Priority vs. Non-Priority Tax Debts When Filing for Bankruptcy in Waseca, MN

The U.S. tax system is complex and affects many aspects of business owners’ and individual consumers’ finances. While intricate and sometimes invasive, taxes are a necessary part of a well-functioning government and economy. Understanding when and where taxes will come into play when you make financial decisions is important to prevent negative consequences such as tax debt. If you are struggling with tax debts along with other severe financial difficulties, bankruptcy might be the right choice. Behm Law Group, Ltd. provides the guidance and counsel you need to successfully file for bankruptcy in Waseca, MN.

 

Tax debts can be accumulated through a wide range of sources from property taxes to income taxes. When you file for bankruptcy, these debts are broken into two primary categories: priority tax debts and non-priority tax debts.

 

Priority Tax Debts

 

The majority of tax debt obligations fall under priority tax debt. This means they generally can’t be discharged the Chapter 7 liquidation process and that they must be paid in full during a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Priority tax debts include income taxes that don’t fall under non-priority requirements, property taxes incurred within a year of filing for bankruptcy, taxes you withheld or collected, some employment taxes, some excise taxes, custom duties, and penalties that have been assessed to any priority taxes.

 

If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your priority taxes will not be discharged in the process and you must repay them in full after your bankruptcy has concluded. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your priority taxes must be included in your 3 to 5-year repayment plan and they must be fully repaid.

 

Non-Priority Tax Debts

 

Any tax debts that are considered non-priority can be discharged in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy because they will be categorized and handled like all your other non-priority unsecured debts (e.g., credit cards and medical bills). Non-priority tax debts only include income tax debts if they were due at least three years prior to filing, if you filed the return for the tax debt at least two years prior to filing, if the IRS has not assessed your tax liability within 240 days of filing, and if you did not incur the tax debt through fraudulent behavior.

 

In most cases, filing for bankruptcy with the goal of discharging your tax debts can be a complicated and detail-specific process. The majority of your tax debt might not be able to be discharged in either a Chapter 7 case or a Chapter 13 case.  For example, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy will not result in the discharge of most priority tax debts, but you will be able to bundle those debt obligations into a manageable three to five-year repayment plan, tailored to your income, in which you will be able to pay them in full and be relieved the associated interest and penalties.

 

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Waseca, MN and want to learn more about how your taxes and other debts are handled, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200.

Judgment Liens and Handling Them With a Bankruptcy Lawyer in Fairmont, MN

Filing for bankruptcy is an option available to almost every consumer and business in the US. However, despite the layman’s access to filing for bankruptcy, the fact remains that it is a complex, highly nuanced legal process. While a debt from which a judgment lien is obtained is discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding, a judgment lien can still remain after a bankruptcy is concluded and a bankruptcy filer must take certain steps to fully remove it. This responsibility is best approached with the help of a professional. Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers the counsel of an expert bankruptcy lawyer in Fairmont, MN, throughout your petition.

 

What is a Judgment Lien?

 

In a state civil court case, after a judge or jury hands down a decision, or after a court-approved settlement, a judgment is entered by the court. As part of a typical judgment, the court orders the payment of money from one person to another. But the person who owes the money (the debtor) doesn’t always pay up. A judgment lien is one way to ensure that the person who won the judgment (the creditor) gets what he or she is owed. A judgment lien gives the creditor the right to be paid a certain amount of money from proceeds from the sale of a debtor’s property.

 

In Minnesota a judgment lien can attach to any real estate a person has an ownership interest in (farm, house, condominium, etc.).  A judgment lien is automatically entered against any real estate that a debtor (the person against whom the judgment has been assessed) owns in the county in which the judgment was awarded.  If the person owns property in another county, a creditor can take a judgment and docket or file it in that county at which time it becomes a judgment lien against any real estate a debtor owns in that county, too.  A judgment lien can last up to ten (10) years and it can remain a lien on a debtor’s real estate for that entire time.  A judgment lien can also be renewed for successive ten (10) year periods.  If a judgment lien is levied against someone’s real estate, any sale of the real estate can’t be completed unless the judgment lien is paid or expunged/removed.

