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    Robert and the team at Stiberman Law are truly exceptional. I was faced with the daunting task of navigating bankruptcy, and from the moment I contacted them, I knew I was in good hands Read More
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  • Louisa P.starstarstarstarstar5.0
    Robert and the team at Stiberman Law are truly exceptional. I was faced with the daunting task of navigating bankruptcy, and from the moment I contacted them, I knew I was in good hands Read More
    May 21, 2024logo
  • Arlene S.starstarstarstarstar5.0
    Excellent Lawyer, friendly and on top of things and reliable and efficient. I had to go through bankruptcy twice and I trusted them every time. I had the best experience with Robert and Read More
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    I am very satisfied with the service that they offered us. They were very professional and kept us informed at all times. I was looking for a bankruptcy attorney nearby and fount Robert Read More
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    When I say this office was absolutely the best, I am not kidding! They have been absolutely phenomenal. Robert has been the best bankruptcy attorney. The whole team has always kept Read More
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    I was referred by a friend to this bankruptcy attorney. Mr. Stiberman and his staff was very courteous, knowledgeable and very caring towards my concerns. I am pleased with the outcom Read More
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    The process was relatively easy, I would recommend Stiberman Law to anyone who finds themselves in need of a bankruptcy attorney.
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    I have to say that I have had a great experience with Stiberman Law regarding a bankruptcy and they have been very informative and supportive. They have been very helpful and always ans Read More
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    Excellent service. Great bankruptcy attorney and staff. Always informed me of what to expect. My Chapter 13 bankruptcy was smooth and the process was easy thanks to Robert and the Read More
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    I had a great experience, I just want thank Stiberman law and his team for a great experience also Ana for the help and explaining my case. Appreciate, thank you
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Understanding Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for Small Business Owners: Benefits, Drawbacks, and the Process Explained

As a small business owner, it’s common to face financial difficulties that may lead to considering bankruptcy. In particular, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be an option for those who want to reorganize their debts and keep their business running. But how exactly does it work, and what are the implications for small business owners? Let’s dive in and explore this topic in detail.

What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as a wage earner’s plan, is a form of debt reorganization that allows individuals with a regular income to develop a plan to repay all or part of their debts. Under this chapter, debtors propose a repayment plan to make installments to creditors over three to five years.

Eligibility for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

To be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debtor must have a regular source of income and meet certain debt limitations. As of 2023, your unsecured debts must be less than $2,750,000 when filing.

Advantages of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for Small Business Owners

For small business owners, Chapter 13 bankruptcy can provide several benefits, such as:

  1. Protection from creditors through the automatic stay, which stops collection actions and lawsuits.
  2. The ability to retain assets, like a home or car, by incorporating them into the repayment plan.

Disadvantages of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy for Small Business Owners

Chapter 13 bankruptcy protections only apply to the individual filing, not the individual’s small business. You should evaluate Chapter 11 if you are seeking to obtain legal protection from creditors regarding a business.

The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Process

The process for filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves several steps:

Filing the Petition

The debtor must file a petition with the bankruptcy court in their jurisdiction, along with schedules detailing their financial affairs. This includes information about income, assets, liabilities, and more.

The Repayment Plan

Debtors must submit a proposed repayment plan outlining how they will repay their debts over three to five years. The plan allocates payments to priority debts, like taxes, and secured debts, like mortgages, before addressing unsecured debts.

The Confirmation Hearing

A bankruptcy judge will review the proposed repayment plan during a confirmation hearing. Creditors may object to the plan, and the judge will determine whether it is fair and feasible.

Making Plan Payments

Once the repayment plan is confirmed or payments are otherwise vested, the trustee will distribute these payments to creditors according to the plan’s terms.

Discharge of Debts

Upon completion of the repayment plan, the debtor will receive a discharge of their remaining unsecured debts. This means they are no longer legally obligated to pay these debts, and creditors cannot attempt to collect them. You must comply with all bankruptcy requirements, including completing the post filing Financial Education Course, to be eligible to receive a discharge.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy vs. Chapter 7 and Chapter 11

There are other types of bankruptcy that small business owners might consider, such as Chapter 7 and Chapter 11. Here’s how they differ from Chapter 13:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidating the debtor’s non-exempt assets to pay off debts. It is typically used by individuals or businesses with little to no chance of repaying their debts. While it can provide a fresh start, it may also result in the closure of the business and the loss of assets.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is designed for businesses and allows them to reorganize and renegotiate debts while continuing to operate. This type of bankruptcy is more complex and costly than Chapter 13 but can be suitable for larger businesses with substantial debts.

Small businesses may benefit from the newly enacted Subchapter V business reorganization. It is a simplified and less expensive form of Chapter 11. You should discuss this option with a business bankruptcy attorney to see your options.

Impact of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy on Small Business Operations

Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can affect small business operations in several ways:

Financial Management

The debtor must adhere to a strict budget during the repayment plan period, which can limit their ability to invest in their business or take on new debts. Additionally, they may need to consult the bankruptcy trustee before making significant financial decisions.

Credit Implications

Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains on the debtor’s credit report for seven years, making obtaining new loans or lines of credit more challenging. This can limit the business’s growth potential and may require the owner to seek alternative funding sources.

Conclusion

Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a viable option for small business owners struggling with debt and wanting to keep their businesses running. By understanding the process, eligibility requirements, and potential impacts on business operations, owners can decide whether Chapter 13 is the right choice for them.

FAQs

  1. Can a small business file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

No, a small business may not file for Chapter 13 as it is only available for individual filers with regular income with total debts not exceeding $2,750,000. A small business seeking to reorganize its debts may file for Chapter 11 or Chapter 11 Subchapter 5. A small business seeking to wind down operations may look into filing Chapter 7 to liquidate its assets. 

  1. How long does a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan last?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan typically lasts for three to five years, depending on the debtor’s income and debt amount.

  1. Will I lose my business assets in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

In most cases, small business owners can keep their assets during a Chapter 13 bankruptcy by incorporating them into the repayment plan.

  1. Can I continue to operate my business during Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Yes, small business owners can continue to operate during Chapter 13 bankruptcy as long as they comply with the terms of their repayment plan and any additional requirements set by the bankruptcy court.

  1. How does Chapter 13 bankruptcy affect my credit?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains on your credit report for seven years, which can make it more challenging to obtain new loans or lines of credit.

Robert Stiberman is a bankruptcy attorney with extensive experience in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. He has represented numerous clients in bankruptcy cases and is well-versed in the requirements of the Chapter 13 trustees. With his knowledge and experience, Robert Stiberman can provide his clients with the guidance and representation they need to navigate bankruptcy successfully.

Written By:

Attorney Robert Stiberman

Robert is an experienced bankruptcy attorney adept at handling Chapter 7, 13, and 11 filings, with more than 15 years of experience in bankruptcy cases. Robert represents clients in both consumer and business bankruptcy ... Read More

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