BY BRIAN D. FLICK, ESQ.

Since a Chapter 13 is generally a three to five year payment plan which is dependent on your ability to pay, there will more than likely be situations that arise in your life that may cause you to miss your required monthly Chapter 13 payment to your trustee. Here are a few very general tips to help you through this process.

1.And this is the most important one: Call your bankruptcy attorney immediately to let them know what is going on. We all understand things happen in life such as long-term illness, unemployment, or life’s many emergency repairs to your cars or home and we really are all here to help you. We cannot work to remedy the situation if we don’t know the problem exists.

2.Keep track of your monthly payments yourself. In most jurisdictions, you do have the ability to check your case via a website (check with your counsel to get that web address and log-in information) but also try to keep a ledger. In the last six months alone, I have had two clients who tracked their monthly payments by handwritten spreadsheets realize they missed a payment and call me before there were more than one missed payment.

3.Always remember there is solution to the problem and work with your attorney to find the best solution that fits your need.

4.My final tip directed to my fellow practicing attorneys: monitor your cases every three-to-six months. In most jurisdictions, the attorney has the ability to pull up a very quick payment summary of a case and identify missed payments even before a client may have called. I adopted the policy 3 years ago to check all of mine (and our firms) open Chapter 13 cases at least every six months (some a lot sooner) to verify all payments have been received and if i see one missing, contact the client to try and thwart the problem before it gets too far out of hand.

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