Possible Plan Outcomes with Chapter 12 Bankruptcy in Jackson, MN

The seasons of winter and spring in Minnesota are the most difficult times for farmers who support their households with income from agricultural sources. In fact, it’s a time when bankruptcies filed by family farmers spike across the country. In 1987, Chapter 12 bankruptcy was added to the bankruptcy code to help family farmers recover from extreme financial difficulties through the process of debt restructuring and debt consolidation. Behm Law Group, Ltd. offers legal advice and assistance for farmers who are considering filing for Chapter 12 bankruptcy in Jackson, MN.

The process of Chapter 12 bankruptcy is similar to that of Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy, but offers specific benefits tailored to fit the financial circumstances of a family farming household. The process of Chapter 12 takes a filer’s debts and restructures them to create a new payment plan that can last 3 to 5 years. This plan requires a full repayment of priority unsecured debts, such as tax debts, and, generally, a specific percentage (0%-100%) repayment of all other debts.

The outcome of a Chapter 12 bankruptcy case can be decided in one of five ways:

  1. Converted: If your household income is low enough to pass the Means Test and you have either failed to propose a repayment plan or your proposed plan was not confirmed by the bankruptcy court, you can have your case converted to a Chapter 7 liquidation case.

 

  1. Confirmed without discharge: If your repayment plan proposal is accepted, your plan will be confirmed or approved by the bankruptcy court. Depending on the amounts you owe and the types of debts you have, you may not actually receive a discharge of your debts and you may only need the assistance of a chapter 12 bankruptcy proceeding to simply restructure or consolidate your debts.

 

  1. Confirmed with discharge: The most common outcome for approved Chapter 12 cases includes a repayment plan that is confirmed by the bankruptcy court and provides for the restructuring or consolidation of some debts and for the discharge or other debts. Debts that are often discharged in a Chapter 12 bankruptcy include medical bills and credit card debts. This is the optimal outcome of a Chapter 12 case.

 

  1. Dismissed before confirmation: If your Chapter 12 case is filed in bad faith, or if you have engaged in other fraudulent behavior either before or after your case is filed, your bankruptcy case could be dismissed before you begin the chapter 12 plan confirmation process.

 

  1. Dismissed after filing: If you engage in fraudulent behavior within the 3 to 5-year repayment plan period, your plan can be dismissed, even after you successfully get the bankruptcy court to approve or confirm your chapter 12 plan. This can result from a number of different circumstances, for example, if you hide additional income or attempt to convert your case to Chapter 7 in bad faith.

 

If you’re a local family farmer and struggling to meet debt payments and daily financial obligations, Chapter 12 bankruptcy might be a way to recover. Contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today for more information about filing for Chapter 12 bankruptcy in Jackson, MN.

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.

Details on the Credit Counseling Requirement for bankruptcy in Marshall, MN

If you’re struggling to meet your financial obligations month-to-month, filing for bankruptcy is a real option. There’s often a vibe of foreboding around the idea of having to file for bankruptcy relief, but while it may not be what one wants to do (no one ever actually wants to file for bankruptcy relief), it can provide a way out of a bad place. The process of bankruptcy was designed to get debtors back on their feet – to give them a “fresh start” – and to provide fair treatment to creditors by means of debt reconstructing or asset liquidation. No matter what type of chapter of bankruptcy relief you file for, Behm Law Group, Ltd. provides legal advice and assistance with bankruptcy in Marshall, MN.

With every bankruptcy case comes a wide variety of requirements, including the requirement of each filer to undergo credit counseling within 180 days before one even files a bankruptcy petition. The credit counseling requirement has been in place in bankruptcy law since the passing of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) of 2005 and all filers are required to take a credit counseling course in order to obtain bankruptcy relief.

Purpose

When the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) was passed in 2005, it was the sense of Congress that people had been filing for bankruptcy relief flippantly without seriously considering the possible complications in the process and without having any idea as to the possible effects on their credit rating profiles.  Congress basically thought that it was too easy for people to incur a bunch of debt and then file for bankruptcy relief to get out of paying it.  Congress intended the credit counseling requirement not only to provide people with insights as to the various options/alternatives to bankruptcy relief but also to provide guidance on proper budgeting techniques.   The requirement applies to all debtors, not just those who owe banks and credit card companies. Another purpose for the credit counseling requirement is to determine whether your financial situation warrants a bankruptcy filing and whether someone will actually benefit from the process.

Counseling Agencies

Court-approved credit counseling agencies are your safest option to fulfill the counseling requirement. These agencies provide all necessary information and course material at reasonable fees. The fee can be based on a sliding scale that is determined by your household income. This means that if you prove your income is 150% below the poverty line for a Minnesota household of similar size, court-approved agencies must waive the cost.

