Home » Blog

Which Bills Should I Keep Paying Before an Arizona Bankruptcy?

Which Bills Should I Keep Paying Before an Arizona Bankruptcy?

There are so many factors and potential issues that can affect the best course of action in a bankruptcy case. A bankruptcy petition must be filed correctly so that the debtor can enjoy all of the benefits that bankruptcy has to offer. There are also certain actions that a debtor should engage in and avoid before filing a bankruptcy petition with the court. If you are preparing a bankruptcy filing, you should even be aware of which expenses you are paying. You can save money by stopping payment on some of your expenses, but it can create problems if you stop paying other bills. Read on to learn more tips about which bills to continue paying while you prepare to file for bankruptcy. If you have more questions or are seeking quality representation from a Phoenix bankruptcy attorney, call 602-509-0955 for your free consultation with our firm.

Image of a lawyer's hand holding a gavel in an office, representing the decision-making process in bankruptcy cases

Mortgage

Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t erase secured debts. If you are still paying off the mortgage on your home, your mortgage is a secured debt and the house is a secured asset. Keep making your payments or your creditor will proceed with a foreclosure once your case is complete. Your creditors can also request permission from the court to proceed with a collection effort, such as a home foreclosure, while the case is still active through a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay.

Second Mortgage

Depending on your circumstances, continuing to pay a second mortgage may only be a drain on your resources. If you owe more on your home than it’s worth and have a second mortgage, Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides an opportunity to discharge that secondary home mortgage. If you are unsure about your home’s value compared to your mortgage balances or which chapter of bankruptcy you will file, you can discuss your situation for free with one of our Arizona bankruptcy lawyers by calling 602-509-0955.

Rent

Most renters prefer that their landlords never find out about their bankruptcy filings. This is possible because there is an option on bankruptcy petitions to exclude landlords from the debtor’s mailing list of creditors. But if a bankruptcy debtor wants to use their filing to cancel their rental lease, clearly the landlord will need to be notified. This option can be used when the debtor can no longer afford their rent and has a more affordable option available- the typical fees associated with breaking a lease will be wiped away with bankruptcy. Otherwise, failure to pay your rent during your bankruptcy can give your landlord cause to evict you once the bankruptcy- and the protections provided to you by the automatic stay- are complete. Back rent from a prior eviction is a debt that can be cleared by a bankruptcy filing.

Utilities

Unpaid utility bills can be discharged by a bankruptcy filing, but your utility providers don’t have to keep providing you with services if you discharge their bills in bankruptcy. For some bills, finding a new provider can be simple enough- for example, if you discharge your Verizon cell phone bill in your bankruptcy filing, you can switch to T. Mobile, AT&T, or another one of their competitors. But you won’t always have a choice in provider for every type of utility. If you move to a new home, you may only have one choice for utilities like electricity and home internet. Here, you may have to repay the balance owed to your utility provider to renew services despite your legal obligation to pay the debt already being cleared.

Insurance Coverage

Filing for bankruptcy won’t affect your health insurance, auto insurance, etc. Keep paying these monthly expenses so that your coverage doesn’t lapse- this will end up costing you more than staying current with your bills.

Credit Cards

What happens with your credit cards in bankruptcy will depend on the chapter that you file. They are wiped out by Chapter 7, but a Chapter 13 bankruptcy debtor may end up paying off some or all of their credit card debts in their payment plan. So if you plan to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and have a while to wait before filing but need an available balance on your credit card, you might want to make a payment. Otherwise, it usually isn’t strategic to continue paying off a credit card when you know that you will be discharging it in bankruptcy shortly. That isn’t to say that you should max out all of your credit cards- there are limits on spending before filing meant to prevent this type of abuse of the bankruptcy system. Don’t spend over $800 on luxury items in the 90 days before your bankruptcy filing. You should also avoid cash advances on your credit cards over $1,100 in the 70 days before your bankruptcy filing. If your credit card companies suspect you of fraud, you could be subject to one or more adversary proceedings during your bankruptcy case. For more assistance with your questions and concerns about your credit cards before filing for bankruptcy, call 602-509-0955 for your free phone consultation with our firm.

Personal Loans

Personal loans are unsecured debts that can be erased by bankruptcy. Some personal loans are through financial institutions, but they can also be from friends and family. Discharging your financial obligation to repay someone you know probably won’t discharge your moral obligation to pay back someone that you know. But it isn’t recommended to pay back your friends and family while preparing for a bankruptcy filing. This is considered a preferential payment because you would be paying back “insiders” in favor of your other creditors. If the trustee finds evidence of preferential payments in your bankruptcy petition, it can have disastrous consequences. The trustee can utilize a “clawback,” where the trustee would demand the return of any funds paid to insider creditors. This can create delays and extra costs in your case.

Child Support

Child support is not discharged by bankruptcy and is one of the only debts that is immune to the Automatic Stay. Only a Chapter 13 bankruptcy that fully pays back child support can stop a child support wage garnishment. Failure to pay child support doesn’t just create debt- it can have negative repercussions such as a driver’s license suspension or even criminal penalties. The expenses that should be paid in favor of child support are few and far between.

Have a Monthly Expense Not Described Here? Contact Our Firm for a Free Consultation.

Paying some bills when you anticipate a bankruptcy filing soon might be a waste. Your bankruptcy lawyer can help you strategize where to direct your funds while preparing for bankruptcy so that your case can proceed smoothly. Proper planning can help you get the most out of your bankruptcy. At Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers, we have represented countless clients in situations like yours to clear debts and move forward with a clean slate. When you’re ready to get started with your free consultation with one of our experienced Phoenix and Tucson bankruptcy lawyers, you can call 602-509-0955.

 

Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers

668 N. 44th St. Set 320
Phoenix, Arizona 85008

Phone: (602) 509-0955

Who Loses Money in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing?

