Understanding Non-Dischargeability Complaints When Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Luverne, MN

Filing for bankruptcy throws one’s debts into question in front of a Bankruptcy Court, one’s attorney, and one’s creditors. If one has passed the Means Test and is qualified to move forward with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the dischargeability of one’s debts is generally not in dispute. Throughout the process of bankruptcy, however, questions and concerns are can arise from all parties involved. Behm Law Group, Ltd. provides legal advice and assistance to those filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Luverne, MN.

In some chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, non-exempt assets (assets one is not able to protect with one’s bankruptcy exemptions) are liquidated and the sale proceeds are used to pay some dividend to one’s creditors.  The good news is that, in most cases, all of one’s debts are discharged, leaving one permanently free of many crushing financial obligations. However, sometimes creditors may have a legal basis to file a non-dischargeability complaint against a debtor under 11 U.S.C. §523.  This means that sometimes a creditor has a good reason to ask a bankruptcy court not to grant a debtor debt relief as to a particular debt.

Non-Dischargeability Complaints

A complaint filed about the legitimacy of the discharge of one’s debt is technically a lawsuit and it is labeled an “adversary proceeding”. If a creditor files a non-dischargeability compliant, one will be given a summons and the process will take place partially by mail and partially in the bankruptcy court. The complaint is served on the defendant and the defendant has the right to respond in his or her own defense (and with the help of an attorney).  Some examples of grounds justifying a non-dischargeability complaint are:  1.) One has incurred significant debt on a credit card within a short time before filing a bankruptcy; 2.) One has misrepresented one’s financial condition, either verbally or in writing, to a lender and the lender has made a loan relying on the misrepresentations; 3.) One has willfully and intentionally caused financial injury or physical injury to someone.

If a creditor has filed the complaint without proper legal standing, or if the complaint is unclear to one as a debtor, one may file a motion to dismiss the claim or force the creditor to provide a complaint with more specificity. Complaints filed against fraudulently incurred debts or other scenarios, as listed above, must be identified correctly and clearly or one may file a motion to dismiss the complaint.

Responding to a clearly defined complaint against the dischargeability of a debt requires an answer to each paragraph of the compliant provided by the creditor. The help of a bankruptcy attorney during this response time is crucial for one to have optimal access to legal information and to assert one’s rights as a defendant. If one does not respond to the complaint, the case will proceed by default, and the debt in question will be excepted from discharge.

For more information about a non-dischargeability complaint and why it’s important to take advantage of the help an attorney can provide during this time, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200. You can also count on us for advice and assistance if you are considering filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy or Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Luverne, MN.

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.

What, When, and Why With the Wildcard Exemption When Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Fairmont, MN

When it comes to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the idea established with the bankruptcy code was to find a balance between the discharging or getting rid of one’s debts and allowing one to retain enough assets to reorganize and not endure further financial hardship.  Indeed, it would not make much sense and it would not be of any public benefit to take all of a one’s assets.  In such a case, the person would only continue to struggle and could not get back one’s feet.  Certain precautions and allowances have been set in place to protect a person against complete destitution after Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Exemptions for qualifying properties are the saving grace for someone who files for bankruptcy relief. At Behm Law Group, Ltd., we can work with you to determine which exemptions would apply to your particular circumstances when filing for bankruptcy in Fairmont, MN.

There are several kinds of exemptions that you can use when filing for bankruptcy relief.  There are exemptions provided by the laws of the State of Minnesota and there are exemptions provided by the bankruptcy code. One exemption that allows you to protect certain assets from liquidation is the wildcard exemption.

What is the wildcard exemption?

When you file for bankruptcy relief, there are several exemptions that apply to specific types of property to prevent liquidation of those assets (e.g. homestead exemption or motor vehicle exemption). The wildcard exemption is a non-specific exemption that you can use to protect one or more assets from among several types of properties.  It is a spill-over or catch-all exemption that allows you to retain miscellaneous property for which there may not be a specific exemption.  In addition, it can allow you to double up on property. For instance if you own 2 vehicles, you could use the motor vehicle exemption to protect the first vehicle and the wildcard exemption to protect the second vehicle.  Alternatively, you could use the wildcard exemption to protect an asset, such as a snowmobile or a boat or a weapon, where there is no specific exemption that can be used to protect it.

When can you use the wildcard exemption?

Because the Minnesota exemption laws do not have a wildcard exemption, a bankruptcy filer can only use the wildcard exemption if one chooses the bankruptcy exemptions provided under the bankruptcy code. The current federal wildcard exemption amount is set at $1,250, but can change based on application. For example, when used in combination with one’s homestead exemption, one may use the federal wildcard exemption amount plus up to $11,850 of one’s unused homestead exemption amount for a total of $13,100.  One can use the wildcard exemption on any one item of property or one can split the amount between multiple items of property.

