The filed attorney performs the following functions in a typical chapter 13 case:
- Examining the filed financial situation and determining whether chapter 13 is a feasible alternative for the debtor, and if so, whether a single or a joint case should be filed.
- Assisting the debtor in the preparation of a budget
- Examining the liens or security interests of secured creditors to ascertain their validity or avoidability, and taking the legal steps necessary to protect the filed interest in such matters.
- Devising and implementing methods of dealing with secured creditors.
- Assisting the debtor in devising a chapter 13 plan that meets the needs of the debtor and is acceptable to the court.
- Preparing the necessary pleadings and chapter 13 forms.
- Filing the chapter 13 forms and pleadings with the court and paying, or providing for the payment of, the filing fee.
- Attending the meeting of creditors, the confirmation hearing, and any other court hearings required in the case.
- Assisting the debtor in obtaining court approval of a chapter 13 plan.
- Checking the claims filed in the case, filing objections to improper claims, and attending court hearings thereon.
- Assisting the debtor in overcoming any legal obstacles that may arise during the course of the case.
- Assisting the debtor in obtaining a discharge upon the completion or termination of the plan.
The fee charged by an attorney for representing a debtor in a chapter 13 case must be reviewed and approved by the bankruptcy court. This rule is followed whether the fee is paid to the attorney prior to or after the filing of the case, and whether it is paid to the attorney directly by the debtor or by the chapter 13 trustee. The court will approve only a fee that it finds to be reasonable.