Means Test: Encouraged to Screw Up

With the influx of new personnel at the trustee’s office, I’m seeing more flat wrong objections from the trustee’s office to means test issues. One consistent theme is the assertion that the expense deducted is measured by the past six months. Balderdash.

Even after BAPCPA, the means test is a tool for measuring projected disposable income. “Projected” is future. After all, we’re supposed to be determining what the client is able to pay, if anything. So we need to know what the client’s health care expenses will be in the future to know what they can pay to existing creditors.

If you aren’t careful, if you think the trustee’s office is always right, if you stop thinking when you put a number in the box, you do your clients a disservice.

The means test is pervasive for our clients.  It controls the nature of their bankruptcy experience.  It determines whether they get an immediate discharge or whether they pay for five years.  Master this stuff, get it right, and challenge those who don’t get it right.

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