If you plan to file for bankruptcy, be prepared to undergo a credit counseling course with an approved agency. With our help, finding an agency that is right for you will be easy. Contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. today at (507) 387-7200 and find the help you need before you file for bankruptcy in Marshall, MN.

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.

How Your Trustee Benefits When You File for Bankruptcy in Luverne, MN

Understanding government and legal positions is a complicated business. The role of an employee and how they are compensated varies widely from position to position and department to department. Bankruptcy trustees are not employed by the United States Department of Justice.  However, they are private attorney’s appointed by the United States Department of Justice and assigned to bankruptcy cases through the United States Trustee Program.  Working with the bankruptcy trustee assigned to a particular bankruptcy case can often be nuanced. Behm Law Group, Ltd. works with both our clients and the bankruptcy trustees to successfully handle bankruptcy cases in Luverne, MN.

The help of a bankruptcy firm and attorneys such as those here at Behm Law Group, Ltd. is often key to meeting the optimal outcome in a bankruptcy case. Your bankruptcy trustee is responsible for administering your bankruptcy estate.  The bankruptcy estate is a legal entity separate and distinct from the person filing for bankruptcy relief.  It consists of any property that you are not able to keep or exempt in your bankruptcy case.  In chapter 7 cases, trustees sell or liquidate any non-exempt assets and use the proceeds to pay something to your various creditors.  Not only do they work to distribute any liquidated assets in a Chapter 7 case to your creditors, they also work with you and your creditors in a Chapter 13 case.  In a Chapter 13 case, you make one monthly payment (a payment that you can afford that is determined with the supervision of the trustee) to the chapter 13 trustee, pursuant to a restructured debt payment plan, every month for 36 to 60 months.   The chapter 13 trustee then splits that payment up among your various creditors each month for 36 to 60 months.

Additional responsibilities of a trustee are numerous, but in short, they work to oversee your case, detect fraudulent behavior with all parties involved, and ensure accuracy.

A trustee’s compensation can depend on several situations within a bankruptcy case.

Chapter 7: In a Chapter 7 case, your bankruptcy trustee takes a $60.00 fee from the $335.00 filing fee you pay to the court. If you have no assets, that’s all your trustee will receive from your case. If you do have assets, your trustee receives percentage from the collected amount after non-exempt assets are liquidated and before anything is paid to your creditors. The amount taken is determined by a sliding scale, under 11 U.S.C. §326. For the first $5,000.00 collected by a trustee, the trustee will take 25%. For the next $45,000 the trustee will take 10%, and for the following $950,000 the trustee will take 5%. For anything collected by the trustee that exceeds $1 million dollars, the trustee would take 3%. Trustees can also recover costs from the bankruptcy estate with court approval.

Chapter 13: In a Chapter 13 case, your repayment plan decides the amount of your trustee’s compensation. In all cases, your trustee cannot take more than 10% of all total payments in your plan. For instance, if your chapter 13 plan payment is $500.00, the trustee would receive $50.00 of every payment you make.  Most trustees handling Chapter 13 cases are also paid a yearly salary through the federal government.

It’s important to understand the function and duties of a trustee.  Having an attorney on your side can help you understand this. If you’re considering filing for bankruptcy in Luverne, MN, contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 today.

American Apparel® Files for “Chapter 22” and Why Small Businesses File for Bankruptcy in Mankato, MN

For the second time in its 27 years as a U.S. free-trade fashion retailer, American Apparel® has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy—unofficially named “Chapter 22.” The company originally filed in 2015, struggled through its plans for financial recovery, and reentered U.S. bankruptcy courts in early November of 2016. American Apparel caters to the global market, but the company’s situation still serves as an advisory tale to smaller businesses in Minnesota. Behm Law Group, Ltd. is dedicated to assisting residents and business owners during the process of bankruptcy in Mankato, MN.

Since American Apparel left bankruptcy court in early 2016, they’ve struggled with several factors that affected the performance of their company.

 

Financial Issues for American Apparel

Despite attempting to recover from their first bout of bankruptcy, American Apparel faced poor market conditions that affected retailers across the country. The company has also been consistently set back by certain internal affairs and several unwise marketing choices (i.e. advertising swim suits off-season and neglecting to increase online sales). Since its debts of $497 million forced American Apparel to file in 2015, the lack of turnaround has left the company with $215 million in debt this year alone.

American Apparel filed for bankruptcy this year because of several factors, many of which affect small businesses in Mankato very similarly.

