When and Why a Business Might Be Subject to Involuntary Bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN

In the majority of situations, a bankruptcy case is a voluntary legal process. However, Congress put provisions in the bankruptcy code so that it would be a fair process for both the filer and creditors involved in a case. While most cases of bankruptcy are set into motion by the choice of the filer because of accumulated debts and difficulty in meeting financial obligations, there are times when creditors can force a bankruptcy case upon the debtor. If you are facing involuntary bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN, Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you through the process with legal advice and assistance.

Involuntary bankruptcy occurs very rarely, but it’s legal for creditors to file bankruptcy proceedings against their debtors. In most situations, involuntary bankruptcy is forced on businesses, but on some occasions, involuntary bankruptcy can be filed against an individual.

When Involuntary Bankruptcy Occurs

The bankruptcy code includes provisions that protect creditors against debtors who may refuse to pay their debts despite having viable assets which could be used to pay creditors. If a debtor isn’t paying debts to their creditors but has assets that could be used to repay creditors, it’s possible for creditors to file an involuntary bankruptcy against that debtor. Small businesses find themselves forced into involuntary bankruptcy more often because businesses typically have more assets than individuals.

If you own a small business and aren’t paying your debts but own a large amount of assets, your creditors can, sometimes, legally force you into bankruptcy. Because most individuals have significantly fewer assets compared to businesses, filing an involuntary bankruptcy is often unhelpful for creditors because the possible return to the creditors would be far less than the cost of forcing an individual into bankruptcy.

How It Works

If your creditors know you have assets but are refusing to pay your debts, they can file a petition to the bankruptcy court against you, requesting forced bankruptcy action.  Usually, three creditors must be required to do this.  If an involuntary bankruptcy is filed against you and if you don’t respond within 20 days, the bankruptcy court will allow creditors to go forward with the involuntary bankruptcy action. If you do respond, you’ll have a hearing and a chance to defend your situation. If you’re forced into involuntary bankruptcy, the process after that will be similar to a voluntary bankruptcy case.

If your creditors have threatened or have begun the process of petitioning your involuntary bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN, Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help. For more information about our bankruptcy lawyers and your case, contact us at (507) 387-7200 today.

The Good and Bad of Taxes After Debt Forgiveness in Mankato, MN

Whether you’re on your first, second, or third mortgage, debt gathered on your home over time is often a large factor in your bankruptcy case and how you are affected after your case is finished. If you’re considering filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or you’re in the process of filing, it’s important to also think about what happens to your financial situation after your case is complete. Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you prepare for what comes ahead when you experience debt forgiveness in Mankato, MN.

When your bankruptcy case is finished and you’ve had a mortgage debt cancelled, forgiven, or reduced, there are a number of ways it can affect you when tax season comes around.

The Bad Stuff

Your mortgage debt can be forgiven in a few ways. For example, you may have restructured your mortgage or modified the payments with your mortgage lender. Unfortunately, if your mortgage debt is forgiven before you file for bankruptcy relief, you still may have to pay taxes on such forgiven mortgage debt because mortgage debt that has been cancelled or forgiven may be considered income. That means you may be paying income tax on the amount you “gained” from debt forgiveness.

The Good Stuff

 Though the default for forgiven debts in your taxes is to treat them as income, there are some ways you can get out of paying that income tax. In 2007, Congress established an act that allows those with forgiven debts to avoid paying high income taxes. The two catches, however, with The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 are that it only covers debts gained in 2014 or earlier, and it only covers up to $2 million of a forgiven debt.

 The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007

To qualify for getting out of paying income tax on some or all of your forgiven mortgage debt under the 2007 debt relief act, your situation must meet the following stipulations:

  1. Your mortgage debt was forgiven within 2007 to 2014 (calendar years).
  2. Your forgiven debt was principally used to buy or modify your home (not a home you rent to others nor a vacation home).
  3. Your debt was cancelled, forgiven, or reduced because of a change with your lender, or it was cancelled through foreclosure.
  4. None of the money gained in a refinanced mortgage was used outside of home improvement (no outside purchases or bills).

Mortgage debts that qualify for the debt relief act of 2007 can have up to $2 million taken out of the income tax bracket. For many, this means their entire forgiven mortgage will be excluded from their taxes, making the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 one of the saving graces for those who have filed for bankruptcy.

