January 23, 2021

Information for Tennessee Farmers: Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Might Be An Option

What is Chapter 12 Bankruptcy?

On this Tennessee Bankruptcy Blog, we regularly go over the most common types of personal bankruptcies, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. However, there are less-known types of bankruptcy protections as well, such as Chapter 9, Chapter 11, and Chapter 12 bankruptcy. In this post, we will focus on Chapter 12 bankruptcy, which may help some of you Tennessee farmers out there. Commonly known as the Family Farmer Chapter, Chapter 12 is designed specifically to meet the needs of family farmers and fishermen.

To be defined as a family farmer for Chapter 12 bankruptcy, you must meet certain criteria. The farmer’s debts can not be over $1.5 million, which does not include debt owed on a home unless it is directly connected to the farming business. At least half of the farmer’s gross income must have been earned from farming in the year prior to the filing, and at least 80% of the debt must be farm related. Also, the farmer must make an income that is large enough to be able to make payments under a Chapter 12 plan, before the bankruptcy petition is approved.

The Basic Process: To file for Chapter 12 bankruptcy, the debtor must first file a bankruptcy petition at a cost of $200. Within 15 days after filing, the debtor must give a complete list of their liabilities and assets, and must pay a deposit of $500 to the appointed Chapter 12 trustee. Within 90 days the debtor needs to file a repayment plan telling how their creditors will be repaid. The debtor must also file a financial report every month which shows disbursements and receipts. Within 20 to 60 days after the bankruptcy petition is filed, the debtor must attend a meeting where they are questioned by the trustee and creditors and suggestions on the repayment plan are made. Within 45 days since the repayment plan was filed, the court will either approve or reject the plan.

Chapter 12 bankruptcy is very similar to Chapter 13, but has a higher debt ceiling than Chapter 13 because farmers and fishermen must sustain higher debts than workers with normal wages. Debtors must repay all or part of their debts within three years, or five years if they can persuade the court of extenuating circumstances.

Just like I would suggest to those thinking of filing a Chapter 13, I advise anyone that is considering filing bankruptcy under Chapter 12 to consult and with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.