The Office of Mark W. Swimelar
Standing Chapter 12 and 13 Trustee
Syracuse, New York
 
 

INFORMATION FOR DEBTORS

You can make plan payments online with TFS Bill Pay.

You can access your own case information online via the National Data Center.  To register for an account, go here: http://www.13datacenter.com

If you have questions, you should contact your attorney.

YOUR CASE

YOUR CASE NUMBER:  At the time your Chapter 13 petition was filed, the Bankruptcy Court assigned the case a number.  You will need it whenever you call or write the Trustee's office, and it should be included on all payments made to the Trustee.  Please put your case number on all correspondence to the Trustee.

CALLS TO THE TRUSTEE'S OFFICE.  The Chapter 13 Trustee's office phone number is (315) 471-1499.  The office is open five days per week from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Do not feel that you have to speak with the Trustee; the staff is familiar with the policies and guidelines in Chapter 13 and is qualified to discuss with you any problems or questions that may arise.  The Trustee and his staff cannot give any legal advice.  Therefore, your legal questions should be directed to your attorney.

YOUR ADDRESS:  The Trustee must have your exact mailing address for as long as you are in Chapter 13.  All notices, letters, checks, etc., will be mailed to the address listed on your petition cover page until you or your attorney advises otherwise.  If you move or change your mailing address, you must inform the Bankruptcy Court.  Inform your attorney immediately, and he or she will file a notice of address change with the court.  Any change in address or employment must be reported to the Chapter 13 Trustee's office immediately.

PLAN LENGTH:  The length of your plan depends on your income.  If your household income is below the median income for a similar sized household in your state, you plan must be at least three years in length.  If your household income is above the median income, your plan must be five years in length.  In no case may your plan be longer than five years.  Your plan may only be less than three years if all of your creditors are paid in full.  Several factors can affect the length of the plan, including creditors filing claims for a larger amount than you originally listed in your schedules, the interest calculated or the Chapter 13 Trustee's fees can vary, or you may have forgotten a creditor that must be added.

YOUR ATTORNEY:  Under the rules of the Bankruptcy Court, your attorney must continue to appear and represent you for as long as your case is active or until the Judge permits your attorney to withdraw from your case.  If you ever have a legal question concerning your case, a creditor, your rights or your options, make it a rule to ask your attorney first.  In many cases, your attorney will be paid his or her legal fee through the 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.  Bear in mind that all legal fees must be reviewed and approved by the Bankruptcy Judge.  You may even change attorneys during the life of your plan by having your new and old attorneys file a "Consent to Change Attorneys" with the Bankruptcy Court, with a copy to the Trustee's office.

CO-SIGNERS AND CO-MAKERS:  A co-signer, or co-maker, on any of your consumer debts is generally protected from contact by the creditor, as long as you remain in Chapter 13.  This co-debtor protection will only protect co-signers for the amount of debt your plan proposes to pay.  If your plan is not scheduled to pay the creditors in full, a creditor may obtain permission to collect from the co-signer the amount of the debt not included in the plan.

POST-PETITION DEBT:  Once your plan is confirmed, the Court will prohibit you from incurring any debt in excess of $1,500 unless you obtain Court or Trustee approval.  The exception is for medical or other emergencies.  If you need to purchase something for over $1,500, you must be current on payments to the Trustee, and the debt cannot affect your future payments to the Trustee.  If there is a good reason to incur debt, the Judge or Trustee will generally grant permission.  You cannot dispose of any property during the life of the plan without Court approval.

SELLING PROPERTY:  You cannot dispose of any of your property, including land, without Court approval.  If you dispose of your property without permission, the transaction may be set aside and your plan could be dismissed.

DISCHARGE:  When you have successfully completed your plan payments, the Trustee's office will generate a "Final Account and Report," as well as a debtor refund check if appropriate.  After the Final Account and Report is filed with the Bankruptcy Court, you will need to complete and file a Chapter 13 Debtor's Certifications Regarding Domesting Support Obligations, certifying that you have met all the requirements for obtaining a Chapter 13 discharge.  The Court will then issue a notice of a default hearing date.  If an objection is filed, a hearing will be held.  If no objection is filed, the Court will forward a "Discharge of Chapter 13" shortly after the hearing date.  This discharge acts as an injunction against your creditors after your case has ended.  However, if you failed to pay a secured claim in your plan, then the lien on the collateral will still exist despite the discharge of your personal obligation to pay.  Certain debts are not dischargeable.  Please contact your attorney if you have questions about which debts will not be discharged.

REQUEST FOR VOLUNTARY DISMISSAL:  The Bankruptcy law allows you to request that your Chapter 13 case be dismissed at any time.  No one can force you to remain under a Chapter 13 plan if you do not wish to continue.  If you desire to stop your case, contact your attorney.  However, a dismissal will reactivate all unpaid or disputed debts, interest, finance charges and late charges not allowed by the Court, and all debts of creditors who did not file their claims.  In certain circumstances, you may be prohibited from filing another bankruptcy petition for 180 days.

INCOME TAX INFORMATION:  It is your responsibility to file tax returns on your own every year, or as needed.  You will need to obtain information regarding any interest paid on claims directly from the creditors.  The expenses of your Chapter 13 plan are not deductible for Federal Income Tax purposes.

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CLAIMS & CREDITORS

MANDATORY MEETING OF CREDITORS:  You will receive a notice from Bankruptcy Court indicating a meeting date at which you and your attorney are required to be present.  Please bring with on that date the following:

  • Social Security Card
  • Picture Identification
  • If you are self-employed, bring business records and a profit/loss statement.

