bankruptcy court assigned the case a number. This number is important . Refer to it whenever you call, make payments, or write to the Trustee’s office. Your case number MUST be legibly written on all correspondence and payments sent to our office.
- Your attorney is your helper and guide. He or she is knowledgeable and can explain many things to you. If you ever have a question concerning your case, a creditor, your rights, or your options, ASK YOUR ATTORNEY FIRST.
- In most cases, your attorney will be paid his or her legal fee through your Chapter 13 plan. Be sure that you and your attorney have discussed fully whether additional legal services during your plan will cost you more money, or whether the initial fee will cover all legal services.
- When you need advice or assistance, you should be able to get help from your attorney. Although the Trustee office is able to answer many questions, neither the Trustee nor the Trustee’s staff can give you any legal advice. If you have a problem, a question, or need advice, call your attorney’s office first.
RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES STATEMENT
When you reviewed and signed your initial petition and schedules, you likely also signed a Rights & Responsibilities Statement. This outlines the basic duties you have toward your attorney, and the basic duties and responsibilities of your attorney in representing you. You should have been given a copy of this document; review it carefully, and ask your attorney if you have any questions about it.
Your Trustee is Robert P. Musgrave. His address, telephone number, fax number, and email address are on the cover of this booklet. He is required by law to perform certain duties. These include:
- Reviewing your petition and schedules for accuracy and completeness;
- Examining you under oath at your first meeting of creditors (see Chapter 4)
- Recommending to the Court whether your case should or should not be confirmed; and
- Collecting your payments and making sure they are paid on a regular basis to your creditors.
More information about your Trustee is in the following chapter.
- The Trustee is charged with certain duties and responsibilities. Some of these are discussed at greater length elsewhere in this pamphlet. The major duties as far as you are concerned are the collection of your payment, and the timely distribution of the collected money to your creditors.
- The Trustee does not, of course, handle all matters himself. His staff is trained and well able to help you. Do not feel you have to communicate directly with the Trustee; the office staff is fully trained and able to help you in almost any matter which may arise.
- The address, telephone number, fax number, and email address for the Trustee office are on the front of this pamphlet. If you have a simple question, you may call the Trustee office and speak with one of the staff. They should be able to help you.
- Due to the volume of cases handled, if you have a question which is not simple, we ask you write the question and send it to us by mail, email, or fax. We try to answer all letters within 2 business days.
- We ask that no personal visits be made to the Trustee office without a prior appointment. No one will be able to speak with you if you do come to the office without an appointment.
- Much of the information you may wish to know about your case will be posted on one of the Trustee's two websites. The first website address is www.trustee13.com, and it has information about payments into your plan, as well as claims and disbursements. Upon filing, you are automatically assigned a password and user name which allows you to access the information posted to your case.
- Your password for this website is the last four digits of your social security number (if a couple files together, it is the social security number of the first listed debtor), and the user name is the first seven digits of your case number; when entering the number you must use a dash between the second and third digit.
- The second website is located at www.evvchap13.com. It contains information about the Trustee office, forms, calendars, and other matters. There is no password necessary for this website. The forms are in both PDF and Microsoft Word 2000 formats.
- It is important that the Trustee is able to contact you. If you change your address or telephone number at any time during your Chapter 13, advise the Trustee office IMMEDIATELY and IN WRITING.
- It is also important that the Trustee is always aware of your current employment. If you change employment at any time during your Chapter 13, advise the Trustee office IMMEDIATELY and IN WRITING.
- The primary component of a Chapter 13 is the plan payment. You, with your attorney, will propose an amount for you to pay each month. This will be reviewed by the Trustee and the court, and it will be approved, either as proposed or as modified, in the court’s confirmation order. Once this amount is determined, you are required to pay it for the length of your plan.
HOW TO PAY
- The first payments, prior to confirmation of your plan, must be made through the TFS system. You must make future payments by TFS or by a voluntary wage withholding order to your employer (see the sections below).
- NO CASH, PERSONAL CHECKS, OR ONLINE BANK PAYMENTS ARE EVER ACCEPTED. PAYMENTS CANNOT BE DROPPED OFF AT OUR OFFICE. IF A PAYMENT IS DROPPED OFF AFTER HOURS, IT WILL BE RETURNED TO YOU.