Who Loses Money in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing?

Blog by Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyer, Alison C. Briggs

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a legal process that provides individuals and businesses with a fresh financial start by eliminating most of their unsecured debts. While it offers significant relief to those struggling with overwhelming debt, it’s essential to understand that not everyone benefits equally from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. In this blog, we will define Chapter 7 bankruptcy, discuss the individuals and entities impacted by such a filing, and suggest why it’s wise to hire a Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyer, specifically from My AZ Lawyers, one of the leading debt relief firms in Phoenix.

Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ gesturing during a consultation with scales of justice and a gavel on the desk, symbolizing Chapter 7 bankruptcy legal services.

Defining Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Phoenix

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, often referred to as “liquidation bankruptcy,” is a legal process that allows individuals and businesses to discharge or eliminate their unsecured debts, such as credit card debt, medical bills, and personal loans. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a bankruptcy trustee is appointed to sell non-exempt assets, if any, and distribute the proceeds to creditors, with the remaining eligible debts discharged.

It’s important to note that not all debts can be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Certain obligations, like child support, alimony, student loans, and some tax debts, are generally not eligible for discharge.

People Impacted by a Phoenix Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing

  • Debtor: The debtor, or the person or entity filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, is the most directly impacted party. They stand to benefit from the elimination of unsecured debts but may lose non-exempt assets in the process. Exempt assets, which vary by state, are protected from liquidation in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  • Creditors: Creditors are individuals or entities to whom the debtor owes money. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, creditors may lose money as their unsecured debts are discharged, and they may receive only a fraction of what they are owed from the liquidation of non-exempt assets. Secured creditors, who have collateral securing their loans, may not lose as much as unsecured creditors.
  • Bankruptcy Trustee: The bankruptcy trustee is appointed by the court to oversee the bankruptcy process, including the sale of non-exempt assets and the distribution of proceeds to creditors. The trustee’s role is to maximize the amount of money that can be distributed to creditors.
  • Co-signers and Guarantors: If someone has co-signed a loan or acted as a guarantor for the debtor, they may be held responsible for the debt if the debtor’s obligation is discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This can lead to financial losses for co-signers and guarantors.
  • Spouse and Family Members: If the debtor is married and files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy individually, it may still impact the non-filing spouse to some extent, as joint debts and shared property could be affected. However, the non-filing spouse’s separate assets and credit are generally protected.
  • Employees and Business Partners: In cases where a business entity files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, employees may lose their jobs, and business partners may face financial losses if the business assets are liquidated to pay off creditors.

Why Hire a Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyer from My AZ Lawyers

Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a significant legal and financial decision that can have far-reaching consequences. Here’s why it’s advisable to hire a Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyer from My AZ Lawyers:

  • Expertise: Attorneys at My AZ Lawyers specialize in bankruptcy law and have extensive knowledge and experience in guiding individuals and businesses through the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process. Their expertise ensures that you receive the best legal advice and representation.
  • Customized Solutions: Each bankruptcy case is unique, and a skilled attorney can assess your specific financial situation to determine the most suitable approach for debt relief. They will help you understand your options and create a tailored strategy to protect your assets and discharge eligible debts.
  • Asset Protection: Bankruptcy lawyers understand the exemptions available under Arizona law to protect your assets from liquidation. They can help you make informed decisions about which assets you can retain during bankruptcy.
  • Legal Advocacy: When you hire a bankruptcy attorney, you have an advocate who will represent your interests throughout the bankruptcy process. They will communicate with creditors, the bankruptcy trustee, and the court on your behalf, relieving you of the stress of handling complex legal matters.
  • Avoid Mistakes: Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without legal guidance can lead to costly mistakes and potential loss of assets. Bankruptcy attorneys ensure that you adhere to all legal requirements, helping you achieve the best possible outcome.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Phoenix

Chapter 7 bankruptcy can provide much-needed financial relief for individuals and businesses drowning in unsecured debts. However, it’s crucial to recognize that not everyone benefits equally from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, as creditors, co-signers, and others may incur losses.

To navigate the complexities of Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Phoenix effectively and protect your interests, it’s highly recommended to hire a Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyer from My AZ Lawyers, a reputable debt relief firm in Phoenix. Their legal expertise and personalized guidance can make a significant difference in achieving a successful bankruptcy outcome while minimizing potential financial losses. Remember that seeking professional legal counsel is a crucial step toward securing your financial future.

 

Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers

668 N. 44th St. Set 320
Phoenix, Arizona 85008

Phone: (602) 509-0955

Bankruptcy Filing May Signal the End of This Popular Restaurant Chain

Bankruptcy Filing May Signal the End of This Popular Restaurant Chain

Boston Market has long been an affordable chain restaurant that families can rely on for a convenient meal, especially if they like rotisserie chicken. However, the chain’s owner, Jay Pandya, filed a personal bankruptcy in the state of Pennsylvania on December 8, 2023. Pandya’s filing comes in the wake of numerous lawsuits from a variety of creditors. Vendors and franchisors are pursuing him for unpaid bills, and employees are pursuing him for unpaid wages. This can quickly become a business owner’s worst nightmare, especially with a company that has seen falling profits in recent years. Personal bankruptcy can shield Pandya from his creditors, who will need a motion for relief from the automatic stay if they wish to continue with a lawsuit while his bankruptcy is in good standing. Unfortunately, Boston Market’s story shows that people have less disposable income available for dining and this could result in many people losing their jobs. Personal bankruptcy can shield you from creditors and clear debts that you can’t afford to pay. To learn more about bankruptcy in Arizona, call 602-509-0955.

