Chapter 12 provides that a standing trustee will be appointed in each case, but in the ordinary course, actual operation of the farm will remain with the debtor. Additionally, the debtor, as debtor in possession, has all rights, responsibilities, and powers, as would a debtor in possession under Chapter 11. Chapter 12 does not provide for the appointment of creditors’ committees.
If a trustee or a holder of an unsecured claim objects to the plan, the court cannot approve the plan unless the plan provides that all of the debtor’s projected disposable income to be received during the plan will be applied to make payments under the plan. It is significant to understand that an objection by the mentioned parties must be made for the court to consider this requirement.
Social Security benefits, company pensions, and 401(k) plans are all shielded by law and are, therefore, not lost to creditors in bankruptcy. Whether that same protection extends to an individual retirement account (IRA) is not clear. The bankruptcy law, which was drafted in the 1970’s before IRAs became such an important vehicle for retirement savings, is ambiguous. This has led to contradictory rulings in federal courts around the country.
Chapter 12 is a part of a federal law called the Bankruptcy Code. Debtors and the United States Bankruptcy Courts must follow its provisions. Each Chapter applies to a different type of debtor. For example, Chapter 13 applies to consumers or individual debtors, with regular income who want to repay their debts under a bankruptcy plan. Chapter 12 applies to certain family farmers.
A “claim” in bankruptcy is (1) a right to payment, whether or not reduced to judgment, liquidated, unliquidated, fixed, contingent, matured, unmatured, disputed, undisputed, legal, equitable, secured or unsecured; or (2) a right to an equitable remedy for breach of performance if such breach gives rise to a right to payment, whether or not such right to an equitable remedy is reduced to judgment, fixed, contingent, matured, unmatured, disputed, undisputed, legal, equitable, secured or unsecured.