ORDER TO PAY
- The primary way to make payments is to have it taken directly out of your wages or other income prior to your receiving them. This is often beneficial, especially if you are having your current mortgage paid from your plan payment, as it guarantees the payments are made. It is also good in that the employer will usually take an equal amount from each of your paychecks, which helps you in budgeting.
- Remember that even though an order to pay may have been issued to your employer, it sometimes takes a few weeks for the payments to start to the Trustee. You are responsible for ALL payments, even if they are not taken from your wages or if your employer does not forward them timely.
- The second way to make payments is to sign up for an easy-to-use online payment system, called the TFS system.
- To get signed up through TFS visit www.TFSbillpay.com and click on "SIGN UP today".
- You must have your case number and plan payment amount available when signing up.
- TFS charges a small fee based on your plan payment amount. For instance, there is a charge of $0.99 on a $100.00 payment, or a $3.99 charge on a $500.00 payment.
- If at any time your payment is returned for any reason with TFS, or if the monthly payment is not made timely, an order to pay will automatically be issued to your employer.
- Your first plan payment is due 30 days after your petition is filed with the court. This will usually be before the first meeting of creditors. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THIS FIRST PAYMENT BE MADE ON TIME. Failure to make the first payment on time will cause the Trustee to issue an order to pay, without you having the option for TFS.
- During the course of your petition, difficulties may arise. If you advise the Trustee office of these problems, it may be possible to defer some payments to the end of your plan term. Deferrals must be requested in writing, and should contain a full explanation of the circumstances requiring the deferral. A deferral of an automatic withdrawal must be received by our office at least seven days prior to the date of the withdrawal.
- Chapter 13 cases sometimes run into problems, usually involving payments. As a final step prior to filing a motion to dismiss, the Trustee will often schedule an Administrative Review. This is an informal meeting at the Trustee office in which you and a representative of the Trustee office can discuss the problems in your case, and ways of getting you back on track so that you can successfully complete your plan.
- You should come to the Administrative Review with suggestions as to how you can make sure future payments are made timely, and how to cure any arrearage which may exist. See "Other Proceedings, Pleadings, and Reports" for more details.
FAILURE TO PAY
- The Trustee office is committed to helping you make your Chapter 13 succeed, if at all possible. The Trustee, however, also has an obligation to the creditors to make sure payments are made. If all else fails, or if for any reason it appears that you are not able to make the payments required by the court order, the Trustee will ask the court to dismiss your case. You will have an opportunity to object to the motion to dismiss; the main issues will be your ability to make future payments and to cure any existing arrearage.
- If you receive a motion to dismiss, you should contact your attorney immediately.
- If you have a permanent or long term change in financial circumstances you may be able to modify your plan. This requires an order from the court and you should contact your attorney as soon as you become aware of the changed situation.
- The Trustee is not able to change your plan payment without a court order, and it will do no good to contact our office to request such a change.
WHAT IT IS
- The First Meeting of Creditors, sometimes called the §341 hearing, is one of the most important parts of your Chapter 13. The Trustee or his representative presides over the meeting, and asks you questions under oath about your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities, as well as other factors involving your finances and your case. Your proposed plan to repay your debts is also examined, and a determination to recommend or object is made as to the plan. Sometimes modifications are made to the plan.
- All of your creditors will receive notice of the First Meeting of Creditors, and if they appear they also will be allowed to ask you questions on the same topics.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- You will first be put under oath. If you have religious or philosophical objections, you may choose to affirm that your answers will be true.
- You will be asked to provide photo identification and a separate document proving your social security number. You should have these ready. The photo identification is generally a driver’s license or other state issued identification. The social security proof can be a social security card; a pay-stub, 1099, or W-2; a medical insurance card; or any other document in which a third-party has independently verified the accuracy of your social security number.
- If you do not have a social security card or other proof of social security number, you may apply to the Social Security Administration for a new social security card. Upon request, they will also issue you a temporary letter with your number, which may be used as identification at the First Meeting of Creditors. Your attorney can help you with this process.
- You will be asked whether you have read, reviewed, and understand the Chapter 13 Debtor Information Sheet. This document outlines certain essentials of the Chapter 13 process. Your attorney may also have given you this document. If you do not have one before the First Meeting of Creditors or if you have lost your copy, additional copies are available in the hearing room. You must read this Information Sheet before the hearing can continue.