A gavel on a desk with a blurred lawyer behind it, representing legal action related to bankruptcy

How Boston Market Ended Up Here

This filing is only part of a long period of financial struggles for Boston Market. Pandya came to own Boston Market when his company, Engage Brands (under the Rohan Group of Companies) purchased it in 2020. Pandya also owns Yum Brands, which owns fast food companies like KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. Yum Brands also used to own Long John Silver’s and A&W Restaurants. Pandya as an individual is a huge player in the fast food industry. But Engage Brands originally acquired Boston Market while it was in the midst of financial struggles and Yum Brands declared bankruptcy during the pandemic.

Boston Market’s legal and financial woes may have irreparably damaged its reputation as a business. In May 2023, Boston Market’s Denver headquarters were seized by local authorities. This seizure also included three restaurant locations in Aurora, Colorado. A distraint warrant, which allows the Department of Revenue to seize business assets and change the locks on the doors, was issued due to Boston Market’s back taxes and unpaid wages. The amount owed was reportedly about $300,000. They were able to settle the balance and reopen their Colorado doors. Just a few months later, Boston Market faced a similar issue in New Jersey. In August 2023, 27 Boston Market locations in New Jersey were shut down due to the chain’s failure to pay $630,000 in wages to 314 employees. The total unpaid wages, fines, and other fees came out to approximately $2.5 million. Over the past few years, Boston Market has closed several hundred locations and not opened any new ones. While Pandya’s bankruptcy is a personal one, his control over the company affects many people. It will be up to the court to decide, through his bankruptcy, if keeping Boston Market in business will be in the creditors’ best interests.

Examples of Successful Restaurant Bankruptcy Cases

Most businesses either file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be used to reformulate a business, emerge, and continue operating, or shut down. Chapter 7 bankruptcy only offers business debtors the choice to shut down. Many restaurants have used bankruptcy to deal with debts and creditors, with many of them being forced to do so due to the pandemic. Examples of restaurants that have previously declared bankruptcy include:

  • Chuck E. Cheese 
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Sizzler
  • Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Bar Louie
  • Rubio’s
  • Cici’s Pizza

Personal Bankruptcy & Protection from Creditors

For the average person, filing for bankruptcy will be much simpler than the case of someone who owns Boston Market and other restaurant chains. But whether you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or even Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it will activate the automatic stay. The automatic stay protects bankruptcy debtors from their creditors in a plethora of ways. 

Filing for bankruptcy can stop a creditor from filing a lawsuit and put one that has already been filed on hold. If the creditor has already obtained a money judgment against the debtor, it might qualify to be cleared by a bankruptcy filing. A creditor could use that money judgment to pursue a wage garnishment or bank account levy against the debtor, which will also be stopped by the automatic stay. The automatic stay also stops repossession and foreclosures. If you are concerned about an action a creditor may take against you and want to learn if bankruptcy will help, call 602-509-0955 for your free phone consultation.

How to Choose Which Chapter to File

There are different chapters of bankruptcy to suit different debt relief needs. Most of the time, individuals will be best off using Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 11 can be an expensive and complicated ordeal and generally requires significant involvement from creditors in the form of a creditor committee. Small businesses can bypass the creditor committee through a small business or subchapter V filing. 

A major factor in the choice between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 is income eligibility. Chapter 7 is the most commonly filed form of consumer bankruptcy but has strict income limits. A debtor whose household income exceeds the state median for their family size will need to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy through the means test. Because Chapter 13 pays off debts in a payment plan, debtors can have a higher income and still qualify where they might not qualify for Chapter 7. It also allows debtors to keep assets that might not be protected by bankruptcy exemptions in Chapter 7. 

When you’re behind on the payments for a secured asset (like your house or car) that you wish to keep, chapter 7 bankruptcy might not be as useful to you as Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy will only stop a repossession or foreclosure for a few months if the debtor can’t become current on their past-due balance. Chapter 13 can make it more affordable by essentially spreading that amount out over several years. A creditor will usually have no cause to proceed with a foreclosure or repossession after the successful completion of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. 

Countless factors can impact which type of bankruptcy will be more effective in your situation. Our skilled Arizona bankruptcy lawyers can walk you through them, free of charge, with your initial phone consultation. To schedule yours today, call 602-509-0955

Arizona Bankruptcy Lawyers with High-Quality and Caring Service

A bankruptcy filing from someone like the owner of Boston Market shows that unmanageable debt can happen to anyone. Skillful bankruptcy representation can clarify the process and reduce the risk of obstacles and delays. An accurate bankruptcy filed in compliance with Arizona and federal bankruptcy law will result in a less stressful overall experience. Our bankruptcy attorneys have years of experience representing clients all across the valley and in Tucson. We offer flexible payment plans and you may even qualify to file for zero dollars down. To learn more about the services we offer at Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers, call 602-509-0955 to schedule your free consultation. 

 

Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers

668 N. 44th St. Set 320
Phoenix, Arizona 85008

Phone: (602) 509-0955

Pandemic Relief Protections In Bankruptcy Extended By House Of Representatives

Pandemic Relief Protections In Bankruptcy Extended By House Of Representatives

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act Bankruptcy Protections Have Been Extended

With widespread vaccinations on the horizon, the coronavirus pandemic may finally be drawing to a close in the foreseeable future. However, there is likely to be an economic aftershock that will be felt for years to come. To mitigate these negative effects, lawmakers passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020. Now, these protections have been extended until March 27, 2022, by a majority vote in the House of Representatives. The bill, which was approved by a vote of 399-14, now heads to the Senate.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, And Economic Security Act Bankruptcy Protections Have Been Extended In Arizona

CARES Act Bankruptcy Protections

One of the major parts of the CARES Act were stimulus payments for eligible Americans. Generally, those who make $75,000 or less as an individual or $150,000 or less combined as a married couple qualify for stimulus payments. Especially for the millions of Americans who lost their jobs or had their income reduced due to the pandemic, these stimulus checks can be a godsend. However, they are more effective when used to pay living expenses rather than to pay off debt. If someone already has a debt problem that has been aggravated by the pandemic, stimulus checks are at most a temporary bandage over a deeper issue. That’s why pandemic benefits like stimulus checks and increased unemployment benefits are generally exempt in bankruptcy. They do not count as income for bankruptcy qualification purposes, and trustees can’t seize them to pay towards the bankruptcy estate.