At least SEVEN (7) days prior to the meeting, you are required to provide our office with certain documents, including:

  • Copy of your most recently filed Federal Tax Return
  • Copies of Deeds for all real properties
  • Certificate of Title or Security Agreements for any vehicles
  • Copies of UCC-1 documents, which place liens on personal property
  • Proof of values for all real property
  • Proof of any child support obligations
  • Retirement plan and retirement loan information (specifically the monthly payments and proof that the deductions are mandatory)

CLAIMS OF CREDITORS:  The creditors you list on your petition are given 90 days from the Meeting of Creditors to file their claims.  In approximately four to five months, you will receive a Notice to Allow Claims, which will show you all the creditors that have filed a proof of claim in your case.  If you have any questions or if you object to a claim, you must contact your attorney immediately.  Unless your attorney files a motion objecting to the claim, we will pay it based upon the amount the creditor requests in the proof of claim, not the amount listed in your petition.

LATE CLAIMS:  As stated above, creditors have 90 days after the Meeting of Creditors to file their claims for payment.  The 90-day deadline is called the "bar date" and is listed above the meeting date in the notice you receive.  Generally unsecured creditors are not entitled to payment if they file after the bar date.  Secured or priority tax claims may be the exception.  If a creditor files after the bar date, you will receive a half-sheet document entitled "Notice of Additional Creditor."  Usually the Trustee will move to disallow the claim for filing late.  However, you may want to follow up with the Trustee and your attorney when you receive the notice.  Any claim which is not filed, or not allowed, will not be paid through the plan.  If you complete your plan, any claim that is not allowed or not filed will be discharged.

PAYMENTS TO CREDITORS:  The monthly payment amount you send to the Trustee is used to pay all expenses, including the balance of any attorney fees to be paid through the plan, and your creditors.  Payments are disbursed to creditors once a month.

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PAYMENTS

PAYMENTS:  According to the Bankruptcy Rules, the first payment due under you plan must be made within thirty (30) days after the plan is filed or the date of the order for relief, whichever is earlier.  All payments will be due on the same day of the month that the first payment was due.  If a plan has not been filed when the first payment is due, you are still responsible for the payment once the plan is filed, and payments will be due retroactively (you will have to make them up).

PAYROLL DEDUCTION ORDERS:  You will receive a copy of the payroll deduction order at the same time it is mailed to your employer.  If you do not see the deductions from your paycheck, please contact your employer.  You are still responsbile to make the payments by your due date.  If you choose to make payments directly, in the event you miss two consecutive plan payments, the Judge may issue an order to your employer to deduct your plan payment from your paycheck and send it to the Chapter 13 Trustee.  While you are under the protection of Chapter 13, this order prohibits your employer from honoring any garnishments, including back taxes, except on-going child support, or as otherwise provided in the order.  It is a good idea to keep pay stubs for your own record of deductions in the event there is any discrepancy in your payment history.

DIRECT PAYMENTS:  If you need to make a direct payment, you may do so in the following ways:

     1)  MAIL:  Please forward payment to the following address:

  Mark W. Swimelar, Trustee
P.O. Box 1633
Memphis TN  38101-1633

The Trustee's office does not accept cash payments or personal checks.  Your payment must be in the form of a money order or bank check.  It is important that you write your name legibly with your case number on the money order.  Failure to do so may result in your payment not being applied to your account properly and timely.  If you need to send a payment or partial payment, our office suggests mailing your payment five days prior to the due date to insure timely posting of the payment to your account.  Please note that you will not be able to send payments via FedEx or UPS.  Overnight payments may be sent by U.S. Postal Service Express Mail Service to the P.O. Box address.  Please do not send correspondence with payments.  Any correspondence should be sent to 250 S. Clinton St., #203, Syracuse, NY 13202.

     2) DROP OFF: You can stop in the office during regular work hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to make a payment.

     3) AUTOMATIC DEBIT: We have the capability of automatically debiting your checking account each month for the amount of your plan payment.  You will need to sign up for this option.  Please see these forms if you would like to set up this option.

PAYMENTS TO CREDITORS:  The monthly payment amount you send to the Trustee is used to pay all expenses, including any attorney fees to be paid through the plan, and your creditors.  Payments are disbursed to creditors once a month.

FAILURE TO PAY:  If the Trustee's office fails to receive payments on your Chapter 13 plan, the Trustee or a creditor may seek to have your case dismissed.  If something happens to your job or you become disabled, advise your attorney and the Trustee's office at once.  The Trustee will send late payment letters or initiate a payroll deduction order to facilitate payments.  If no response is made, no further payments received, or no motion to modify the plan is received, the Trustee will move to dismiss your case.

BI-ANNUAL TRUSTEE'S LEDGER:  Every April and October you will receive a Report of Receipts and Disbursements which includes all financial activity on your case during the previous six months.  This report will itemize all payments the Trustee has received from you, as well as all payments the Trustee has made to creditors on your behalf.  If you have any questions regarding this report, please contact your attorney or the Trustee's office.  It is in your best interest to review this report.

INCOME TAX INFORMATION:  It is your responsibility to file tax returns on your own every year, or as needed.  You will need to obtain information regarding any interest paid on claims directly from the creditors.  The expenses of your Chapter 13 plan are not deductible for Federal Income Tax purposes.

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The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) went into effect on October 17, 2005.  This page has been updated.

(Last updated July 2, 2015)


250 S. Clinton Street, Suite 203    Syracuse, NY 13202      315/471-1499      (fax) 315/471-4811      trustee@cnytrustee.com

2002-2018 Mark W. Swimelar, Trustee
All rights reserved.