Repayment Plan Periods and Their Role in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN

As an individual consumer, you have two options if you choose to file for bankruptcy. You can—if your income fits the requirements of the Means Test—file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and have many of your debts discharged in the process. However, if you do not pass the Means Test, your second option is to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In this case, your debts are restructured into a new payment plan that better suits your financial situation. Because the process of Chapter 7 liquidates most nonexempt property and because it can be difficult to pass the Means Test, many debtors opt to file for Chapter 13. If you plan to file for bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN, Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you navigate the complexities of a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 case.

Because the conditions of each filer are unique, each Chapter 13 case is different in its own way. These differences depend largely on the types of debts a filer owes. These debts determine how a repayment plan will be structured. Another aspect of the filer’s situation that determines the repayment plan is one’s income.

Income plays a key role in determining the length of time a repayment plan period will last. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, repayment plans can last three to five years.

Three-Year Plan

Simply put, if your monthly income when you file your bankruptcy petition is lower than the median income of a Minnesota household the same size as yours, your Chapter 13 repayment plan can last either three years or up to five years. While one would most likely choose the three-year time period because one would complete one’s plan, get one’s discharge and exit bankruptcy sooner, one could voluntarily choose a time period longer than three years, but not longer than five years, if one needs a longer time period to pay off tax debts or mortgage delinquency debt.  Chapter 13 bankruptcy is designed to keep people with low incomes from continuing the same financial struggles they faced before filing for bankruptcy.

Five-Year Plan

If a three-year plan is based on income lower than the state median, the opposite determines a five-year plan. When your current monthly income is higher than the median income of a similar Minnesota household, your Chapter 13 repayment plan must be five years. The five year commitment period is mandatory.  This plan period was designed by the drafters of the bankruptcy code as a compromise regarding the debts of a higher-earning filer and the fair treatment of creditors.  The rationale is that higher-earning debtors should have the ability to pay proportionately more to their creditors than lower-earning debtors.  Additionally, the rationale is that higher-earning debtors probably incurred higher levels of debt prior to a bankruptcy filing and, therefore, they should be compelled to pay more back to their creditors.

Current Monthly Income

Your current monthly income includes all income from your wages or salary and it also includes all other sources like pensions, annuities, and tax returns. Additionally, it’s based on the income of the most current month, which may vary from your average income over the past 12 months. This means that if your income changes significantly while you are in bankruptcy, your three-year plan could be extended if you experience an income increase or your five-year plan period could possibly be shortened if you experience an income decrease.

For more information about repayment plans and filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. today at (507) 387-7200.

 

 

 

Risks of Filing for Bankruptcy Without a Bankruptcy Attorney in Waseca, MN

If you’re struggling to meet loan payments and bills alongside daily living expenses, bankruptcy is an option for individuals, business owners, and corporations alike. Designed to liquidate assets, discharge debts, reorganize expenses, and generally give the filer a fresh start while maintaining the fair treatment of creditors, bankruptcy in the U.S. is a process that can fix a lot more than most realize. As American citizens, our freedoms extend to self-representation in all courts of law, including the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts. Utilizing the counsel and support of Behm Law Group, Ltd.’s bankruptcy attorneys in Waseca, MN when filing for bankruptcy, however, can protect you from the potentially costly errors you may make through self-representation.

Representing yourself and filing your own bankruptcy petition is an option, but it can mean you’ll be taking many risks. At the very least, it can be difficult to reach optimal results in your bankruptcy case without the help of a trained professional.

Filing your own bankruptcy petition means you risk case dismissal or court prejudice and forgo the protection of an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

Mistakes When Filing for Bankruptcy:

Mistakes on the required paperwork are the most common reasons a case is dismissed. Gathering the necessary information about household or business income sources, debts, loans, assets, properties, and expenses can be a difficult process. Bankruptcy attorneys have the knowledge, experience, and resources to put together a flawless petition with no room for inaccuracies. Self-representation, on the other hand, offers countless opportunities for small mistakes that may lead to case dismissal. Misrepresentation of finances can appear as fraudulent and can provide a basis for the court to reject your bankruptcy petition.

