Nashville Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Lawyer

The prospect of declaring bankruptcy is a daunting one, and something you shouldn’t have to face alone. Whether you’re looking at Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the attorneys at Nashville Bankruptcy Law Center can help you during this stressful time in your life. At Nashville Bankruptcy Law Center, we know that although every bankruptcy proceeding is unique, most people feel intimidated when filing. The paperwork involved in bankruptcy cases can be quite confusing, and, more often than not, your creditors will have teams of lawyers behind them. Our objective is to make the bankruptcy process as simple and painless as possible for our clients. Depending on how far you are into the process, our bankruptcy attorneys may be able to:

Help you understand eligibility requirements and the different types of bankruptcy

File your petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court

Negotiate with your creditors at your 341 Meeting

Argue on your behalf in bankruptcy court, if necessary

Help you regain control of your finances and get a fresh start

When you’re having financial problems, time is of the utmost importance. Acting quickly and hiring an attorney when you miss credit card payments or when your business starts failing is the first step in gaining control over your finances. Contact Nashville Bankruptcy Law Center today to discuss your financial situation and whether bankruptcy is right for you.

Why Choose Us?

  • Free Initial Consultation
  • Personal Attention On Every Case
  • Flexible Appointment Availability
  • Local Representation

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Many people contemplating filing bankruptcy need to know whether Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the best option for them. So in order to make that call, they need to be clear on what Chapter 7 bankruptcy is and what filing for it involves. It is the single most common bankruptcy chapter filed in the United States. Chapter 7, commonly referred to as liquidation bankruptcy, refers to the chapter of the Bankruptcy Code which can be found in Title 11 of the United States Code. It involves the sale of a debtor’s non-exempt assets by a trustee. Any proceeds obtained by the bankruptcy trustee are then turned over to creditors.

Here are some common questions asked when you are contemplating filing for Chapter 7.

1. Who can file a Chapter 7 case?

Anyone who qualifies and resides in, does business in, or has property in the United States is able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. (That does not mean you will necessarily get approved, but you a can file for it.) You may also file if you have intentionally dismissed a prior bankruptcy case within the last 180 days.

2. Who is not eligible for a Chapter 7 discharge?

  • Someone who has been granted a discharge in a Chapter 7 within the last 8 years.
  • Someone who has been granted a discharge in a Chapter 13 case within the last 6 years, unless 70 percent or more of the debtor’s unsecured debts were paid in the Chapter 13.
  • A person who acts with the intent to defraud his or her creditors or the trustee in the Chapter 7 case.
  • A person who fails to explain any loss or deficiency of his or her assets.
  • A person who refuses to answer questions or obey orders from the bankruptcy court.
  • A person who, after filing the case, fails to complete an instructional course on personal financial management.

3. How do I prepare a petition?

Prior to filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should gather together all of your financial records in order to fill out the bankruptcy petition, schedules, statement of financial affairs and other documents. Financial records include but are not limited to, bank statements, credit card statements, loan documents, and pay stubs. These records are critical because they act as proof that the financial information you list on your petition is accurate. They also allow you to easily comply with any requests by the trustee to verify your information.

4. What documents will I need to complete before filing?

Documents you will need to fill out prior to filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy include a voluntary petition for relief, schedules of assets and liabilities, declarations regarding your education, and a statement of financial affairs. These documents give the bankruptcy courts full access to your financial history including a listing of all your property, debts, creditors, income, expenses, and property transfers. Once you have filled out these documents in their entirety, you must file them with the bankruptcy court and pay a filing fee.

5. What is a Means Test?

Before you can file a petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must also pass a means test. This test calculates whether you are able to afford, or have the “means” to pay your debts. The means test annualizes your income for the past six months and compares it with the median income for your place of residence. The means test also includes your secured debt in determining whether you can afford to pay for your debts. You must pass the means test in order to be eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, unless you fall under very specialized circumstances.

