Robert B. Harris, Attorney at Law
Bankruptcy and Debt Relief Attorney

Wisconsin Chapter 128

A Chapter 128.21 is a unique Wisconsin statute that allows a debtor to repay unsecured debts of their choosing, without interest, over a 3 year / 36 month period.  Debtors can even repay Wisconsin state income taxes through a Chapter 128!


Filed in the state circuit court of the county you live in, a Chapter 128 petition asks for the circuit court’s assistance in repaying the debts of the debtor by appointing a Chapter 128 trustee to administer the debtor’s case.  Very similar to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee, a Chapter 128 trustee collects the debtor’s voluntary payments and then distributes that money to the debtor’s creditors.  The trustee payments can be made directly to the trustee, or by a payroll deduction through the debtor’s employer.  


**Note:If the debtor makes the payment directly to the trustee, the trustee’s commission is limited to 10% of each distribution; but the trustee’s commission is limited to 7% of each distribution if the debtor’s trustee payments are payroll deducted.   


The benefit of a Chapter 128 is that once the debtor’ petition is approved by the court, the creditors included in the repayment plan cannot collect their debt from the debtor by any means other than through the Chapter 128 repayment plan.  Therefore, the debtor can prevent wage garnishments and seizures of property. 

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Flexibility:

Unlike filing bankruptcy, there are not complicated eligibility requirements for filing a Chapter 128. The only requirements are that the debtor is a Wisconsin resident who can afford to make regular payment to the Chapter 128 trustee.  Perhaps the most striking difference between a Chapter 128 and bankruptcy is that a debtor can choose which debts to pay off through the Chapter 128. Therefore, a debtor can tailor the trustee payment to their budget. Additionally, there is no complex statutory formula to determine how much a debtor has to pay; the simple math is the amount of debt in the plan, plus trustee's fees, divided by 36!


For example, a debtor has ten creditors. Debtor is current on the payment with eight of those creditors, but fell behind on two of them and has been sued by one of those two. If the debtor’ wages are garnished by the judgment creditor, they would not be able to afford the other eight creditors’ payments. This debtor can file a Chapter 128 petition on the two problem creditors, thereby preventing a wage garnishment, and continue payments to the other eight creditors uninterrupted.

**Note:
Although debtors repay debts in a Chapter 128 without interest, they must pay 100% of the principal balance that is owed at the time of filing the Chapter 128.  But, as you will read below, debtors are still free to litigate claims they put into a Chapter 128.    
 


Limits:

A Chapter 128 is more flexible than bankruptcy in some respects; however, it does not offer debtors as many protections.  The primary limitation of a Chapter 128 is that the “stay” or the legal protection that limits creditors’ collection efforts, only applies to the creditors included in the Chapter 128 repayment plan.  In our example above, the eight creditors not included in the debtor’s repayment plan would be free to continue direct collection efforts against the debtor. Also, a Chapter 128 does not limit a creditor, even if included in the Chapter 128, from suing and docketing a judgment against the debtor (but that creditor would only be able to collect on the judgment through the Chapter 128). The debtor, of course, has the right to defend in the lawsuit. 


Other limits are that a debtor cannot pay for a secured debt (i.e. your vehicle loan) through the Chapter 128 unless the secured creditor consents. You also cannot stop a foreclosure against your home by filing a Chapter 128.  While debtors can pay for delinquent utilities through a Chapter 128, you cannot stop utility shutoffs with a Chapter 128.


You should consult with an attorney to determine if a Chapter 128 is in your best interest! 


The Trustee:

The only Chapter 128 trustee I work with is Sandie Miske and her associate Meg Hemery at GAP Financial Services.  GAP is a local company completely dedicated to providing Chapter 128 trustee and financial management services.  


If you have questions about filing a Chapter 128, please give me a call.  Or, you can get a hold of Sandie and Meg toll-free at (866) 246-3552.