Protection When Filing for Bankruptcy:

One of the roles of a bankruptcy attorney is to provide legal protection for clients. Business or individual, all filers may be experiencing aggressive collection action from lenders. The automatic stay in a bankruptcy case halts collection action for a period of time, but some creditors may petition the bankruptcy court for the lifting or termination of the automatic stay for certain debts. If approved, those creditors can collect or repossess collateral. A bankruptcy attorney can protect a client from harassment and aggressive actions by creditors, collection agencies, debt collectors, and any other lenders before the automatic stay is lifted.

Above all, a bankruptcy attorney offers expertise, experience, knowledge, and legal protection. Forfeiting your right to attorney protection and guidance may result in a less than successful bankruptcy case.

We’ll take a critical part in creating a positive outcome for your case from beginning to end. Relieve the stress of managing your own bankruptcy case and eliminate risks of failure. Contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. today at (507) 387-7200 for more information about working with an expert bankruptcy attorney in Waseca, MN.

 

 

Limitations of the Automatic Stay When You File for Bankruptcy in Windom, MN

Whether you file for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy or Chapter 13 debt reorganization bankruptcy, you benefit from the immediate action of the automatic stay as soon as your bankruptcy petition is filed. The automatic stay is a wonderful tool designed to prevent creditors from collecting on debts that may be discharged or restructured during the bankruptcy process. It also prevents collections and blocks harassment from your creditors during the period of your bankruptcy case. If you’re struggling financially, the short-term effects of the automatic stay and the long-term effects of bankruptcy as a whole might be a viable option for recovery. Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers legal advice and assistance when you file for bankruptcy in Windom, MN.

The automatic stay provides a wide range of advantages (link to blog post “The Power of Automatic Stay When You File Bankruptcy in Fairmont, MN”) along with its ability to prevent your creditors from collecting debt payments during the stay period. In addition to the many ways the automatic stay can help you, however, there are some things it cannot do, including:

1. Halting certain lawsuits.

Lawsuits that affect minors (i.e. children of the parties involved) are protected against most financial proceedings, including bankruptcy. For example, the automatic stay cannot stop a lawsuit that involves paternity or child custody tests, nor can it stop a lawsuit that attempts to modify, collect, or confirm child support payments.

2. Halting certain tax requirements.

The automatic stay can’t alter or prevent IRS tax audits or issues regarding tax deficiency. Additionally, the automatic stay cannot prevent the IRS from demanding your tax returns and demanding payment for taxes owed.

3. Halting wage garnishment for pension loan repayment.

If you took out a loan from your retirement pension, the automatic stay doesn’t stop the garnishment of your income (including wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, and any other sources of income) for the repayment of that loan. This is the only condition where the automatic stay is not effective in preventing wage garnishment.

4. Halting criminal sentence proceedings.

If you’re in the process of undergoing criminal proceedings involving debt, or otherwise, the automatic stay is only able to impact the conditions of your sentence that involve debt repayment. The automatic stay does not change the parts of your sentence that involve community service, therapy, jail time, or other requirements.

Despite the many advantages of the automatic stay, these situations remain unchanged during the stay period when you file for bankruptcy. Additionally, if you’ve filed for bankruptcy the previous year, the automatic stay period will end after 30 days, unless you can prove the need for an extension.

If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy in Windom, MN, and want to learn more about how the automatic stay can apply to your situation, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd., at (507) 387-7200 today for more information.

Why You May Not Qualify for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Mankato, MN

If you’re struggling to meet debt payments and financial obligations with your income, you’re most likely eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The two main types of bankruptcy, reorganization and liquidation, are designed for individuals and businesses with very different financial situations. Reorganization bankruptcy (Chapter 13) is an option for those with higher incomes who want to keep their property in the process of filing. Liquidation bankruptcy (Chapter 7), however, is more suitable for those with lower incomes and debts that can be discharged in the process of filing. At Behm Law Group, Ltd., we can help you understand why you might benefit more from Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Mankato, MN, given your situation.

