How Does Chapter 11 Business Bankruptcy Work in Maryland?

How Does Chapter 11 Business Bankruptcy Work in Maryland

Facing mounting debts and dwindling revenue, your business is at a crossroads. You’re trying to manage financial turmoil that appears endless. Maybe you can’t make monthly loan payments or pay your employees. If you want to keep your business alive, Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be a lifeline.

If you’re seeking financial relief for your business, understanding the question “How does Chapter 11 business bankruptcy work in Maryland” may be the key. When your company’s financial stability is on the line, knowing what Chapter 11 can do for you can empower you to make informed decisions.

Understanding Chapter 11 and How it Can Help Your Business

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is designed for businesses like yours: striving to stay afloat and rebound from financial hardship. Unlike Chapter 7, which involves liquidating assets and the closure of your business, Chapter 11 offers a different path. It allows you to reorganize and restructure your business, not shut it down.

The key benefit of Chapter 11 is that it allows you to keep running your business while you rework your finances. It’s a chance to reset, renegotiate debts, and emerge stronger. Typically, businesses that still have viable operations but are burdened by overwhelming debts turn to Chapter 11. Here are some key highlights:

  • Reorganization, Not Liquidation: Unlike Chapter 7, which shuts down your business, Chapter 11 keeps your doors open.
  • Retain Control: You continue to operate as a “debtor in possession,” managing day-to-day operations.
  • Restructure Debts: Redefine how and when you’ll pay creditors, often at more favorable terms for your business.

How Does Chapter 11 Business Bankruptcy Work in Maryland? The Filing Process in 15 Steps

Step 1: Recognizing the Problem

The process truly starts when you realize you can’t dig your business out of debt on your own. Missing monthly payments, facing lawsuits, struggling to pay your employees, or even cutting your own salary are clear signs. This important realization, often backed by your accountant’s advice, is the first step.

Step 2: Consult a Bankruptcy Attorney

Seek guidance from an experienced business bankruptcy attorney. They will walk you through the ways in which Chapter 11 can keep your business afloat:

  • Restructuring debt;
  • Rejecting unfavorable leases;
  • Gaining breathing room; and
  • Strengthening your position in negotiations with creditors.

Together, you’ll start devising a Chapter 11 plan tailored for your business.

Step 3: Collect Documentation

With the guidance of your attorney, gather essential financial documents, such as:

  • Profit and loss statements;
  • Tax returns;
  • Bank statements; and
  • Lists of creditors, employees, assets, accounts receivable, and customers.

Step 4: Prepare Bankruptcy Paperwork

Prepare and organize critical documents for filing, including:

  • Bankruptcy petition;
  • Schedules of assets, liabilities, income, and expenditures;
  • Executory contracts and unexpired leases;
  • Statement of Financial Affairs (SOFA); and
  • Lists of creditors and equity security holders.

Step 5: Strategize

By assessing your business’s financial situation and with guidance from your attorney, you can develop a plan to modify your business operations, liquidate assets, extend the payment period for some debts, and completely discharge others.

Step 6: File a Petition with the Bankruptcy Court

Officially initiate your Chapter 11 process by submitting these documents to the Bankruptcy Court. The court will then assign a case number, marking the formal commencement of your bankruptcy case. This step is critical, as it triggers the automatic stay, providing immediate relief from creditor actions against your business.

Step 7: Automatic Stay Goes into Effect

Immediately after filing the petition, the ‘automatic stay’ goes into effect. This legal provision halts all collection activities against your business, including:

The automatic stay provides a shield, allowing you to focus on reorganization without external pressures from creditors.

Step 8: Attend the Initial Debtor Interview (IDI)

Meet with the U.S. Trustee and U.S. Trustee Analyst at this informal meeting to understand your administrative responsibilities in Chapter 11. You will discuss Monthly Operating Reports (MORs), Debtor-in-Possession (DIP) bank accounts, and maintaining different kinds of insurance.

Step 9: Attend the 341 Meeting of Creditors

Known as the ‘meeting of creditors,’ this is a mandatory meeting where you, under oath, answer questions from the U.S. Trustee and possibly creditors about your bankruptcy paperwork. The 341 meeting usually occurs about a month after filing and requires thorough preparation with the help of your bankruptcy lawyer–so you can be ready to address all potential questions with confidence.

Step 10: File a Reorganization Plan

Formulating and filing your Reorganization Plan is the core of Chapter 11. This plan outlines how you intend to pay back creditors while keeping your business operational. It details, specifically, how you will restructure your debts and business operations. It may also propose to pay some creditors less than the full amount owed. The plan must be realistic and viable, offering a clear strategy for financial recovery.

