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Bankruptcy Discharge vs. Bankruptcy Dismissal

May 20th, 2013

When you file for bankruptcy protection, the ideal goal is to resolve your debts. There are a lot of different ways that you can do that, including Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13. For each of these different types of bankruptcy, debt can be eliminated when certain criteria are met or under certain conditions. A Pasadena bankruptcy lawyer can explain to you the differences in the different types of bankruptcy so you can choose the one that makes the most sense.

No matter what type of bankruptcy you file, however, there are a few possible outcomes that can result from the bankruptcy proceedings. Two of those outcomes include discharge and dismissal. While discharge and dismissal may be similar sounding words, there are very fundamental differences between these two endings to a bankruptcy and anyone filing needs to understand those differences.

Discharge vs. Dismissal

When you enter into bankruptcy, the goal of the filing is generally to discharge debt. This means that the debt is forgiven or wiped clean and is no longer collectable by the company or entity to whom the debt was owed.

When you file for chapter 7 protection, for example, eligible unsecured debts such as credit card debt are discharged at the end of the bankruptcy. Creditors cannot collect, the debts are listed on your credit report as discharged and you are no longer obligated to pay any of those discharged debts. Chapter 11 and chapter 13 can also result in discharge of some debts, although the process is different.

A dismissal, on the other hand, does not mean that any debts are wiped clean. Instead, a dismissal means that the bankruptcy case is dismissed by the judge and does not continue to go forward. Money that you owe or owed on your debts is not forgiven or discharged and creditors can still continue trying to collect the money from you.

When Does a Dismissal Occur?

A dismissal is usually something that you do not want to have happen during your bankruptcy since it will leave your financial problems unresolved. A dismissal can occur when something goes wrong, such as a failure to follow through with the required obligations of your bankruptcy proceedings. A dismissal can also occur if the judge believes you are not eligible for bankruptcy, perhaps because you already filed recently.

Avoiding a dismissal should be a top priority for those who want to go through with bankruptcy proceedings. A Pasadena bankruptcy attorney can help you with your bankruptcy case so you will be able to avoid this undesirable outcome and instead end up with a discharge of your debts.

Posted by Dheeraj Singhal | Permalink
Posted in Bankruptcy Basics

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Serves as the Model Worldwide

May 17th, 2013

Chapter 11 bankruptcy has long provided solutions for those running businesses in the United States who need assistance in restructuring their debts. With the help of a Pasadena bankruptcy lawyer, many local businesses have been able to climb out of financial trouble to become profitable and successful again.

Those in the U.S. are fortunate to have this type of bankruptcy protection available, as it is not an option to save your business using a Chapter 11 model in many parts of the world. In response to ongoing financial difficulties in Europe, however, the Wall Street Journal indicates that Europe is reshaping its bankruptcy laws and using Chapter 11 as a guide.

The Importance of Strong Business Bankruptcy Laws

The problems in Europe as reported by the Wall Street Journal are highlighting the importance of having strong bankruptcy laws that can allow for businesses to resolve their debt issues in an effective way.

In Europe, there are many distressed businesses. In fact, more than 100,000 companies in Italy had to close last year as a result of financial insolvency. Many of these businesses not just in Italy but throughout all of Europe are faced with clunky bankruptcy laws that do not allow them a chance to refinance or renegotiate debt.

When a business has no options for refinancing or changing the structure of their debt, the business often has no choice but to liquidate when the debt gets to be too much. To give businesses an alternative and hopefully to help keep their doors open, France, Spain, Germany and Italy have all changed their bankruptcy laws over the past year. Many of these changes are based on the Chapter 11 model in the United States, including a change to the use of cram downs.

Chapter 11 is a Viable Solution

Locations throughout Europe are adopting provisions from Chapter 11 bankruptcy because these provisions work.  By allowing companies to turn to an effective insolvency procedure, to change the repayment structure of their debt and to resolve problem debt situations, it is possible to save many businesses from the brink of disaster.

For those companies in the United States that are facing financial strife, it only makes sense to take advantage of this effective and efficient system that is available here. A Pasadena chapter 11 bankruptcy attorney can assist you in determining if a chapter 11 is the right choice for your business and can help you with all of the steps involved in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy so you can get your business back on track.

