How To File For Bankruptcy In Massachusetts
Filing for bankruptcy in Massachusetts will require you to follow all of the federal requirements set by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. In addition, you must also follow the specific guidelines set by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts operates offices in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester. There are five bankruptcy judges serving the state. Beginning the bankruptcy process in Massachusetts is the same as beginning the bankruptcy process in every other state. You must first decide if you are an ideal candidate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A small number of individuals will be eligible to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy or Chapter 12 bankruptcy.
Preparing to File for Bankruptcy in Massachusetts
Filing for bankruptcy in the state of Massachusetts takes some planning and preparation before you can officially start the process. You will need to complete credit counseling at some point in the 180 days leading up to filing. The course you take must be provided by an agency that is approved by the U.S. Trustee in Massachusetts. A list of approved counseling providers in the state of Massachusetts can be found here. What happens if more than 180 days pass between the time you complete the course and the time that you actually file? You will be required to retake the course. It's also necessary to complete a debtor education course before receiving your bankruptcy discharge. A list of approved providers of debtor education courses in the state of Massachusetts can be found here.
What Are the Required Steps When Filing for Bankruptcy in Massachusetts?
Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy will require several layers of paperwork that need to be completed by very specific deadlines. This is why it’s very important to work with an attorney when going through the bankruptcy process. Here’s a look at the key forms that will need to be taken care of:
- A bankruptcy petition
- Several forms containing personal financial details
- A means test
You will be required to file a packet of papers with the court detailing accurate figures regarding your income, assets, debts and more. You will also be asked to complete a packet of forms detailing your expenses. A means test is an intensive form that will require you to use things like housing costs, insurance costs, childcare costs, tithing, taxes and more to determine your ability to pay off debts. Those who don’t have the means to pay off debts will qualify to proceed with filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Those who are proven to have the means to pay off debts may have to consider filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. You may be immune from having to take the means test if you are a disabled veteran, a service member engaged in active duty or meet other criteria.
How to Get Massachusetts Bankruptcy Forms
Official bankruptcy forms are available on the United States Courts website. Copies can be purchased by visiting the clerk’s office of any Massachusetts bankruptcy divisional court. Court employees cannot help you fill out forms or provide any instruction. You may seek out the court’s Pro Se Law Clerk if you need instructional assistance with filling out forms. However, no legal advice will be provided to you during this process.
Can You File for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney in Massachusetts?
Those wishing to file for bankruptcy without a lawyer may do so as a Pro Se Debtor. However, this is not advisable in most cases. Any failure to comply with bankruptcy codes or rules could cause your case to be thrown out of court.
What Is the Cost to File for Bankruptcy in Massachusetts?
The cost to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Massachusetts is $335. The cost to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Massachusetts is $310. The state does offer options to pay your fees in four increments over the course of a year instead of paying a lump sum. You will be required to make a down payment at the time of your initial filing that is slightly higher than the rest of the increments. You can also request a 103B waiver if you feel that you cannot afford the filing fee. A list of all possible fees can be found on the United States Bankruptcy Court District of Massachusetts website.