Even the most well-managed businesses sometimes fall on hard times and may consider filing for bankruptcy, which does not always signal the end. This section provides information for struggling businesses that are considering bankruptcy.
There are a number of bankruptcy options open to businesses, including:
Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Consider this type of bankruptcy if you would like to stay in business and do not qualify for other related bankruptcy chapters. In Chapter 11, your company becomes the "debtor in possession" with a right to retain its property. A "341 meeting" of creditors is held where disclosures are made about the company's financial position. The United States Trustee may appoint a "creditor's committee," usually composed of the 7 largest unsecured creditors. A reorganization plan is developed that will provide for payment to creditors over a reasonable period of time. When the plan is confirmed by the court, the debts and liens not included in the plan are discharged.
Subchapter 5 in Chapter 11: This is for small businesses that would like to reorganize under Chapter 11. It gives profitable but underwater small businesses a simplified process for paying on their obligations.
Chapter 12 Bankruptcy for Family Farmers and Fishermen: Chapter 12 bankruptcy allows family farmers and fishermen to create a plan to repay their debts.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Consider this type of bankruptcy if you want to close your business. In Chapter 7, a trustee is appointed to take possession of the company's assets. A meeting of creditors is called that is referred to as a "341 meeting." At the meeting, you are asked about the company's assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. The assets are sold and the proceeds are distributed to the creditors.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Sole proprietorships that want to stay in business can reorganize through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A trustee is appointed but does not take possession of the company's assets. A "341 meeting" is held where the creditors examine the company's position. A plan must be filed within 15 days of the bankruptcy petition that devotes all of the debtor's disposable income to payments under a 3-5 year plan. Creditors do not vote on the plan. If the plan complies with the Bankruptcy code the court must confirm the plan. A discharge is granted when the debtor has completed payment on the plan.
Chapter 9 Bankruptcy for Municipalities: Insolvent public entities have the option to file for Chapter 9. This bankruptcy is similar to Chapter 13, but addresses the significantly different issues faced by municipalities.