Posted by Dheeraj Singhal | Permalink

Advice on Finding a Bankruptcy Attorney

May 13th, 2013

Recently, a Consumer Debt Expert for the Huffington Post provided some tips on how to find a great bankruptcy attorney to assist you with your bankruptcy filing.

Finding the right bankruptcy attorney is very important because you want to make sure that your lawyer will truly represent your interests and will help you to move through your bankruptcy effectively and efficiently so you end up in the best possible financial situation when the proceedings are over.

Tips for Finding a Bankruptcy Attorney

The Huffington Post provided many important tips that those considering a bankruptcy filing can use when looking for an attorney to represent them. For example, some of the advice in the Huffington Post’s article included the following:

  • Don’t be afraid to contact bankruptcy attorneys and ask questions if you are considering hiring them to represent you. You need to find a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer that you connect with and talking to an attorney is the only way to do that.
  • Pay attention to whether the attorney is willing to discuss multiple different types of bankruptcy with you. The Huffington Post article cautioned that many attorneys just try to push clients towards Chapter 13 bankruptcy because it is easier when other options such as Chapter 7 might  be a better choice. Chapter 13 may make sense for many, especially for those with higher incomes, with lots of assets and for those hoping to resolve issues with mortgages and car loans. However, your attorney should be willing to discuss and consider different types of bankruptcy and should be willing to explain to you why one particular type of bankruptcy makes the most sense for you.
  • Don’t focus on price as the only consideration. It is, of course, important to ensure that you can afford the fees that are charged by a bankruptcy attorney that you are working with. After all, when you are filing for bankruptcy, you are obviously in a bad financial situation. However, a good attorney can help to resolve that bad financial situation while a bad attorney might not be effective. You need to find an attorney who has the skills you need and this should be the major priority, not just cost alone.
  • Look for an attorney who offers good customer service. You want to make sure that you are well treated by your attorney and by those in the office since you will need to work closely with your lawyer during the bankruptcy.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can find the right Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer for you.

Posted by Dheeraj Singhal | Permalink
Posted in Bankruptcy Lawyer

Forbes Says Chapter 11 Saved the U.S. Economy

May 10th, 2013

In the U.S. today, many companies continue to struggle as a result of ongoing economic problems and uncertainty. However, Forbes suggests that the economy as a whole is in a much better position as a result of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In fact, a March article published on the Forbes website gives credit for saving the entire U.S. economy to this little-understood chapter of the bankruptcy code.

How Chapter 11 Helped Save the U.S. Economy

The Forbes article addresses the role that Chapter 11 played after the major financial crisis in 2008, discussing the issue with a Harvard Business School professor. The professor is described as an “unabashed advocate of chapter 11 and debt restructuring.”

According to the Forbes article, Chapter 11 is a chapter of bankruptcy that is intended to revive companies and to make a struggling company profitable again.

When the financial crisis happened, the credit market contracted and many businesses were left with insurmountable debts. In fact, according to Forbes, there was $3.5 trillion of corporate debt in default at one point during the crisis. This debt needed to be restructured in order to allow businesses to have liquidity again and in order to allow these businesses to keep their doors open and not to be crippled by their payments.

Chapter 11 allowed this to happen. From 2008 to 2009, a whopping $1.8 trillion worth of public company assets was protected under Chapter 11. This was 20 times more debt restructured under Chapter 11 bankruptcy than in the prior two years.

Because Chapter 11 worked as it should and because restructuring professionals helped these companies to restructure their debt in a way that the businesses could become profitable again, businesses were able to weather the storm and stay open. As a result, balance sheets have recovered, the values of businesses have recovered and the economy as a whole has largely managed to come back although the road has been bumpy.

Can Chapter 11 Help Your Business Too?

With Chapter 11 credited as the savior of the economy after the most significant financial crisis in the U.S. in this generation, many businesses who are struggling may believe that Chapter 11 can help them too to escape the tight spot they find themselves in.

