Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information in Minnesota?
According to Chapter 15 of Minnesota Statutes, bankruptcy records are public documents unless sealed. However, certain parts of the record are not open to members of the public - for example, files containing the social security number and the participating attorneys.
The public must note that the Judicial Conference of the United States on September 14, 2010, made changes to the policy affecting the public access to bankruptcy cases. Consequently, access to electronic records of bankruptcy cases filed before December 1, 2003, through PACER becomes inaccessible to members of the public. This policy also applies to bankruptcy cases that have been closed for more than one year.
Record seekers looking for an alternative to government sources may obtain bankruptcy records from third-party websites. These non-governmental websites often come with tools that help simplify the search for single or multiple records. However, record availability on third-party sites tends to vary because they’re independent of government sources. To obtain bankruptcy case information using third-party sites, record seekers may need to provide:
- A complete name of the debtor involved in the record
- A bankruptcy case number
Bankruptcy in Minnesota
Bankruptcy in Minnesota is a legal proceeding that creates a repayment plan for a person or business that cannot repay their debts or grants them the option of liquidating assets to repay the debts. It gives people who are unable to pay their debts a new financial start while also giving creditors a chance to be paid based on the individual’s or business’s assets available for liquidation.
How It Works
A person who files for bankruptcy in Minnesota and follows the legal process can liquidate assets or create a repayment plan to pay off debt. The United States Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure govern the bankruptcy process. Bankruptcy cases in Minnesota are determined by the United States Bankruptcy Courts in the District of Minnesota. The main purpose of bankruptcy law is to provide a fresh start to an honest person who has more debt than they can afford to repay by discharging a part of their debts. It also aids in the timely repayment of debts to the extent that the debts may be covered by the debtor’s assets.
The result of filing for bankruptcy depends on the type of bankruptcy. In Minnesota, bankruptcy filings fall under several chapters of the Bankruptcy Code, including Chapter 7 filings, Chapter 11 filings, and Chapter 13 filings. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves the liquidation of all non-exempt assets by the trustee appointed by the court. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy involves corporate or individuals reorganizations. A Chapter 13 involves debt repayment through lowered debt covenants or specific payment plans for individuals or married couples.
The court would consider different factors to determine if a person or corporation is eligible for bankruptcy. The various forms of bankruptcy filings have different eligibility requirements. Generally, the court considers the debtor’s income, expenses, debts, assets, and ability to pay. The court attempts to ensure that the debtor is not abusing the process.
Filing for Bankruptcy in Minnesota
Debtors can file for bankruptcy in Minnesota at the following court locations:
200 Warren E. Burger Federal Building and United States Courthouse
316 North Robert Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: (651) 848-1000
301 Diana E. Murphy United States Courthouse
300 South Fourth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Phone: (612) 664-5200
Phone: (866) 260-7337
404 Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building and
United States Courthouse and Customhouse
515 West First Street
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone: (218) 529-3600
204 Edward J. Devitt United States Courthouse and Federal Building
118 South Mill Street
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
What are Minnesota Bankruptcy Records?
Minnesota bankruptcy records are details of court cases handled by bankruptcy courts within the state. These details cover all information about the case, from the filing until the case is closed. Four courts handle bankruptcy cases in Minnesota:
- United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota, St Paul
- United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota, Fergus falls
- United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota, Duluth
- United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Records of bankruptcy cases heard by these courts after 1999 are preserved electronically. Other bankruptcy lawsuits before 1999 are paper records. Per the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) record disposition policy, most of the paper records in the bankruptcy courts, especially those filed after 1940, are destroyed after 15 years.
Interested parties can obtain available paper records by visiting the clerk’s office of the bankruptcy courts located in St Paul, Duluth, and Minneapolis. Fergus falls bankruptcy court is currently unstaffed. However, when paper records of bankruptcy cases have been destroyed, information like filing date, case name, and case number for such cases are still available at the clerk’s office. Electronic records of bankruptcy cases are accessible using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). Interested individuals will have to pay a fee of 10 cents per page to access these court records.
Finally, request or a can also listen to bankruptcy case information using the Voice Case Information System (VCIS) through a touchtone phone. The service is free and available round the clock. Inquirers seeking information through this service will need to provide details like name, social security number, case number, or tax identification number. Citizens can listen to case information in Spanish using this service as well. Since bankruptcy records are public records, they are available on third-party websites.