Step 11: Disclosure Statement

Alongside the Reorganization Plan, a disclosure statement must be filed. This detailed document provides an in-depth look into your business’s financial situation, offering creditors all the necessary information to assess the proposed plan. The disclosure statement must be comprehensive, detailing assets, liabilities, business operations, and projections.

Step 12: Court Approval of Disclosure Statement

Before sending the plan to creditors for voting, the court must approve your disclosure statement. This step ensures the statement is sufficiently informative and complies with legal requirements.

Step 13: Creditors Vote on the Plan

After the disclosure statement is approved, your Reorganization Plan is sent to creditors for voting. Each class of creditors votes on the plan, and approval from each class is ideal. Nevertheless, even if one or more creditor groups reject the proposed plan, you can still pursue confirmation of the plan through a ‘cramdown.’ In this process, the court can approve the plan as long as at least one creditor votes in favor of it.

Step 14: Confirmation Hearing

The Bankruptcy Court conducts a hearing to decide whether to confirm your Reorganization Plan, including resolving any creditor objections.

Step 15: Implement the Plan

Once the plan is confirmed, it’s time to put it into action. This is where your business starts operating according to the new terms set out in the Reorganization Plan. This phase requires diligent management and adherence to the plan. Successfully implementing this plan is how your business can emerge stronger and more stable.

Navigating a Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a complex and detailed process, requiring careful planning and action at each step. In order for your Chapter 11 to be successful, it’s important to get help from an experienced business bankruptcy attorney. They can guide you through the Chapter 11 process smoothly, giving your business the strongest opportunity to become profitable again.

The Reorganization Plan: The Core of Chapter 11

At the heart of the question “How does Chapter 11 business bankruptcy work in Maryland” is the Reorganization Plan – your roadmap for financial recovery.

Developing this plan involves setting clear objectives:

  • Debt Restructuring: Propose new terms for repaying your creditors, possibly reducing the debt amount owed or extending payment periods.
  • Business Operations Overhaul: Outline changes to your business model and operations to increase efficiency and profitability.
  • Asset Management: Decide whether to keep, sell, or relinquish assets to manage debts more effectively.

Negotiating with creditors also plays a pivotal role in your Reorganization Plan. This isn’t just about reaching an agreement; it’s about forging a sustainable path forward for both your business and the creditors

Finally, court approval and confirmation turn your plan from a proposal into action. The court will examine the plan’s feasibility, fairness to creditors, and compliance with bankruptcy laws. Once approved, the plan becomes binding on you and your business’s creditors.

Operating During Chapter 11

Operating your business during Chapter 11 is about maintaining your business’s core activities while under the scrutiny of the Bankruptcy Court.

Operating During This Time Has Specific Obligations:

  • Court Supervision: Your major business decisions, like selling assets or obtaining financing, require court approval.
  • Continued Compliance: Regular reporting on financial status and operations to the court is mandatory, maintaining transparency about your business’s health.

Simultaneously, Chapter 11 Offers Unique Opportunities:

  • Obtaining Post-Petition Financing: You can seek new financing, known as Debtor-in-Possession (DIP) financing, which often receives priority over existing debts.
  • Entering New Contracts: While under bankruptcy protection, you can negotiate and enter new contracts essential for your business’s operations and growth.

The Exit Strategy

Successfully exiting Chapter 11 marks the completion of the process, indicating a pivotal transition back to normal operations.

Key Criteria for a Successful Exit Include:

  • Fulfilling the Reorganization Plan.
  • Meeting payment schedules and maintaining operations as proposed in the plan.
  • Approval from the Bankruptcy Court, confirming that all conditions have been met.

The Bottom Line

Grasping the question “How does Chapter 11 business bankruptcy work in Maryland” is vital for any business facing financial challenges. This journey involves recognizing the problem, crafting a Reorganization Plan, operating under court supervision, and finally devising a strategic exit.

In order for your Chapter 11 case to be successful, seek legal counsel from an experienced business bankruptcy attorney. Their guidance ensures compliance, informed decision-making, and a smoother path through the legal intricacies of Chapter 11, ultimately leading your business towards a more stable and prosperous future.

Contact Steiner Law Group

If you’re ready to get your business out of debt or want to learn more about the question “How does Chapter 11 business bankruptcy work in Maryland,” schedule a free consultation or call (410) 670-7060.

Avatar of Eric Steiner, Esquire

About Eric Steiner, Esquire

Mr. Steiner graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 2006. Since then, he has focused his practice on bankruptcy, real estate, commercial and consumer collections, including representing the third largest lender in the greater Baltimore area.