Converting From Chapter 13 to Chapter 7

by Brett Weiss, Esq.

August 22, 2009

Your Chapter 13 case is in trouble. The stay has been lifted on your house, or the plan payments are behind and the trustee is threatening to dismiss your case, or you’ve finally decided that the house isn’t worth the headaches you’re going through, and you just want out. What do you do?

One option is to dismiss your case, which you have a right to do at any time in a Chapter 13. But this may leave you with lots of very late credit card or other debt, or you may be worried that the house or car will sell at foreclosure or repossession for less than you owe, and that the lender will go after you for a deficiency. In these cases, the best option is to covert your case to a Chapter 7.

A conversion is very easy. All you need to do is have your attorney file a Notice of Conversion with the Court, pay the $25 conversion fee, and that’s it–the Court will convert your case to a Chapter in a few days. What does the conversion mean?

1. Any money that the Chapter 13 Trustee is holding, less any administrative fees that the Trustee is due, will be returned to you. Any plan payments that are withheld from your paycheck (it sometimes takes 4-6 weeks to get the wage withholding order stopped) after the conversion will be returned to you.

2. A new Chapter 7 Trustee is appointed (and you don’t have to deal with the Chapter 13 Trustee any more).

3. A new Meeting of Creditors is scheduled.

4. You will have to file a Statement of Intention.

5. You can file amended schedules adding any debt you have taken out between the filing of the Chapter 13 and the date of conversion. This is especially common if you have medical bills.

6. You may have to file Amended Schedule I (Income) and J (Expenses) to reflect any changes.

Once your case is converted, you will normally get your Chapter 7 discharge in 3-4 months.

If you convert your case, you lose the right to cure arrearages through a reorganization plan. This may result in your losing your house or car if the payments aren’t brought current quickly.

Depending on the details of your case, your attorney may charge a slightly reduced fee for conversions, since they don’t have to prepare the schedules from scratch.

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Brett Weiss, a senior partner at Chung & Press, LLC, represents people and businesses in all phases of bankruptcy. He has experience in complex individual Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, and in Chapter 11 small business restructuring and reorganization. Mr. Weiss lectures nationally on bankruptcy issues. He has testified before the Federal Bankruptcy Rules Committee, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and has twice testified before Congress on bankruptcy and credit issues. Brett Weiss is the co-author of Chapter 11 for Individual Debtors, and has written Not Dead Yet: Bankruptcy After BAPCPA, for the Maryland Bar Journal, as well as hundreds of blogs for the Bankruptcy Law Network. With his law partner, he recorded a 13-hour basic bankruptcy training series, and leads intensive three-day Chapter 11 training boot camps. Mr. Weiss has received international media attention in connection with his work. He was interviewed by Barbara Walters on The View, has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC News with Peter Jennings, the Montel Williams Show, National Public Radio, AARP-TV, the BBC World Service, German state television, and numerous local radio and television programs, and been quoted in Money magazine, The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun, among others. Brett Weiss is the Maryland State Chair for the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, a founding member of the Bankruptcy Law Network, on the board of the Maryland State Bar Consumer Bankruptcy Council, and a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the Bankruptcy Bar Association of Maryland, and the Civil Justice Network. He has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” every year since 2007 for Maryland and the District of Columbia, and in 2011 received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys for his work on behalf of consumers across the country. Mr. Weiss is admitted to practice before Maryland and District of Columbia federal and state courts, the United States Courts of Appeals for the DC, Fourth and Eighth Circuits, The United States Tax Court, and the Supreme Court of the United States, and has been practicing law since 1983.

Last modified: October 22, 2012