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I am permanently disabled and on this income counted in my DMI in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy? I live in Marin Co., CA.

San Anselmo, CA |

I have been getting different info from a few different bankruptcy attorneys re whether my case would be held in the San Francisco or Santa Rosa Courts. Do you know which one for a Chapter 13 is the correct court? Also, I know I have a $175k exemption b/c I am disabled. I own a house which may be worth $400 to $450k and I am getting a BPO to determine the correct value in today's market. I owe $200k on the house. Can you tell me what amount that the BPO determines would make Chapter 13 a wise choice and what amount would make it a poor choice. I am working with a few different bankruptcy attorneys and deciding which one will represent me. Perhaps you could also give me some pointers of how to determine the best candidate for my case.

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Attorney answers 3


First, Chapter 13 bankruptcies for Marin Couty residents go to the San Francisco Bankrputcy court since January 1, 2012. Second, you indicate that you have an equity in your home of $200K to $250K which would be $25K to $75K more than you could exempt. That non-exempt equity would need to be repaid to your unsecured creditors in your payment plan. Payment plans are complex and there are many more variables that go into it. Third, your SSDI payments aren't included in your DMI but would be included in your net income less expenses "test". Whether a 13 is a wise choice for you or not depends on many things that only an experienced can evaluate.

This reply does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney-client relationship.


That's at least four questions.

1. There are several different places were income is used in a Chapter 13 case, and they are NOT all computed the same way. This answer is the same anywhere in the USA.
A. Schedule I - YES include the SSDI and any other source of income (rent from roommates, donation from kids, charity contributions, etc.)
B. Certification of employment income (Central District local form, not sure if ND has the same or similar) - NO
C. Form 22C - NO per Code 101(10A)(B)

2. The location of the court (division) is determined by your residence location, not the Chapter you are pursuing. Residences in Marin County generally must file in the Santa Rosa Division.

3. Because so much money is on the line, I urge you to PAY for a licensed appraiser to appraise your home. This is far more reliable information than a BPO and far more persuasive to the Trustee.

4. The choice between a 7 and a 13 has so many more potential factors that it would unwise to say do one or the other based solely on the equity in your house. However, a Chapter 13 usually provides more and better relief than a 7, if you can qualify for it and if you need it. Furthermore, you have more flexibility if you file a 13 first because you can convert to 7 or dismiss AS YOU CHOOSE, but when you file a 7, you need court approval to dismiss or convert to 13!

5. As for choosing the best attorney, ask how many 13s they filed last year and how many of those were dismissed. That may give you some guidance if they answer accurately.

Good luck.

If you need further clarity, please email me at MICHAEL@MIRELAND.US Answers to questions are for general information purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. This is not legal advice, simply information. You SHOULD NOT act on this information without consulting a competent bankruptcy attorney in your area and providing ALL relevant information.

Michael J. Ireland

Michael J. Ireland


Whoops - I stand corrected about 13s in Marin County - YES THEY ARE HEARD IN SF.


Pursuant to General order 27, Marin County Chapter 13s are filed and heard in the San Francisco Division of the Northern District BK Court commencing 1/1/12.
Any income from Social Security is not included in CMI and, therefore, is not included in DMI.
There is recent case law which suggests that while it is included on Schedule I, it may be excluded from the monthly net income available to pay creditors in a Ch13. This may come down to who your Trustee & Judge are.
There is also recent case law which allows you to deduct cost of sale, etc. from the proceeds of a hypothetical sale of your house when determining what creditors would get in a Ch7.
What choice are you referring to with the words "wise" & "poor"? The choice between Ch7 & Ch13? or the choice between Ch13 and not filing at all?
As a general rule, Ch7 is the wisest choice; but if you don't qualify for Ch7, Ch13 is a wiser choice than not filing unless you are able to settle your debt on your own for less than what a ch13 would pay (with no interest).

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