The number of seniors coming to our office for consultations for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcies is rising. After 33 years of practicing bankruptcy law in Massachusetts, I have antidotal evidence of trends in filings. After the 2008 recession, we had a huge rise of middle age and middle-income folks who came in and just could not afford their mortgage payments. They defaulted on home loans, were forced to move out, but got a Fresh Start, under federal bankruptcy law.
Personal bankruptcy lawyers in Massachusetts are entrusted with their clients’ personal information and access to their financial assets. Some attorneys also have clients’ monies in their Massachusetts IOLTA (Interest On Lawyers Trust Account) accounts. We must have the absolute highest integrity when working for our clients in this capacity. We have a fiduciary responsibility.
How far can an attorney go in seeking relief for his or her client? Can he draft and file misleading pleadings and argue the wrong law before the Bankruptcy (or any) Court? Twice?
It’s that time of the year again. The IRS requires that everyone that earns above a certain amount must file a tax return. The rule of thumb is that if you earn above $10,000, you need to file a tax return with the IRS; and a state tax return too. But others may need to as well – those that have had taxes withheld from their paycheck beyond what they owe, for example.
First, as the baby boomer generation is now starting to retire, one unfortunate statistic is that the percentage of bankruptcies filed by seniors is increasing. Folks over 65 made up 8.3% of all consumers filing for bankruptcy protection in 2009, when the percentage was 7.8 in 2006. About 10% of the seniors who filed for bankruptcy were retired.
When you file for personal bankruptcy, all lawsuits are stopped or “stayed”. However, with secured debts, such as mortgages or car loans, the lender, or creditor, can file to get permission from the Bankruptcy Court to lift the stay to recover the debt.
Just over ten years ago, on October 17, 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act became law, and amended the federal bankruptcy requirements in many fundamental ways. Folks still call us up and ask about the changes and what the differences are.
This blog has repeatedly reported on what not to do when filing for personal bankruptcy protection and getting a “fresh start” and the reports come down to this: do not submit false testimony, be honest in your bankruptcy petition and schedules, and fully disclose your assets and liabilities to your attorney so he or she can make a plan for you to discharge you debts, if possible.
You are the victim of personal injury. You file a lawsuit and win. You receive a judgment that, under the Full Faith and Credit clause in the United States Constitution (Article IV, Section 1) allows you to collect against the person responsible anywhere he or she ventures in the US. However, what happens if the person causing your injury files for bankruptcy?
When necessary, filing for personal bankruptcy is an excellent way of getting a “fresh start” by discharging debts while keeping exempt assets. The laws give Massachusetts residents ample exemptions, including the Massachusetts Homestead Exemption, while allowing folks to discharge most consumer debts and old taxes.