This is the second part of a blog series covering frequently asked questions concerning utility bill debts and bankruptcy. The first part can be found here. Utility debts occur when you miss monthly utility payments for any period of time. As an unsecured debt (a debt that does not have collateral – secured by any property), it is always fully discharged in an individual consumer bankruptcy case. Because of that, bankruptcy is one of the best options for finding relief from utility bill debt and other unsecured debts like credit card balances and medical bills. At Behm Law Group Ltd., our attorneys are dedicated to helping households work through Chapter 7 or Chapter 12 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases to receive permanent, effective debt relief in Mankato, MN, and the surrounding communities.
While filing for bankruptcy relief will be denoted on your credit profile for a limited period of time (usually 5 to 7 years), the benefits almost always outweigh the potential negatives because your debts will be fully discharged in bankruptcy. Utility bill debts are debts that are handled in bankruptcy, and if you owe those debts, filing for bankruptcy can also stop your utility services from being shut off and keep creditors from harassing you. These are some of the more frequently asked questions about how utility debts are handled in bankruptcy.
When is filing for bankruptcy not enough to prevent service shut off?
Although the automatic stay injunctive mandates of 11 U.S.C. §362 are immediately imposed upon all creditors when you file your bankruptcy petition, there are still some steps that you must take to stop possible utility service shut off. In your petition paperwork, make sure your utility bill debts are listed in the correct section. Listing those unpaid bills as debts will allow the bankruptcy court to notify your utility providers of your bankruptcy filing and prevent service shut-off. Within 20 days of filing, you must also show your utility provider that you will be able to pay your utility bills that are incurred and come due after the date that your bankruptcy petition is filed. This proof is called “adequate assurance.”
What is “adequate assurance?”
Adequate assurance is a good faith measure of proof to your provider that you will be able to pay your future utility bills. This proof can be offered in several different forms, including letters of credit provided by a lender, security deposits (much like a damage deposit with a landlord if you’re renting an apartment), certificates of deposit, prepayment, surety bonds, or another type agreed on by you and your utility provider.
What happens if my provider doesn’t accept my offer of adequate assurance?
If you and your provider don’t agree on a form of adequate assurance, you can request the bankruptcy court to order your provider to accept that assurance. The bankruptcy judge may also order you to modify the form or amount of the assurance deposit.
Utility bill debts are stressful, especially when service shut-off is a threat during the colder months. If you’re struggling financially, contact Behm Law Group Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 or email@example.com for more information about bankruptcy and debt relief in Mankato, MN.