What can we do if our attorney doesn't want to file to modify our payment plan? 13 Answers as of March 10, 2014

We are 24 months into our chapter 13. Our income has dropped $15,000 per year since we filed. We asked our lawyer to file to modify our payments since all secured are paid, our mortgage is caught up, we have paid 25% of our 27% unsecured payments, and our automobile loans are all we owe now plus that 2%. He is refusing and saying that it is a waste of time and that the trustee will refuse because he wants more money for our unsecured creditors. This is distressing to us as we are only able to pay the amount that we are asking to modify to. At that amount all automobiles, mortgage and the remaining 2% will be paid off in 30 months. Therefore finishing our plan 6 months early. Shouldn't he file the modification and then let the trustee decide for himself? What else can we do to get a modification instead of a dismissal which is where we are headed in about 4 months?

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Law Offices of Daniel J Winter
Law Offices of Daniel J Winter | Daniel J Winter
Ask your lawyer why the percentage is required. It may be due to the equity in your property at the time you filed your case. There are many factors in why the percentage is required. If you aren't understanding the answer, you could hire a new lawyer, but would need to pay more in legal fees.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 3/10/2014
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
When you modify the % to the unsecured can go up, but if you have lower income that is not likely. See another lawyer for a second opinion.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/6/2014
Kirby G. Moss PC | Kirby G. Moss
If your lawyer will not do what you ask without a detailed explanation as to why, you need to get a different lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 3/6/2014
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
File a motion to modify yourself or look for a new attorney.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 3/6/2014
A Fresh Start
A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
Modifications usually require an additional fee. If you are willing to pay your attorney for modifications up front and s/he is not willing to do the work, it means you have a poor chance of success with this proposal. If you aren't willing to pay your attorney for work, how do you intend to pay for this work? None of us can afford to perform complex work for free, even bankruptcy attorneys.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 3/6/2014
    Meister & McCracken Law Firm, PLLC | Joanne M. McCracken
    You might consider getting another attorney. At least consult with one. If your income has substantially decreased, you may even be able to convert to a Chapter 7.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 3/6/2014
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Marjorie Guymon
    You can always hire another attorney. Note that whether you stick with your current attorney or find a new one, the amended plan and schedule I (income) will require additional attorney's fees so it could be that is what your attorney is telling you it would be a wash.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 3/6/2014
    Heineman Law Office
    Heineman Law Office | Jeff Heineman
    The biggest problem is that your monthly payment (if you do not have a 100% payment plan to unsecured creditors) is based on your federal means test when you filed. As silly as it sounds, you cannot just drop your monthly payment despite the facts of your situation. You would have to dismiss your case and re-file a new Chapter 13.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 3/6/2014
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    He can try but your only real loss is the cost of legal fees in trying to modify the plan. If you don't mind paying then he should not mind trying.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/6/2014
    Moore Taylor Law Firm, P.A.
    Moore Taylor Law Firm, P.A. | Jane Downey
    You should speak to your attorney to get your questions answered. You may need to pay a new attorney if you fire this one.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 3/7/2014
    Deborah F Bowinski, Attorney & Counselor at Law | Debby Bowinski
    There are all kinds of things that come into consideration with regard to potential plan modifications. What did your "means test" require you to pay? What are you trying to accomplish through your plan? What is your income and expense picture? How much money do you have available to pay toward your chapter 13 plan? Are you in a 37 month plan or a 60 month plan or something in between? The deal with a chapter 13 is that in exchange for being able to keep your home, car, pay off your taxes, etc., you commit to paying all of your "disposable income" to your plan for a minimum of 36 months. Without knowing how much your payments are or what your plan looks like no one in this forum can offer you specific guidance. There is significant time involved in filing a Motion to Modify a chapter 13 plan, which involves additional fees and costs. Maybe your lawyer is telling you that it is not worth incurring those additional expenses? Maybe your lawyer is quite familiar with your trustee and is fairly certain you would face objections to the modification. If you don't trust your lawyer's advice or judgment you are always free to seek a second opinion from a different lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 3/6/2014
    Garner Law Office
    Garner Law Office | Daniel Garner
    Amending a Chapter 13 Plan is not a simple process, because it has to be approved by the trustee and it has to be sent out to all your creditors who get 30 days to object. Sometimes another court hearing is required to confirm the new plan or to hear objections. You need to look at your attorney's disclosure of compensation to see whether he is obligated to continue to represent you during the life of the plan, or if his commitment was something less (such as representing you until your plan was confirmed or through audit of creditor claims.) This will tell you how much leverage you have to make him do something for you. If you want another attorney, you can always dismiss your current one but you should be prepared to pay another one something additional for taking it on mid-stream. Those additional attorney fees must be disclosed in your amended plan and approved by the court. An alternative would be to dismiss your current case and file another one, but you would have to pay another filing fee, take the credit counseling over again, go through another meeting of creditors and another confirmation hearing, and pay more attorney fees. Considering the alternatives, you may want to try harder to talk to your current attorney and ask him to explain what is in your best interest, because he still has an ethical obligation to give you sound advice. It is possible that there are misunderstandings between you. Chapter 13 cases are always complex and he may be aware of some restrictions that have not been explained to you.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/6/2014
    Bensamochan & Poghosyan LLP | Eric Bensamochan
    Seek the advice of new council. If your income has dropped, you should be able to modify your plan.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/6/2014
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