By Kara O’Donnell, Esq.
O’DONNELL LAW OFFICES 857-526-1355
Quincy, MA
http://www.QuincyLegal.com

Many who are considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy want to know how the process will go over the coming months, and how long it will take.
In many cases, you can expect to get your Order of Discharge within 4-6 months from the date your action is filed in the federal bankruptcy court.

Your case begins on the day you file it with the court and you get your case number. This is the day that the ‘automatic stay’ (temporary injunction) goes into effect. It prevents your creditors from contacting you or harassing you for payment.

In approximately one month, you attend the 341 meeting of creditors with your attorney which is held before the court appointed Chapter 7 trustee. In almost all cases your creditors will not even show up. You must bring your social security card (or a W-2, NOT a tax return) and a photo ID.

After the 341 meeting you have 45 days to complete a Financial Management Course, get the certificate AND file it with the court. Because it can take 2 hours to complete the course and a few days to get your certificate, it would be very unwise to leave this final act on your (the Debtor’s) part to the last week. Most responsible attorneys will start pestering their clients for it at least 2 weeks before it is due. Mess up this step and your case will be DISMISSED. No discharge of debts. Nada.

The Order of Discharge comes after the certificate is filed, and is usually 4 months or so after your date of filing.

If you live in Massachusetts and are considering bankruptcy, do your homework. Find an attorney who is experienced in bankruptcy, has years of law practice under his/her belt, has no record of discipline, and operates out of a real office and not a “virtual” or rent-by-the-day/hour office. [To check out MA attorneys go to http://www.massbbo.org.]

Kara O’Donnell, Esq.
O’DONNELL LAW OFFICES (857)526-1355
Quincy, Massachusetts
http://www.QuincyLegal.com

Help@QuincyLegal.com

Posted by Kara O’Donnell

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By Bankruptcy Attorney, Kara O’Donnell, Esq.
O’DONNELL LAW OFFICES
Quincy, Massachusetts

A common question I am asked by bankruptcy clients (or potential ones) is whether they could a) lose their job if their employer learns they filed for bankruptcy or b) could they be discriminated against when they apply for jobs because of the bankruptcy filing?

11 U.S.C. Section 525 of the bankruptcy code prohibits termination or discrimination with respect to employment solely because the individual is bankrupt. However, it is difficult to prove that the bankruptcy is the “sole” reason for the termination or the discrimination.

It can be a rather high burden of proof to meet. Why? Because employers are reluctant to admit or put into writing that they terminated an employee (or refused to hire a candidate) solely because of a bankruptcy filing.

That being said, a bankrupt employee can take measures to protect himself. Keep track of downgrades in performance evaluations and other efforts that employers use to create a file on you to back up their termination. Employment discrimination is usually subtle and, in employment-at-will states, such as Massachusetts, employers can use just about any reason to terminate you (so long as it is not based upon protected classes ex: race, gender, religion, etc.)

Bankruptcy filers can keep records of their employers’ actions if they believe that a) their employer knows they filed for bankruptcy and b) they might get fired or demoted for it. If fired, contact an attorney.

Kara O’Donnell, Esq.
O’DONNELL LAW OFFICES (857)526-1355
Quincy, Massachusetts
http://www.QuincyLegal.com

Help@QuincyLegal.com

Posted by Kara O’Donnell

In 2004 to 2005, word spread that a new bankruptcy law would soon go into effect.  The fear was that many, if not most, people would be prevented from filing Chapter 7 and getting a full discharge of debts. Because of this fear, the filings just prior to the BAPCPA law coming into effect hit over 2,000,000 for the year 2005!

2006 saw a much lower number, as many of those who had been considering bankruptcy for a few years decided to file before the new law came into effect. 2006 filings? A relatively low 573,151.

2007: Word was spreading that the revised bankruptcy law still allowed many middle to lower income people the help they needed and the number of filings again went up. 2007? 801,880.

2008: The U.S. slips into recession mode and unemployment is climbing. While many ran up credit cards in the mid-2000’s, they were now no longer able to make the minimum payments. Interest rates and late fees on those cards only added to the problem. 2008 filings? 1,060,061.

2009: 10% unemployment and no signs of job creation lead to an economic meltdown for millions of middle income families across the country. 2009 filings? 1,406,125.

Will we see total filings for 2010 hit TWO MILLION? It seems possible given the (still) high unemployment rate and lack of significant job creation.

Kara O’Donnell, Esq.
O’DONNELL LAW OFFICES (857)526-1355
Quincy, Massachusetts
http://www.QuincyLegal.com

Help@QuincyLegal.com

Posted by Kara O’Donnell

The short answer – YES.  And NO.

  Chapter 7 bankruptcy has no limit on the total debt involved.

 As for Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, since 2007 the limit of debt has been $1,010,650 in  secured debt, and $336,900 in unsecured debt.  But on April 1, 2010, those debt limits will increase in accordance with the Consumer Price Index increase which has occurred over the past 3 years.  The estimated new limits will be $1,081,500 for secured debt, and $360,525 in secured debt.  

Kara O’Donnell, Esq.
O’DONNELL LAW OFFICES (857)526-1355
Quincy, Massachusetts
http://www.QuincyLegal.com

Help@QuincyLegal.com

Posted by Kara O’Donnell