Breakdown of Payments to Unsecured Creditors for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN

When you file for bankruptcy, the people or organizations you owe money to are broken down into several different types of creditors. Generally, these creditors are considered as priority, secured, and unsecured. Within these categories, there is a simple hierarchy: priority creditors are repaid in full, secured creditors are paid the value of their collateral after exemptions are taken into account or the collateral is surrendered back to them, and unsecured creditors are paid with varying amounts depending on your case. While these creditors are considered similarly in both Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the outcomes of their repayments are different. Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers expert counsel and support when you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN, to help you navigate through your creditors and case.

 

For most Chapter 7 cases, the creditors are treated based upon which debts can be discharged and which exemptions can be claimed. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, however, the creditors must be treated differently based on the types of debts and the significance of those agreements.

 

When a Chapter 13 case is filed, the end goal is to restructure the filer’s debts into an appropriate repayment plan. This plan provides for the full repayment of priority debts and the payment of the value of secured debts, but often offers the filer the benefit of partial repayment of unsecured debts. The creditors of unsecured debts are written into the repayment plan in two fundamental ways.

 

  1. The first basic requirement for the treatment of unsecured creditors in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan is that they will be paid at least as much as they would if the filer had filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  2. Secondly, the filer must pay all disposable income – surplus income left over after reasonable and necessary living expenses are paid – to their unsecured creditors throughout the duration of their three to five-year repayment plan. This income amount may fluctuate throughout the plan period, and the chapter 13 plan must be updated to reflect these income changes.

 

The repayment plan period for any Chapter 13 bankruptcy case depends on the filer’s income. If your income is less than the Minnesota median of a household similar to your own, your plan will last three years. If your income is higher than the median, you must file a five-year plan. The amount you repay your unsecured creditors will also depend on how long your plan lasts. For example, if you owe an unsecured creditor $5,000 and your disposable income adds up to $100 a month, you will repay 72% of that debt in a three-year plan or repay 100% of that debt in a five-year plan. In some cases, you will repay 0% of an unsecured debt when you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

 

What you repay your unsecured creditors in Chapter 13 will vary greatly depending on your income and your additional debt payments and expenses. For most filers, these debts will be alleviated at least in part. For more information about your unsecured creditors and filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Pipestone, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

How Discharge Plays a Part When You File for Bankruptcy in Mankato, MN, More than Once

The purpose of the U.S. bankruptcy system is to relieve individuals and businesses from debts and protect creditors from severe losses. In a nutshell, this process is built to be balanced and fair for all parties involved. This also means that the nature of the bankruptcy system prevents filers or creditors from abusing the benefits that are offered through court regulations. Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers the legal advice and assistance you need to get the most out of filing for bankruptcy in Mankato, MN, while sticking to the nuanced rules and requirements of the court.

 

One of the sticking points for the bankruptcy court is when filers appear to be taking advantage of the system with multiple filings. It’s not unacceptable to file for bankruptcy more than once in your life, but when, why, and how you file multiple bankruptcy petitions depends on certain timelines and the failure to abide by those timelines can affect the outcome of your case.

 

To file a successful case and be eligible for a bankruptcy discharge, it’s important to understand the timeframe stipulations for each type of bankruptcy:

  1. Chapter 7 cases have to be filed eight years apart for one to be eligible for a discharge. This period starts on the date you file your most recent bankruptcy petition. For instance, if you filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy relief on January 2, 2011, you would need to wait until January 3, 2019 to file chapter 7 bankruptcy in order to qualify for another chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge.
  2. Chapter 13 cases can be filed much sooner. The period required to pass before you can re-file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is only two years from the date you file your most recent petition. This means that you could potentially stay within a debt-restructuring bankruptcy plan interminably. Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases must last at least 3 years (they can last up to 5 years,) so you could file a chapter 13 bankruptcy case, get a discharge in 3 years and then file chapter 13 right away again.  For instance, if you filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy on January 2, 2015, your case would have concluded in January 2018 but you would have qualified to file for chapter 13 bankruptcy relief again as of January 3, 2017.

 

Because you can file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may experience multiple filings of each type. In these cases, the timeframes depend on which case came first:

  1. If you file for Chapter 7 first, you will face a waiting time of four years before you can file for Chapter 13, starting with your Chapter 7 petition date. For instance, if you filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy on January 2, 2015 and received a chapter 7 discharge, you would not be able to file a chapter 13 bankruptcy and qualify for a chapter 13 discharge until January 3, 2019.
  2. If you file for Chapter 13 first, you will generally have a waiting time of six years before you can file for Chapter 7 and qualify for a chapter 7 discharge. However, if you’ve fully repaid your unsecured creditors during your Chapter 13 repayment period, you may be able shorten the waiting time with permission from the court. You can also file within a shorter period if your chapter 13 case was in filed good faith, you represented your best effort in the payment plan, and you paid at least 70% of allowed unsecured claims.