The CARES Act provided additional flexibility for bankruptcy filers. The debt limit for the small business provision of Chapter 11 was increased from $2.7 million to $7.5 million. The CARES Act guarantees that bankruptcy filers will still be eligible for mortgage forgiveness, eviction moratoriums, and exempt from utility shutoffs. It also allows those in an active Chapter 13 to apply for a financial hardship reorganization. These bankruptcy protections are among those that have been extended until March 27, 2022.

Types of Consumer Bankruptcy In Phoenix, Arizona

If the guarantee that further pandemic stimulus payments are exempt from bankruptcy makes you feel more confident about filing bankruptcy, it’s time to decide which chapter to file.

For those who have lost income due to the pandemic, the silver lining may be that they now qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation bankruptcy only available to those under certain income limits. Only those who make less than their state’s median income based on family size, or pass the Means Test, can file Chapter 7. The filer can only keep their assets if they are protected by state bankruptcy exemptions, or if their state allows them to use applicable federal exemptions. While the limitations in Chapter 7 are strict, the benefits it provides are significant. Most unsecured debts, such as credit cards, medical bills, and personal loans, are discharged in Chapter 7. The process generally only takes between 4 and 6 months. Once debts are discharged, the debtor can move forward with a fresh financial slate, and take steps to rebuild their credit.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a payment plan that lasts 3-5 years. The plan will last 3 years for those who make less than their state’s median income, and 5 years for those who make more than their state’s median income. The plan will be organized based on the types and amounts of debts, and the debtor’s disposable monthly income. Debts will be paid in an order of four different categories, starting with legal and trustee fees and ending with unsecured debts like medical bills and credit cards. These debts can be discharged at the end of the payment plan, even if they aren’t paid in full. The debtor will be protected from creditors by the Automatic Stay for the entire 3-5 years, with limited exceptions.

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 have similarities in requirements and benefits. The person seeking to declare bankruptcy must file a petition- a long and detailed legal document describing the debtor’s financial situation- in the appropriate jurisdiction. This petition will be reviewed by an attorney appointed to their case known as a trustee. Debtors must complete two credit counseling courses in both chapters, one before filing and one within the 341 hearing. Both chapters require the debtor to attend a hearing known as a 341 Meeting of Creditors. Filing either chapter activates the Automatic Stay, which stops most forms of creditor collection. This includes wage garnishments, bank levies, foreclosures, repossessions, utility shutoffs, and more.

There are reasons besides income restrictions and asset exemptions that someone might choose to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of a Phoenix Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There are mandatory waiting periods between bankruptcy filings, which are generally shorter when the subsequent bankruptcy is a Chapter 13. This can make Chapter 13 the only option for someone facing an emergency situation like a foreclosure or repossession. If someone is behind on child support and other nondischargeable debts, Chapter 13 will allow an opportunity to catch up on these payments where Chapter 7 would not. Chapter 13 also allows for the opportunity to discharge secondary home mortgages, and provides a far longer Automatic Stay period.

Contact Our Phoenix Bankruptcy Attorneys For Assistance

Are you struggling financially because of the pandemic? Bankruptcy may be a viable solution to your financial issues, and the extension of the CARES Act bankruptcy protections acknowledges that. However, filing your bankruptcy incorrectly could create more hassles like extra fines, asset seizures, and even dismissal. This will cost you in legal fees, and your debts will remain with you. An experienced bankruptcy attorney in Phoenix will help you avoid these potential pitfalls. Whether it’s calculating your disposable monthly income, determining your eligibility, drafting your petition, dealing with your creditors, and more, our staff and attorneys are here to help. To learn more about the benefits of filing bankruptcy with our firm, as well as our flexible payment options that will get you filed for as low as $0 down, schedule your free consultation today. Our Phoenix Bankruptcy attorneys can help.

Contact our Phoenix Bankruptcy Law office or use our online form to request your free phone consultation.

 

Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers

668 N. 44th St. Set 320
Phoenix, Arizona 85008

Phone: (602) 509-0955

Fashion Retailer Francesca’s Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

business bankruptcy in Arizona due to Covid-19 blog

Our Phoenix Bankruptcy Attorneys Discuss the Many Businesses Facing Bankruptcy Due to Covid-19

business bankruptcy in Arizona due to Covid-19 blogThe coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the global economy as we draw closer to the end of the year. While unemployment rates have since stabilized, unemployment had reached levels comparable to those during the Great Depression. With millions of Americans experiencing a decrease in income in 2020, among the lowest of people’s priorities are fashion, accessories, and jewelry. Major clothing retailers declaring bankruptcy has become almost a daily occurrence. The latest to join these ranks is Francesca’s, a boutique-style fashion chain that can be found at many shopping malls.

More Information About Francesca’s

Francesca’s was founded in 1999 in Houston, Texas, where it is still headquartered. The brand has approximately 700 stores in the United States, about half of which are located in shopping malls. Like many other retailers, Francesca’s was forced to close in March 2020, and some of these closures have become permanent. Francesca’s originally announced that it would be permanently shutting down 140 of its locations. After declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 3, 2020, it has amended the store closures amount to include 97 additional locations, bringing the total to 237 store closures. The closures are expected to be completed by the end of January 2021.

Out of the 237 Francesca’s locations that are closing, two of them are located in Arizona. The chain’s Flagstaff and Glendale locations are among those to be closed by the first month of 2021. Arizona shoppers looking for holiday gifts may want to consider visiting these stores and Francesca’s website for liquidation sales.

