Due to COVID-19, we are offering "touchless" or "contactless" legal services to those seeking bankruptcy relief. The bankruptcy courts are still open and operating remotely during this time and are accepting bankruptcy filings. My office is currently offering consultations by Google Meet video meetings or telephone and everything else can be done by email, scanning, fax or photos. For the time being, bankruptcy hearings are occurring by teleconference or video services. We are open and here to help people in these trying times. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you wish to discuss bankruptcy options.

Due to COVID-19, we are offering "touchless" or "contactless" legal services to those seeking bankruptcy relief. The bankruptcy courts are still open and operating remotely during this time. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you wish to discuss bankruptcy options.

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Small Business Bankruptcy Attorney in White Plains

How Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Can Help Small Businesses

Many small businesses have fallen on hard times in the last few years for various reasons ranging from economic fluctuations to lost customers, and most recently, the pandemic. The Small Business Reorganization Act is a recently enacted bankruptcy option for small businesses. However, navigating the complexities of the filing process can be daunting without the help of a qualified attorney. That’s where I come in. The SBRA is a less expensive and more manageable subset of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and I can help small business owners use it to simplify the bankruptcy process.

The Small Business Reorganization Act

Before SBRA, or the Small Business Reorganization Act, became law on February 19, 2020, small businesses in financial trouble had only two options: filing for Chapter 7 or traditional Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Neither was an ideal option for small businesses. Chapter 7 is a liquidation that does not result in a discharge for businesses and Chapter 11 has historically been an extremely expensive and difficult process for smaller companies.

So how does the SBRA work? To put it simply, the SBRA allows you to propose a reorganization plan of of your business debts under simpler rules and lower costs and allows a business owner to maintain control over his or her business affairs as long as they comply with bankruptcy rules and procedures. In order to qualify, the debt at issue must be at least 50% business related. Depending on the details of your case, an SBRA Trustee will be appointed to your case and you would be responsible for payment of that Trustee’s professional fees and expenses as well. However, unlike in regular Chapter 11 cases, there are no quarterly United States Trustee fees.

What is the business required to do in order to take advantage of the SBRA?

  • It must meet certain basic qualifications to be a debtor under the SBRA including: 1) be engaged in commercial or business activities (but excluding a business whose primary activity is the business of owning a single asset real estate), 2) at least 50% of the debts at issue must arise from the commercial or business activities of the debtor, and 3) not exceed a debt limit for secured and unsecured debts of $2,725,625;
  • It will have to pay a filing fee and initial legal fees;
  • Comply with the bankruptcy code and rules;
  • Maintain its finances going after filing through the use of a “Debtor in Possession” bank account and disclose all of its financial dealings;
  • Attend certain mandatory court hearings;
  • File a fair and equitable plan for dealing with the business’ debts within 90 days of when the bankruptcy case is filed;
  • Provide regular, timely and ongoing business financial statements such balance sheets, statement of operations, cash-flow statements, federal income tax returns, and periodic reports;
  • Make plan payments as proposed in your Chapter 13 plan for the length of the plan (not to exceed 5 years), once approved.

SBRA in Practice

The Small Business Reorganization Act streamlines the bankruptcy process for small business debtors. It does not require debtors to file a disclosure statement in support of its plan of reorganization. Additionally, an official committee of unsecured creditors will not be appointed, unless the bankruptcy court orders it. Also significantly, as part of the simplified process under the SBRA, creditors are not required to vote to accept or reject the debtor’s plan. However, you need to propose what the court considers a fair and equitable plan.

Because the SBRA allows small business debtors to bypass the disclosure statement process, significant costs and expenses are avoided as are the difficulties involved with getting creditors to vote in favor of the plan. The SBRA also bypasses the ability in traditional Chapter 11 plans where creditors have the right to file competing plans for repayment or reorganization. Thankfully, under the Small Business Reorganization Act, only the debtor can file a plan for reorganization.

Ultimately, the SBRA shortens the bankruptcy filing process and reduces overall costs. Small business debtors have control of their assets and can reclaim their business after bankruptcy.

When Is the Best Time to File for Bankruptcy?

Knowing your options is only half of the bankruptcy battle. Timing is critical for bankruptcy cases because filing too soon or too late can affect your ability to recover financially. Before you begin the filing process, consider the future of your business. Where do you want the business to be in the next few years? Is your business capable of generating stable income or revenue? Are there personal debts of the business owner that also pose a problem that should be addressed? By asking questions like this, you may decide that you need help sooner rather than later.

Experienced attorneys who understand the pressure of debt on small businesses know that every element of your bankruptcy case is of the utmost importance. They have the skill to work through uncertainties to help you secure a better financial future.

Some other big changes that come with SBRA

Traditional Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases do not allow modification of loans secured by a principal residence. However, under the SBRA, this debt may now be modified under certain circumstances- a) as long as the debt wasn’t used to purchase the principal residence and b) the debt was used primarily in connection with the small business of the debtor. An example of this would be where a small business owner takes a line of credit against his or her home to use for the small business’ needs. My office can help you determine if you may be able to take advantage of this provision.

Don’t Wait – Contact an Attorney Today!

Small businesses are the backbone of local communities. When times are hard, it is often small businesses that take the hardest hit. If you are a small business owner and face bankruptcy, you don’t have to do it alone. My law firm, Natasha Meruelo, Attorney at Law, has years of experience working with debtors looking to use bankruptcy as a way to move forward.

I understand how stressful bankruptcy can be for small business owners. When you are in a crisis, you need legal advice you can trust. That’s why I am committed to supporting my clients as they pursue a financially secure future.

If you are a small business owner in White Plains and wonder if bankruptcy is the right option for your situation, contact Natasha Meruelo, Attorney at Law.

  • “She is very accommodating if you need later evening or weekend appointments- even conference calls.”

    Michelle

  • “She turned a potential once-in-a-lifetime disaster into a perfect outcome.”

    Bankruptcy Client

  • “Natasha Meruelo handled my situation with the utmost skill and professionalism.”

    Bankruptcy Client

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    Carmen C.

  • “Quality service”

    FLovette

  • “She is a standout and anyone would be hard pressed to find better representation.”

    Former Client

  • “Ms. Meruelo is not only knowledgeable about the bankruptcy process she has excellent people skills.”

    Bankruptcy Client

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    Arah G.

  • “She is incredibly professional, courteous, patient, knowledgeable and truly a pleasure to work with.”

    Bonnie

  • “I would recommend anyone going through a very difficult financial hardship contact Ms. Meruelo for a consultation. You will be glad you did.”

    Jacobi

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    Bankruptcy Client

  • “She handled everything flawlessly.”

    Bankruptcy Client

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  • “Truly caring and affordable attorney that listens and explains in easy to understand language.”

    Former Client

  • “I would highly recommend Natasha C. Meruelo as a great lawyer.”

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