Chapter 13 Trustee Makes A Christmas List

OK, so I’m behind.  Christmas was three weeks ago.

I’m just getting around to sharing with you my Chapter 13 trustee’s Wish List for 2012, which she announced  at our bankruptcy bar’s Christmas party.

The fact that she has to “ask” us to do what the Code says we must speaks volumes about the attention to detail (or lack thereof) in the bar.

And I would contend that we in the Northern District of California  have a bankruptcy bar that is generally capable, though a lot younger in average age than it was 5 years ago.

Here’s what Devin Derham-Burk wanted from debtor’s lawyers for Christmas:

  • Provide 60 days pay stubs or a declaration at the time the petition is filed
  • File the credit counseling certificate as soon as the class is taken
  • Provide the most recently filed federal tax return at the time the petition is filed
  • If the debt exceeds the Chapter 13 limits, choose a different chapter!
  • Tell your clients when to pay their first Chapter 13 payment
  • Prepare your clients for the questions that will be asked at the 341 meeting.

Nothing new, nothing complex in her list.

Yet the tone of voice in which the list was presented suggests that the attorneys were not managing….

So, make a trustee’s day, or year.  Pay attention to the little stuff.  Build some credit with the trustee so you can advocate from a position of credibility on the big issues.


  1. My favorite is “If the debt exceeds the Chapter 13 limits, choose a different chapter!”

    Alex Frias

  2. Wow Ms  Moran Your Trustee is easy to please (I am in Oklahoma by the way)

    1. Your kidding right paystubs should be scanned to file in the case; only in 
    emergency situations do I not scan the paystubs and file immediately.

    2. What? Ours have to be filed immed. or the case  can be dismissed.

    3. I usually send the tax returns at least 2-3 weeks in advance of the 341 hearing

    4.  Duh.  Filed that way to get used of the automatic stay? Sorry I am not
    in a bubble state so most of my clients don’t have to worry about such things.

    5.  Always tell them the first payment is the most important!

    6. Always most BKR attorneys I know brief their clients so there
    are not any surprises.

    I expected a different list to be honest. But thanks for sharing I always
    want to know how a chapter  13 trustee thinks

  3. I’m not sure that JUST getting this stuff right is all it takes to please her, but her point was surely “do the simple stuff right, well , and on time”.

    As basic as this list is, it was clear that she felt the need to say it because it wasn’t happening.

  4. Can we counter with a “debtors’ counsel Christmas wish list for the trustee?”  I would begin with “stop making knee-jerk objections to plans when a simple phone call to debtor’s counsel would suffice.”  I have worked with trustees in the Eastern and Northern district, and this particular trustee is very quick to object over even the slightest plan discrepancy.  Of course, debtors’ counsel should always follow the rules, but in a district where practice and preference varies so sharply from division to division, this trustee seems to be the quickest with the “gotcha” objection.  

  5. I don’t understand the “File the credit counseling certificate as soon as the class is taken”. Debtor has to take the class before filing the 13, but can’t file the certificate until (as a part of) the 13 filing. Do you have any idea what she meant by that?

    • I think she’s dealing with people who have taken the class prepetition, but don’t manage to pay for and get the certificate on file without prompting.