A Brief Overview of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is far more complicated than Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, the two most common types of bankruptcy that your friends or family members may have filed. In turn, attorney’s fees, filing fees, and other bankruptcy-related expenses are much higher in a Chapter 11, so this type of bankruptcy is typically only used by organizations and individuals with millions of dollars in assets and liabilities. However, there are Chapter 11 small business provisions for companies that aren’t as affluent.

Usually, a company will have a fairly good idea of what their strategy is to restructure debts and emerge from the bankruptcy. The company must submit a proposal of how to do so, and submit it to a panel of their top creditors. The creditors will then vote on the proposal. If the panel approves the proposal, the bankruptcy will proceed according to plan as long as it is also approved by the court. If the panel doesn’t vote to approve the company’s proposal, they may submit their own.

Other Types of Bankruptcies Available to People in Phoenix

As mentioned above, the two most common types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is available to certain types of businesses, and both are available to individual filers. A trustee is assigned to oversee each type of case, and filers of both chapters are required to complete credit counseling courses and attend a hearing known as a 341 Meeting of Creditors.

Chapter 7 is known as a liquidation bankruptcy because it discharges most debts without any repayment. For that reason, there are strict income eligibility limits for Chapter 7. There are also limits on how much equity filers can have in their assets, which are known as “exemptions.” A Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically takes about 4-6 months from the date of filing to be discharged.

Chapter 13 is also called a wage earner’s bankruptcy because this type of bankruptcy only works when the debtor has a steady source of income. If a debtor has too much income to qualify for Chapter 7, but still is struggling to manage debts, Chapter 13 is a 3-5 year debt reorganization payment plan. However, there are debt limitations for Chapter 13 filers- $419,275 for unsecured debts, and $1,257,850 for secured debts. It also allows filers to pay down debts that can’t be discharged in Chapter 7, like mortgage and car payment arrearages, child support, and student loans. A Chapter 13 plan lasts 3 years for filers who make less than the state median income for their family size, and 5 years for those who make more than that amount.

Francesca’s Bankruptcy Plan

Like many struggling businesses with a heavy focus on brick and mortar sales, one of Francesca’s top creditors is Simon Property Group. One of Francesca’s other lenders, Tiger Finance, has provided $25 million in financing to help the company with fees associated with breaking leases for the locations that are closing. Francesca’s plans on finding an investor to sell to as part of the bankruptcy process. Some companies convert creditors’ balances into ownership shares, but Francesca’s debt to asset ratio was too high to make this plausible.

Other Companies to Declare Bankruptcy During the Pandemic

Francesca’s is far from the first major business to declare bankruptcy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Fashion has been one of the hardest hit industries, with Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, J. Crew, Men’s Wearhouse, Brooks Brothers, Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, True Religion, Lucky Brand, and Stein Mart have all declared bankruptcy in response to the pandemic. Home retailers like Pier 1 Imports, Sur La Table, and Land’s End have all sought bankruptcy protections in 2020 as well. Another hard hit industry, fitness, includes bankruptcy filers like Gold’s Gym, 24 Hour Fitness, and GNC. Restaurants are also struggling, with Sweet Tomatoes, California Pizza Kitchen, Chuck E. Cheese, Rubio’s Coastal Grill, Ruby Tuesday, Sizzler USA, and more filing their bankruptcy petitions.

Only a few of these businesses will be closing down for good as a part of their bankruptcies, but many will be downsizing by closing locations. This only adds to the compounding unemployment problem, leaving less people with income to spend at struggling businesses. However, most businesses that seek out Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection have a plan to revamp their business model and emerge a more efficient and profitable company. With widely available coronavirus vaccines on the horizon but government protections and benefits expiring soon, it is hard to say which of these businesses will survive in the long run.

GNC the Latest Bankruptcy Casualty of Coronavirus

Business bankruptcy blog

GNC the Latest Bankruptcy Casualty of Coronavirus

4 Arizona Locations to Close After Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing

Business bankruptcy blogAs the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the global economy, more and more companies are filing for bankruptcy. This year has already seen retail giants like Neiman Marcus, JC Penney, J Crew, and True Religion file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Huge fitness companies like Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness have also filed for bankruptcy protection amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. The latest big chain to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is GNC. The retail chain, which specializes in vitamins and dietary supplements, filed its bankruptcy petition June 23, 2020. 

What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy? Why did GNC Choose Chapter 11?

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy allows businesses and individuals with sizable assets and numerous liabilities to restructure their debt while being overseen and approved by the court and a panel of creditors. The panel, which is composed of the creditors the company owes the most money to, will have authority in major business decisions like entering contracts, taking out loans, and selling shares. However, in Chapter 11, the company can continue to operate in the hopes of turning the business around. Day-to-day operations remain in control of the company’s usual management. A company may still close down using Chapter 11 if settling the outstanding debts would be too complicated with other chapters.

The other chapter that businesses typically file is Chapter 7. Chapter 7 discharges unsecured debts and releases the owner/s of the company from personal liability, but the business must shut down and surrender all of its assets and inventory. 

How the Pandemic Forced GNC to File Bankruptcy

GNC has posted statements to its website explaining its reasoning to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company admitted that financial strains over the past few years had made the company unprepared to handle the pandemic and all of its negative economic effects. Like other brick-and-mortar chains, the competition posed by online retailers has caused GNC to struggle. GNC had already begun closing locations in shopping malls, widely considered to soon be a thing of the past, in 2018. The company had already amassed a staggering $1 billion in debts prior to its 2020 bankruptcy filing. 

