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Massachusetts Bankruptcy Overview

The Unites States Constitution provides a way for people burdened by excessive debt to get a “fresh start” by filing for bankruptcy allowing them to pursue productive lives unimpaired by past financial problems. It is an important alternative if you are strapped with more debt and economic stress than you can handle.

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Chapter 7

In a Chapter 7 case, a trustee is appointed to examine the debtor’s assets to determine if there are any assets not protected by available exemptions. Exemptions are laws that allow a debtor to keep, and not part with, certain types and amounts of property. For example, exemption laws allow a debtor to protect a certain amount of equity in the debtor’s residence, motor vehicle, household goods, life insurance, health aids, retirement plans, specific future earnings such as social security benefits, child support and alimony, and certain other types of personal property. If there is any nonexempt property, it is the trustee’s job to sell it and distribute the proceeds among the unsecured creditors. Although a liquidation case can rarely help with secured debt (the secured creditor still has the right to repossess the collateral if the debtor falls behind in the monthly payments), the debtor will be discharged from the legal obligation to pay unsecured debts such as credit card debt, medical bills and utility arrearages. However, certain types of unsecured debt are allowed special treatment and cannot be discharged. These include most student loans, alimony, child support, criminal fines and most taxes.

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Chapter 13

In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case, the debtor puts forward a plan, following the rules set forth in the Bankruptcy Laws, to repay certain creditors over a period of time, usually from future income. A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case may be advantageous in that the debtor is allowed to get caught up on a mortgage or car loans without the threat of foreclosure or repossession, and is allowed to keep exempt and non-exempt property. The Debtor’s Plan is a document outlining to the Bankruptcy Court how the debtor proposes to dispose of the claims of the debtor’s creditors. The debtor’s property is protected from seizure from creditors, including mortgage and other lien holders, as long as the proposed payments are made and necessary insurance coverage remains in place. The plan generally requires monthly payments to the Bankruptcy Trustee over a period of three to five years. If you are employed, arrangements will be made to have these payments made automatically through payroll deductions after the confirmation of your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan.

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We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.