Articles Posted in Chapter 11

Wood blocks spelling small business and a cup of coffeeThere are more than 2.4 million small businesses in Florida, employing more than 3.2 million people. If you are one of them, you might be wondering if bankruptcy is an option to reduce your debt. Depending on how your business is legally categorized, you’ll be able to file a Chapter 7, 11, or 13 case. An experienced bankruptcy attorney in Jacksonville can help you determine if bankruptcy is your best alternative. Because Florida is a homestead exemption state, there may be some other things to keep in mind as well. Each of these can have different effects on your business.

What Types of Bankruptcy Can I File?

In the US, there are a few different types of bankruptcy filing categories, called “Chapters.” Chapters 7 and 13 are usually used by individuals for personal filing. Chapter 11 is used for businesses. These can all mean different things for a small business in Florida.

A computer with bankruptcy and debt counseling website openBefore filing bankruptcy in Jacksonville, you’re required to complete credit counseling. The Federal Trade Commission states that you must complete this credit counseling from a government approved agency within 180 days of filing. You must also complete a debtor education course after filing in order for your debts to be discharged.

Why is Credit Counseling Required?

The main purpose of credit counseling is to help you evaluate your financial situation and ensure that bankruptcy is a last resort. Through counseling, you’ll determine if there’s a feasible way to handle your debts outside of bankruptcy without increasing what you owe.

a gavel on a bankruptcy court benchMany people worry about what happens after they make the decision to file for bankruptcy. While preparing your paperwork is half the battle, it’s important to be prepared for what occurs after you’ve signed your petition. Here’s what you can expect after filing bankruptcy.

The Automatic Stay is Put in Place.

An automatic stay is a federal court order that goes into effect the moment a bankruptcy case is filed. It prevents creditors from making any effort to collect on debts you owe. You’ll be assigned a case number by the court, which you should give to any creditors that try contacting you. If they persist, they will have to answer to the bankruptcy court.

one woman whispering a shocking secret to anotherMany people are concerned with the negative stigma that surrounds bankruptcy. They want to know who will find out if they decide to file. While a bankruptcy is publicly recorded, typically only creditors or bankruptcy attorneys will actually view this information. You probably shouldn’t worry too much about your friends, neighbors, or others in your social circles finding out.

What’s Included in My Bankruptcy Record?

The information on file will include copies of any documents related to the filing. Values of assets, creditors’ claims and information on any funds exchanged in the process will be listed. It will also include notes about meetings and phone calls.

Often times, Debtors are involved in accidents where personal property is totaled or unsalvageable. Many times these accidents occur while a bankruptcy is pending and the Debtor still owes a secured lender for the property. I must note the strategy detailed below is really only relevant to Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 cases. What is substitution of collateral? What the Debtor is generally looking to do is use the insurance proceeds from the accident, apply them to new property, and essentially substitute the newly acquired property as the former secured lender’s collateral.

You may be asking, what benefit is there to doing this? Well, it may allow a Debtor to purchase a new vehicle outright without new financing terms. It’s likely the Debtor will benefit from not having to pay off a secured creditor in full and worry about being able to afford a new vehicle. If the insurance proceeds are less than what is owed on the vehicle, this strategy will not work. You see this scenario most often with work vehicles. However, the issue is also very common in Chapter 11 business cases where business equipment is damaged and needs to be replaced.

Unfortunately, the strategy does not always work smoothly and the creditor may resist the motion to substitute collateral. The good creditor attorneys, who understand the law, will not object. Generally, the insurance adjuster will not release the insurance proceeds without the title being surrendered by the secured lender. This may put the Debtor in an even tougher situation financially especially if the Debtor is relying on a new piece of property for work purposes. Most Debtors cannot afford to wait months for the litigation to get resolved. Arguably, a creditor’s failure to release the title to the insurance company is a violation of the automatic stay (assuming no stay relief has been ordered).