In fact, Chapter 11 often can and is successful at restructuring debt, as this crisis period shows. However, the restructuring must be done right and the business ultimately must be one that can make a profit. A Pasadena chapter 11 bankruptcy lawyer can assist you in making a determination if your business is a good candidate for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Posted by Dheeraj Singhal | Permalink

How Long Will Your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Take?

May 6th, 2013

When you are struggling with unmanageable debts and bills that you cannot pay, you may feel constant stress and every day may seem like an eternity. This is especially true if you are fielding telephone calls from debt collectors or if you are worried about foreclosure or repossession.

If you find yourself in a situation where your debts are taking over your life, filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection may be the best answer for you. Once you decide to file, however, you may wonder exactly how long it is going to take until you are debt free and can move on with your life.

How Long Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Take?

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection, the bankruptcy process involves completing the initial paperwork, coming up with a repayment plan and having the repayment plan approved. This process can occur over a matter of a few weeks or a few months depending upon the complexities of the case and any challenges you may face in creating your repayment plan. Working with a Pasadena bankruptcy lawyer can help things to go more smoothly so you are able to move through this initial legal bankruptcy phase.

Once you have your payment plan approved, however, your bankruptcy is not yet over and your debts are not yet discharged. This is because Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires you to repay some of what you owe to creditors as part of a repayment plan. The amount you need to pay under your repayment plan is determined by a lot of factors including the amount and types of debts that you have as well as your disposable income.

When creating a repayment plan, the time that you are allowed to repay a portion of your debts can span several years. In fact, in general, bankruptcy debtors who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy will have a repayment plan that lasts between three years and five years.

At the end of this period, debts that were eligible to be discharged will be discharged and you can move on with your life without the shadow of unpaid debt hanging over you. However, you do need to remember and be aware that it can take three to five years to get to this point. During this time, you will still enjoy a life free of collection calls and stress since you’ll be making payments as required by the bankruptcy.

Still, moving through the bankruptcy as quickly as possible is the ultimate goal for most. Having a Pasadena bankruptcy lawyer representing you and looking out for your interests can help with this by making sure things move as quickly and effectively as possible during your bankruptcy proceedings.

Posted by Dheeraj Singhal | Permalink

Why the Conventional Wisdom on Chapter 11 is Wrong

May 3rd, 2013

If your business is facing financial trouble and you start to consider chapter 11 bankruptcy, you may find stories about how chapter 11 doesn’t really work and about how many companies are not successful after a chapter 11 bankruptcy. In fact, the prevailing wisdom may be that chapter 11 is time consuming, fraught with delays and rarely successful.

The reality, however, is that chapter 11 can be the ideal solution for many companies that are facing financial problems. A study published in the Michigan Law Review in February of 2009 addressed the critics of chapter 11 and is worth taking a look at, especially as it was written by Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School who is now a U.S. Senator.

Why the Conventional Wisdom on Chapter 11 is Wrong

Elizabeth Warren’s article published in the Michigan Law Review was also co-authorized by a legal professional from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

According to their article, the view of Chapter 11 as a form of bankruptcy “characterized by relatively low success rate and endless delay” is incorrect and the cases from 1994 to 2002 show why it is incorrect.

The big issue is that Chapter 11 is chosen by almost all troubled companies that are facing financial troubles because businesses rarely just want to give up and close their doors. However, in order to actually move through the Chapter 11 process, the business needs to prove that it is viable.

This means that the initial phase of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy serves as a screening process in order to eliminate hopeless cases or businesses that really have no possibility of becoming profitable. As part of this screening, around half of all unsuccessful chapter 11 cases are converted to Chapter 7 bankruptcies or dismissed within six months and around 80 percent are dismissed within a year.

The high rate of dismissals coming so soon after the initial filing shows that these chapter 11 bankruptcies are unsuccessful because chapter 11 was not the right choice for these companies in the first place. It does not show that there is any type of fundamental flaw with Chapter 11 and it does not mean that Chapter 11 cannot save businesses. Instead, it means that a business should always be sure that it can be successful in a Chapter 11 before choosing this type of bankruptcy.

A Pasadena bankruptcy lawyer can assist you if your company is considering Chapter 11 so you can make an informed choice. If Chapter 11 actually is right for you, there is a very good chance that the case will succeed and that your business will be able to emerge from Chapter 11 much stronger.