 

If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, we can help whether it’s your first time or not. Contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 for more information about our counsel and support for bankruptcy in Mankato, MN.

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.

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.

 

 

 

Treatment of Tax Debts in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Mankato, MN

Like the vast majority of countries across the globe, the functioning of the U.S. government and the U.S. economy are largely related to the payment of taxes. While it’s important for everyone to chip into the country finances with taxes, it’s possible for debts related to taxes to be accumulated if a business or individual is struggling financially. However, if you file for bankruptcy, your tax debts may be handled differently than other types of debt involved in the process. In particular, when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Mankato, MN, the treatment of your tax debts can be complex and confusing. Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers expert legal advice and assistance concerning your tax debts and other financial circumstances in a bankruptcy case.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows for the discharge of several kinds of debts you owe. However, the process doesn’t discharge all types of debts, and tax debts are often considered non-dischargeable. In fact, there are conditions as to when your tax debts can be discharged, but your debts must meet all the requirements listed below.

  1. Your tax debts may be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case if the due date for your return was three or more years before the date that your bankruptcy case was filed; this includes extensions of return due dates. The time period is measured from the date you filed for bankruptcy.
  2. If your tax debts are due on income taxes they may be eligible for discharge in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This includes federal income taxes, state income taxes, and gross receipt taxes.
  3. The return for the tax debts you owe must also have been filed more than two years before the date that you filed for bankruptcy. This often doesn’t include returns filed with a “late” status, but in some cases the bankruptcy court will allow tax debts on a late return to be discharged if you meet all other requirements listed.
  4. Even if you have filed your return within the time period required and the return itself and the subject tax debt for that return was at least three years old, your taxes must still meet the additional requirement of the 240-day assessment. This means if your tax return/debt was assessed by the taxing authority less than 240 days before the date that you filed for bankruptcy, your tax debts will not be eligible for discharge.
  5. Additionally, if there is any fraud, evasion, or willful misconduct involved with your tax debts or tax return, those debts will not be eligible for discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

Although the requirements for tax debt discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case are strict, it’s not impossible for those tax debts to be eligible for discharge. The help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney is key in helping you understand and predict the way your tax debts will be treated when you file for bankruptcy.

Contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. today at (507) 387-7200 for more information about Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Mankato, MN.

Slash Daily Expenses to Avoid Bankruptcy in Waseca, MN

Drastically reducing your daily expenses is one proven way to help your paychecks go further in today’s economy in Waseca, MN. However, if you’ve slashed your daily and monthly expenses to the bare bone but your debt load dictates that you still need to declare bankruptcy, the non-judgmental and knowledgeable team at Behm Law Group, Ltd. can assist you with all facets of your decision to file.

If you’re stumped about ways to save, here are four ideas you can use to help cut your monthly bills by several hundreds of dollars, according to a recent issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. Taking any or all of the following steps could help you lower your debt, increase your cash flow, and eliminate the need to file for bankruptcy:

Save on groceries. A family of four spends up to $1,284 a month on food at home, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to stock up on sale items that are nonperishable or that can be frozen. Once you have a stockpile, you can plan weekly meals around what you have and perishable items on sale at the supermarket. Clipping coupons and shopping during double-coupon days and eliminating restaurant trips are other ways to save.

Eliminate your landline. Growing numbers of households are ditching their landline telephone service and relying strictly on wireless service. According to the U.S. Depart of Labor Consumer Expenditure Survey, consumers spent an average of $353 per year on residential phone services in 2014. Eliminating your landline could put an extra $25 to $30 in your pocket each month.

Cut the cost of wireless service. If you are not locked into a contract with a service provider, you might be able to lower your monthly bill by switching to a smaller carrier that offers more competitive pricing than major carriers. If you don’t want to switch to a smaller carrier that might have a limited coverage area, you still might be able to lower your monthly bill with a major carrier by exploring plans with lower data allotments. Long-time customers can sometimes trim their bills with a call to the service provider’s loyalty department.

Cut or trim the cable cord. The Leichtman Research Group reports that the monthly spending on pay-TV is nearly $100 per month, a 40% increase since 2010. Cutting your cable cord could create savings that would add up quickly. If you’re not ready to give up on cable TV, you could lower your bill by opting for the most basic package.

If taking the above steps still doesn’t leave enough room in your budget, give Behm Law Group, Ltd. a call at (507) 387-7200 a call to discuss your bankruptcy options. We’re standing by to assist you!