Zone of Insolvency – How to Conduct Business When Bankruptcy is a Looming Possibility

Corporate Boards of Directors always have complicated decisions to make. However, those decisions become incredibly more complex when the company has entered a “zone of insolvency” and is considering bankruptcy. Generally, Boards of Directors owe a fiduciary duty to the company’s shareholders.
That means that they must make decisions for the company based on a duty of care, a duty of loyalty and a duty of good faith to the shareholders. In other words, the board of directors must act like reasonably prudent people would and make decisions based on the best interests of the company.
The fiduciary duty of Boards of Directors changes when a bankruptcy is a looming possibility. While the Board of Directors still owes a fiduciary duty to the company, the zone of insolvency may also require Boards of Directors to exercise fiduciary duties with regard to creditors.
How Boards of Directors Know They’ve Entered a Zone of Insolvency
It can be difficult to pinpoint a moment in time when a company becomes insolvent. It takes time for the financial books to reflect the current condition of the business. Therefore, the courts have created a concept called the zone of insolvency. The zone of insolvency begins when the company is in financial distress and could possibly be insolvent. Generally, courts apply either a balance sheet test or a cash flow test to determine if the company should be considered in the zone of insolvency. Courts applying a balance sheet test will consider whether the company’s assets are greater than its liabilities and courts applying the cash flow test will consider whether the company has a sufficient cash flow to pay its bills and financial obligations.
Boards of Directors Fiduciary Duties to Creditors
Once a company has entered the zone of insolvency, the Board of Directors continues to owe a fiduciary duty to the company’s shareholders but, now, it also owes a fiduciary duty to its creditors. Sometimes this can create a conflict of interest for the Board of Directors since a decision may be in the best interest of the creditors but not of the shareholders. In some states, Boards of Directors primary fiduciary duty shifts to the creditors once a company is in the zone of insolvency. In other states, the fiduciary duty does not shift to creditors until a company is officially insolvent. In the remaining states, Boards of Directors are not required to make creditors interests a priority over shareholder interests but that are required to protect the rights of creditors. In these complicated situations it is important for Boards of Directors to seek legal advice to avoid future legal problems.
A company is not required to seek the advice of creditors nor inform them of the company’s financial troubles even if the Board of Directors owes the creditors a fiduciary duty. Likewise, it is important for Boards of Directors to focus on their fiduciary duties to all shareholders and to all creditors when answering individual questions about the company’s financial health.
Businesses that are within the zone of insolvency often face difficult choices. It is prudent for Boards of Directors to make every single decision with a focus on their duties of care, loyalty and good faith to both shareholders and creditors to avoid future litigation.
Call Firebaugh & Andrews for your free consultation 734-722-2999

Why hire a bankruptcy lawyer?

What can be more pathetic than being bankrupt? It has to be making the decision to file for bankruptcy. And what can make it more pathetic is to find a good bankruptcy lawyer for this purpose. In this 21st century of cut throat competition it might not take long for an individual to file a case a bankruptcy when the individual concerned is reduced into nothing. But hardly does a common man know the procedure or the requirements of filing for bankruptcy. This is the necessity of a bankruptcy lawyer comes into the picture.

But what is more important is the choosing of a bankruptcy lawyer who can file and win the title of bankrupt for his client. There are a few steps that are being highlighted below and what may help an individual in choosing a bankrupt lawyer to serve his or hers purpose. The toughest part of this whole is, choosing whether or not to file a case for bankruptcy. And if the choosing part leads to the answer yes, then that is from were the individual will feel the necessity of a bankruptcy lawyer.

Bankruptcy is actually a special area of the law, which makes it all the more important for an individual to hire a lawyer who has all the respective knowledge that is usually required in this field. Thus, the most essential and important step should be to contact the local bar association of the locality. This is usually done to take there advice before deciding upon which lawyer will the individual will entrust his case to prove him bankrupt. The individual can also choose his own lawyer and then ask the associations thoughts and concerns over this lawyer. The individual can also take recommendations from the association regarding the lawyer of his choice. As the bar keeps in touch with these lawyers, it has its views and thoughts against them, and depending upon the nature of the case the association also suggests a list of lawyers, who the association thinks are capable of handling this case.

The individuals concerned should however not restrict themselves to only what the bar says or what the individual thinks, the individual should try to gather information about the lawyer or any other lawyers by asking and inquiring to their friends, colleagues and their relatives. Or even better is if the individual can inquire to other lawyers and attorneys regarding the lawyer of his choice or any other lawyer that may suit his or hers case requirement. The individual can also search online on the web before coming to a decision and before deciding upon his choice among the lawyers. Start with Firebaugh and Andrews with over 40 years experience conveniently located in Westland, Call them today 734-722-2999

Will Bankruptcy Affect My Job or Future Employment?

If you plan to file for bankruptcy, you may be worried about what affect it might have on your job. Will your employer find out about your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy? Can you be fired because of the bankruptcy? And what if you are applying for a job — can a  employer deny you a job because you filed for bankruptcy?

Although in some cases your employer will find out about your bankruptcy filing (especially with Chapter 13 bankruptcies), rest assured that in most situations your bankruptcy won’t affect your current employment. However, it may come into play if you are applying for a non-government job.

Will You Lose Your Job?

No employer — government or private — may fire you because you filed for bankruptcy. Nor may an employer discriminate against you in other terms and conditions of employment  — for example, by reducing your salary, demoting you, or taking away responsibilities — because of your bankruptcy.

However, if there are other valid reasons for taking these actions, the fact that you filed for bankruptcy won’t protect you. In other words, an employer who wants to take negative action against you can do so provided there are other valid reasons to explain the action — such as tardiness, dishonesty, or incompetence. But if you are fired shortly after your bankruptcy is brought to your employer’s attention, you may have a case against the employer for illegal discrimination because of your bankruptcy.