While the risk of loss of some property is higher in Chapter 7, Chapter 7 is generally your best option for recovering financially and getting a fresh start quickly, even with a low income. The following outlines the several reasons why you might not be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Income: To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass the Means Test, which determines your income level based on the median Minnesota income level of a household similar to your own. To pass this test and file for Chapter 7, your income must be lower than the Minnesota median income level for a household of your size.  Your income includes any sources of monetary gain except, generally, income tax refunds and Social Security benefits.  Income from inheritances received and retirement accounts that may have been cashed out also may sometimes be excluded from the calculation because such income sources would not constitute regular sources of income.

Repayment: Under 11 U.S.C. §707(b)(2), if your income is higher than the state median income for your household size, you might still be eligible for Chapter 7 under the condition that your income, as determined by this provision, would pay less than 25 percent of your nonpriority unsecured debts or $6,000.00, whichever is greater, or $10,000.00.

Failure to Meet Requirements: Before you can petition for Chapter 7, you must meet several requirements. First and foremost, you must attend a credit counseling course with an approved credit counseling agency within 180 days prior to filing. You must also complete certain paperwork and pay certain filing fees. Our expert attorneys can guide you through these sometimes-complicated requirements.

Previous Bankruptcy: If you filed for bankruptcy within the last 180 days and your case was dismissed for willful failure to abide by orders of the bankruptcy court, for acts of fraud, abuse, or by your own request or following the filing of a request for relief from the automatic stay by one of your creditors under 11 U.S.C. §362, you will not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Under 11 U.S.C. §109(g), you must wait 180 days after the dismissal of your previous case to qualify for Chapter 7 again.

Previous Discharge: If you filed for bankruptcy relief and received a discharge in Chapter 7 in the past eight years or if you filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy and received a discharge in the past six years, you will not be eligible to receive a discharge in a new case in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Fraud: Of course, in any bankruptcy case, your petition will be dismissed, and you will not be eligible for any form of bankruptcy if you’re found to exhibit fraudulent or abusive behavior relevant to your case.

To learn more about your eligibility and how filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Mankato, MN, can give you a fresh start, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

Understanding Fraudulent Behavior When Filing for Bankruptcy in Windom, MN

Bankruptcy relief is a very powerful remedy.  Quite literally, with a few exceptions, all of your legal, contractual obligations to pay debts are discharged and nullified.  Creditors can never pursue you for collection on those debts.  If you do everything that is required by the bankruptcy code and the associated bankruptcy rules, the debt relief you receive is a certainty.  When you choose to file for bankruptcy relief, no one comes to your house to see what you have and take inventory of your assets.  However, the benefit of bankruptcy relief is only for the “honest but unfortunate debtor”.  In other words, you must be completely forthright and honest in disclosing and listing all of your assets and all of your creditors. You’ll be required to review your bankruptcy petition and related schedules with your bankruptcy attorney and you will be required to sign off on them under oath and subject to penalty of perjury.  One way a bankruptcy case can be rejected is if one intentionally fails to list all of one’s assets and creditors.  Another way a bankruptcy case can be rejected is if one is sloppy and negligent in preparing and reviewing one’s bankruptcy petition and schedules.  Mistakes and errors in one’s sworn bankruptcy petition as a result of sloppiness or inattentiveness to necessary details can be often construed as an intentional failure to list one’s assets and creditors.  If one intentionally fails to list one’s assets and creditors or if mistakes are made due to one’s sloppiness in preparing a bankruptcy petition, one could be accused of bankruptcy fraud and the bankruptcy court could completely deny one’s bankruptcy relief.  If the supposed fraud is serious enough, one could even be prosecuted, fined and incarcerated.  Behm Law Group, Ltd.  offers expert legal advice and assistance to help you avoid conduct or mistakes that could be construed as fraudulent behavior when you file for bankruptcy in Windom, MN.

With the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney, it’s much less likely for someone filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to commit unintentional fraud. When you choose to complete your bankruptcy petition without professional assistance, your chances of making serious mistakes—an occurrence that can come in the form of providing inaccurate information on your bankruptcy forms and schedules, failing to attend required meetings/hearings, failing to undergo credit counseling prior to filing, or several other rare circumstances—are increased.

In addition to the several reasons you can accidentally commit fraudulent behavior on your bankruptcy petition, there are many ways one can commit willful bankruptcy fraud.

