Problems After Chapter 13 Reorganization

Let's say you've filed a Chapter 13 case, jumped through all the hoops and gotten your Chapter 13 plan confirmed by the court.  All done, right?  The trustee has taken over all the bills, will make my payments and all I have to do is write one check a month, right?  In 3-5 years I will be out of debt, right?  Wrong.  I'm not saying that Chapter 13 has to be unnecessarily complicated but there are rules to follow.  Many of those rules are laid out in the Chapter 13 plan and information sent to the debtor by the Chapter 13 trustee.  No, you can't just buy a new car.  No, you can't just take out a loan.  No, you can't change your tax witholdings. 

Most of the scenarios I just mentioned are not issues I get calls about.  By the time I, as the attorney, find out about an issue it's too late for me to counsel the debtor not to do something.  I usually find out by getting a Motion to Dismiss, or getting a call from the IRS. When I speak to my client I get the inevitable, "I didn't know I couldn't do that."  Let me be clear that I don't believe that clients are trying to be shady or dishonest.  I think they don't want the answer because it will be "No."  I can believe that the debtor didn't know, but my answer to that is usually, "But shouldn't you have asked?" My job is to answer questions.  So, if you're in a Chapter 13 and you have come into some unexpected income or are thinking about taking on debt, talk to your attorney.  Make sure that you aren't taking action that will jeopardize your plan or spending money that the trustee will later ask for.