At a certain point, the burden of debt will lead almost anyone to their breaking point. Whether it comes as a result of job loss, medical bills, declining wages, rising costs or just human misfortune, the drafters of the Bankruptcy Code understood that there comes a point where enough is enough. If you live in Massachusetts and you cannot pay your debts, are dealing with a lawsuit, or are receiving telephone calls from collectors demanding payment, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy may help you.
One of the major aims of bankruptcy law is to help a financially distressed person by providing the opportunity to make a new financial start. Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy generally results in the discharge of your debts or at least of many of them, so that no further collections action can ever be taken against you.
Do I qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
When you do not have a sufficiently high or steady income to enable you to pay off debts, you may choose a straight liquidation bankruptcy under Chapter 7. Chapter 7 does provide you the opportunity to avoid almost all of your debts without making any payments on those debts. It also prevents further collection efforts by your creditors. Thus, Chapter 7 provides you with a means to take affirmative action so that you can start living your life again.
How does Chapter 7 bankruptcy work?
First, your Banlruptcy Attorneys will prepare detailed paperwork including descriptions of what you owe, what you own, your current income and expenses, a statement concerning your financial affairs and a statement of intent regarding whether you want to hold onto property you used as collateral. These must be prepared on forms that have been approved by the court.
Once the case is filed, the bankruptcy court will file an automatic stay order, barring any of your creditors from taking any further collections or legal action against you without the permission of the court. The Court will also set a date, time and place for a hearing that is called the Section 341 (a) ‘meeting of creditors.’ You must attend this meeting with your attorney and answer questions under oath by the trustee and any creditors who appear. The questions asked at the meeting are about your financial affairs, including your property, past earnings, and the schedules you have filed.
Much if not all of your property may be exempt from the claims of your creditors. Household goods and furnishings, working tools, some life insurance, radio, one television, musical instruments, some bank accounts, your car, and your home may all be exempt, if the value of each is within certain limits, and if your attorney has taken proper steps to claim the exemption. Be sure to consult carefully with an attorney: Some property can only be exempt if you have taken certain steps both to claim your exemptions and to arrange your affairs prior to filing the bankruptcy petition
If all of your assets are exempt, and no one objects to your discharge, you will receive your discharge from the debts about 90 days after the meeting of creditors. You can then start living your life again.
What will Chapter 7 do for me?
Perhaps more than anything, the greatest benefit a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can bestow is peace of mind. Once the Petition is filed, the collections calls and bills cease for once and for all. Any lawsuit, repossession or garnishment pending against you is stopped in its tracks. After the discharge is entered, you have a real fresh start in a very real sense: zero balances on all your credit cards, medical bills, paycheck and personal loans.