For example: If one owns a car worth $4,000, and one does not owe anything on the car, one’s equity is $4,000.  In this case, one could use the motor vehicle exemption of 11 U.S.C. §522(d)(2) to protect $3,775 of this amount and then use part of the wildcard exemption of 11 U.S.C. §522(d)(5) to protect the other $225.  Also, if one has a second car worth $5,000, one can use an additional amount of the wildcard exemption of 11 U.S.C. §522(d)(5) to protect it, too.

Why does the wildcard exemption exist?

The bankruptcy exemptions, including the wildcard exemption, were put in place to protect US citizens from irreparable loss and destitution. In the long run, allowing bankrupt individuals to keep assets with which to reorganize will in turn prevent unemployment from growing and keep the economy from falling.

For more information about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fairmont, MN, and how exemptions can help you keep your property, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200.

Motor Vehicle Exemptions and Keeping Your Vehicle When Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Relief in Redwood Falls, MN

At Behm Law Group, Ltd., we have often found that our clients considering bankruptcy know they could benefit from filing for Chapter 7 but balk at the idea of possibly losing some of their assets.  However, the concern about losing assets is often exaggerated.  The drafters of the bankruptcy code understood the need for households to hold on to some of their assets to prevent the bankruptcy process from doing more harm than good and to allow people to retain assets with which to reorganize their lives and maintain their financial security.  Thus, the drafters of the bankruptcy code included various exemption laws, which are very generous, that allow people to retain assets in bankruptcy. Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you work through the process of filing for bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN, including identifying which exemptions can be applied to your case.

One major concern of those entering into the process of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the potential loss of their motor vehicle.  For many families and individuals, the loss of a vehicle means the loss of any means of transportation.  However, 11 U.S.C. § 522(d)(2) of the bankruptcy code allows for the exemption or retention of a motor vehicle. It is more accurate to state that the exemption allows the retention of an equitable interest in a motor vehicle rather than the retention of the vehicle itself.

The exemptible equity in your car is determined by its current market value balanced with the amount of your car loan. For example, if you own a car worth $5,000 and have a loan balance of $2,000, your motor vehicle equity is $3,000.  This $3,000.00 would constitute equitable interest that would be protected by or exempted with the applicable bankruptcy exemption.   It is possible to have $0 in equity if your loan is equal to the value of your car and it is possible to have a negative equity if your loan is greater than the value of your car. For instance, if your car is worth $5,000.00 and there is a $5,000.00 or $6,000.00 loan against it there would be no equity to protect or exempt with the applicable bankruptcy exemption.

Federal Exemption

The Federal motor vehicle exemption of 11 U.S.C. § 522(d)(2), among other federal exemptions, changes every three years according to economic conditions and other factors. The current motor vehicle exemption amount is $3,775.  This means that if you have equity in your car less than the exemption amount, the bankruptcy trustee administering your bankruptcy case would not be able to take your motor vehicle, sell it and use the sale proceeds to pay a dividend your creditors.

Minnesota Exemption

In Minnesota, those filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy have the option of choosing either the federal exemptions or the Minnesota exemptions. The Minnesota motor vehicle exemption clocks in at a maximum of $4,600 in equity. The amount increases up to $46,000 for vehicles that accommodate physical disabilities and are eligible for handicapped parking spaces (but only if changes made to the vehicle are more than $3,450).

The bankruptcy exemption laws are designed to help you find ways to keep your motor vehicle and other assets, even if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief. For more information about exemptions you may qualify for and for help with filing for bankruptcy relief in Redwood Falls, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

The Top 3 Mistakes Made on the Minnesota Means Test When Filing for Bankruptcy in Jackson, MN

Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be incredibly beneficial for those who are struggling with credit card debt, unmanageable mortgages, and most other forms of accumulated debt. Financially, Chapter 7 discharges the majority of your debt and liquidates your non-exempt assets in order to pay your creditors. While these may seem like drastic measures, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can effectively reset your financial standings, giving you the best restart you could expect. Behm Law Group, Ltd. understands that debt can come from many different sources, and if you need to file for bankruptcy in Jackson, MN, we’re on your side for legal advice and assistance throughout the process.

When you file for bankruptcy as an individual, the most common options you can choose between are Chapter 13 (debt reorganization) and Chapter 7 (debt/discharge/asset liquidation). To those with a low income or with no way of continuing to pay their debts even with a debt reorganization plan in place, Chapter 7 is the most attractive and viable option. To qualify for Chapter 7, however, you must pass the state Means Test with a disposable income lower than the median income of an equivalent Minnesota household.