Posted by Dheeraj Singhal | Permalink

How Does Your Social Security Income Affect Your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

April 29th, 2013

When you make too much money to qualify for a chapter 7 bankruptcy or when you do not want your assets sold in a chapter 7, you may file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or a “wage earner’s bankruptcy,” allows you to repay some portion of your debts over a 3-5 year repayment period, with the debt payments restructured and with some debts forgiven.

For those filing for chapter 13, it is important to understand what income is considered when determining how much you can afford to repay. One of the common questions that people have when thinking about filing a Chapter 13 is whether their social security benefits will count as disposable income for purposes of determining chapter 13 repayment.

Social Security Income and Chapter 13

For many elderly people, social security benefits are their only income or are responsible for providing the bulk of their income. As such, it is natural and normal for these individuals to wonder if they are going to have to pay out a lot of their social security benefits towards a chapter 13 repayment.  Even those with many other sources of funds may be concerned about the impact that a Chapter 13 will have on their monthly benefits from the SSA.

The general rule, however, is that debtors need not worry that they are going to have to pay out all of their social security benefits towards repaying debt. In fact, when determining a chapter 13 repayment plan, social security income is generally not considered to be disposable income.

Because social security is not classified as disposable income under the Chapter 13 bankruptcy provisions, social security benefits are thus not included in your projected disposable income when assessing how much you can afford to repay in a chapter 13 agreement.

This was affirmed recently in a case by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was called Anderson, Trustee v. Cranmer (In re Cramer) and it took place in 2012.

Determining a Chapter 13 Repayment Plan

Understanding how your social security benefits affect your Chapter 13 repayment plan is just one part of understanding what will be required of you when you file for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 13.

You need to understand your legal rights and obligations and you need to create a repayment plan that you will live with and that the court will approve. An experienced Pasadena chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer can assist you in all aspects of your chapter 13 case including in crafting a repayment plan that makes sense for you.

Posted by Dheeraj Singhal | Permalink
Posted in Bankruptcy Basics

What Factors Affect a Chapter 11 Confirmation?

April 26th, 2013

When you are filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the United States bankruptcy code, a plan must be created that restructures your business debts and that allows for creditors to be repaid some of what is owed. While your business can eliminate some debts and restructure others, money still must be paid back and your plan must outline how this will be done in order for it to be approved.

When a chapter 11 plan is approved, this is called a “Confirmation.” Many different factors go into whether the bankruptcy court will confirm a chapter 11 or not. A Pasadena bankruptcy attorney can assist you in understanding the key factors and can help you to craft a plan that is likely to be approved.

Factors Impacting Confirmation of a Chapter 11 Plan

Some of the key considerations when determining whether a chapter 11 plan will be confirmed or not include:

  • Whether the plan is feasible. There must be a very good chance for the plan to succeed in order for the plan to be approved by the bankruptcy court. This means you must show that there is a way to raise enough revenue to pay back the creditors as defined in the plan and to meet the expenses outlined in the plan. 
  • Whether approval is in the best interests of the creditors. Typically, in order for a chapter 11 plan to be approved, the creditors must stand to receive as much in repayment if the plan is carried out as they would if the business bankruptcy was converted to a total liquidation Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In other words, your business cannot file chapter 11 bankruptcy if this would result in the creditors getting much less than they would if the business was liquidated.  If you want to keep your business running, you should work with a Pasadena bankruptcy lawyer to ensure that you show why this will be a good thing for the creditors.
  • Whether the plan was proposed in good faith. A plan will not be approved if the court believes that the business has bad intentions or is violating any applicable laws.

If the creditors vote against adopting your proposed chapter 11 repayment plan, then another test will also be applied as well in determining whether to approve the plan.

This test is called the Fair and Equitable test and it looks at whether secured creditors are repaid the full amount of the collateral as well as at other key factors including how much your business is retaining and what business obligations will be fulfilled.

A Pasadena chapter 11 bankruptcy lawyer will assist you in crafting a plan that passes this test and lets you keep the doors of your business open.

Posted by Dheeraj Singhal | Permalink

Can Saying “Sorry” Make a Difference In Your Pasadena Bankruptcy?

