Filing for bankruptcy can provide you with the fresh start you need to get back up on your feet after some hard time. Unfortunately, many people wait too long and delay the process of getting help and starting over.
Numerous people seek help through the bankruptcy process. People who have found themselves with growing debt that they just can’t seem to pay down no matter how hard they try.
Some of the most common reasons for this hardship is medical bills, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the failing of a small business. Hard working people who, often through no fault of their own, have found themselves in tough times and in need of a boost to get back on their feet. Every person has a life story that has many ups, downs, twists and turns.
Sadly many people wait until its almost too late, or sometimes past “too late”, to ask for help and fix their situation. Houses get foreclosed on because of past due mortgage payments, phones are avoided because of aggressive debt collection agencies, bills and notices get left unopened (often creating even more of a problem) because its too stressful to deal with, and mental and physical health deteriorate as a result of the stress.
The Fresh Start You Need
Bankruptcy can provide the fresh start. Often you can utilize this valuable process to save your home from foreclosure auction, bring your debts down to a manageable level, and finally breathe a sigh of relief when you haven’t been able to do so in quite some time.
Help can be found fairly easily simply by picking up your phone or searching the web for a bankruptcy attorney near you. The attorney can assess your particular situation and advise if bankruptcy is the most appropriate course of action to get you back on track to a manageable debt load.
How does it work?
There are generally two types of bankruptcy cases for individual consumers, a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13, each with its own benefits, requirements, and process.
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the kind most people think about. Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out most of your debts, including credit cards and medical bills. However, you must qualify in order to file for Chapter 7 and the qualifications are mainly based on your income. One of the main ways to know if you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to look at the current median income by family size for the state you reside in and determine if your income is below that number. For Massachusetts the current median income as of January 8th, 2019 is:
- Family of one: $64,907 per year
- Family of two: $81,339 per year
- Family of three: $102,059 per year
- Family of four: $127,579 per year
- (Add an additional $8,400 for each individual above four)
If your household income is below that amount you are presumed to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Chapter 7 case typically moves through the system much quicker than a Chapter 13 case will, and allows you to discharge most debts including credit cards, unsecured personal loans, medical debt, and car repossession deficiencies among others. However, debts such as student loans, taxes owed to the government, spousal support or child support, and most other divorce related debts are among some that are non dischargeable.
If you do not qualify for Chapter 7, or if your circumstances would be better suited for it, you may still find relief in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is more like a structured repayment plan where your creditors will receive partial repayment of the debt over a 3-5 year plan, and once completed the remaining balance of your debt is discharged. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also a way to stop home foreclosures and catch up on mortgage or car defaults. Your attorney can help you determine what plan is best suited to meet your needs and begin the process for you.
Do I lose all my stuff?
The short answer is no. When you file for bankruptcy in Massachusetts you can select to take state exemptions or federal exemptions for your property. An “Exemption” is the type and amount of property the Bankruptcy statutes have said is protected from being sold off or otherwise used by the Bankruptcy Trustee to pay towards your debts. Among the exemptions are those for cars, homes, and personal belongings that many people can use to protect most if not all of their property. Deciding whether to use the Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions or the Massachusetts Exemptions is one of the most important things your attorney can help you with.
Do I need an Attorney?
While an attorney is not a requirement to file your case, my answer would be emphatically yes, you do need an attorney. In addition to helping you determine what Chapter of bankruptcy you qualify for and what exemptions to use to protect as much of your property as possible, your attorney will also help make sure all of your creditors are notified that you have filed for Bankruptcy. This is an important step that not only makes sure that they don’t harass you for payment, but also is a requirement for the debt to be discharged at the end of your case. Therefore it is important that you hire a knowledgeable Bankruptcy Attorney in your area to take over the stress of dealing with your creditors so you can focus on your health and rebuilding your life. If you are in the South Coast communities of Massachusetts, Hearth Law, PC would be happy to be your choice for Bankruptcy Attorney. We serve the communities of New Bedford, Fall River, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and more. Call or Email today for a free consultation.