Willful Fraud

If you file a bankruptcy petition with clear fraudulent intentions, our attorneys will decline to work with you. For example, if your situation reveals that you’ve committed any of the following actions, we will not represent you:

  • Created false documents
  • Failed to list all assets
  • Withheld or destroyed documents relevant to your case
  • Hid a property transfer, including personal gifts of property that may be involved in your bankruptcy case
  • Bribed or paid-off a creditor, lender, or other party to hide information pertinent to your case

In more common circumstances, filers who willfully commit fraudulent behavior may have done the following:

  • Provided inaccurate income and expense information in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case or prior to filing for bankruptcy relief or when submitting credit applications to creditors from whom one may have sought a loan
  • Purchased various items, such using credit cards to engage in gambling activities, not identified as “necessities” prior to filing for bankruptcy.
  • Writing personal or business checks while planning to file for bankruptcy in a short period (i.e. writing a bad check)

If you have engaged in any of these or like activities, you must fully disclose every detail to your bankruptcy attorney before you elect to file for bankruptcy relief.  Such conduct could be a basis for a finding of bankruptcy fraud.  Indeed, bankruptcy may not even be an appropriate remedy for you to pursue.  If you’d like to discuss filing for bankruptcy in Windom, MN, and take full advantage of the debt relief benefits provided by the bankruptcy code, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

Preference Claims and Transfers with Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Marshall, MN

In most cases, individuals and small businesses fight against filing for bankruptcy until it becomes clear that it is the most sensible option. In many cases, before the decision to file for bankruptcy is made, the filer attempts to meet or repair debts in many ways. Payments or money transfers are common occurrences before bankruptcy petitions are filed, but in some situations, those transactions might be reversed after your case is filed. Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers legal advice and assistance to help you understand how your case will unfold when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Marshall, MN.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the bankruptcy trustee is a fiduciary for creditors and the trustee is obligated by the bankruptcy code to ensure that the person filing for bankruptcy is forthright and honest and that he or she has listed all of his or her creditors and listed all of his or her assets. The trustee is also tasked with making sure that the process is fair for all creditors and making sure that all creditors are treated equally.

One responsibility of a trustee in the trustee’s role of making sure creditors are treated fairly and equally is to identify and recover any preferential transfers in a bankruptcy case.

Preferences 

If you have multiple unsecured creditors (creditors that do not have collateral securing the debts) in your case and, within the ninety days prior to the filing of your case, you have made payments or transfers to any one creditor totaling $600.00 or more, this is considered an avoidable preference.  This means that you have preferred one similarly situated creditor over another creditor who may not have received any payment.   If a trustee finds that you preferred one creditor over another, the trustee will be obligated to avoid the preference by demanding a refund of what you paid from the preferred creditor.  The trustee will then distribute that amount equitably among all of the similarly situated creditors.

Preference claims can either be voluntary payments you made or involuntary garnishments from your pay checks or bank accounts. For creditors labeled “insider creditors”, such as your friends or family, any payments totaling $600.00 or more made within a year of the date that your case is filed will be deemed a preference.  If you pay a friend or relative more than $600.00 within a year before your case is filed, the trustee can and will demand a refund and disburse it among all creditors.  For other creditors, such as credit cards and medical debts, known as “arms-length creditors”, payments of more than $600.00 within ninety days before your case is filed will be deemed preferential.

Strong Arm

To reverse any claims deemed to be preferences, the trustee has the right to use his or her “strong arm” powers under the bankruptcy code and undo the transactions.

If you suspect you may have made a preference payment, or if you have other concerns about your situation, you should not try to undo or reverse it.  Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you throughout the process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Marshall, MN. For more information, please contact us at (507) 387-7200 today.

Understanding Priority Debts When Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Marshall, MN

Those who are considering filing for bankruptcy most likely have more than one debt to tackle among their financial obligations. In fact, virtually every bankruptcy filer faces several debts accumulated over years. From mortgages to credit card debt, filers often have a wide range of debts to repay. If these filers pass the Minnesota Means Test, they qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which allows the majority of their debts to be discharged. If you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Marshall, MN, Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you throughout the process of petitioning and filing with professional legal advice and assistance.