 

Judgment Liens and Bankruptcy

A discharge obtained through bankruptcy nullifies the debt giving rise to a judgment lien.  However, a discharge does not require a judgment creditor to take affirmative steps to remove a judgment.  In other words, a creditor is not required to go to the county in which it obtained the judgment and ask the court to remove the judgment lien from a debtor’s real estate.  Thus, even after a bankruptcy has concluded, a judgment lien becomes a nuisance lien that still clouds title to a debtor’s real estate and prevents any sale of the real estate from being consummated.

 

In order to remove a judgment lien from the real estate, a debtor must, after the bankruptcy has concluded, file an application to discharge or expunge the judgment lien with the state court in which the judgment and judgment lien were obtained in the first place.  Generally, one can only do this with regard to a judgment lien on real estate that one owns and actually occupies as one’s homestead.  Minn. Stat. §548.181 is the statute that one must use to remove or discharge a judgment from real estate that one owns.  There is a specific protocol that must be followed.  Navigating the procedure and making sure it is done correctly is extremely difficult without the help of a knowledgeable, trained professional. With the help of Behm Law Group, Ltd. and the expertise of a Behm bankruptcy lawyer in Fairmont, MN, filing for bankruptcy can be a successful experience that offers financial recovery. We can assist you with the removal of judgment liens following the completion of a bankruptcy case.  Contact us today at (507) 387-7200 today for more information.

Understanding Bad Faith Cases When Filing for Bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, there are a number of ways you can prepare your financial situation before you file a bankruptcy petition that can help your case and bring about the best results for you. Many of these preparation techniques are acceptable methods for improving the possible outcome of your bankruptcy case—for example, choosing a certain time to file or avoiding certain financial obligations. However, there are instances when certain actions done before filing for bankruptcy or during a bankruptcy case can result in the dismissal of your case on the grounds of “bad faith.” Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers legal advice and assistance to help prevent a potential bad faith bankruptcy case when you’re filing for bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN.

While there are legitimate means of preparing for filing for bankruptcy or altering your finances to your advantage before you file a bankruptcy case, some such techniques could be considered bankruptcy “red flags” and prompt your bankruptcy trustee to determine that your case has been filed in bad faith. When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must meet the “good faith” requirement in order to proceed. If there are aspects of your case that suggest you may be trying to take advantage of the bankruptcy system, your bankruptcy trustee or even one of your creditors could view your case as having been filed in bad faith and could ask the bankruptcy court to dismiss your case.

Examples of common actions or circumstances that could be construed as bad faith include:

  1. The filer hid certain assets, like keeping cash in a coffee jar or in a safe in one’s home, and did not disclose the cash in one’s bankruptcy petition.
  2. The filer has little to no cash flow and is not registered as being unemployed with the government (this could alert a trustee to think that there is hidden income somewhere – the trustee could conclude that you are working for cash only and not disclosing it).
  3. The filer had a job change during the bankruptcy period or recently prior to filing for bankruptcy and did not reveal an income increase to the trustee.
  4. The filer made one or more large luxury purchases prior to filing for bankruptcy (vacation expenses, electronics, and jewelry are common examples).

Another common occurrence that may lead to a dismissal for bad faith is an attempted conversion from a Chapter 13 case to a Chapter 7 case.

Chapter 7 Conversion When Filing for Bankruptcy

If a filer is in a Chapter 13 repayment plan, one may attempt to convert that case to a Chapter 7 case if one can no longer pay the monthly Chapter 13 plan payments. This can occur if the filer had a job change, experienced a temporary period where one was unemployed, or incurred unexpected large expenses. However, if the filer begins to convert a case to Chapter 7 and one’s situation improves during that time (for example, one gets a better paying job, or a family member gives one a large sum of money through inheritance or otherwise), one’s case could be dismissed for bad faith.  In short, it would be seen that one would be inappropriately trying to convert to a chapter 7 case – essentially indicating that one does not have the financial ability to make any payments to one’s creditors – from a chapter 13 case.  Given the receipt of a large sum of money from a relative or given a higher paying job, the trustee and the bankruptcy court would conclude that one would have the ability to continue making payments to one’s creditors and should, therefore, be required to stay in a chapter 13 case.

