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Milwaukee Bankruptcy Attorneys Break Down Chapter 128, Wisconsin’s Unique Law

Posted on Aug 19, 2013 in Bankruptcy, Wisconsin

Ask a businessman or attorney outside of Wisconsin about Chapter 128. They will probably shake their head or look confused. But ask our bankruptcy attorneys or lenders in Wisconsin, and they can tell how Chapter 128 can be a blessing for debtors and lenders.

Chapter 128 Process for Businesses

Chapter 128 contains two processes that are only found in Wisconsin. The first creates a receivership, with a party appointed (the receiver) to manage a business, sell its assets, pay the creditors, and ultimately liquidate the business or sell it outright. Like a bankruptcy, the filing creates an estate, the business’s assets and the right to receive funds. The receiver acts like a bankruptcy trustee and distributes payments to creditors based on the law’s order of distribution. Administration costs to run the estate; federal, state and local taxes; and employee wages get a higher rank than general creditors who are unsecured and have no liens.

Chapter 128 Works for Individuals Too

The second process creates a receivership for individuals with incomes. This “amortization of debts” by “wage earners” works like a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, with payments made to a trustee and paid to creditors. But it is limited to 36 months (3 years) and only applies to some debts. For instance, we routinely file Chapter 128 plans to pay credit card debt, medical bills, payday loans, deficiencies for surrendered cars, and old utility bills. Our bankruptcy attorneys at Lake Law advise that this would not be an appropriate way to pay on a car loan or a mortgage.

So why choose a Chapter 128 over a bankruptcy? Our bankruptcy attorneys provide some reasoning:

Businesses: Creditors can apply to have a debtor company placed into the receivership involuntarily, meaning against their will. They may prefer this to a bankruptcy and get a receiver they trust to get a business under control before the principals sell assets off. Also, the process can be cheaper than a bankruptcy filing. It may be a win-win for everyone, especially if there are only a few major creditors. It provides an orderly way to wind down and save expensive costs of a lawsuit.

Individuals: For individuals, bankruptcy attorneys look for specific people to benefit from a Chapter 128. People who have repaid family members or friends over the last year and don’t wish to see that money returned to a trustee, people who have valuable assets they don’t want to surrender to the bankruptcy trustee for sale to the creditors, and people with little or no secured debt (or secured debts completely current) and willing to pay a monthly payment to only deal with specific creditors.

As an example, we recently filed a Chapter 128 for a debtor who had paid a relative back for a loan. That relative would probably have been sued by a bankruptcy trustee to get that money back. Also, she had valuable equity in a home and other possessions. She would not have been a good candidate for a Chapter 7, and would have probably paid too much in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy because of her equity. So our bankruptcy attorneys advised her to file a Chapter 128 and pay plan with the most important and pressing creditors.

Contact a Bankruptcy Attorney If You Need Clarification

Chapter 128s don’t work for everyone. They don’t protect the debtor from all creditors and not every creditor understands what a Chapter 128 is, since it isn’t a bankruptcy. But it is often cheaper and more orderly than a bankruptcy or any other attempt to smoothly liquidate a business. Talk to the Wisconsin attorneys at Lakelaw to see whether a Chapter 128 petition is right for you or your business.

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