Cite as: Keith M. Lundin, Lundin On Chapter 13, § 29.1, at ¶ ____, LundinOnChapter13.com (last visited __________).
The need for complete information in a Chapter 13 case cannot be overemphasized. Formulation of the plan, confirmation and completion of payments are possible only if counsel understands the debtor’s personal history, assets, liabilities, income and expenses throughout the life of the case.
Information collection is not a simple task. Chapter 13 debtors are rarely sophisticated and often do not find it easy to talk to lawyers. Debtor’s counsel and paralegals have to be skilled to gather the necessary information, and this skill in collecting information will determine the success of a debtor practice.
Experienced Chapter 13 practitioners typically have a written preinterview questionnaire that is either mailed to a Chapter 13 client in advance of the first office visit or is completed at the lawyer’s office before processing the case. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA)1 complicated this prefiling process of collecting information by imposing on all Chapter 13 debtors’ attorneys onerously—if not, sometimes, incomprehensibly—new disclosure, warning and notice provisions.2 After BAPCPA, any prefiling mailing or e-mail to a prospective debtor may have to be accompanied by additional paperwork now required of all “Debt Relief Agencies.”3
Excellent preinterview forms may be available from the publishing companies that sell Chapter 13 forms. The advent of Electronic Case Filing (ECF) and the widespread use of case-filing software have somewhat simplified the use of electronic preinterview forms by debtors who have e-mail access. In some jurisdictions, the Chapter 13 trustee has a preferred form for debtors to complete. Examples of preinterview forms are found in Appendix H.
1 Pub. L. No. 109-8, 119 Stat. 23 (2005).
2 See 11 U.S.C. §§ 526–528, discussed in § 366.1 [ WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency ] § 4.1 WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency.
3 See § 366.1 [ WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency ] § 4.1 WARNING! You Are a Debt Relief Agency.