When it comes to discharging your debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the process is determined by your exemptions, your qualifying debts, and a number of other factors regarding your household status. In a case where the bankruptcy trustee is able to collect money to pay some dividend to your creditors, the question remains of how the money will be allocated. First and foremost, any financial obligations falling into the category of “priority debt” will be paid something before any other debts such as credit card debts, medical debts, etc. receive anything.   11 U.S.C. §507 sets for the priority of how debts are to be paid in bankruptcy cases.

Priority debts will be paid first.  If there is any money left after those debts are paid, then other creditors with lower priority, such as credit card debts or medical debts, will receive a dividend from the trustee. Unfortunately for the filer, most priority debts are not subject to discharge and must be fully repaid.

Priority Debts: Debts involved in individual consumer bankruptcy cases are considered priority if they are categorized as the following:

  1. Deposits up to $2,850 for property purchases, leases, or rentals
  2. Deposits up to $2,850 for services pertaining to household, family, or personal use that were not provided
  3. Alimony, child support, or other familial maintenance and obligations
  4. Wages, salaries, commissions, or other compensations owed to employees up to $12,850 per person within 180 days of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy
  5. Debts owed to farmers and fishermen up to $6,325 each
  6. Income taxes owed within three years before filing for bankruptcy
  7. Taxes withheld from employees but not paid to the taxing authorities by employers
  8. Any customs, duties, and penalties due to the federal, state, and local governments
  9. Personal injury or death claims against you from driving under the influence

With the help of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys, you can navigate your own case when it comes to priority debt, asset liquidation, and debt discharge. For more information about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Marshall, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

Getting Rid of Tax Debts with Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Mankato, MN

Tax debts are a common problem for most struggling with accumulated financial burdens. Because taxes are so varied and ultimately required of every U.S. citizen able to work and own property, the debts associated with taxes are equally varied and unavoidable. While most of the time you cannot discharge tax debts with bankruptcy, there are times when it’s possible to treat those debts with Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you determine if and how your tax debts can be cleared when filing for bankruptcy in Mankato, MN.

Although possible, it can be difficult to discharge your tax debts with bankruptcy. Only when your case meets several requirements can your tax debts be discharged.

Requirements for Discharging Tax Debts:

  1. Your tax debts must be income tax debts. While you may have several other types of tax debts, only your income tax debts can be discharged with Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  2. Your tax debts must be three or more years old. If your tax debt was due at least three years before you petition for bankruptcy, these debts can be considered for discharge.
  3. You must have filed a return for your tax debt at least two years prior to filing your bankruptcy petition. This return must have been filed on time, your extensions cannot have expired at the time of filing, and the IRS cannot have filed a substitute return for you.
  4. You cannot have committed any purposeful fraud or evasion on your tax return at the time of the incurred tax debt. If courts determine you have used any means of illegal tax fraud, you cannot qualify for tax debt discharge.
  5. You must have your tax debt examined by the IRS 240 days before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is called the 240-day rule, and is designed to determine whether your tax debt qualifies for discharge based on the previously listed rules. Your tax debt may also qualify for the 240-day rule if it has not yet been assessed before the time of your bankruptcy petition.

If, and only if, your tax debts meet ALL of these conditions can they be discharged with Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you’re planning on filing for bankruptcy to rid yourself of primarily tax debts, be aware of the strict conditions. Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you through the process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Mankato, MN. Contact us today at (507) 387-7200 for more information.

What to Do When Creditors Harass You After Your Chapter 7 Debt Settlement in Windom, MN

Those who have accumulated debts they can’t handle alone often find rescue in filing for bankruptcy. Today’s U.S. Bankruptcy Code is designed to protect individuals and businesses from falling into even more critical financial situations. The idea of being bankrupt can leave a bad taste in one’s mouth and, while one might not enjoy having to go through bankruptcy process, there are many benefits. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy alleviates debt and opens the door to a fresh start financially. Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you through the process of filing for bankruptcy and completing your debt settlement in Windom, MN.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is designed to discharge the majority of your debts and allow you to retain your assets. With this form of bankruptcy, you will have a clear beginning, middle, and end of the process.

Do debts still matter?