March 11th, 2013

Many individuals who file for bankruptcy are not eligible for Chapter 7 and will instead file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Filing for chapter 13 requires creating a repayment plan with the help of a Pasadena bankruptcy lawyer.

Your Chapter 13 Repayment Plan: Saying Sorry Can Make a Difference

When you create a repayment plan with the help of your Pasadena bankruptcy attorney, you need to get that plan approved by creditors and by a bankruptcy judge/ If creditors object to the plan or if the judge doesn’t think the plan is fair or appropriate, your bankruptcy will take a longer time and changes may need to be made in order to accommodate their objections.

Obviously, it is beneficial to have your chapter 13 repayment plan approved as written and to have it approved as quickly as possible. When you and your Pasadena bankruptcy attorney create the plan, your payments and the length of the plan will be determined by the types of debt you have, the amount of debt you have and your income. There is some leeway, but creditor and judicial approval is always key.

According to one new study, getting this approval may hinge in a simple act: apologizing. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, a pair of law professors recently conducted a study in which they presented 137 bankruptcy judges with hypothetical scenarios for a chapter 13 bankruptcy.

In some of the scenarios, the debtor apologized and in other scenarios, no apology was offered. According to the study results, the debtors who offered an apology had a greater chance of having their repayment plans approved. Furthermore, the judges were also more lenient and permissive in permitting certain discretionary expenses for these debtors, such as gymnastics lessons for a child, as compared with debtors who did not offer apologies.

This study shows that it is often the little things that count when it comes to filing for bankruptcy successful. Of course, it is very important to pay attention to every detail in the forms, the filing and the creation of your repayment plan. A Pasadena bankruptcy lawyer will help you to make sure that you have focused on the technical and legal details. Offer an apology may be just one more thing that you can do in order to help your bankruptcy go as smoothly as possible.

Posted by Dheeraj Singhal | Permalink
Posted in Bankruptcy Basics

Could a New Bill Make Student Loan Interest Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?

March 8th, 2013

Glendale bankruptcy lawyers see people and business struggling with all types of debt, but one of the most pervasive and troubling is student loan debt. Students may have hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in student loan debt to cope with, and when they have difficulty finding jobs they may be completely unable to even begin to tackle this huge debt burden.

In early January of 2013, democratic lawmakers proposed the Fairness for Struggling Students Act of 2013 in an attempt to deal with the crushing student loan debt problem faced by so many young people in the United States. This Act would make an important change to bankruptcy laws passed in 2005 that made it almost impossible to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy.

The Fairness for Struggling Student Act

The Fairness for Struggling Students Act of 2013, S.114, was cosponsored by Senators Dick Durbin; Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed. Durbin’s office released a statement indicating that the law was “unjustifiably changed” to provide private student loans with the same treatment under bankruptcy as government loans. The new Act would return the rules to the pre-2005 laws which allowed for the discharge of private student loans, which Glendale bankruptcy lawyers would be a great thing for those who are having a hard time due to student loan debt.

Unfortunately, Durbin introduced a similar piece of legislation in the previous legislative year and the legislation was not successful. There is little hope that it will be successful in this upcoming legislative session. However, if the change were made, it would provide important protections to students coping with student loans.

Private student loans are, in almost every way, a more burdensome debt than government student loans. Government loans typically have lower interest rates and have special repayment plans that allow you to set your payments as a percentage of your income. If you are unable to pay the loans off over 25 years, the remaining balance is discharged. Government loans can also be put into deferment or forbearance when you are coping with financial issues. Many private loans do not offer these special terms or protections.

By allowing for the discharge of private student loans in bankruptcy under more circumstances, many students who are coping with crippling debt would thus find a measure of relief that is currently being denied to them.

A Glendale Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help With Your Student Loans

If you are struggling with student loan debt, the current bankruptcy rules make it very difficult to get the debt discharged. However, it is not necessarily impossible. A Glendale bankruptcy lawyer can help you to determine if you are eligible for a hardship discharge and can fight on your behalf to get your student loan debt discharged in bankruptcy.

Posted by Dheeraj Singhal | Permalink
Posted in Bankruptcy Basics