For more information about debt forgiveness in Mankato, MN, and how it affects your bankruptcy and taxes, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200.

Doubling Exemptions With Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy In Windom, MN

Many of the Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 cases we work with are either individuals or households filing for bankruptcy. For those struggling financially with debts accumulated over the years, bankruptcy is often a beneficial option. When it comes to a family in need of bankruptcy help, it can actually be a good thing for married couples to own joint property. Owning property with your spouse plays a big role in a household’s ability to double exemptions. Behm Law Group, Ltd. provides expert legal advice and assistance to help a household work with exemptions and petitioning for bankruptcy in Windom, MN.

Exemptions

Exemptions are allotted amounts that depend on variables like federal or state regulations and the total of a debt. You may apply exemptions to certain properties during the bankruptcy process to prevent some or all of the value of those properties to be used for debt repayment.

Using your exemptions during a Chapter 7 case can significantly increase the amount of your property you may keep. In Chapter 13, more exemptions equal less paid back to unsecured creditors during your repayment plan.

 Doubling

If you’re married, you might have the option of filing for joint bankruptcy with your spouse. A joint case, however, is only applicable if you have debts that are in both of your names, meaning you jointly owe a debt such as jointly obligated on a house mortgage. If you and your spouse both have your names on the assets that would be subject to the bankruptcy process, you can then double your exemptions on those joint assets.

Doubling your exemptions in a joint case means you and your spouse are each able to claim the amount you would claim as an individual filer. In Minnesota, filers are able to choose between federal exemptions and state exemptions, depending on their debt amounts and abilities to double an exemption.

For example: The Minnesota Motor Vehicle Exemption allows up to $4,600 of an for people who own motor vehicles. If you and your spouse are both listed on the title of a vehicle worth $9,200, you both have an ownership interest in and to that vehicle.  In order to protect and keep it in a bankruptcy proceeding each of you could assert your independent $4,600 exemptions and stack them together ($4,600 x 2 = $9,200) and protect the entire $9,200 value of the vehicle.

If you and your spouse are considering filing for bankruptcy in Windom, MN, keep in mind that you can jointly file and, if you both own the subject property/assets, double or stack your bankruptcy exemptions. For more information about your options with joint bankruptcy, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200.

Selling in Foreclosure and Automatic Stay in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN

Owning a home with a mortgage is a major expense, and often, mortgage debts and foreclosure play a large part in filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you own a home and are having difficulty meeting mortgage payments, choosing to file might be the best course of action to recover from financial harm. Behm Law Group, Ltd. provides legal assistance to homeowners filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN.

If you’re facing foreclosure on your home, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can actually turn your troubles concerning mortgage debt around. However, that result all depends on a few things.

  1. Your home equity and Homestead Exemption: The method of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to liquidate assets to repay your creditors and discharge debts. This process is much more complex in practice. In fact there are several steps in determining which properties can be liquidated and which debts can be discharged. Your home equity and the home exemption amount you can claim decide how your mortgage and home will be treated in Chapter 7.
  2. Your bankruptcy trustee’s commission: In cases where your home qualifies for liquidation in a Chapter 7 case, your trustee is incentivized with a commission from the sale. Starting with the difference of the sale against the debt owed, your trustee will take 25% on the first $5,000 made, 10% on the next $50,000, and 5% on the remainder below $1 million.
  3. How long Automatic Stay lasts: When you enter into the bankruptcy process, the court issues an automatic stay, which immediately prevents your creditors from collecting. If your home is in foreclosure, your debts will still be placed under the automatic stay for some or all of the time it takes to process your case. If your creditors press the court to lift automatic stay, you may be faced with continuing to make payments to them even while you’re in the process of filing for bankruptcy. However, if the automatic stay lasts for a month or two, you can still save a significant amount from keeping those monthly mortgage payments.
  4. If you will keep your home: Whether or not you will keep your home depends on the exemption you can claim and your unprotected equity. If your home is not in the situation to provoke liquidation, you can keep your home after bankruptcy, and if you negotiate terms with your lender before filing, you can change payments on your mortgage. If your equity and exemption amount trigger a sale, selling in foreclosure can also be beneficial because your mortgage debt will be discharged and you may gain tax advantages.

