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Knowledgeable Bankruptcy Lawyers Explain Exempt Property in Massachusetts

Know what you have a right to keep in Chapter 7 liquidation

A basic premise of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the liquidation of a debtor’s assets to pay off creditors. If you are afraid to file for bankruptcy because you do not want to forfeit a prized possession or the home you built from scratch, our bankruptcy law firm serving Fitchburg, Gardner and Orange can explain your rights to keep these treasures. Bankruptcy law has two categories of property: exempt and non-exempt. Exempt property consists of items that may never be sold to pay off a person’s debt. In contrast, non-exempt assets are forfeited to satisfy creditors. It is in your bankruptcy trustee’s interest for the process to be as smooth as possible. So, if you have two non-exempt assets worth the same amount, you may request that one be sold instead of the other. At LaRoche Law, we guide you through the liquidation process, keeping you informed every step of the way. Your input is important to us, and we work tirelessly to advocate for your rights and allow you to hold onto precious keepsakes.

Exempt property is yours forever

No one can force you to sell property classified as exempt under the federal bankruptcy laws. Paying off debt is not the only goal of filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy legislation was designed to help individuals get back on their feet financially. Stripping people of basic necessities or the tools of their trade does not advance this goal. See the lists below to understand which property is classified as exempt and which assets are non-exempt. If you have any questions about a particular possession, contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney for clarification.

Property generally exempt includes:

  • Motor vehicles
  • Necessary clothing, household goods and furnishings
  • Household appliances
  • Jewelry
  • Pension payments
  • A portion of equity in a home
  • Tools of the debtor’s trade
  • A portion of unpaid but earned wages
  • Public benefits such as welfare, Social Security and unemployment
  • Damages awarded for personal injuries

Property generally non-exempt includes:

  • Expensive musical instruments, unless the debtor is a professional musician
  • Valuable collections, such as stamps or coins
  • Family heirlooms
  • Cash, bank accounts, stocks, bonds and investments
  • A second motor vehicle
  • A second home

Simply recognizing that many of your possessions are protected under the law may help you move forward with a bankruptcy filing. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy provides significant debt relief in the short-term, it is important to remember that there are long-term consequences to filing for bankruptcy. For example, bankruptcy credit scores may affect your opportunities to be approved for a loan or mortgage. If you are considering bankruptcy, a qualified attorney can explain all the advantages and disadvantages and discuss if it is the best option for your personal financial situation.

Call today for a free initial consultation

LaRoche Law offers free initial consultations to all clients. Attorney LaRoche personally meets with each client to provide the individualized attention you deserve. We promptly return all phone calls and emails and offer three convenient office locations. If you have bankruptcy law questions, we have answers. Contact us online or call 978-632-1633 today to set up a free consultation.

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