Last updated March 30, 2017.
Bankruptcy procedures and rules differ for different filing parties and different types of bankruptcy. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is usually reserved for large businesses who want to rework debt. The goal is to reorganize the filing companies’ finances and let them start fresh after the bankruptcy process. In many cases, businesses who enter Chapter 11 will do so to get out from under unfavorable labor deals, or long-term contracts.
By contrast, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is reserved for individuals. While a corporation can technically file a Chapter 7 case, only individuals can receive a discharge in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, so there is rarely any point.
A Brief Chapter 7 Overview
When you file under Chapter 7, the automatic stay goes into effect to stop foreclosure, repossession, and any collection against pending against you. Your non-exempt assets are potentially subject to sale by the bankruptcy trustee.
In theory, the trustee liquidates (sells) your assets and uses the proceeds to pay your unsecured creditors. However, in most cases, our clients file for Chapter 7 and are able to retain all of their property. At the end of this 3- to 6- month process, your remaining unsecured debts are discharged. That means you walk out of bankruptcy debt free and can start again.
How Popular is Chapter 11 in Dayton?
Ohio is among the top 10 states for bankruptcy filings. Why? Well, we were hit particularly hard in the recession and took a bit of time to recover.
However, things are looking up. The amount of local bankruptcy filings have been on the decline in recent years, however, people (and businesses) still need help.
Last year, there were 4,105 new bankruptcy filings in the United States Bankruptcy Court Southern District Ohio’s Dayton office. Of those, most (about 70 percent) were Chapter 7 cases. Following that were Chapter 13 cases, which accounted for fewer than 1 out of every 3 filings. Meanwhile, just one Chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed in Dayton in 2016.
Bankruptcy Options for a Corporation
If you start a business, you may choose to run it personally as a sole proprietorship. In that case, the business is essentially an extension of you. Its assets are your assets, and its liabilities are your liabilities.
You may also choose to form a corporation or an LLC (limited liability company) to help shield your personal assets from the risk of running a business. Once you incorporate or create an LLC, the business becomes its own entity with its own assets and liabilities. You and any other owners hold stock in the company.
Although the corporate form is recognized as a separate entity that can incur debt and hold assets in its own name, as a practical matter, lenders require you, the owner, to personally guarantee corporate debts. As we mentioned above, large corporations will often seek to restructure under Chapter 11. Small business owners will likely find this to be a waste of time, especially if they don’t plan to continue operating the business.
Individual Chapter 7, Corporate Dissolution
The best play when your small corporation plans to go out of business is to file personal bankruptcy, then dissolve the corporate entity. The personal Chapter 7 will discharge your personal guarantee, and the dissolved corporation will cease to exist. From there, you can start over with a new entity, but your old business debts will no longer be a factor.
Bankruptcy is tough, but you have options. If you’re a small business or corporation owner, the last thing you want to deal with is figuring out all the paperwork and plans associated with a bankruptcy on your own.
At Cope Law Offices, we can help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you, and determine the best way to file. We have four convenient locations — Dayton, Mason, Springfield, and Vandalia — to assist you with all your bankruptcy needs. Contact us today for a free case review.