 *Determining your unprotected equity can be done with the following equation:

(Market Value of Home) – (Homestead Exemption) – (Trustee Commission) – (Cost of Selling the Home) – (Mortgage Debt) – (All Non-Mortgage Liens on the Home) = (Your Unprotected Equity)

For more information about how foreclosure affects your mortgage and home status during Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

When and Why Your Plan Might Be Rejected for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Waseca, MN

Bankruptcy is one of those things in life, like so many other legal processes, that’s easier said than done. It’s a complex process with many opportunities for misstep, yet little room for error. If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy with a high income and a desire to keep many of your assets, Chapter 13 is your best option. However, because the process is so nuanced, there are many ways things could go wrong. Behm Law Group, Ltd. provides the help you need to successfully file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Waseca, MN.

A major part of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves creating a repayment plan that your bankruptcy trustee will approve. This can be a difficult task, and without the help of a knowledgeable legal aide, your plan might be rejected for any number of reasons.

Plan Rejection

Your bankruptcy trustee will—in no uncertain circumstances—reject your Chapter 13 repayment plan if any of the following points are true to your situation:

  1. You don’t have a high enough income to continue meeting your monthly repayment installments.
  2. Your plan period isn’t the correct length to match your income. If your income is lower than the Minnesota median, you’ll have a three year plan. If your income is higher than the Minnesota median, you’ll have a five year plan.
  3. Your plan doesn’t include complete payments to debts you’re required to pay back, such as your priority debts.
  4. Your plan doesn’t include the dedication of all your disposable income to your unsecured creditors.
  5. Your plan doesn’t pass the Best Interest of Creditors test.
  6. Your plan isn’t considered in Good Faith by your trustee or the courts.
  7. You haven’t given all of the documents that decide your debt repayment requirements.
  8. You’ve missed payments on a previously-approved plan.

If your plan is rejected, you’ll have the opportunity to fix your errors and file again, or you can attempt to negotiate the reasons for rejection with your trustee. Of course, if you choose to work with the experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Behm Law Group, Ltd., it’s highly unlikely your plan will be rejected.

For more information about rejected plans and filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Waseca, MN, contact us at (507) 387-7200 today.

Benefits of Chapter 12 Over Chapter 13 for Farmers and Fishermen Considering Bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN

For most households, filing for bankruptcy without liquidating assets involves Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a process that effectively reorganizes debts and alters amounts to be repaid along with the overall repayment period. While most consumer households and individuals should opt for Chapter 13 if their goal is to retain much of their property through bankruptcy, there’s a better option for family farmers and fishermen filing for bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN. If you’re a farmer or fisherman struggling financially, filing for Chapter 12 reorganization bankruptcy is most likely the right choice for you. Behm Law Group, Ltd. can give you the help you need throughout your petition.

Because Chapter 12 was specifically designed to address the debts of family farmers and fishermen, it’s reasonable that it’s more beneficial to filers of that status to choose Chapter 12 over Chapter 13. The details of those benefits include the following:

  1. You can have more debt than a Chapter 13 filer. In Chapter 13, filers aren’t eligible if their secured debts are greater than $1,184,200 or if their unsecured debts exceed $394,725. However, for farmers and fishermen with the much greater debts that often come with owning and operating a farm or fishing venture, the debt ceiling for Chapter 12 peaks at $4,153,150.
  2. You have more wiggle room with repaying secured debts. If your secured debts are so high that repaying them will take longer than your repayment plan period, it’s possible that you will not have to repay those debts in full during the plan period. You’ll still have to repay those debts completely, but you may adjust your plan so that you make reasonable payments throughout the plan period and continue to pay those installments after the plan is completed until your debts are repaid in full. This gives you more room to breathe within your repayment plan.
  3. You have more wiggle room with repayment installments. In a Chapter 12 plan farmers and fishermen are allowed to base the frequency of their payment installments around the production cycle of their crop or catch migration and population. In Chapter 13, on the other hand, the filer must make monthly payments regardless of income patterns.
  4. You have more cramdown options. In Chapter 13 and Chapter 12, you have some options to “cramdown” your debts, meaning you can reduce a debt to the present value. For example, if your car was worth $5,000 at the time of the filing of your bankruptcy petition, but your debt on the car was $8,000 at that time, you can cram the debt you owe down to the $5,000. In Chapter 13, you can only use cramdowns on certain debts, but Chapter 12 allows more extensive uses of cramdowns, including home mortgages and motor vehicle loans.

