If your business is facing insurmountable debt, you may be considering bankruptcy. If you are, it’s important to know that there are different paths to take, depending on the structure of your business. For instance, if your business is not a corporation (i.e., you are self-employed, a sole proprietorship or a partnership), then the assets of your business are personal. In this case, because you are personally liable for any debt, you would file a personal bankruptcy. If your business is incorporated, you must file a corporate bankruptcy as the legal structure of your corporation protects your personal assets.
The steps are similar between personal and corporate bankruptcy, and it generally becomes a matter of complexity. Corporate bankruptcies are typically more complicated because of the number and value of both the debts and the assets.
Licensed Insolvency Trustees vs. Bankruptcy Lawyers
Whether you are filing a personal or corporate bankruptcy, the Canadian Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) requires that bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings be administered by a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). As experts in everything debt-related, they can guide you through bankruptcy and help you understand your legal obligations.
While you may have heard of bankruptcy lawyers, their roles and responsibilities are different than Licensed Insolvency Trustees — usually, bankruptcy lawyers work on behalf of creditors and are rarely hired for personal insolvency cases. Even in the event of corporate bankruptcy, it’s a Licensed Insolvency Trustee who presides over the proceedings — Canadian lawyers can’t initiate the bankruptcy process or file any documents.
How a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help
When declaring bankruptcy in Canada, Licensed Insolvency Trustees are the first and often the only professional you’ll need to call. Experts in bankruptcy law and intimately familiar with the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, LITs are licensed and qualified to act as a trustee in bankruptcy. They can also help you submit a Division I proposal, which is a bankruptcy alternative popular with Canadian businesses with more than $250,000 in debt. For individuals or businesses with less than $250,000 in debt, a consumer proposal is a bankruptcy alternative that a LIT can help facilitate.
Here’s how a LIT can help:
They’ve been through this before
Chances are, you haven’t been through bankruptcy before. But LITs have (likely countless times!) and know the legal process inside and out. They’ll walk you through the steps you need to take, the documents you need to sign, and the deadlines you need to meet. They will guide you through the process from start to finish and help you get through it as fast as possible.
They deal with your creditors for you
One of the most stressful parts of a challenging financial situation is dealing with creditors and/or collection agencies who are contacting you for payment. When you work with a LIT, they will take over the communication with creditors. If someone contacts you after you’ve retained representation, you can simply direct them to call your trustee.
They won’t leave anything out
When you file for bankruptcy, you must list all your debts and assets. While you may not intentionally leave anything out, your LIT will ask you questions about everything the business owns and owes to ensure your list is complete and accurate. Their attention to detail and diligence will contribute to a smooth experience.
They’ll give you peace of mind
Whether you’re considering personal or corporate bankruptcy, the financial burden you’re shouldering is likely immense. You’re probably not sleeping well at night, your relationships may be strained, and the road ahead may feel uncertain. Add to the fact that you’re closing down a business you have poured hard work, sweat and tears into, and this is an emotional time. A LIT can help you begin your financial recovery faster by navigating the process for you — expertly, accurately and efficiently — so you can start your next chapter sooner.
They will help you decide if bankruptcy is the right move in the first place
It’s a good idea to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee once your business debt becomes overwhelming and you can’t see a way out on your own. A LIT can provide you with advice (typically through a free consultation) about filing and help you identify if bankruptcy is, in fact, the right decision for you. A Division I or consumer proposal may be the better choice, and they can advise you accordingly. Feeling confident that you’re taking the best path for your own financial security can offer you tremendous relief and a vision for a hopeful financial future.
Bankruptcy can be a complex, time-consuming, and intimidating process — but it’s not something you need to face alone. A Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help answer questions you may have, and provide essential guidance and direction to ensure your bankruptcy petition is error-free, is fair for everyone involved, and ultimately gives you the financial freedom you deserve.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.