There are other examples of why your case may be dismissed for bad faith, and you can learn about all the additional circumstances that may lead to bad faith in the American Bankruptcy Institute Journal.

Find out more about filing for bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN with the help of Behm Law Group, Ltd. and contact us today at (507) 387-7200.

How a New Job Affects Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Mankato, MN

If you’ve been struggling with extreme financial difficulties, bankruptcy is a way to find relief and recovery. If you have a low income or are unemployed, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is designed to help your situation. For individuals, Chapter 7 is the most common type of bankruptcy. It’s applicable to most situations for unemployed filers, low income filers, and high debt filers. Behm Law Group, Ltd. provides expert counsel if you’re considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Mankato, MN.

The most important thing to be aware of when filing for bankruptcy is that honesty counts in every aspect of your case. The U.S. Bankruptcy Courts and bankruptcy trustees are highly experienced and trained in examining bankruptcy cases and detecting mistakes and fraudulent behavior. With the guidance of a bankruptcy attorney, you can more effectively lay out your financial circumstances establishing your need for Chapter 7 relief.

Qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires you to pass the Means Test to determine if your income is too low to make debt repayments possible. If you pass this test, your income is either lower than the state median income of a similar household size or the total amount of your debt is exceedingly high.

After you’ve passed the Means Test and qualified for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief, you’ll begin to work through the process of discharging certain debts, exempting certain properties, and figuring out the details of your bankruptcy estate. In most cases, a filer’s job status doesn’t change during the bankruptcy process. However, there are some times during the pendency of a case when some filers have employment or other income changes.

New Income

If you have a change in employment during the pendency of your bankruptcy case, it’s likely that your income will change as well. If this happens, the best thing to do is to immediately notify your attorney. This change in income may significantly alter your case.  New income can affect your case in several ways:

  1. Your case can be converted to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, and you could enter a restructured debt repayment plan that could last three to five years.
  2. If you receive income from lawsuit settlements, lottery winnings, divorce settlements or if you inherit any money or property within 180 days after your case is filed, such income could be used by the bankruptcy trustee administering your case to pay your creditors.
  3. Your case may be dismissed because of your lack of disclosure of any income changes or for other fraudulent behavior.

Other sources causing an income change are also taken into account in a Chapter 7 case, and you should be open and honest about all alterations to your financial situation. For more information about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Mankato, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

Understanding the Predischarge Debtor Education Requirement for Bankruptcy in Luverne, MN

Whether you file for liquidation or debt reorganization bankruptcy, it’s likely that one or more of your debts will be discharged in the process. Discharging debts in Chapter 7 serves to simultaneously relieve debtors of unmanageable financial hardship and allow fair treatment of creditors despite a lack of full repayment. In a Chapter 13 case, certain debts can be discharged through a repayment plan. Foreseeing which debts will be discharged can be difficult, and organizing your case without the help of a professional may change that outcome. Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers legal advice and assistance if you choose to file for bankruptcy in Luverne, MN.

In addition to the many requirements involved in bankruptcy cases, filers who will have debts discharged must undergo predischarge debtor education before the bankruptcy process can be completed and before the bankruptcy court can issue a discharge order.

Predischarge Education

The predischarge debtor education requirement was established with the purpose of advising those who’ve fallen into debt and filed for bankruptcy on how to better manage their finances. This course is different from the credit counseling requirement which debtors must undergo prior to filing a bankruptcy petition. Instead, debtors must go through a predischarge education course after their petition is filed but before they’re granted a discharge on any debts.

The financial management education course must be provided by a court-approved agency within a forty-five day period after the meeting of the creditors. The course lasts around two hours and covers materials that teach debtors how to improve their financial situation after bankruptcy. Topics include effective budgeting practices, handling taxes sensibly, and other court-required material.