Where to Conduct a Free Bankruptcy Case Search in Minnesota
There are three main ways to conduct a free bankruptcy case search in Minnesota. Firstly, requesters can view bankruptcy cases for free at the United States Bankruptcy Courts District of Minnesota Clerk’s offices.
Secondly, an eligible individual can conduct a free bankruptcy case search via the Public Access to Electronic Court Records (PACER). PACER is free under the following conditions:
- When a user is a party to a case, they will receive a free electronic copy of the bankruptcy court record.
- When individuals view case information at any federal courthouse.
- When an individual or group has been granted fee exemption.
- When requests for court opinions are made
Thirdly, a free bankruptcy case search can be done through the Voice Case Information System (VCIS) using a touchtone phone by dialing (866) 222-8029. Callers can conduct free, round-the-clock case searches on VCIS by providing a name, case number, social security number, or tax identification number.
What Do Minnesota Bankruptcy Records Contain?
Parties who successfully request a bankruptcy case record can expect to find information, such as:
- The debtor’s details
- Creditors’ names and addresses
- Bankruptcy chapter filed
- Status of the case
- Case disposition
- Reported assets
- Discharge date
How to Get Minnesota Bankruptcy Records
Bankruptcy records in Minnesota are kept in two distinct formats; electronic and non-electronic records. Electronic records are accessible online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). Interested entities must register on the PACER platform and create a username. Also, these electronic records are obtainable at the clerk’s office in Duluth, Minneapolis, and St. Paul bankruptcy courts. Requestors seeking bankruptcy records can use the public terminals at these offices at no cost. Nevertheless, if the requester decides to print these documents, the court charges 50 cents per printed page. The addresses of the Duluth, Minneapolis and St Paul bankruptcy court clerk’s offices are:
United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota, Duluth
404 Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building
United States Courthouse and Customhouse
515 West First Str
Duluth, MN 55802
Phones: (218) 529-3600, (866) 260-7337
United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota, Minneapolis
301 Diana E. Murphy United States Courthouse
300 South Fourth Str
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Phones: (612) 664-5200, (866) 260-7337
United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota, St. Paul
200 Warren E. Burger Federal Building and United States Courthouse
316 North Robert Str
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phones: (651) 848-1000, (866) 260-7337
Non-electronic bankruptcy documents are retrievable from the clerk’s office in any of the three bankruptcy courts. Interested individuals must pay for the retrieval and copying. Parties can also request records directly from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) through Chicago or Kansas City offices. Using this means, the requestor must have obtained specific information about the case and its location from the local clerk’s office. Bankruptcy records are accessible through the National Archives and Records Administration’s website as well.
How Do I Find Out if My Bankruptcy Case is Closed in Minnesota?
An individual can determine if a bankruptcy case is closed by confirming from any of the clerk’s offices at Duluth, Minneapolis, or St. Paul bankruptcy courts. In Minnesota, the debtor must fulfill conditions before a bankruptcy case can be declared closed. Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are closed upon the discharge of the borrower’s debt, which is usually 60 days after the creditors’ meeting. However, in a bankruptcy case filed under Chapter 13, the case will be closed once the debtor fulfills the payment plan.
Can a Bankruptcy Be Expunged in Minnesota?
The court cannot expunge bankruptcy records in Minnesota. The truth is, Minnesota statutes only allow for the expungement of listed felony records. As bankruptcy is not a felony, it is not listed among the 50 felonies expugnable under Chapter 609A of Minnesota Statutes.
What are Minnesota Bankruptcy Records?
Minnesota bankruptcy records include information regarding the personal and financial information of debtors that file for bankruptcy in Minnesota. In accordance with 11 U.S.C. § 107, Minnesota bankruptcy records are public records. They contain the debtor’s gross income, the debtor’s sources of income, liabilities, and assets. Any interested person can get access to the bankruptcy records in Minnesota by phone, online, or by making a request in person. Online requests can be made via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records website (PACER). There is a 10 cent fee per page. However, the first 150 pages annually are free. Phone requests can be made by calling (866) 222-8029. A request in person can be made by visiting the court that heard the bankruptcy case.
