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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Produced by Mariah Jennings-Rampsi, South Coastal Counties Legal Services
Created March 2015

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to get rid of most of your debt in about 3 to 5 months. Most debts are “dischargeable." If you meet the right conditions, the judge will order you do not owe any more money on your “dischargeable debts”. Other debts are not “dischargeable.” You must pay those debts.

Dischargeable debts

Not Dischargeable

  • Credit card bills
  • Hospital bills
  • Doctor bills
  • Overdue rent
  • Utility bills.
  • Mortgage and car loans
  • Most student loans
  • Most taxes
  • Child support payments
  • Criminal fines.
Produced by South Coastal Counties Legal Services
Created March 2015

The court can order you to sell "assets" from your "bankruptcy estate".

Your assets are everything you own.

Your bankruptcy estate includes any property you own all or part of. Even if someone else has the property now.

Your bankruptcy estate is a big bucket that holds everything you own. This includes things that are not in your control or at your house but you still own, like the car you own that your child is using at college. It also includes things you own part of like the right to your grandmother’s house after she passes away if there is a deed saying you will get it.

The money from selling your assets goes to pay your debts. But some assets are “exempt”. The court cannot order you to sell them.

Federal Law and Massachusetts State Law are different. They each have a list of exempt assets, but the lists are not the same. You must pick one of the lists. You can only use the Massachusetts State exemptions if:

  • You lived in Massachusetts for the last two years, or
  • 2 ½ years ago, you were living in Massachusetts and you continued to live here for another 180 days.

Filing without a lawyer

  • Bankruptcy is complicated. Filing without a lawyer is risky.
  • You can lose property and money. You can go to jail if you do not tell the truth.

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