Vices in a Chapter 13

Seal of the United States bankruptcy court. Ch...

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Chapter 13 Personal Question

Eventually it all comes out in the wash. Bankruptcy is no exception. This personal bankruptcy story was posted on the internet today to indicate just how real bankruptcy is: “Can you really claim cigarettes? Where would that go (expense related items for Chapter 13)? Is that a extra expense? Just wondering. I didn’t mention I smoked but maybe I should. I also didn’t say anything about money for lunches ex coffee or soda they can add up. What do you think? Should I just let it be?”

Complications and Vices of a Chapter 13

The bankruptcy forms you are required to file for any bankruptcy are complicated, but the forms for a Chapter 13 are particularly more so. Trying to figure how much disposable income you can have to pay your debtors and still live is a stressful and hard thing to do.

Asking about any vices like smoking you might want to include in expenses are real questions asked by real people who file for bankruptcy protection, especially for individuals who file a Chapter 13.

I am using the term “vices” in the sense that it might be considered a habitual and usually trivial defect or shortcoming. Vices in a Chapter 13 represent not providing enough income to pay your living expenses when you make your plan.

This mistake will inevitably either cause you complete failure in finishing your Chapter 13 plan, or you will be in utter misery and turmoil for trying. Over 60% of Chapter 13 cases fail because of the discipline required to finish the plan, and much of it could have been avoided with proper preparation of your plan.

Vices and a Generalities About How to Handle them in Your Plan

Whether or not you consider smoking as a part of any vices is not the point. If you have chosen to exercise your Constitutional right to file for bankruptcy as well as the individual right choosing to smoke, you have every right to try to figure out how to pay for both.

Bankruptcy court administrators are human too. Some of them smoke and some do not. Each court has its own intricacies because the system is run by humans. This fact prompted one blogger in answering the debtor in the illustration with, “place smoking in the addiction or luxury spending category.. but not life necessity. Take your pick.” The point being is that it really does not matter where you place the item as long as you cover the expense for the luxury or habit so you won’t fall short on your Chapter 13 plan.

Another blogger summed up the best approach when he said, “In the past many of our forum members have posted that they were allowed to include the costs of cigarettes in their legitimate expenses when they filed. Talk to your lawyer to see what to expect in your local court with your trustees when you file.”

Other Suggestions

The idea of a Chapter 13 plan is to be able to pay off your debtors with disposable income while maintaining a fair and equitable lifestyle. You really need to list every legitimate expense whether it is supporting your habit of smoking, providing yourself with lunches, coffee, soda or any other food you take in order to go on living. Trying to hide these activities is very counterproductive, so list them like they are normal expenses. That way, you can avoid the vices in a Chapter 13.

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