What is the Downside of Filing for Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
A downside of bankruptcy in Minnesota is that it lowers a debtor’s credit score, making it more difficult to obtain a loan, mortgage, or credit card. It may also make it difficult to buy or rent a home. A debtor’s credit report will show a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing for ten years, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will remain on their credit report for seven years. The discharge will appear on the credit report for any creditor or lender the debtor applies for new credit with. This may prevent the debtor from obtaining credit in the future. Other drawbacks of filing for bankruptcy in Minnesota include:
- The debtor may lose access to credit cards
- The debtor may face difficulty obtaining a mortgage or loan
- Denial of state, local, and federal tax refunds
- A bankruptcy does not lead to a discharge of all debts
Despite the downsides, there are advantages to filing bankruptcy that a debtor should consider. It provides several benefits in some instances, such as:
- Bankruptcy enables a debtor to discharge a substantial portion of their debt or establish a repayment plan.
- A bankruptcy filing results in an automatic stay order. Creditors shall be unable to carry out any action to enforce repayment outside of the repayment plan. This includes preventing foreclosure, legal actions, enforcement of judgments, and even calls and messages.
- Filing for bankruptcy can help a debtor re-establish credit more quickly. The debtor's credit score will deteriorate if they continue to be unable to pay. After filing for bankruptcy, the debtor may be given a second chance.
What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
A Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Minnesota is a form of bankruptcy that lets the debtor retain control of their assets and continue business operations as a “debtor-in-possession”. It is also referred to as a reorganization bankruptcy. A debtor that files for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy can obtain new loans with the permission of the court. The debtor would be required to file a reorganization plan with the court. It shall highlight the plan for the repayment of creditors and how the debtor intends to conduct the business to repay the creditors. The creditors shall also vote on whether the reorganization plan should be accepted. In some cases, the reorganization plan may include a plan to liquidate after a period of time. If the court allows the bankruptcy, the debtor is given many of the powers and duties of a trustee under other forms of bankruptcy. The duties of the debtor as debtor-in-possession include the duty to account, the duty to make reports, and the duty to respond to claims.
A chapter 11 bankruptcy filing begins with the filing of a petition. The petition may be either voluntary or involuntary. A voluntary petition is filed by the debtor pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 301, while an involuntary petition is filed by the creditors pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 303. A voluntary petition should be filed using Form B 101 of the Official Forms prescribed by the Judicial Conference of the United States. The debtor would also need to file the following with the court:
- A schedule of the debtor’s assets and liabilities
- A schedule of the debtor’s current income and expenditures
- A list of the debtor’s executory contracts and leases yet to expire
- The debtor’s financial statement
A married couple may choose to jointly file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in accordance with 11 U.S.C. § 302(a). If a married couple chooses to file jointly or the debtor is an individual, the court would also require the following.
- A certificate of credit counseling and a copy of any debt repayment plan developed during the credit counseling
- Evidence of payment from an employer received within 60 days of filing and any expected increase in the debtor’s income and expenses after filing
- Any interest that the debtor has in a state or federal qualified education or tuition account
The fees for filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy include a $1,167 case filing fee and a $571 miscellaneous administrative fee. The fees should be paid to the clerk of the court upon filing for bankruptcy. The court may allow payment in up to four installments. However, the last installment should be paid within 120 days for filing for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Failure to pay may lead to a dismissal of the case.
Who Files for a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
A debtor or creditors that satisfy the conditions may file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Minnesota. A Chapter 11 involuntary filing for bankruptcy should be made by three or more creditors acting jointly. The debtor is to file a reorganization plan within a few days of the bankruptcy filing. Under 11 U.S.C. § 1121(b), the debtor has a 120-day window to create a plan, with the exception of “small business debtors”. This exclusivity period may be extended or reduced by the court. The exclusivity period, including any extensions, should not exceed 18 months under 11 U.S.C. § 112 (d). After the exclusivity period has passed, a creditor may file a competing proposal.
Why File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
A Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Minnesota gives the debtor the opportunity to reorganize a business to make debt obligations easier to comply with. The creditors become unable to enforce repayment outside the repayment plan, the debtor may pay the debts after the original due date, and the debts may even be reduced in some cases. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a business that may become profitable in the future to avoid liquidation through reorganization. The debts are to be paid within three to five years.
