Bankruptcy expert Leon Bayer answers real-life questions.

Hello Mr. Bayer, 

Recently someone who owes me money filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Connecticut. I filed a proof of claim for $2,000 with the bankruptcy court. What are the odds of recovering this money? Would it be worth my while to follow this to the end? 

Thanks in advance for your help.


Dear James,

The odds are not good for an unsecured creditor to recover any meaningful amount in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Based on my personal practices and observations, I would guess that the average unsecured creditor generally receives a few pennies on the dollar. Most of the money in Chapter 13 cases is paid to secured creditors.

You have probably received a copy of the debtor’s Chapter 13 repayment plan, and it should say what percentage on the dollar unsecured claims like yours may receive. (Learn more about what gets paid through the debtor’s Chapter 13 repayment plan.)

I think you have adequately covered your bases if you have correctly filed a proof of claim. Of course, there are other things you might be able to do, but it will be difficult without an experienced bankruptcy lawyer helping you. Usually, bringing  a lawyer into a small case is not cost efficient.

However, here’s a valuable insider’s tip that might save you money and let you benefit from someone else’s work. If you have solid information that may be detrimental to the debtor, share it with the trustee immediately. For example, a trustee will be very interested to know about income, assets, and transfers of assets that the debtor has not disclosed in the bankruptcy schedules.

Every Chapter 13 case is administered by a Chapter 13 trustee, and a trustee will object to confirmation of a plan where the trustee feels that the debtor is ineligible, the plan is proposed in bad faith, or that the proposed plan fails to meet any of the other requirements of the law. (Learn what a bankruptcy trustee does.)


Guest blogger Leon Bayer practices bankruptcy law in Los Angeles, California.  He is a partner at Bayer, Wishman & Leotta.  

The opinions and advice in this blog post are from Mr. Bayer alone, and should not be attributed to Nolo.  By answering a question on this blog, Mr. Bayer does not become your lawyer.