Legal Rights of Debtors and Creditors, Bankruptcy for Financially Distressed Farmers
Saxowsky, David M.
Petersen, Gary J.
Bankruptcy is a federal court procedure intended to benefit both debtors and creditors if a debtor is unable to pay all obligations. Filing bankruptcJ' stops, or stays, all creditor's debt-collection procedures. The stay is to prevent some credi tors from receil'ing more than their fair share from a financiall.v distressed debtor. A bankruptcy trustee is usually appointed to assist in the fair distribut ion of the debtor's property. Equi table distribution of the debtor's propert.l' also is furthered by the trustee's al'oidance powers, the debtor's exempt property, and the court's discharging the debtor from unpaid obligations. There are two basic types of bankruptcy proceedings--1iquidation and reorganization. Chapter 'i liquidation prol'ides for the sale of the debtor's primary assets, distribution of proceeds to credi tors, and discharge of remaining unpaid debts. Then, except for property specified as exempt by North Dakota law, the assets of the debtor are sold and the proceeds distributed among the creditors. Subsequently, the debtor is discharged from most remaining debts and gl\'en the opportunity to financially "start fresh." Chapters 11, 12, and 1.1 of the Bankruptc.l' Code permit reorganization of the debtor's financial affairs and payment to creditors from the debtor's property and future income. A debtor is granted time to devise a plan of reorganization that may include rescheduling payments, selling some assets to reduce debt, forgh ing debt, and implementing changes to increase the business' efficiency and profitability. Chapter 12 bankruptcy is intended to meet the unique problems encountered in reorganizing a farm business.
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