Overall, Chapter 12 offers a lot more to family farmers and fishermen than Chapter 13. If you think you’re eligible to file for Chapter 12 bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

Cramming Down Secured Debt With Chapter 12 Bankruptcy in Mankato, MN

Today, the food industry is largely industrialized across the country, but there are some farming and fishing families still thriving today. However, because farming and fishing are some of the most difficult trades with which to support a household and maintain a healthy business, there are also a large number of financially struggling family farmers and family fishermen. For these family businesses, bankruptcy might be the best path to take. While our attorneys often handle cases for individuals working through Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Behm Law Group, Ltd. also offers legal advice and assistance to family farmers and family fishermen filing for Chapter 12 bankruptcy in Mankato, MN.

Chapter 12 works in many similar ways to Chapter 13, but is specifically designed to serve family farmers and family fishermen rather than a household or individual. Chapter 12 filers will work with their bankruptcy trustee to establish a 3 to 5-year repayment plan for their debts, where they must pay back 100% of their priority debts and to be determined portion of their other debts. The amount a family farmer or family fisherman must repay of non-priority debts is determined by their average income received within the 6 months prior to filing for bankruptcy.

There are ways, however, to reduce the amount of your secured debts as a family farmer or family fisherman filing for Chapter 12 bankruptcy. By effectively “cramming down” secured debts, you can lower your owed debt and pay less in the long run.

Cram Down: The cram down method is a way of bringing your debts back in time. This means you can reduce certain debts (for example boat loans, business mortgages, and farm equipment debts) to the present market value of the property. This method is effective on “upside down” loans where you owe more debt than the base value of the property. If you owe $4,000 on a loan after the accumulation of missed payments and interest and the collateral for the loan is worth $2,000.00, you can reduce that debt down to the base value, and you would not have to pay more than $2,000. In Chapter 13, cram downs are limited in many ways, but in a Chapter 12 case, the court can authorize the cram reduction of almost all secured debts, including your home mortgage and car loans.

Cramming down secured debts can often give a family farmer or family fisherman the ability to meet Chapter 12repayment plan requirements. For more information about cram downs and the process of filing for Chapter 12 bankruptcy in Mankato, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

Meeting the Best Interest of Creditors in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Fairmont, MN

Bankruptcy in the U.S. is designed to give debtors methods of working through their financial obligations in a way that offers more leniency and payment options when repaying accumulated debt. Whether you file for reorganization or liquidation types of bankruptcy, you’ll be given a set of options that will help solve your debt case. However beneficial bankruptcy is to the filer, the process must also be equitable to the creditors involved. Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers legal advice and assistance that will help you navigate through your petition for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Fairmont, MN.

If you file for reorganization bankruptcy, it’s likely you’ll be filing for Chapter 13. In this case, you’ll be working with a bankruptcy trustee to establish a repayment plan. The results of this plan will allow you to reorganize how you repay your debts, changing the amount that must be repaid and the time period in which it’s repaid. Your plan can make your debts vastly more manageable given your financial situation, but it’s required to also meet the best interest of your creditors.

Whether your repayment plan is fair to your creditors or not is a status determined by the Best Interest of Creditors Test.

Best Interest of Creditors Test

In a nutshell, you must repay priority debt creditors, such as tax creditors or child support creditors, the full amount you owe. This is a standard for all Chapter 13 cases. What varies from case to case is the amount you’ll repay to your non priority unsecured creditors, such as medical debts and credit card debts. This is where the Best Interest of Creditors Test comes into play. What the test measures is how much you’re repaying to your creditors, and if that amount is fair. The bottom line is that your repayment plan must repay, at minimum, the amount that creditors would have received from your liquidated assets if you had filed for Chapter 7 instead. This in turn depends on your property values and the exemptions you can claim.