Without legal support and advice like the help Behm attorneys can provide, the Means Test can prove difficult, nuanced, and complex. Even those with a low income have failed to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after making these common mistakes on the Means Test:

  1. Many people list child support on their Means Test that they are supposed to receive but do not for one reason or another, and this can completely change the test results. The same goes for those who list child support they are supposed to pay but do not. You should only list what you receive and what you pay.
  2. Household sizes are frequently listed inaccurately on Means Tests, and this can change the recorded outcome of who depends on your disposable income, altering the results of your test overall. Your household size is most frequently determined by who is legally dependent on your disposable income (e.g. minors or disabled dependents).
  3. Often accidentally, Chapter 7 filers list an incorrect income. This in itself can render you ineligible. To even be considered for the outcome of the Means Test, your recorded income MUST match your actual income. Dates, exact numbers, recorded paychecks, and all sources of income should be detailed as exactly as possible.

There are many other mistakes found on Means Test reported across the country, and those who are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can gain a lot from professional assistance. Behm Law Group, Ltd. is here to help. Contact us at (507) 387-7200 for more information about filing for bankruptcy in Jackson, MN.

How to Qualify for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN, With a High Disposable Income

Whether you’ve become overwhelmed with credit card debt, accumulated debts over the years that outweigh your income, or struggled financially for any other reason, filing for bankruptcy might be your best course of action. For most individuals, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a popular option because it alleviates a large amount of debt and makes rebuilding credit possible for even the poorest scores. However, qualifying for Chapter 7 requires passing the Means Test, and if you have an income higher than the median Minnesota income for a household similar to yours, you may not qualify. Behm Law Group, Ltd. attorneys can help you determine if it’s possible to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN, even with your high income.

Despite how black and white the pass/fail system of the Means Test may seem, it is possible to find gray area when it comes to qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with a high disposable income. The Means Test is designed to weigh all the aspects of your financial situation, and as long as everything is documented correctly, it’s possible to qualify for Chapter 7 with a high income if your situation meets one or more of the following standards:

  • Your number of financial dependents is high enough to overbalance your income. More dependents to support means more money spent out of your income.
  • You owe child support, back taxes, overdue payments on car loans, attorney fees, mortgage, or other property.
  • Your car or mortgage payments are high and prevent your income from being high enough to work with a debt repayment plan through Chapter 13.
  • The majority of your debts are business related, not consumer related. This can include business and personal income tax debts, personal loans for business, and credit card debts accumulated from purchasing for your business.
  • You are currently on active duty or have been active within the previous 540 days for the National Guard or other military reserve.

These standards act to balance out your income with your financial obligations and debts. Even with a high income, aspects of your financial situation may mean that the money you earn is outweighed by the money you spend.

For more information about the Means Test and filing for bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

How to Know if You Quality for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN

If you’re struggling with debt, filing for bankruptcy might be a great option to help you get back on your feet and recover financially. For most individuals—and even for some small businesses—filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most attractive option for alleviating debt and rebuilding credit. Not everyone, however, will qualify for Chapter 7, irrespective of how overwhelming the debts may be. Behm Law Group, Ltd’s bankruptcy attorneys can help you throughout the bankruptcy process and determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN.

Chapter 7, or liquidation bankruptcy, is a type of bankruptcy that is designed to discharge all your qualifying debts and liquidate your non-exempt assets to pay some dividend your creditors.  The bankruptcy code provides very generous bankruptcy exemptions which allow you to retain your property.  In most cases, the bankruptcy exemptions will be sufficient to allow you to retain all of your property.  Sometimes, the value of the property you own may exceed your allowable bankruptcy exemptions in which case the bankruptcy trustee administering your case would be required to liquidate or sell the non-exempt assets and divide the proceeds among your creditors.  In order to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy relief, you must first qualify by passing the Minnesota Means Test.

Means Test

The Means Test is an evaluation of your disposable income. By comparing your average monthly income during the six-months prior to the month in which you file for bankruptcy with the median income or state average income for a household of your size, the courts will decide whether your income is low enough for you to qualify for Chapter 7. To put it simply, if your income is lower than the state median or state average income for a household of your size, you qualify for Chapter 7. If your income is equal to or higher than the state median or state average income for a household of your size, you still must complete the Means Test in full, and the courts will decide if you qualify based on the balancing of your expenses and income.