What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Minnesota is a form of bankruptcy that requires the liquidation of a debtor’s non-exempt assets to pay the creditors to the extent that is possible. The debtor gets to keep the property on the exemption list. A trustee is then appointed by the court to gather the non-exempt property, liquidate them, and pay the creditors. The effect of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that a majority of the debtor’s debts are discharged once the assets have been liquidated to pay the debts to the extent that can be paid.
The case trustee usually organizes a meeting of creditors. The case trustee would ensure that the debtor understands the consequences of the bankruptcy. The debtor would also be placed under oath and the case trustee and creditors shall ask questions. The questions shall be regarding the assets and the debtor’s financial position. Importantly, the trustee would try to ensure that the debtor is not abusing the bankruptcy process or attempting to escape liability for debts unlawfully. The case trustee would report to the court on whether the bankruptcy filing is abusive. The debtor would be required to file the following.
- A schedule of assets and liabilities
- A schedule of pending contracts and unexpired leases
- The debtor’s statement of financial affairs
- A list of the debtor’s income and expenditure
The debtor would also be required to file additional documents with the court if a majority of the debts are consumer debts, such as:
- A certificate of credit counseling within 180 days of filing for bankruptcy and any debt repayment plan developed during credit counseling
- The debtor’s monthly income and any expected increase in income or expenses
- Evidence of income received from an employer within 60 days of filing for bankruptcy
The fees for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Minnesota include a $245 fee for case filing, a $75 fee for a miscellaneous administrative fee, and a $15 fee for trustee surcharge. The fees should usually be paid upon filing for bankruptcy. However, the court may allow the debtor to pay the fees in up to four installments, provided that the last installment is paid within 120 days of filing for bankruptcy. The court may dismiss the bankruptcy case if the debtor fails to pay the fees. The court may also choose to waive the fees if the debtor earns less than 150% of the poverty level.
Do I Qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
Individuals, partnerships, corporations, and other business entities are qualified for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Minnesota. If the debtor’s monthly income is above the state median, the court will usually apply the “means test” to ensure that the Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not being abused. Regardless of the amount of debt, the debtor may file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if they meet the means test. Any person filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy should have gotten credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency within 180 days of filing. Also, a debtor cannot file for bankruptcy if they had a bankruptcy case dismissed within the preceding 180 days because they failed to appear before a court or disobeyed a court order.
Why File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy process in Minnesota allows the person who filed for bankruptcy to start over financially, as a majority of debts are discharged. However, mortgage and car payments should still be made if the debtor wishes to keep their home or car. An honest debtor can use a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to start over financially while keeping their most valuable possessions.
What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Minnesota is a federal court process in which a debtor proposes a three to five-year repayment plan in which the debtor agrees to pay off all or part of their debts with future earnings. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows a person to keep their assets, makeup missed vehicle or mortgage payments, pay back taxes, and stop the accrual of interest on their tax obligation. The total amount paid to creditors in a Chapter 13 plan must be at least equivalent to the entire amount paid to creditors under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtor must have a regular source of income and some disposable income to put into the Chapter 13 payment plan.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy begins with the debtor filing for bankruptcy in the bankruptcy court that serves their area of residence or domicile. Unless the court rules differently, the debtor must additionally file the following documents.
- Schedules of the debtor’s assets and liabilities
- A schedule of current income and expenditures
- A list of executory contracts and leases that have not yet expired
- A financial statement
The court charges a $274 filing fee and a $75 administration fee, all of which must be paid in full when the petition is submitted or in installments with the court’s consent. The filing fee can not be paid in more than four installments. The last installment should be paid within 120 days after filing the petition. The court may extend the time for any installment if good cause is shown, as long as the last installment is paid within 180 days of filing the petition, as required by Bankruptcy Code Rule 1006(b).
Do I Qualify for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
Individuals with unsecured debts less than $394,725 and secured debts less than $1,184,200 are qualified for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Minnesota. A person cannot file under chapter 13 or any other chapter if a previous bankruptcy petition was dismissed within the previous 180 days due to the debtor’s willful failure to appear before the court or comply with court orders, or was voluntarily dismissed after creditors sought relief from the bankruptcy court to recover property on which they have liens. The debtor filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy should have received credit counseling within 180 days of filing for bankruptcy.