The company had plans to refinance and pay off its massive debts. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Starting in March, GNC was forced to close approximately 30% of its stores due to stay-at-home and quarantine orders. GNC reported first quarter losses of $200 million, where the chain had reported losses of $15 million for the same time period in 2019. While the company had its peak stock value of $60 per share in 2013, GNC’s stock value was less than a dollar- $0.81- shortly before the bankruptcy filing. 

GNC’s Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Plan

GNC files bankruptcy blogGNC intends to remain open during and after the Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but to reemerge as a smaller company. The company currently has 5,800 locations and intends to almost 20%, or close to 1,200 of those United States locations. The company has already secured financing to fund its restructuring plan. IVC, GNC’s top vitamin supplier, has provided the company with $130 million in funding for the restructuring plan. The vast majority of GNC’s creditors approve of this plan, with a small minority left to sign on to the funding plan. 

If the funding plan from IVC falls through, the company also has the option to sell. Harbin is a Chinese pharmaceutical company that has 41% of GNC’s voting rights. Harbin, along with the rest of the Chapter 11 panel, have promised at least $760 million if the company is sold through court auction. 

Arizona GNC Locations Impacted by Bankruptcy

Arizona is already struggling with a vast amount of new unemployment claims. More than 280,000 people in Arizona have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. GNC’s bankruptcy, and resulting store closures, will only add to Arizona’s climbing number of unemployment claims.

The following stores are closing as a part of GNC’s Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Plan:

  • Madera Village, 9121 E. Tanque Verde Rd, Suite 115, Tucson, Arizona
  • Grayhawk Plaza, 20701 N. Scottsdale Rd, Suite 105, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Flagstaff Mall, 4650 E 2 N Hwy 89, Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Arrowhead Town Center, 7700 West Arrowhead Towne, Glendale, Arizona

There are more than 20 other GNC locations in Arizona that will remain open through the bankruptcy

I Have a Gambling Problem. Can Bankruptcy Help?

gambling and bankruptcy debt blog

Almost everyone has a friend or relative in their life who has struggled with a bad habit that grew into an addiction. For many, it is smoking, drinking, and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. For others, gambling may become a problem that gets out of control. When it does, the addict usually racks up more gambling debts than they can manage. If you are struggling with this problem, you may be wondering if bankruptcy can help you.

The different chapters of bankruptcy in Phoenix, Arizona

Gambling and bankruptcy blogMost individual bankruptcies are filed under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy has strict income limits and the filer will have to surrender any assets with more equity than that state’s exemptions. Most unsecured non-priority debts will be discharged in Chapter 7. Credit cards, medical bills, repossession deficiencies, and more will be liquidated without any repayment. However, there is a caveat: debts that were fraudulently incurred can’t be discharged in Chapter 7. 

In Chapter 13, debts are reorganized into a payment plan that the filer will pay over the course of 3-5 years. Certain debts, like the balance of an auto loan or past-due child support and spousal maintenance payments, must be paid in full in the plan. Other debts that are prioritized lower may only be partially paid in the plan, but the obligation for them will be discharged once the payment plan has been completed. 

If you have the option between both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you also need to understand the cost difference between the two chapters. While the filing fee for a Chapter 13 is lower ($310 versus $335), attorney representation is absolutely necessary in a Chapter 13 and costs much more than for a Chapter 7. 

The length of the two chapters varies greatly and each will affect your credit differently. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is typically completed within 4-6 months from the date the petition was filed. Except in special circumstances, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy either lasts 3 years or 5 years. The payment plan will be 3 years for filers who make less than the state median income level (which would qualify them for Chapter 7), and 5 years for those who make more than that amount. After the bankruptcy is discharged, a Chapter 7 will remain on your credit for 10 years from the filing date. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will remain on your credit for 7 years from the filing date. 

The source of the gambling debt

gambling and bankruptcy debt blogGambling debts are typically accrued in a few different ways. If you took out personal loans or credit cards to pay for your gambling, these debts may be discharged in bankruptcy. They will be wiped clean in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and are lower priority debts that may only be partially paid before discharge through Chapter 13 bankruptcy. 

You may encounter difficulties discharging your gambling debt in bankruptcy if you secured your debt to any of your property. If you borrowed against the value of your home, car, or other property, your creditor will have a lien on that asset. You will either need to reaffirm (formally agree to repay with the bankruptcy court’s approval) that debt. Otherwise, you will have to surrender whatever property is being used as collateral to discharge the debt. 

Another common type of gambling debt is a “marker.” Many casinos will require you to sign a marker to get chips before you can gamble. The agreement you sign for the marker may have language indicating that you have the amount you are borrowing from the casino available to repay. If you didn’t actually have those funds available at the time when you borrowed them, the court may view that as deceptive borrowing and those debts won’t be discharged in the bankruptcy.

seeking Treatment as part of the bankruptcy process

Filing bankruptcy only solves a symptom of the problem if you struggle with gambling addiction. You may want to consider seeking counseling and other treatment for your addiction before or during your bankruptcy. Some courts may see this treatment as proof that you did intend to repay a marker debt and therefore discharge it in your bankruptcy. 

 

If you are struggling with gambling debts, you need to learn if bankruptcy is a good option for you. Our expert Phoenix bankruptcy attorneys can analyze your personal situation to determine which chapters you qualify for, and which chapter will serve you best. Don’t let another day go by with the stress of wondering what to do about your debt- call and schedule your free consultation today.  Contact our Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers today for a FREE Consultation.
 

Phoenix Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Requirements

Phoenix Chapter 7 bankruptcy blog

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Requirements

Contact our Phoenix Bankruptcy Attorneys – 602-509-0955

602-509-0955

Phoenix Chapter 7 bankruptcy blogChapter seven bankruptcy is probably the most frequent kind of bankruptcy filed in the United States. Nevertheless, not everybody is permitted to obtain their debts discharged under Chapter seven of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, so the following are a few simple demands for a situation. To understand whether you qualify for this particular case type, talk with a Chapter seven bankruptcy lawyer in Phoenix about your specific circumstance.  Once your Phoenix Bankruptcy is filed, an Automatic stay starts which protects you from all collection efforts.  Contact our Phoenix Legal Team today and learn more about Phoenix Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Requirement.