Even if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after taking the Means Test, there are some other aspects of liquidation bankruptcy to consider:

  • Only certain debts are discharged during the Chapter 7 process, while other debts, such as some tax debts, child support debts and criminal fines, are not subject to discharge and you must continue paying them after your case is concluded. If you have more debts that are non-dischargeable than those that are discharged, Chapter 7 may not be the best type of bankruptcy for your financial situation.
  • When you enter the process of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your non-exempt assets will be liquidated by the bankruptcy trustee to pay a dividend your creditors, just as your debts are discharged to alleviate your financial burdens.

Chapter 7 may be the perfect choice to get you back on your feet. On the other hand, Chapter 13 or other financial actions might be a better option for your situation. Find out more about the paths that lie ahead of you, and contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 for more information about bankruptcy in New Ulm, MN.

What to Expect from a Meeting of Creditors when Filing for Bankruptcy in Owatonna, MN

Filing a bankruptcy petition often seems intimidating to our clients because of the many steps and requirements involved in the process. While it’s true that bankruptcy proceedings in the U.S. have several requirements, forms, schedules, and a mishmash other legal formalities, filing for bankruptcy doesn’t have to be insurmountable. At Behm Law Group, Ltd., we offer legal advice and assistance for those considering filing for bankruptcy in Owatonna, MN.

Among the many requirements demanded of filers are the preemptive measures U.S. Bankruptcy Courts take to ensure a debtor has a valid petition and will not be rejected for debt discharge or debt reorganization. Some of these measures are also designed to educate debtors on their financial situations and are required in the hopes that a filer will be better equipped to survive financially after the bankruptcy process is complete.

Mandatory credit counseling is one such requirement, as well as the meeting of creditors—also known as a 341 hearing.

 

Meeting of Creditors for Chapter 7 Petitions

If you’ve chosen to file for Chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy, you will attend a meeting of creditors between 21 and 40 days after filing your petition. While a Chapter 7 trustee will orchestrate this meeting of creditors, there will not be a judge present. The meeting essentially serves to verify the accuracy of the representations made in your bankruptcy petition.  It also serves to provide the bankruptcy trustee and, perhaps, some of your creditors to ask you questions about the representations made in your bankruptcy petition and about your assets.  In most cases your creditors will not be present, but there are instances where some or all of your creditors may attend and ask you questions.

 

Meeting of Creditors for Chapter 13 Petitions

In Chapter 13 cases, the meeting of creditors is more likely to be referred to as a 341 hearing (although it is not an official court hearing). The 341 hearing will take place between 21 and 50 days after your petition for Chapter 13 (reorganization) bankruptcy is filed. Just as with a Chapter 7 meeting of creditors, there will be a trustee and, perhaps, some of your creditors in attendance, but no judge will be present. This purpose of a 341 hearing is to determine your past and present financial and tax situations, including expenses, exemptions, income, and asset values.

Our attorneys at Behm Law Group, Ltd. are well equipped to help you get through the process of a meeting of creditors. If you have questions about what to bring to your meeting of creditors and how to organize your financial history, contact us at (507) 387-7200 for more information about filing for bankruptcy in Owatonna, MN.

Collaborative Possibilities for Debtors Filing for Bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN

Handling financial troubles alone is trying, but when you fall into a situation where filing for bankruptcy would be your best option, the process can often seem inescapably daunting. For an individual filer, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common and generally the best option for relieving debt. Behm Law Group, Ltd. can help you use your options to the greatest outcome when filing for bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Courts understand that individual filers may need options beyond the standard Chapter 7 process, and thus there are bankruptcy mechanisms that allow for collaboration between debtors in similar financial situations.

 

Joint Administration, for example, is a method of processing two or more bankruptcy cases in U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in unison. The separate cases are combined into one and administered as such, meaning the collaborating debtors can join their resources, assets, and debts into one case representing the debtors as one party in the court. Cooperating debtors can also join together in hiring attorneys and credit counselors.

 

Substantive Consolidation goes hand-in-hand with Joint Administrations and defines the act of repaying all involved creditors with the combined assets of all involved debtors. Pooling assets alleviates the burden of liquidation that would be placed on a single creditor, but it must also result in equal benefits to all creditors.

 

Joint Petition allows spouses to file for bankruptcy in the state of Minnesota under the same petition. This means that all debts and assets are consolidated to represent the spouses as a single entity. Joint petitions are similar to Joint Administration proceedings, but they’re more beneficial for spouses because all asset liquidation and debt discharges are contained within the single household.

 

The collaborative possibilities that individual filers have when considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy may help them in the long run after debts are discharged and assets are liquidated. If you feel any of these options are right for your financial situation, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 for more information about filing for bankruptcy in Redwood Falls, MN.