Not only does the test decide whether you’re meeting your creditors’ best interests, but it also partially determines how much you’ll pay to priority unsecured creditors in your repayment plan.

The Best Interest of Creditors Test is most effective in determining if you’re meeting the minimum requirement for amounts repaid to nonpriority unsecured creditors. It doesn’t take your disposable income into account, but that amount will be considered outside of the test to determine the maximum amount you must repay. For legal help with your repayment plan and working through filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Fairmont, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd.at (507) 387-7200 today.

Using Charitable Contribution Deductions and Avoiding Fraudulent Transfers With Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN

If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and reach an approved petition and repayment plan, it’s guaranteed that you must use all of your disposable monthly income to meet your monthly debt repayment requirements. Before you file your petition, however, there are approved ways to lower your monthly requirements by lowering the amount categorized as disposable income. Working with a bankruptcy attorney during this time is important to ensure your safety against accidental fraud associated with transferring incomes. Behm Law Group LTD. provides the legal advice and assistance you need throughout the process of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN

One way to decrease your monthly payments by lowering your disposable income is by dedicating some of that income to charitable donations.

Charitable Deductions:

In order to reduce your disposable income with charitable donations, your donation expenses have to meet certain standards set by the US Bankruptcy Courts. First, the charity of your choice must be qualified under the tax code as a legitimate, government-approved religious or charitable organization. You can also donate to the government for public use of your funds, to your church, or to tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charities. Second, the donations must come from your own disposable income and not through other means under your control, such as your business or trust fund. Additionally, the donation must be monetary and the organization can’t be politically involved in legislative affairs or candidacies.

Fraudulent Transfer:

You may deduct up to 15% of your gross annual income for charitable donations to reduce the disposable income and lower monthly payment requirements in a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Any amounts over that 15% donated prior to filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be considered as breaking the fraudulent transfer law. This means that your bankruptcy trustee can take back the amount over 15% from the charity you chose for those donations. You will also have to prove you’ve been making regular donations to an approved charity to have the full amount of your expenses deducted from your disposable income.

In the months leading up to your petitioning for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN, you can do a lot to optimize your repayment plan. With our bankruptcy attorneys advising you along the way, you can keep your petition legitimate as well as getting the most out of what Chapter 13 bankruptcy has to offer. For more information, contact Behm Law Group LTD. at (507) 387-7200.

Working With the Best Effort Requirement When Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Fairmont, MN

If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, you’ve probably started to do some research of your own and learning about your options. If you think you may qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you might have already discovered that a long road of meeting financial and legal obligations set by the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts, your bankruptcy trustee, and your creditors is ahead of you. Navigating these requirements is crucial to successfully working through a Chapter 13 petition and completing a repayment plan, but it can be a difficult process without the help of a well-versed professional. Behm Law Group, LTD. can provide that help with our experienced bankruptcy lawyers in Fairmont, MN

One stipulation you must continue to meet if you’re about to begin your repayment plan is the Best Effort requirement.

What is “Best Effort?”

Essentially, the Best Effort requirement demands that you must be able to prove you will use the entirety of your disposable income—any income you do not spend on taxes, household needs, transportation, or other debt payments—on meeting your monthly repayment plan installments. Specifically, your disposable income must be used to make payments to nonpriority unsecured creditors in your repayment plan.

Nonpriority Unsecured Debts

Your nonpriority unsecured debts (such as credit card debt, personal loans, and medical bills) may not always be paid back in full like your priority debts. The amount you pay back to your nonpriority unsecured creditors is again determined by your average income. If your income average over the six months prior to filing for bankruptcy falls below the Minnesota median income, the length of time you have to repay your nonpriority unsecured debts back can be as short as 36 months or 3 years; your creditors, accordingly, would receive lesser amounts. If your income is higher than state median, the length of time you have to repay your creditors must be 60 months or 5 years. In such a case, your creditors would receive larger amounts.

With the right guidance it’s easy to meet the Best Effort requirement and still have deduction options for your disposable income. Behm Law Group, LTD. can provide that guidance in the months leading up to your petition and throughout the process of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. For more information about how our experienced bankruptcy lawyers in Fairmont, MN can give you the best legal advice and assistance with your bankruptcy case, contact us at (507) 387-7200 today.