Why File for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may allow a debtor in Minnesota to reschedule debts and pay the debts over a period of time. The payments may also become lower. A debtor may use a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to prevent a foreclosure on their home and prevent other collection actions without liquidating all of their assets.
What is the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows a person to pay off all of the debts by liquidating their non-exempt assets, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a reorganization plan without the outright sale of assets. The proceeds from the sale of non-exempt assets in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are used to settle debts. Furthermore, once the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process is completed, the debts are discharged and the debtor can start over financially. However, some debts cannot be discharged, such as most taxes, mortgages, and car payments. These payments would still have to be made. In contrast, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves the debtor agreeing to make monthly payments towards the repayment of all or part of their debts. During the repayment period, all financial activity is closely monitored, and any spending on luxury items or vacations should be reduced or eliminated. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help a person avoid foreclosure and cover missed mortgages, car payments, or tax payments. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually takes only a few months, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may take several years.
What is Bankruptcy Protection in Minnesota?
Bankruptcy protection in Minnesota is a court order issued once a debtor files for bankruptcy that prevents creditors from attempting to enforce repayment. The creditors shall be prevented from carrying out any collection activity such as foreclosures, repossession, legal proceedings, enforcing judgments, and reminder calls. The order is an “automatic stay” order. The court sends a notice of the order to the creditors at the address provided for the creditor by the debtor. Any creditor that fails to comply with the order may face penalties for contempt of court, court costs, attorney costs, and damages awarded against the creditor by the court.
What are Minnesota Bankruptcy Exemptions?
Minnesota bankruptcy exemptions are the property that the debtor may keep after filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Debtors that file for bankruptcy in Minnesota may choose either the federal bankruptcy exemptions or the state exemptions. Debtors that file for bankruptcy in Minnesota often choose the state exemptions, as they allow the debtor to retain more property than the federal exemptions. The exemptions in Minnesota include:
- Homestead exemption: Minnesota allows debtors that file for bankruptcy to keep up to $450,000 of equity in a home. The amount increases to $1,100,000 for farms that are up to 160 acres large. The amount of equity that can be retained in the home does not increase for couples filing for bankruptcy jointly.
- Vehicle exemption: A debtor filing for bankruptcy is allowed up to $5,000 of equity in their vehicle. If up to $3,750 was spent modifying the vehicle to accommodate a person who is disabled, the amount that the debtor may retain in the vehicle increases to $48,000.
- Wage exemption: A debtor filing for bankruptcy in Minnesota may keep up to 75% of their wages or forty times the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher.
- Personal property exemptions: Some personal property is completely exempt, such as food, necessary clothing, one watch, library, health aids, and burial plot. Household furniture, appliances, and electronic devices are exempt up to $11,250.
- Tools of trade are exempt up to $12,500.
- Public benefit exemptions: Social security benefits, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, and veteran benefits are exempt in Minnesota.
- Pension and retirement benefits: Up to $75,000 in a stock bonus, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, and similar plans is exempt.
What are the Other Types of Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
Farmers and fishermen in Minnesota are eligible for a Chapter 12 bankruptcy in Minnesota. It is cheaper and simpler than other forms of bankruptcy. However, a majority of the debt should be as a result of the farming or fishing operation. The debt should not be more than $4,153,150 for farmers and $1,924,550 for fishermen. Debtors may also choose to go through credit counseling and develop a repayment plan during credit counseling. Another option is reaching an out-of-court agreement with creditors.
How Much Does It Cost to File Bankruptcy in Minnesota?
The cost to file bankruptcy in Minnesota largely depends on the type of bankruptcy case in question. For instance, A Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition costs $338 while a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition costs $1,738.
However, for individuals who may not be able to pay the fees all at once, a four-part installment option is available as long as the last installment is paid within 120 days of the case filing. This payment plan is available by filling and signing the appropriate application form stating the debtor’s inability to pay part or full payment when filing. Please be aware that all filing fees must be paid at the court clerk's office If the debtor's income is below 150% of the poverty level, the court may decide to waive the fees. request for Chapter 7 bankruptcy fee waiver can be made by submitting an Application to Have the Chapter 7 Filing Fee Waived to the Clerk.