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Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Lawyer

Filing for bankruptcy is a difficult choice and often linked to the ending of businesses. However, this is not true. Bankruptcy gives individuals and businesses a chance to continue and survive by reorganizing and settling their debt. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is defined specifically to help businesses reorganize and plan while safeguarding their assets and giving themselves a chance to survive. The process is one of the most complex procedures and having a bankruptcy attorney for legal guidance and procedures is a must.

What Is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy most commonly used by businesses to reorganize their affairs, dents, and assets. Businesses opt for filing chapter 11 bankruptcy if they require time to reorganize, restructure, and repay their debts. Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be filed by individuals, small businesses, and giant conglomerates.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a good option if business owners are looking to protect their company and assets while negotiating new terms with the creditors. It is also a good idea to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy if debtors are looking to sell assets, or liquidate their company in an orderly fashion.

What Happens During Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Proceedings?

The following things happened until chapter 11 bankruptcy cases wrap up:

Business Operations Continue

In most cases, debtors continue business operations and no trustee is appointed. The debtor conducting business as he does in the ordinary course is known as “debtor in possession” (DIP). In other instances, a bankruptcy court can appoint a trustee to take over the operations if it finds a sufficient cause. Causes to disposition a debtor or owner of the business can include fraud, incompetence, dishonesty, or mismanagement of business affairs.

Major Decisions Are Controlled by Bankruptcy Court

Although the debtor continues to manage the operations in the ordinary discourse, they lose the authority to make major decisions. The bankruptcy court takes charge of major decision making. In the course of the proceedings, the debtor needs approval from the bankruptcy court for the following:

  • Sale of any assets such as property or real property, except in case of the items in inventory sold by a retail owner in the due course of continuing business
  •  Breaking or entering a lease of personal or real property
  • Mortgaging items or making any other secured financial arrangement after the debtor files a case
  • Expanding or terminating business operations
  • Modifying or entering contracts with union and vendors
  • Retaining and paying attorneys or any other professionals

Creditors’ Role

Bankruptcy court approval for major decisions taken by debtors is influenced by creditors, shareholders, and other parties in interest. The bankruptcy court considers creditors and other parties’ vote in approving or denying a major decision. However, formal votes from creditors are taken only in the case of proposed chapter 11 plans.

How Does Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Work?

Like other bankruptcies, chapter 11 bankruptcy begins with the filing of a petition in court. Following this, a case number is assigned to the petition and an automatic stay to stop creditors from trying to collect their debts. A formal meeting of all the creditors is then called upon to discuss the restructuring of the business affairs. Depending on the debtor’s circumstances, a chapter 11 bankruptcy case can be solved through reorganization or liquidation.

As Reorganization

Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be settled by reorganization where the debtor is provided with the opportunity to restructure or reorganize their financial affairs to pay off their debt. The objective is achieved by drafting and implementing a plan of reorganization

What Does the Plan of Reorganization Do?

The plan of reorganization outlines a strategy using which the debtor will pay creditors moving forward. It gives the debtor a chance to renegotiate the terms of payment with the creditors.

The US bankruptcy code requires debtors to divide the creditors into classes. Typically, creditors are classified into the following categories:

  • Secured creditors: The creditors who hold property as collateral for the debt they are owed
  • Unsecured Priority Claims: These are unsecured debts that are given priority over other creditor claims in the repayment plan
  • Unsecured Non-Priority Claims: These are unsecured debts that are paid after priority debts are settled
  • Equity Stakeholders: The class of creditors exists only in case if the filer of the chapter 11 bankruptcy is a business with stockholders

Which class of creditors is paid and in what order is included in the reorganization plan. Generally, secured creditors and unsecured priority claims are paid first. Unsecured claims are paid after all the creditors or not paid at all. Similarly, equity stakeholders who have control over the company may be paid before all the creditors or after them, or may not be paid at all. Creditors can voice their argument by challenging the plan proposed by the debtor and get their class reassigned.

The reorganization plan is to only be submitted by the filer 120 days after the chapter 11 bankruptcy is filed in the court. In case the filer is a small business, the period increases to 180 days after filing of the bankruptcy petition. After this period, a creditor is allowed to file a reorganization plan after a debtor in possession does not file a plan at all or the plan is not approved by the other creditors.

The plan needs to be accompanied by a disclosure statement. This statement needs to contain information about the debtor’s business affairs and expenses so that creditors could make an informed decision. Creditors are then required to file proof of claims to state how much money they are owed. The bankruptcy court then decides the validity of the claims.

The creditors with valid claims get to formally vote for or against the reorganization plan. Both the vote of the creditors and approval of the bankruptcy court is required for plan confirmation. The bankruptcy court then arranges a plan confirmation hearing and collects creditors’ vote. A plan is confirmed if at least one class of creditors who will not be paid in full vote for the plan. According to the bankruptcy code, an entire class of claims is considered to have accepted the plan if creditors with two-thirds of the claim amount in the class and creditors with more than half of the allowed claims in the class approve the plan. Once the creditors approve of the plan, the bankruptcy code evaluates it. It approves the plan if it is proposed in good faith, has taken all expenses and costs into the account, and meets the other bankruptcy laws. Once the plan is confirmed, the chapter 11 bankruptcy case is closed until the debtor completes the plan. After this, the case is reopened. This is done to allow the filer to save money on fees and exempt them from filing monthly reports.

As Liquidation

Under this process, chapter 11 bankruptcy allows the filer to close all business operations and sell all the assets to pay a portion of the debt they owe the creditors.

Why Hire a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Lawyer?

Hiring an attorney for filing chapter 11 bankruptcy can benefit you in the following ways:

  • Chapter 11 bankruptcy is one of the most complex types of bankruptcies. An expert bankruptcy lawyer can help filers and debtors in the process immensely.
  • In case chapter 11 bankruptcy doesn’t work out, a bankruptcy attorney can help debtors find a different route to getting relief.
  • A bankruptcy attorney can protect debtors from being taken advantage of or being bullied in court
  • A bankruptcy attorney can represent business owners if the case goes to court.

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