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your debts are addressed, and when the process is over, your debts won’t come back into your life. They are permanently discharged.  The only lingering effect of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that your case will stay on your public credit profile for 3 to 6 years. After filing for Chapter 7, the debts that were discharged are gone forever.  You will not have to handle other financial consequences from the debts discharged in your case.  Paradoxically, you will be more of an attractive credit risk for creditors than you were before your case was filed.  This is because future creditors know that the creditors discharged in your bankruptcy are gone for good and that they will now be able to be first in line for payment from you going forward and will not have to be in competition with your previous creditors.

In short, the debts addressed in a Chapter 7 case don’t matter anymore. You don’t continue making payments, and you won’t be in contact with your creditors again.

Why are my creditors still harassing me?

But if your debts don’t matter after you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, why are your creditors still in contact with you, and in many cases, still harassing you? There are several reasons why this might be happening. Most of the time, your creditors haven’t heard that you’ve entered into the bankruptcy process yet. Even if your case is not completed, your creditors are legally obligated to stall collections. However, it can take up to two weeks for your creditors to be notified that you’ve entered into the process. If it’s been over two weeks and your creditors are still harassing you, they may be trying to get away with illegal collections. Creditors may try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge about the nuances of bankruptcy by telling you that you filed for the wrong kind of bankruptcy, that your debts aren’t covered by your case, or that you still have to pay interest on a settled debt. Behm Law Group attorneys protect our clients from this fraudulent behavior as we work with you through the bankruptcy process.

If you’re considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and you’re concerned about your debt settlement in Windom, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today for a consultation.

Priority, Secured, and Unsecured Claims and How These Types of Debts are Treated With Bankruptcy in Mankato, MN

If you find yourself in a position where filing for bankruptcy is the most logical course of action for you and your family or for your business, you will also find that you have creditors to who will fall into different categories and that creditors in the different categories have different rights.  When you think of creditors in bankruptcy, you should think of them being listed in their different categories as on a totem pole.  Behm Law Group, Ltd. provides legal assistance to help you throughout the process of filing for bankruptcy in Mankato, MN, and to protect and direct you in the face of your creditors.

When you file for bankruptcy, your creditors must file proofs of claim with the bankruptcy court to show, as a matter of public record, the type or category of debt that you have with each of them and how much you owe to each of them. These claims can fall into the following three categories.

Secured Claims: These claims should be viewed at the top of the totem pole.  When your creditor has a lien on your property (or a security interest), they can file a secured claim. Mortgages and car loans are common examples of debts with security interests attached. If you default on these types of debts, your creditors can enforce their liens and reclaim the property (i.e. house, vehicle, washer/dryer) securing their liens. Chapter 7 filers must specify in a bankruptcy form called the “Statement of Intention” whether they want to surrender property/collateral to a creditor or continue making debt payments and retain the property/collateral. Chapter 13 filers can continue paying off the debt secured by the property/collateral with their established repayment plan and in some cases even eliminate the lien their creditors have on that property/collateral.

Priority Claims: These claims should be viewed in the middle of the totem pole.  Where unsecured claims are on dischargeable debts with no secured collateral, priority claims are non-dischargeable debts with no secured collateral. “Non-dischargeble” means that they are not subject to being wiped away or discharged.  These debts are unsecured debts but they are debts that Congress, for certain public policy reasons, determined should not be subject to discharge.  For example, child support debts, some tax debts, and criminal fines are generally not subject to discharge in a Chapter 7 case. Creditors to whom you owe these types of debts file priority claims when you file for bankruptcy relief. Because these debts are not discharged, you must keep paying them even if you file for Chapter 7, and they must be completely repaid with your chapter 13 repayment plan if you file for Chapter 13. Creditors with priority claims will be repaid before those holding unsecured claims, but after those with secured claims.

Unsecured Claims: These claims should be viewed at the bottom of the totem pole as they have a lower priority than secured claims and priority claims.  These claims are only applicable to debts with no secured collateral. Most frequently, these debts include medical bills, personal loans, and credit card debt and are almost always discharged with a Chapter 7 case. With Chapter 13 cases, your non-exempt assets and your disposable income determine the repayment plans for these debts. Creditors with unsecured claims are often paid last and paid least.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Mankato, MN, and you would like to learn more about how Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you throughout the process, contact us today at (507) 387-7200.