You’ll certify your fulfillment of the predischarge debtor education requirement with bankruptcy Form 423, and if you file a joint bankruptcy petition, you and your spouse must both take the course. Additionally, the agencies that provide the necessary predischarge debtor education course don’t have to follow the same non-profit regulations as credit counseling providers. This means you may have to pay a fee to take the required course.

If you’re contemplating filing for bankruptcy, it’s important to consider fees for requirements like predischarge debtor education and other milestones in your case before you begin. Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers assistance at every step whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Luverne, MN. Contact us at (507) 387-7200 today for more information.

 

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.

Getting Through the Holidays During Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN

From October to January, national spending on holiday decorations, parties, and gifts increases by an average of $500 to $1,000 per person. This extra spending during the holidays is a luxury that many consumers may take for granted. Families living below the poverty line often struggle to make ends meet during the holiday season more than any other time of year, and households working through Chapter 13 bankruptcy have fairly strict options for spending during the holidays. If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN, or if you’re working through a Chapter 13 repayment plan during the holiday season, Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is designed to restructure your debts into a manageable repayment plan, and it can be a highly effective process for resolving debts without crippling the debtor. When it comes to extra spending, however, the budget of a Chapter 13 plan can make things difficult.

Spending Limits

The problem with a Chapter 13 repayment plan during the holiday season is the limitation on disposable income. When you propose a repayment plan to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, you disclose all of your debts, expenses, and income.

Your income is broken into categories of discretionary and disposable. The income you would normally spend during the holidays is a part of your disposable income, but during a Chapter 13 repayment period, most of that income must be used to repay your unsecured creditors.

Repayment plans last three to five years, and despite the rise in national spending during the holidays, your budget must be built around the requirements of your plan. Your budget in a chapter 13 case will have some cushion such that you will be able to use some of your disposable income to purchase gifts, etc. during the Holiday Season.  However, during a chapter 13 case there’s naturally going be to less room for spending money on gifts, decorations, or any other holiday luxuries than would be the case if one were not in a bankruptcy proceeding.  Most of your disposable income still must be applied to the benefit of your unsecured creditors.

Ways to Spend

There are some options that make it possible for your household to have holiday spending money during a Chapter 13 plan:

  • You can modify your repayment plan for a month or two and use the excess money on holiday festivities
  • You can borrow certain amounts from your 401(k) and resolve to replace that amount when your repayment plan period ends
  • When you receive your tax refund, your trustee will take most of that income since it’s considered disposable income, but will often leave a decent part of it for you to save or spend. If you plan ahead, this saved money can be used during the holidays

While these options may not be advisable during any other time of the year, it might be worth having holiday cheer to take advantage of these options.

If you’re considering filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN, Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you throughout the process and offer legal advice and support for spending options during the holidays. Contact us at (507) 387-7200 today for more information.

Filing for Bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN, as a Military Personnel or Veteran

All government employees, including military personnel, have the same rights to file for bankruptcy as any other citizen of the U.S. In some cases, members of the military and veterans even have additional benefits and options during the process of filing for bankruptcy than other citizens. Despite government pensions, salaries, benefits, and other financial support systems that military personnel and veterans have access to, sometimes it isn’t enough. Financial problems and debt can accumulate over time or happen suddenly when unforeseen expenses arise. With the help of Behm Law Group, Ltd., filing for bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN, is an effective method of recovery from financial struggles as a military veteran.

While members of the military and veterans follow the same rules and processes of bankruptcy as other citizens for the majority of cases, there are certain circumstances where they have additional benefits.