- You will also be asked questions in detail about the schedules and pleadings you have submitted to the court in support of your Chapter 13. Make sure you have reviewed them, and are ready to testify as to their accuracy.
- At the conclusion of the First Meeting of Creditors, you will be asked whether you want future payments to be made by automatic withdrawal or wage withholding order. Be prepared to answer this question; if you choose the automatic withdrawal option, either have an authorization form already completed or be prepared to complete one in the hearing room before you leave.
- The First Meeting of Creditors generally takes about 15 minutes, although in some cases it will take more or less time.
- In a very complex case, the First Meeting may be continued to a alternate date with more time.
- The First Meeting of Creditors is held in Room 157 of the Federal Courthouse in Evansville, Indiana. This is at 101 N.W. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd, Evansville, Indiana. The hearing room is on the first floor, to your left as you enter the building.
- Because of security concerns you will not be allowed to enter the building with any weapons, or with cellular telephones, computers, or certain other electronic devices. YOU MUST HAVE PHOTO IDENTIFICATION TO ENTER THE FEDERAL BUILDING.
- The First Meeting of Creditors is held 40 to 60 days after your Chapter 13 petition is filed. You will receive a notice from the Court with the exact time and date of the First Meeting. If you have not received it within 10 days of your filing, contact your attorney or the Court to find out when the First Meeting is set.
- Attendance at the First Meeting of Creditors is NOT voluntary. It is required for your case to be confirmed and for you to remain in Chapter 13. Failure to attend a First Meeting of Creditors will result in a motion to dismiss being filed in your case.
- If circumstances arise that make it impossible for you to attend your First Meeting of Creditors, your attorney can request a continuance. One continuance will be automatically granted, but further continuances are granted only in the most extreme circumstances. Contact your attorney as soon as possible if you are not able to attend your scheduled First Meeting of Creditors.
WHAT TO BRING
- You are required to bring to your First Meeting of Creditors a photo identification and proof of social security number (see above). You may also wish to bring your Chapter 13 schedules and other legal papers; this booklet and the related documents sent with it; a completed automatic withdrawal authorization form, if you wish to pay in this way; and any other items requested by your attorney. In certain cases, you may be requested to bring other documents, such as proof of insurance, appraisals, wage stubs, or tax returns.
- In addition, since several hearings are scheduled together and there is sometimes some delay, you may wish to bring reading materials or other items in the event your hearing is delayed.
- The First Meeting of Creditors is an important matter, and should be treated as such. Every attempt should be made to find daycare or make other arrangements for children. If this cannot be done, the children should be advised that they must be quiet and well behaved during the time they are in the hearing room.
- Some debtors in Chapter 13 own or operate their own businesses. In addition to the other requirements imposed in Chapter 13, these business debtors have other duties. These other duties are explained at the Intial Debtor Conference, which will be scheduled seprately from you first meeting of creditors if needed.
- Chapter 13 cases last from 3 to 5 years. In that time many things can happen which may adversely affect your ability to make regular payments to the Trustee. Other things can also happen which require correction or discussion as to the on-going status of your Chapter 13 case.
- Instead of filing motions and having matters decided by the court, the Trustee will often set Administrative Reviews in his office. You will receive a written notice of these Administrative Reviews, with a short description of the issue or problem to be discussed. Secured creditors are also notified of these Reviews, although they seldom attend. Your attorney or a representative of his or her office will generally attend with you, although this is not strictly required. The Reviews are held at the Trustee office, not at the federal court building, and are presided over by the Trustee or a a member of his staff.
- The purpose of the Administrative Review is to discuss, face-to-face and in a more informal setting, the issues or problems facing the plan (usually a payment problem) and to work together to reach a solution. You should come to the Review prepared to discuss the issue or problem described in the notice, and to offer possible ways of resolving it.
- If you fail to appear at an Administrative Review, or if a resolution cannot be reached by you and the Trustee representative, then the Trustee will take the next step, generally the filing of a motion to dismiss your case.
OTHER COURT HEARINGS
- The First Meeting of Creditors, described in the prior chapter, is usually also the confirmation hearing. This means that you will generally not have to appear in front of the judge to have your case confirmed. Sometimes a confirmation hearing is necessary, either because of an objection, valuation question, or other reason. During the course of a Chapter 13 case, other things may also occur which will require your attendance at a hearing before the judge.