6. What happens during the Meeting of Creditors?

After you have filed for Chapter 7, the court will issue a document giving notice of your Meeting of Creditors. This notice is also sent to all of the creditors that are listed in your bankruptcy documents.  Any creditor may appear at this meeting and ask questions about your bankruptcy and finances. During the Meeting of Creditors, the bankruptcy trustee will ask you various questions. The main thing they want to know is that all of the information contained within the bankruptcy documents is true and correct. You may also be asked other questions about your financial affairs. If the trustee feels your case requires further investigation, he or she may continue your Meeting of Creditors to a future date. If he or she feels they have obtained all the information they need, the trustee may conclude on the first meeting.

7. What happens to my assets?

If you have any non-exempt property, the bankruptcy trustee has the ability to seize and sell the property. Exemptions would be federal or state statutes which allow you to keep certain types of property from seizure in bankruptcy or can satisfy a judgment. Common exemptions include retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) plan. Exemptions must be set forth in Schedule C, a bankruptcy document completed upon filing your petition for Chapter 7. Any assets that the trustee seizes are distributed to creditors.

8. How long will it take for my petition to discharge?

The last day to file a complaint objecting to your petition is 60 days after the first session of the Meeting of Creditors. If no complaint is filed, the discharge is usually entered several days later. If neither the trustee, nor any creditor objects to your discharge, the bankruptcy court will automatically give your petition a discharge at some point after the last day to object.

9. What does a discharge do?

The discharge prevents creditors from attempting to collect any debt against you, personally, that arose prior to you filing Chapter 7. Essentially, the discharge effectively wipes out your previous debts. However, there are certain debts that are not dischargeable, including, but not limited to, certain taxes and child or spousal support obligations. It is important to remember that your bankruptcy discharge is personal which means that a creditor can still collect on a discharged debt from any co-debtor you may have had that did not file for bankruptcy.

10. What debts are not dischargeable in Chapter 7?

  • Tax debts and debts that have been assessed within 3 years of filing.
  • Debts obtained by fraud for money, property, services, or credit.
  • Debts not listed on the debtor’s Chapter 7 forms.
  • Debts for domestic support, which include alimony, maintenance, or support, and certain other divorce-related debts, including property settlement debts.
  • Debts for intentional injury to the person or property of another.
  • Debts for some fines or penalties.
  • Debts for student loans, unless a court finds that not discharging the debt would impose an undue hardship on the debtor.
  • Debts for personal injury or death caused by the debtor’s operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
  • Debts that were, or could have been, listed in a previous bankruptcy case of the debtor, in which the debtor did not receive a discharge.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When to File for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Before you can assess whether or not to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it’s imperative to know exactly what that means. Chapter 13 allows you to repay creditors in a 3-5 year plan at 0% interest. Usually, if you have filed for Chapter 13, you will only have to pay your creditors a percentage of what you actually owe. Most importantly, you get to keep all of your assets. You will get put on either a weekly or monthly payment plan that is designed around your personal budget and income. So when should you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy? Here is a list of circumstances in which filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be a good option.

1. You have filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the last 8 years and you cannot file a Chapter 7 again, filing for a Chapter 13 might be a good option for you.

2. You are facing a short-term financial setback like job loss, illness, or a large unexpected expense.  If you have fallen into financial distress that has caused you to fall behind on your bills, but you still have regular income, filing a Chapter 13 could help. It allows you some breathing room to get back on you feet and back on track with your payments without losing your home or property.

3. Your creditors are threatening to repossess your car, garnish your wages, and are pressuring you with constant phone calls. Filing for a Chapter 13 will stop all this immediately because you become under what is known as automatic stay. Basically, this means your creditors are barred from making any more attempts to collect on the debts you owe. So, if you are looking to repay your debts, but according to your affordability rather than at the demands of your creditors, filing a Chapter 13 might be your answer.

4. You are facing possible foreclosure or repossession. Filing a Chapter 13 can help you avoid foreclosure or repossession because it allows you to catch up past due payments over that 3 -5 year period, while keeping current payments up to date.

5. You are making too much to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. When filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass a “means test” that proves your income is lower than the average household income in your state. If you have assessed your situation and found that your income is too high and you do not have enough dependents to file a Chapter 7, you might have better luck filing a Chapter 13.

