Family farms are often passed down from generation to generation and are a time-honored way of life. Some years are prosperous, while others are very difficult due to inclement weather, drought, economic pressures or unforeseen circumstances. Sometimes farmers recover, but other times the hardships are too great, and a family must consider Chapter 12 bankruptcy.
Through no fault of one’s own, there is more debt on the land and machinery than any crop sales can recover. It’s a difficult decision, but often it is the best way for a family to move forward. Chapter 12 gives farmers the chance to reorganize debt and relieve stress while continuing daily farm operations.
If this sounds like your situation, then you want to talk to an Indianapolis bankruptcy lawyer who deeply understands the farming profession and has years of legal experience and skill. Attorney and CPA Jerry E. Smith has helped many farming families face Chapter 12 with dignity, foresight and a focus on the future. He can do the same for you. If you are looking for an Indianapolis Chapter 12 bankruptcy lawyer who will listen, answer your questions and explain your legal options, then attorney Jerry E. Smith is a good choice. To find out more about how he can help, call him for a one-hour complimentary consultation at 317-917-8680.
You’re not alone. Breathe easy. We can do this together.
There are several different forms of bankruptcy. Chapter 12 bankruptcy is designed for farmers and fishermen who run into overwhelming debt while still generating an income. This type of bankruptcy was created to give economically stressed farmers and fishermen a framework for reorganizing their debt so they can continue with their livelihood and business operations.
This highly specialized form of bankruptcy is not appropriate for individuals or companies outside the farming and fishing industries. For those that meet its requirements, Chapter 12 usually provides more benefits and/or less cost than the alternatives, including Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13.
What makes Jerry E. Smith unique is that he is both a lawyer and a Certified Public Accountant. That means you get two professionals in one – a man with both a sharp legal mind and a keen sense of financial practices. Very few other lawyers can say that.
For this reason, Jerry E. Smith is often the best choice. That’s because farming is big business involving very large sums of money and intricate trade and tax implications. Jerry E. Smith’s skills as a CPA are invaluable in making sure that all financial matters are considered, as well as legal ones, as you move forward.
Bankruptcy in America is governed by federal laws codified in U.S. statutes. According to United States Courts, Chapter 12 bankruptcy is explained as follows:
“It enables financially distressed family farmers and fishermen to propose and carry out a plan to repay all or part of their debts. Under chapter 12, debtors propose a repayment plan to make installments to creditors over three to five years. Generally, the plan must provide for payments over three years unless the court approves a longer period “for cause.” But unless the plan proposes to pay 100% of domestic support claims (i.e., child support and alimony) if any exist, it must be for five years and must include all of the debtor’s disposable income. In no case may a plan provide for payments over a period longer than five years. 11 U.S.C. § 1222(b)-(c).”
“In tailoring bankruptcy law to meet the economic realities of family farming and the family fisherman, chapter 12 eliminates many of the barriers such debtors would face if seeking to reorganize under either chapter 11 or 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. For example, chapter 12 is more streamlined, less complicated, and less expensive than chapter 11 ….”
We understand that bankruptcy can feel like an overwhelming and insurmountable step, but it doesn’t have to be. Attorney and CPA Jerry E. Smith walks beside each of his clients every step of the way, offering guidance, insight and compassion. He provides an organized and streamlined process, and he is always available to answer your questions.
You can relax. Together, we got this.
When choosing a Chapter 12 farmers bankruptcy lawyer, it’s also important to consider the qualifications of a CPA — in Jerry E. Smith, you get both. Earning a CPA license requires rigorous financial studies and passing professional examinations. CPAs are accountants with highly specialized skills. Why not put all this financial knowledge to work for you?
To become a certified public accountant, you must first pass the Uniform CPA Examination. According to the American Institute of CPAs, the CPA Exam is composed of four 4-hour sections:
To pass his CPA examination, attorney Jerry E. Smith had to successfully face multiple-choice questions, written communication, and task-based simulations. He earned his CPA by passing all four sections within 18 months and earning a minimum score of 75 on each part. Is it becoming clear why attorney and CPA Jerry E. Smith stands head and shoulders above any other Indianapolis Chapter 12 bankruptcy lawyer who holds only a law degree?
Under U.S. Bankruptcy Code, “family farmers” fall into two categories:
Farmers falling into the first category must meet each of the four criteria below as of the legal filing date of the bankruptcy petition to qualify for Chapter 12:
1. The individual or wife and husband must be actively involved in a farming operation.
2. The total debts (secured and unsecured) of the operation must not exceed $4,153,150.
3. At least 50% of the total debts that are fixed in amount (exclusive of debt for the debtor’s home) must be related to the farming operation.
4. More than 50% of the gross income of the individual or the wife and husband for the preceding tax year (or for each of the 2nd and 3rd prior tax years) must have come from the farming operation.
A petitioner must file with the court:
Courts are required to charge a $200 case filing fee and a $75 miscellaneous administrative fee. Generally, fees are paid upon filing, but if circumstances warrant, the court may give permission for fees to be paid in installments.
To read more, see U.S. Courts information here. If you have questions about whether your farm qualifies, call attorney and CPA Jerry E. Smith at 317-917-8680. He would be glad to assess your individual situation. The initial one-hour consultation is free.
You are disqualified to file under any bankruptcy provision, including Chapter 12, if during the previous 180 days (6 months) a court dismissed a bankruptcy petition from you because you willfully failed to appear before the court or comply with court orders or because your petition was voluntarily dismissed after creditors sought relief to recover property that they hold liens on. 11 U.S.C. §§ 109(g), 362(d) and (e).
Also, you are allowed to file Chapter 12 only if you have received credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency within 180 days prior to filing. 11 U.S.C. §§ 109, 111. There are some exceptions for emergencies, which an experienced Indianapolis Chapter 12 bankruptcy lawyer can explain to you. If a debt management and repayment plan is crafted during the required credit counseling, it should be filed with the court.
While all of this sounds complicated, it really isn’t if you take it step by step with a skilled Chapter 12 farmers bankruptcy lawyer at your side. By approaching it this way, you allow your attorney to do the legal heavy lifting, and you can focus on making plans for you and your family as you step into a brighter future.
When debt becomes overwhelming and you have countless sleepless nights, it can be very discouraging. Farming is hard work in the best of times, but weather, the economy and other factors can cause added pressure. If you have reached a place where your farm is burdened with tremendous debt, it may be time to explore Chapter 12 bankruptcy. This process can enable you to restructure debt while continuing to operate your farm. There is hope for a brighter future. To find out more about whether Chapter 12 bankruptcy is the right choice for you, contact attorney and CPA Jerry E. Smith. We offer a free one-hour consultation, so call us at 317-917-8680.