  1. Active-Duty Military: If you’re on active duty and file for bankruptcy, you’re protected under the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This act provides legal protection and may allow the courts to postpone or stay bankruptcy proceedings while you are in service overseas. The effect of automatic stay is also still active in addition to the benefits of the SCRA.
  1. Disabled Veterans: If you’re a disabled veteran, you’re not required to pass the Means Test to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. As a disabled veteran with debts primarily incurred while you were on active duty or in homeland defense, you’re exempt from taking the Means Test. Government-rated disabilities at 30% or higher, or discharge from duty because of disability will allow you to forgo the Means Test when filing for Chapter 7.
  1. Call to Active Duty: There are other cases that exempt military personnel from taking the Means Test when filing for Chapter 7. If you’re on reserve duty or a member of the National Guard and you’re called to active duty, or were in homeland defense 90 days after the 9/11 attack, you can forgo the Means Test during and 540 days after active duty.

As a U.S. citizen—civilian, military personnel, or veteran—the support system of financial recovery through bankruptcy is designed to be an option for all that qualify. If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN, military personnel or not, Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help. Contact us at (507) 387-7200 today for more information.

Exemption Basics in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN

Whether you file for liquidation bankruptcy (Chapter 7) or reorganization bankruptcy (Chapter 13), a bankruptcy estate – a legal entity that is separate and distinct from you, the bankruptcy filer – will be created by operation of the bankruptcy code.  All of your property will essentially be dumped into the bankruptcy estate and, for a time, the bankruptcy estate will actually own the property.  However, Congress did not want people to emerge from the bankruptcy process completely destitute and with no ability to reorganize their financial situation.  While there is a risk that one may lose some assets when one files for bankruptcy relief, such a situation is the exception rather than rule.  Most people go through bankruptcy and retain all of their assets.  Congress allocated various value allotments called “bankruptcy exemptions” that people can assert and absorb most or all of the property back out of the bankruptcy estate.  Depending on your situation and the exemptions you claim, Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you understand how your exemptions work and what role they play when you file for bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN.

 

When exemptions come into play during your bankruptcy case, you may use them to protect your value interest or equitable interest in your assets from liquidation.  There is a common misunderstanding that one gets to keep a car or a house, etc. in bankruptcy.  It is much more accurate to say that one gets to protect or keep an equitable interest in an asset.  For instance, if you own a home worth $200,000 and the mortgage loan is $150,000, your equitable interest is $50,000.  It is this $50,000 that you would protect with the applicable bankruptcy exemption.  The applicable bankruptcy exemption would not make the underlying mortgage go away and you would still have to pay it or the mortgage lender could initiate foreclosure proceedings against your house.  Every individual filer has access to the bankruptcy exemptions in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases.  As indicated above, the policy goal of bankruptcy is rehabilitative and the intent behind the bankruptcy code is not to leave a bankruptcy filer completely destitute.  Rather, the intent is to allow a person some property with which to reorganize one’s financial situation and move forward free of debt entanglement (other than those debts one actually wants to retain).

 

In Minnesota, a bankruptcy filer can choose either the exemptions provided under Minnesota state law or the exemptions provided under the federal bankruptcy code.  Whether one elects one or the other depends largely on how much equity or value one has in one’s homestead.  Again, equity is the value of an asset in excess of the debt owed on that asset.  For instance, presume again that one owns a home worth $200,000 and that one owes $150,000 on the subject mortgage.  One, therefore, has $50,000 equity.  One would protect this equity with one’s homestead exemption.  The homestead exemption under the Minnesota state exemptions is $390,000 for a homestead that is located in a city/town and $975,000 for a rural homestead or farm.  The homestead exemption under the federal bankruptcy code is $23,675.  In this example, given the $50,000 equity figure, one would want to use the exemptions provided under Minnesota state law where one could protect the full $50,000.  If one were to choose the exemptions provided under the bankruptcy code, one could protect only $23,675 and the bankruptcy trustee administering one’s case could sell the house, pay off the $150,000 mortgage and pay the bankruptcy filer the exemption claim of $23,675 and use the rest to pay one’s creditors.

 

The analysis regarding one’s property and the applicable bankruptcy exemptions needed to protect it can be highly nuanced and exceedingly detailed and whether one chooses the exemptions provided under Minnesota state law or those provided under the federal bankruptcy code depends on one’s unique circumstances.  For more information about how exemptions can benefit your situation when you file for bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200.