 

Financing and Funds

The majority of small businesses that file for bankruptcy gather debts based on their lack of financing and funding, both internally and externally. Loans can only help a business in the long run if they are able to gain back significant revenue to continue making loan repayments. Many startups are unable to reconcile expenses and debts with their cash flow.

 

Market Status

Just as American Apparel struggled with the market conditions over the past year, small businesses are affected by the economy as well. Overarching depression in the market harm revenue for small businesses, but fluctuations within specific markets also affect local companies. The revenue of any business is based on the demand of its product, and market shifts can be subtle and sudden, leaving bankruptcy in a company’s path.

 

Economic Choices

While it’s true that business owners making wise economic choices can still have revenue affected negatively in ways outside of their control, the choices any company makes will impact its ability to cash flow. Poor economic choices, such as some of American Apparel’s marketing decisions, will push a business further into debt and closer to bankruptcy.

 

If you own a small business and have recently struggled with debts, bankruptcy may actually be the right choice for you. Contact Behm Law Group, Ltd. at (507) 387-7200 for more information about filing for bankruptcy in Mankato, MN.

Will Dire Farm Economy Predictions Result in More Bankruptcies in the Redwood Falls, Minnesota Area?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting that farmers will produce a record corn crop in 2016. But if Minnesota economic forecasts of dropping commodity prices, a stronger U.S. dollar, and weak global growth create fallout in the Redwood Falls, Minnesota area, Behm Law Group, LLC is ready to help.

Analysts are worried that the combination of healthy supplies, the strength of the U.S. dollar, and slow growth in world-wide demand have kept prices for corn and soybeans low. The result is harming the profits of Minnesota farmers and it could impact other related businesses.

Stephen Behm and the staff at Behm Law Group, LLC are keeping an eye on the latest trends and their impact on the local economy. Behm Law Group has earned a reputation for skill and excellence in the field of bankruptcy law in the Redwood Falls area. They have assisted hundreds of people to make a fresh start financially through Chapter 13, 12, and 7 bankruptcies.

The outlook for 2016 does have some bright spots as well: forecasters credit Minnesota’s large and diverse economic base for helping it absorb the global slowdown. There is a reason for optimism with job gains in education, health care, retail, and finance, as well as a need for tradespeople as homebuilding activity begins to rebound.

If Minnesota’s changing economic fortunes leave you seeking some assistance and you need questions answered, Behm Law Group, LLC offers private and free bankruptcy information. These meetings at the Redwood County courthouse are available to anyone and we expect no commitment should you decide to attend.

Behm Law Group, LLC wants to help you navigate the ever-shifting world economy and get the relief you need through bankruptcy, even if it’s only by having a conversation to help you answer some questions and figure out your options. You don’t have to live with crushing debt and hounding collection calls. Allow us to do what we have confidently and successfully done for hundreds of others: help you with a fresh financial start.

 

Recovering Tuition in Bankruptcy in Mankato, Minnesota

For parents in and around Mankato, MN, imagine your sons and daughters going to college. Emotions overflow. A new adventure awaits. All that hard-earned money is finally producing more educated citizens. Now you have the time to pursue other interests. Behm Law Group, Ltd. congratulates you on this new chapter in your life.

Let’s fast forward a couple of years. Let’s say you’ve incurred a large amount of debt. You worry. Your financial decisions don’t seem to bring you much income, so you file for bankruptcy. At least your children’s futures will be better, you think. They’re already well on their way to achieving degrees.

There’s one slight hiccup the bankruptcy attorneys at Behm Law Group, Ltd. want you to be aware of. When someone files for bankruptcy, the court normally appoints a trustee. What do you think that trustee’s job is? It’s not to safeguard your money. Rather, it’s to help creditors recoup as much money as they can.

In fact, court-appointed trustees can review payments made 4-6 years prior to the bankruptcy in most states. If there doesn’t appear to be a viable need for that spent money, it can be re-taken by the trustees. Essentially, the end result would be as if you never spent the money in the first place.

Whoa, you exclaim! How could that affect you? Remember that tuition you paid? You may view that expense as essential and beneficial. Of course, your children can prove the education made their lives better. Or, can they?

Actually, in many cases, a court-appointed trustee can and has recovered spent tuition monies. Now you’re wondering what your rights are. We’re glad you asked.

Contact the bankruptcy attorneys at Behm Law Group, Ltd. for your bankruptcy needs in the Mankato, Minnesota area. Find out what trustees can and can’t do in your situation. Find out how recovered tuition would impact your child’s education. Get some answers and some peace of mind.