Converting Your Bankruptcy Case

November 18, 2011

When a bankruptcy case is filed the individual debtor announces his or her intent to proceed under Chapter 7, 11, or 13 of the federal Bankruptcy Code. Each bankruptcy chapter has its own advantages and challenges. During some cases, the debtor’s circumstances may change and another bankruptcy chapter becomes more beneficial. In these cases the debtor may be able to convert the bankruptcy case to a different chapter.

Converting a bankruptcy case to another chapter is a very simple process. There is a filing fee and a notice that must be filed with the bankruptcy court. The debtor is required to update the bankruptcy schedules to include any changes or new information. Conversion can be beneficial to the debtor in that any debt incurred after the original bankruptcy filing date can be included in the converted case.

A converted case retains its original case number (so there are not two bankruptcy cases on your record). A different trustee is assigned to your bankruptcy case, and you are required to attend a (second) meeting of creditors. If you are converting from a Chapter 11 or 13 case to a Chapter 7, you may be entitled to a refund of plan payments, if the Chapter 13 trustee is holding money.

A case may be involuntarily converted when a Chapter 7 debtor is found to be ineligible. When the debtor has sufficient disposable income to make payments on debt through a Chapter 13 case, the trustee may ask the court to order the case dismissed or converted to a Chapter 13.

If you believe that you need to convert your case to a different bankruptcy chapter, consult with your experience attorney regarding the benefits of conversion. In many cases there are options to continue your case under its current chapter. In other cases conversion may be the best option.

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