People from Philadelphia Pennsylvania and its surrounding suburbs, including southern New Jersey are probably aware of the fact that the entities that own Hahnemann University Hospital and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia filed for Chapter 11 last summer. While the plans were to keep St Christophers open, the plan was to close Hahnemann. What locals may not be aware of is the fact that hospitals from around the country, especially those in poor and rural areas, have also filed bankruptcy. According to a January 9, 2020 article on Bloomberg.com by Lauren Coleman-Lochner and Jeremy Hill, at least 30 hospitals filed bankruptcy in 2019. When a bankruptcy is filed by any business, concerns often relate to the potential job losses and drop in income. However, when the entity filing bankruptcy is a hospital, additional issues including the ability of those patients to get health care is also a cause for concern. Through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, some of the hospitals may be able to reorganize and survive. But for the one's that must close, it is a double tragedy.
When a business files a bankruptcy, under certain circumstances the bankruptcy trustee can assert a preference claim against certain creditors and take back from those creditors money previously paid to the creditor by the debtor. For example, if within 90 days of the filing of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy a payment is made on a past due invoice, in certain circumstances the trustee can assert that the creditor received a preference which is unfair to the other creditors and therefore, even though the money was owed, they must give it back to the debtor so the money can be redistributed to treat creditors equally. Trustee's would take advantage of this power by filing suit in order to try and get a settlement even though there may be valid defenses such as new value or contemporaneous exchange. In addition, if a company in, say Maple Shade NJ files a chapter 11 and the the debtor paid a company in Bozeman, Montana within 90 days before filing, the company in Bozeman could be forced to litigate in New Jersey. Under the new law, a trustee must do reasonable due diligence and consider defenses before they can file a suit. In addition, all lawsuits for less than $25,000.00 must be filed in the District where the defendant business is located. Both changes were badly needed.
The new Small Business Reorganization Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump on August 23, 2019 and goes into effect in February 2020. The changes are long over due. Filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy for a small business has been problematic because it is more designed for a large company rather then a small one. Because of certain rules which could make it more difficult for the owners to retain their ownership in certain circumstances, chapter 11 was sometimes avoided even though it could provide relief. Now the debtor can elect to be treated as a subchapter V debtor as of February 19, 2020. The new Chapter streamlines the process and avoids the potential loss of ownership. It is more cost effective. It also allows the debtor to have his bankruptcy plan confirmed over objections as long as certain criteria are met. Overall it should allow a number of small businesses to successfully reorganize
Don't forget to take post filing Money Management Course. A lot of people filing bankruptcy are aware of the need to take a credit counseling course before they can file bankruptcy. Typically it is taken on line or by telephone. However, you should be aware of the fact that a second course must be taken, this one after the bankruptcy has been filed. If the money management course is not completed and filed with the bankruptcy court prior to the case being closed, your debts will not be discharged. This means you will still owe the debts that existed when the bankruptcy was filed. There are steps that can be taken to rectify the problem, but that takes time and money.
There may be more than one place where you can file your bankruptcy. The statute indicates you can file where you reside, where you are domiciled or where your principal assets are located. Lets say your permanant address is in Willingboro New Jersey. That is where you have lived and that is where you intend on living. Willingboro NJ is therefore your domicile. But what if you have an ill mother living in Northeast Philadelphia Pennsylvania and you moved in with her for the last nine months to help her. The Philadelphia address is your residence and you could file in either place. If you own, for example, a vacation home in North Carolina and that is your most valuable asset, you could also use North Carolina as the venue to file and file there. For most people they can only file in one place. But as you see, that is not always the case.
"How much will my Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment be?" is a question I am often asked. While it is a simple question, the answer is not simple since the amount is determined by a number of factors. First, is the Chapter 13 purpose to pay mortgage arrears? If so, the total amount of the arrears would need to be paid over three to five years. Do you owe any priority debt such as taxes. That also must be added to the amount that is to be paid. What if you could afford to pay even more. The court looks at you monthly income and expenses to determine not only if you can afford to pay the mortgage arrears, etc., but also to see if you can pay something to other creditors such as credit cards and medical bills. Another major consideration is the nonexempt equity in your assets. Normally having equity in your home or other assets is a good thing, but in a bankrutpcy it could result in you having to pay something to your creditors. You can protect some equity in assets, but if your equity is more than you can protect, that can also increase your monthly payment. There are a number of factors that your attorney must consider in putting together a confirmable plan.
Philadelphia 's Hahnemann Hospital and Saint Christopher's Hospital for Children were part of a health care conglomerate that filed for bankruptcy on July 1, 2019. On September 23, 2019 the bankruptcy court in Wilmington DE approved the sale of Saint Christopher's Hospital for Children for 50 million dollars. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/news/2019/09/23/st-christophers-50m-sale-wins-ok-from-bankruptcy.amp.html The sale will allow most of the employees to stay employed and allow the renown children's hospital, which has been in existence for over 100 years, to continue. The sale also includes the sale of specialty care physician practices including practices in Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Washington Township, New Jersey. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/news/2019/09/23/st-christophers-50m-sale-wins-ok-from-bankruptcy.amp.html
1099c income occurs when there is a cancellation of debt. For example, if you owe a creditor $10,000.00 and they agree to settle for $6,000.00, forgiving the $4,000.00, the sum of $4,000.00 can count as income to you. However, if instead the entire debt is eliminated through a bankruptcy, there is no income to you and no tax consequence since the debt is discharged rather than forgiven or cancelled. A tax can also result from forgiveness of debt with a foreclosure. Again, filing a bankruptcy before the completion of the foreclosure can help avoid a tax liability.
"Am I eligible to file a Chapter 13?" is a question I am often asked. Bankruptcy code section 109, entitled "Who may be a debtor" provides many of the requirements. To file a Chapter 13 you cannot have more than $1,257,850.00 in secured debt nor more then $419,275.00 in unsecured debt. Since this is Federal law these rules apply regardless of whether you file bankruptcy in New Jersey, Pennsylvania or anywhere else. In addition you must have completed a credit counseling course within 180 prior to the filing. You must be an individual. Also, you are not eligible to file a Chapter 13 you had a Chapter 13 within the prior 180 days and your prior case was dismissed for willful failure to obey court order or to appear in proper prosecution of a case. In addition, if you dismiss a chapter 13 bankruptcy after the creditor has filed a motion for relief from the automatic stay, you cannot file another Chapter 13 for 180 days. However, if your prior bankruptcy was dismissed by the court, and not at your request, you can refile. There are other rules that come into play, such as good faith. It is best to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to confirm eligibility
Lets say you are having financial difficulties but are not sure if Bankruptcy is right for you. Where do you begin. The library is a good place to start. I checked out the Willingboro Library at 220 Willingboro Parkway near my Willingboro office. A review of some of the books available in the Willingboro Library such as Chapter 13: Keep your Property and Repay your Debts Over Time, by Stephen Elias and Robin Leonard or Bankruptcy Law for the Individual Debtor by Margaret Jasper are good places to start. Consulting with an attorney should also be considered since bankruptcy law can be complicated. Once you have the knowlege as to how bankruptcy works, it will allow you to make an informed decision as to whether it is right for you.