Bankruptcy Means Test

The means test was added as a necessity in 2005, plus it calls for you to demonstrate that the household income of yours is below the median for the household dimensions of yours in the state of yours. The Department of Justice (DOJ) reports the median earnings amounts for every state on an annual schedule. If the income of yours isn’t below the median, the attorney of yours might have the ability to subtract specific expenses to reduce your income. When you don’t pass the means test, you won’t have the ability to file for Chapter seven.

Time Since Previous Bankruptcy Filings

In order to avoid bankruptcy abuse, there’s a limit on if you are able to file for Chapter seven in case you’ve a previous discharge. 8 years should pass since your previous Chapter seven filing, or maybe 6 years from the day you filed a Chapter thirteen case.

Filing your bankruptcy is something that should be done by an experienced Arizona Lawyer.  There’s a certain range of documents required to file.  Our debt relief attorney will file your bankruptcy with the court to begin a Chapter seven bankruptcy case for you and your family. You have to file a petition with all the required info and supporting documentation. The attorney of yours is able to help to make sure you’ve all you need before you begin the case of yours to prevent delays.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix bankruptcy attorney blogTalk with a Chapter seven Bankruptcy Lawyer in Phoenix If you’re thinking about debt relief choices, you need to talk to a Phoenix Bankruptcy Attorney at My Arizona Lawyers, PLLC. Contact our Phoenix BK lawyers now or even ask for an appointment online for immediate now.  Our bankruptcy attorneys offer debt relief options including:  Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Emergency Bankruptcy Filings, Medical Bankruptcies, Arizona Zero Down Bankruptcy, Bankruptcy by Phone, Phoenix Chapter Bankruptcy, $0 Down Bankruptcy, and Lien Stripping in a Chapter 13.  Contact us about more Phoenix Chapter 7 Bankruptcy requirements.

7 Ways to Get Student Loans Discharged

Many people believe that if they file for bankruptcy, all of their debts will vanish. That sounds like a pretty exciting prospect when you are still loaded down with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans! Unfortunately, it’s just not the truth. In most cases, student loans are actually excluded from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing – the type that involves a total discharge of unsecured debts.

Student loans can be included in a Chapter 13 filing, which restructures debt with a payment plan the filer can afford. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, all debts are combined, and a monthly payment is divided amongst the creditors. The payment plan lasts for a set time, after which the debts are discharged. Many people can pay less toward their student loans with a Chapter 13 debt restructuring.

7 ways to get student loans discharged

There are ways to get your student loans discharged, but it is very difficult. You will need to work with an experienced Phoenix bankruptcy lawyer to explore your options. Here are seven instances in which you might be able to get your loans discharged:

1. Undue Hardship

The only way to have student loans discharged through bankruptcy is to show that paying them poses an “undue hardship.” Proving this is extremely difficult, and these attempts are rarely successful. It is essential to work with a bankruptcy lawyer if you want to make this claim.

You will have to show that you have made good faith efforts to pay back the loan and that you would not be able to sustain a minimum standard of living if you kept paying on the loan. In addition, you must show that you will continue to suffer financial hardship for the foreseeable future. it can be very difficult to prove undue hardship, which is why working with a lawyer is essential. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer will know how to make the strongest case with the most likelihood of success – though that doesn’t guarantee results.

2. The School Closed

If a school for which you have been given a student loan closes you may be able to discharge your student loan

A lot more people are attending school online these days because it gives them the flexibility to work and pay for some of their living expenses or take care of their family. But a lot of online schools come and go because they are not proven through the test of time. You could enroll in a school, and it could close mid-semester or even shortly after you complete your program.

If a school for which you have been given a student loan closes – whether it’s an online school or not – you may be able to discharge your student loan. You must have been enrolled in the school within 120 days of its closing. That’s a very short window, so it’s unlikely that very many people will be able to discharge their loans under this rule.

3. School Fraud

A borrower defense discharge is available to students

A “borrower defense discharge” is available to students who can show that their schools defrauded them by using illegal or deceptive strategies to convince them to attend the school and to take out student loans. For example, the school may have made unrealistic promises about job or income prospects after graduation, or it may have lied about costs.

Getting a discharge under this rule will require working closely with an attorney and getting plenty of evidence to prove the deception or illegal activity. You will need correspondence with school officials, promotional materials, course catalogues, transcripts, and other items.

4. False Certification or Fraud

Schools should do their due diligence to certify you as eligible for student aid, but they don’t always get it right. If you did not meet the requirements for the student loan but the school certified you anyway (either intentionally or not), those student loans can be discharged. Another example of false certification would be if you were given loans to train in a program that you can’t get employment in – such as if you have a criminal record so can never become a preschool teacher or you have a physical handicap that would prevent you from becoming a massage therapist. Your school should not certify you for loans under such circumstances.

You may also qualify for a student loan discharge if the school signed your name on a promissory note or if someone else took out a loan on your behalf (identity theft).

5. Unpaid Refund

Unpaid refund debt

Sometimes, the school has to pay a refund on a student loan to the government or to the borrower. An example would be if the loan was for more than the tuition amount. The school can’t just pocket that money. It is supposed to pay back the balance.

If your school did decide to keep that extra, you may be able to have the amount reduced from what you owe. You won’t get a total discharge, but you will get a bit knocked off the top, which can still help.

6. Disability

If you have a disability you may be able to get a discharged on your student loan

You may get into a serious accident that leads to a permanent or total disability, making it difficult or even impossible for you to work. Whether you suffer this disability while you are in school or years later, you may be able to have your student loans discharged as a result. You must submit documents from the Department of Veterans Affairs, show that you are receiving Social Security Disability, or have a note from your doctor saying that you have been disabled for at least 60 months and will be for another 60.

