A lot of citizens of Massachusetts feel awful about contemplating bankruptcy. For some, the thought is as anxiety-producing as the debt spiral that got them looking into bankruptcy in the first place. It’s understandable and it’s normal.
But the institution of bankruptcy is a critical tool that makes the global, national and Massachusetts economies possible and a little more just.
Why do bankruptcy laws even exist?
Bankruptcy is very new, in the grand scheme of history.
It may seem hard to imagine now, but in many parts of the ancient world, when a person owed much more than they could ever repay, the law forced them to become enslaved to the person they owed, often for the rest of their lives. Sometimes, members of their family were enslaved for generations.
Today, bankruptcy laws make it possible for people and businesses to take a few chances. You can risk getting married and having a few kids, buying a house and a car or two, investing in the stock market and maybe founding a new business.
If things go badly, the consequences don’t have to forever ruin your life and those of everyone you love.
Bankruptcy in Massachusetts
One of the goals of bankruptcy is to give you a fresh beginning and let you find your way back to living as a more normal part of the American experience and economy.
Massachusetts strongly recommends working with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to help you through the process. Depending on your case, it might take time and diminish your resources for a while, but if you focus on getting through it step by step, you should come out of bankruptcy in a much better situation.
Chapters 7 and 13
Depending on an evaluation of your income, the court may permit you to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Under Chapter 7, you typically get to keep certain pre-determined types of assets, and the rest is sold off to pay creditors. Soon, most of your creditors can no longer try to collect from you.
Under Chapter 13, you should be able to keep even more over your property and ease the burden of creditors. You often make agreed upon payments over the course of several years, at which point you should also be set to make a fresh start.