6. You have a lot of assets. Your house, you car, your equity…these are all assets that you will lose if you file a Chapter 7. A Chapter 13 can let you keep all of your assets. It allows you the same protections as a Chapter 7, but you don’t have to turn your assets over to your creditors. If your house is still under mortgage or your car is being leased and you are unable to keep up the monthly payments for them, you should consider filing for Chapter 13, to avoid losing them.

7. You have a lot of taxes, student loans, or other debts that are non-dischargeable in a Chapter 7. If you need protection from the IRS or student loan collectors attacking your pay and bank accounts, you might be better off filing a Chapter 13.

8. You have enough disposable income to pay toward your debts after paying your essential living expenses. If you are able to make periodic payments, you are eligible for Chapter 13.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy 

If you’re a small business falling into insurmountable debt, filing for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, commonly known as reorganization bankruptcy, might be your best option. It can be costly, time-consuming, and complicated, which is why some small businesses avoid it. But, it’s the only bankruptcy option that allows a business to stay in business. Chapter 11 allows a business to restructure and continue to operate. To determine whether or not filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy is the right course of action for your business, consider the following questions.

What is Chapter 11?

Chapter l1 is a term that makes the news when major corporations have financial problems and turn to the bankruptcy courts for help. The truth is, though, small businesses and companies that are not well known file the most Chapter 11 bankruptcies. Under Chapter 11, a business can restructure its finances through a plan of reorganization approved by the bankruptcy court. A Chapter 11 plan can help a business balance its income and expenses while regaining profit, regaining profitability, and continuing to operate. Chapter 11 also allows the person petitioning to sell some or all of their assets and downsize their business if necessary.

What types of businesses are eligible for Chapter 11?

Any business that is owned by a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation that is looking to restructure, is eligible to file for Chapter 11. It is the only bankruptcy option for individual businesses that are in debt, want to reorganize, and owe too much money to meet Chapter 13 eligibility requirements.

How long does the process of filing a Chapter 11 take?

A business has a 120-day period during which it has an exclusive right to file a plan. This exclusivity period may be extended or reduced by the court, but under no circumstances may this period be longer than 18 months. After the exclusivity period has expired, a creditor or the case trustee may file a competing plan. One of the drawbacks to filing a Chapter 11 is that it can take many years to be resolved unless the court, the U.S. trustee, the committee, or another party in interest acts to ensure the case’s timely resolution.

Are there any special provisions for small businesses filing a Chapter 11?

For the most part, small businesses have to abide by the same rules and procedures as major corporations and must meet the same requirements to reorganize under Chapter 11. There are, however, some special provisions that can help them reduce fees and restructuring costs that speed up the resolution process.

1.  Under the Bankruptcy Code, a Chapter 11 proceeding filed by a small business debtor is considered to be a small business case. A “small business debtor” is defined as person or entity who:

  • is engaged in business or other commercial activities
  • owes no more than $2,490,925 in total claims (excluding obligations owed to insiders such as family members of the business owners)

2.  In Chapter 11 cases, a committee is usually appointed to represent the interests of unsecured creditors. A creditors’ committee can retain attorneys and other professionals at the petitioners expense, which can significantly increase the cost of Chapter 11 reorganization. In a small business case, the bankruptcy court can order that no creditors’ committee be appointed.

3.  Small businesses are subject to some reporting and filing requirements that other Chapter 11 petitioners are not. A small business debtor must attach its most recently prepared balance sheet, statement of operations, cash flow statement, and federal tax return to its bankruptcy petition when filing for Chapter 11 relief.

4.  Under the bankruptcy laws, small business cases are subject to more oversight by the U.S. Trustee’s office than other Chapter 11 proceedings.

5.  In small business cases, the business has only 300 days to propose a Chapter 11 plan.  The court can extend the 300-day deadline, but only if the debtor proves that it will be able to obtain approval of a plan within a reasonable period of time.

6.  In most Chapter 11 cases, the petitioner must prepare a disclosure statement, submit it to the bankruptcy court for its approval, and circulate copies to creditors and other parties in interest. They must provide extensive information about the debtor and proposed plan, and are often expensive to prepare. In small business cases, the bankruptcy court can waive the disclosure statement requirement, which can significantly expedite the reorganization process and reduce legal and other costs.