- If you are required to attend a court hearing, you should plan to be there at least ten minutes early. You should coordinate with your attorney as to who will speak in front of the judge, and what documents, evidence, or other information you should bring with you to the court hearing. At all times in the courtroom, you should be quiet and business-like, and do nothing to disrupt your hearing or other hearings which are held while you are present.
- Hearings before the judge are merely opportunities for the judge to hear both sides of a disputed issue, and not a means to harm or punish you. You should not be frightened or nervous about a court date.
- Once a year during your Chapter 13 plan, you will receive a report of the status of your case. This report—called an annual report—is sent in February of each year.
- They present information about several different aspects of your case, including receipts, disbursements, claims and cash on hand. the report also presents the amount needed to pay out all claims; this will not be accurate if your case not confirmed or if a Motion to Allow and Bar Claims has not been granted. It may also not be accurate if the total priority and secured claims exceed the base plan amount.
- Please review the report and contact your attorney if you have any questions (that are not answered by the FAQ section); or if you notice any discrepancies in payments, claims, or other matters. DO NOT contact the Trustee's office unless your attorney is unable to help you (ALL inquiries MUST be submitted in writing).
- All proofs of claim are reviewed by the Trustee’s office prior to placing the claim in a pay status.
- Secured claims with properly filed proofs of claim are set to pay according to the Confirmation Order. Secured claims are the debts listed on your Schedule D.
- Priority and Unsecured claims will be reviewed 8 – 10 months after your case is filed. Priority claims are the debts listed on your Schedule E. Unsecured claims are the debts listed on your Schedule F.
- If there are no errors or other issues found with the claims filed in your case, they will be set to a pay status. Your attorney will be notified, and will be given the opportunity to object to any claim. Advise your attorney of any errors or other issues you may find with the claims listed in your Semi-Annual Report.
- If errors or other issues are found with a claim, there will be an objection filed with the Court explaining why the claim is objected to and what solution is proposed to fix it. You will receive a copy of this objection. Review it carefully and contact your attorney with any questions or issues at once, so there is plenty of time for your attorney to respond if necessary. When the objection is resolved, all remaining claims will be set to pay.
- During your Chapter 13 case you must maintain adequate insurance on all assets which are collateral for a secured claim. This generally means that you must maintain insurance on all cars and houses you own. Failure to do so may provide cause for a creditor to file a motion with the court seeking to take the car or house involved, or to even have your case dismissed.
- You may sell property during a Chapter 13, but you will generally have to get permission of the court to do so. If you think you may wish to sell property while in a Chapter 13, contact your attorney and he or she will be able to prepare the necessary paperwork.
- It is also possible to incur debt during a Chapter 13 case, such as to purchase a new car. To do this, you should download a post-petition debt form from the Trustee website at www.evvchap13.com/forms.php; if you are unable to do this, you may also contact the Trustee office in writing and request a post-petition debt form. This is filled in by the company or bank financing the car or other debt, and then submitted to the Trustee office. Based on your payment status, the terms of the proposed new debt, and your general financial situation, a determination is then made as to whether or not the debt will be approved.
- The Trustee is required to monitor your income during your Chapter 13 case. We will request a COPY of your Federal 1040 tax return, with all schedules and attachments, each January during your case. You MUST provide a copy of the entire return; the W-2 statements alone are not enough. DO NOT SEND ORIGINAL COPIES TO OUR OFFICE. ALL DOCUMENTS RECEIVED WILL BE SHREDDED AFTER REVIEW. For your safety, please mark out any social security numbers or bank account numbers on the copy.
- If you are not required to file a tax return, please advise us in writing
- Be prepared to explain any sharp increase or decrease in your income. If review of your tax return shaows a significant increase, you will receive a request to explain the increase. Please provise documents to show proof of increased or new expenses. You may also download a copy of Schedules I & J from this website to note your current income and expenses.
- Inform the Trustee IMMEDIATELY of any inheritances, settlements, gambling winnings, or other monies received during your case.
Still Have Questions?
If you cannot find your answer on our site, contact your attorney. He or she will be able to answer almost all questions, and should be your primary resource.
If you still have questions after talking with your attorney, contact our office and we will attempt to help you. We can answer simple questions over the telephone, but due to the volume we handle anything beyond simple questions must be sent in writing, either by email, mail, or fax. We will answer all correspondence in the order in which is was received as timely as possible.