How Employers Find Out About Bankruptcy Filings

In practice, employers rarely find out about a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. However, if a creditor has sued you, obtained a judgment, and started garnishing your wages, your employer will get the news. The bankruptcy will stop the wage garnishment, and your employer will be notified about it. In such a situation, your employer (or at least the payroll department) already knew you were having financial problems and will probably welcome the bankruptcy as a way for you to take affirmative steps to put your problems behind you.

If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your employer is likely to learn of your bankruptcy case. If you have a regular job with regular income, the bankruptcy judge may order your Chapter 13 payments to be automatically deducted from your wages and sent to the bankruptcy court. (This is called an “income deduction order.”) In effect, your employer will be pressed into service as a sort of collection agency, to make sure you honor your Chapter 13 plan.

Security Clearances

Many jobs require a security clearance. If you are a member of the armed forces or an employee of the CIA, FBI, another government agency, or a private company that contracts with the government, you may have a security clearance. Do you risk losing your security clearance if you file for bankruptcy? Probably not — in fact, the opposite may be true. According to credit counselors for the military and the CIA, a person with financial problems — particularly someone with a lot of debt — is at high risk for being blackmailed. By filing for bankruptcy and getting rid of the debts, you substantially lower that risk. Bankruptcy usually works more in your favor than to your detriment.

Effect of Bankruptcy on Job Applicants

No federal, state, or local government agency may take your bankruptcy into consideration when deciding whether to hire you. There is no corresponding rule for private employers, however, and some people find that having a bankruptcy in their past comes back to haunt them, particularly when applying for jobs that require them to deal with money (book­keeping, accounting, payroll, and so on).

Many private employers conduct a credit check on job applicants as a matter of course and will find out about your bankruptcy from the credit report. While employers need your permission to run a credit check, employers can also refuse to hire you if you don’t consent. If you’re asked to give this authorization, consider speaking candidly about what the employer will find in your file. Being honest up front about problems that are truly behind you may outweigh any negative effects of the bankruptcy filing itself

Will chapter 13 be better for my credit score then filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for the same amount of time; about ten years. Although they both have the same effect on your credit score, a particular creditor reviewing your report to decide whether to lend you money might view one chapter more favorably than the other. In particular, a creditor might be more willing to lend to you if you filed for Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 7.

Checklist: Documents To Show To Your Bankruptcy Attorney

Bankruptcy is not a simple matter with minor consequences. Rather, it may involve complex dealings with bankruptcy court and creditors. It could also have a major impact on your daily life. Filing for bankruptcy can affect your credit and property. Naturally, this is a stressful situation that you never envision yourself being in. The situation can be made easier by making the proper choices such as hiring a competent bankruptcy attorney and collecting and organizing your financial data.

When faced with credit problems and potential bankruptcy, hiring an attorney might be the answer to getting your financial life back on track. If you’re planning to contact an attorney, use the checklist below to gather the documents that the attorney will need to see to provide you with the best advice and representation. Oftentimes, people do not know where to start and what to do. This checklist will be a useful proactive tool so you can begin collecting and organizing the proper paperwork.

Financial Records

Your financial records are some of the first documents you should collect. These records will help determine which type of bankruptcy is best suited for you. For example, your financial documents can show you have regular income, meaning your best fit may be Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This may have huge implications because Chapter 13 will allow you to keep possession of your property and pay your debts over time.

  • Most recent bank statements
  • Most recent bills from every creditor
  • Most recent payment coupons for vehicles (lease or purchase), real estate, and student loans
  • Bills or invoices for purchases in the last year
  • Receipts

Legal Records

Any legal history or pending litigation involving you is information you’ll want to disclose to your attorney. Previous judgments against you show debts that will factor in to determining which bankruptcy is right according to your financial situation. In addition, any pending litigation or current court order will determine how much you can afford to pay your creditors at this time.

  • Files from previous litigation, including especially any judgments that have been entered against you
  • Files from previous attorneys
  • Any divorce decree or other court order that requires you to pay child support or maintenance

Additional Documents

The following list below is a combination of assets you own and verification of your income. A proper, thorough organization of your assets is extremely important to show you have a set income level. This income determination can be essential in proving you can repay your debts over a period of time or in proving a lack of income.

  • Canceled Checks for any expense you cannot otherwise document
  • ALL your correspondence with or regarding creditors, especially threat letter
  • ALL insurance policies
  • Tax returns for the last three years
  • Vehicle titles
  • Your lease or mortgage
  • Any promissory notes you have signed
  • Other documents relating to debts you owe other people
  • Any proof that anyone owes you money
  • Any lawsuits with which you have been served

Firebaugh & Andrews will make sure all your questions are answered, call today for a free consultation 734-722-2999


What circumstances will allow you to include your school loan in your bankruptcy

Every year, millions of students are convinced to take on student loans with promises of huge salaries upon graduation, but often the reality is a bit different and these same students are left with an enormous debt and little or no means of repayment. Indeed, these debts can last for decades.

Millions cannot afford to repay their student loan, some may think that filing chapter 13 can be done with your school loan but it is not 9 out of 10 times. Now what circumstances may allow you to include your school debt into your bankruptcy?

The very rare exception is when one can show at the time of the bankruptcy that the debt created by the student loans is going to create an unreasonable burden to the debtor and that the debtor will never be able to make payments, often because of a disability or other circumstance beyond the debtor’s control. Absent that, the debts to federal student loan companies are exempted from bankruptcy and will not be discharged. If you believe you are in such a situation contact Firebaugh & Andrews are these circumstances are very rare and there is only one way to find out, call us now for your free consultation 734-722-2999.