Again, it is important that you work with an attorney to make this claim successfully.

7. Death

Hopefully, you won’t have to die to get debt relief. However, it may help with your estate planning to know that if you die, your family won’t be burdened with your student debt as it will be discharged. Similarly, if your spouse or someone else for whom you would be responsible for their debts dies, you can rest easy knowing that student loans won’t be added to the list.

Getting your student loans discharged isn’t easy, but there are some exceptions where it’s possible. At Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyer we will explore all your options. Our experienced and skilled attorneys will explore all the legal options to help you get the debt relief you need so you can start taking back your finances. We can also help you file for bankruptcy in Phoenix to discharge or reduce some of your debts to free up more money to pay back what you owe. Call us in Arizona to learn more.

Published By:
Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyer
668 N. 44th St., Ste 300
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Hours: Mon – Fri: 9am – 5pm
Phone: 480-263-1699
Email: info@phoenixbankruptcyattorney.co
Website: http://phoenixbankruptcylawyer.co

3 Reasons Why You Should Not Have Credit Cards in 2017

It is 2017 right now, and now is always the best time to begin making your way out of debt. Phoenix Bankruptcy lawyers know that credit card debt is the most common reason Phoenix residents file for bankruptcy. What is the most common reason for credit card debt? Overspending. You may not think of yourself as someone who spends a lot of money, but maybe you need to rethink that. The only absolute necessities of life are food and shelter, almost everything else is negotiable. Here are some reasons to get rid of those credit cards in 2017.

3 reasons why you should not have credit cards in 2017

#1 The Goal of Credit Card Companies Is to Keep You in Debt!

Break Free From Credit Card Debt Are you aware that if you owe $5000 on a credit card it could take over 20 years to pay it off making the minimum payment? Meanwhile the credit card company is getting rich off the interest you pay them. Although they would never admit it, credit card companies really don’t like customers who pay their bill in full each month, thus denying them all that interest. And heaven forbid you are late on your payments, that will incur large late fees and can legally allow the credit card company to raise your interest rate much higher. It’s all in the fine print. Once you get behind and those fees begin to rack up it’s a fast, downward spiral of ever increasing debt.

#2 Stress Is Bad for You and Credit Card Debt Is Stressful!

credit card debt causes stressIf you find yourself feeling anxious about your debt all the time, and lose sleep at night because you are worrying about your debt, it may be time to find your way out. The first step toward debt free living is the hardest. You have to sincerely decide that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get out of debt. It won’t be fast and it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it to once again enjoy worry free days and peaceful nights. Since the credit card companies want to keep you in debt, the only way out is to stop using them. Just cut them up. That may sound harsh, but if you are in credit card debt, you have been spending more money than you have been bringing in.

#3 Devise a Plan

pay credit debt offPerhaps you have been living beyond your means, or perhaps it’s due to circumstances beyond your control, such as medical bills. It boils down to the same problem, more money is going out than is coming in. So, the next step is to either to spend less or earn more. If you can find a way to do both, you can become debt free even more quickly.

Remember, no one said it would be fast or easy. Begin by making a budget. There are numerous programs and apps available to help you. Look for any unnecessary expenses that can be cut in order to allow you to allocate those funds toward debt repayment. Remember, just making the minimum payment each month can keep you in debt the rest of your life.

Methods to Pay Your Credit Cards

Maybe you will have to continue wearing last year’s wardrobe. Maybe you’ll have to brew your morning java at home brown, maybe you will need to brown bag it for lunch. Perhaps your kids can also switch to brown bag lunches. Keep in mind, cell phones, cable TV and Internet are also expendable luxuries, not necessities.

What if your budget is already cut back to the bare bones? Then you will need to find a way to earn more money. If getting a second job isn’t an option, be creative. There are probably people in your neighborhood who would pay you to watch their children when they go out for date night. There are also people who will pay you to do their shopping or walk their dog. In addition, there are online jobs that allow flexible hours. Just remember, every extra dollar needs to go toward paying down credit card debt.

Free Consultations With Our Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers | My AZ Lawyers

There are two ways on paying down credit card debt. One is to choose the card with the smallest balance to apply every extra penny to until it is paid off. When that happens, allow yourself a small celebration and then move on to using the money that used to pay that credit card to pay off the one with the next smallest balance. This is known as the snowball method.

Some people prefer to begin with the credit card that has the highest interest rate. If it is significantly higher than your others that may be the way to go. The problem many people run into is that if it’s a large sum of money you are trying to pay off, it’s easy to lose momentum when it takes so long to get there. That’s why many experts advise using the snowball method.
Unfortunately, for many Phoenix, Arizona residents these steps just aren’t feasible. Perhaps you have lost your job, or even your ability to work. You may have incurred catastrophic medical expenses. If you feel there is no way out for you, contact the law offices of My AZ Lawyers for a free consultation.

Be Debt Free

The experienced bankruptcy lawyers at My AZ Lawyers can advise you on the best course of action for your specific circumstances. Our Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers can guide you through the process and advise you on whether it would be best to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or to simply reorganize your debts in a chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Contact our Phoenix Bankruptcy Lawyers, we can help you obtain debt relief and quickly put a stop to those threatening phone calls. It’s a good feeling to start over with a fresh slate and begin rebuilding your credit score.

Published By:
My AZ Lawyers

Mesa Location:
1731 West Baseline Rd., Suite #100
Mesa, AZ 85202
Office: (480) 448-9800

Glendale Location:
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308
Office: (602) 509-0955

Tucson Location:
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701
Office: (520) 441-1450

Avondale Location:
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392
Office: (623) 399-4222