Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated October 1, 2020
Before you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Bay State, you will need to fill out all the forms required by the Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court. Massachusetts state law will still impact your bankruptcy process, even though the Court handling your case is federal. For example, residents of Massachusetts may choose whether to take advantage of federal exemptions or state exemptions. You must choose one system or the other, you can’t simply pick the most favorable terms from each system. Most people opt for more generous federal exemptions, but if you are a member of a low-income household, you should be able to keep most or all of your property regardless of which exemption structure you choose. Filing for Chapter 7 is a fairly basic process which you will likely be able to complete on your own without hiring an attorney. It is simply important to follow directions carefully as you fill out your Massachusetts bankruptcy forms. You can access these forms on the website for the Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court.
Voluntary Petition for Bankruptcy
When working on your Massachusetts bankruptcy forms, you will begin by filling out a Voluntary Petition for bankruptcy. This form acts as a cover sheet for all of your other bankruptcy documents. It tells the Court about who you are and where you live, the Chapter of bankruptcy you are filing and whether you have filed bankruptcy before. Your bankruptcy case is classified as "voluntary" because you chose to file for bankruptcy on your own instead of being forced into bankruptcy at the insistence of multiple creditors taking legal action to force you into an involuntary bankruptcy case. You will tell the Court more about your debt, income and expenses in supplementary forms, commonly referred to as the schedules and statements.
Massachusetts Bankruptcy Schedule A/B: Property
Massachusetts Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms are primarily made up of documents called "schedules." Each schedule serves a specific purpose and is lettered. Massachusetts bankruptcy Schedule A/B asks for information about your property. When completing Schedule A/B, you will list all the property you own and respond to basic questions about your stuff. It’s important to be thorough and truthful when describing what you own and how much your property is worth. This form does not make you go into a lot of detail about your property though, so that makes the process of filling out this form easier. For example, you will need to confirm that you own clothes and how much you think you could sell them for at a yard sale, but you won’t need to admit that you own 17 Patriots jerseys and "Freedom Trail" underwear.
Massachusetts Bankruptcy Schedule C: Exemptions
Massachusetts bankruptcy Schedule C concerns the issue of exemptions. When you fill out Schedule C, you will note whether you are going to take advantage of state and/or federal exemptions. You cannot "mix and match" which exemption model will apply to your case, but if you choose state exemptions primarily, you may take certain non-bankruptcy federal exemptions as well. The form’s directions will make this complex situation clearer. Creditors will not be able to come after any property you own that is exempt. Most low-income Chapter 7 Massachusetts bankruptcy filers will be able to keep most or all of their property no matter which exemption option they choose.
Massachusetts Bankruptcy Schedule D: Creditors Who Hold Claims Secured by Property
Massachusetts bankruptcy Schedule D addresses secured debt. Creditors are granted some legal rights to your property when they loan you secured debt. Most often, secured debt allows creditors to take your property back if you don't make necessary payments on time. Sometimes, a creditor can force you to sell collateral detailed in your loan; the creditor then receives the proceeds from that sale to cover the balance of your debt. Home and condo loans, motor vehicle loans and watercraft loans are classified as secured debt. By contrast, credit cards, medical debt and personal loans are unsecured debt. In this Massachusetts bankruptcy form, you will list your secured debts.
Massachusetts Bankruptcy Schedule E/F: Creditors Who Hold Unsecured Claims
Massachusetts bankruptcy Schedule E/F focuses on your unsecured debts. In this form you will give details about the priority and non-priority debts you have. The Court grants some unsecured debts priority over others. These priority claims include government fines, overdue taxes, and outstanding family support payments, like child support and spousal support. If you can pay any of your creditors during your bankruptcy, priority debts will be paid before nonpriority debts, like personal loans, credit card debt and medical bills. You don't have to worry about figuring out who (if anyone) gets paid. The Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court will prioritize payments to your creditors based on the kind of debts you owe them.
Massachusetts Bankruptcy Schedule G: Executory Contracts and Unexpired Leases
In Massachusetts Bankruptcy Schedule G, you will inform the Court about any ongoing contracts or leases that may be affected by your bankruptcy case. Generally, an executory contract is an agreement in which you have agreed to pay for a service or membership that is maintained over time. For example, gym memberships, cellphone contracts and organizations that require regular dues are classified as executory contracts. As these contracts are ongoing, you are still required to make payments according to their terms even after you’ve filed for bankruptcy. Leases on apartments, homes, cars, tools and watercraft that are still ongoing and not fully paid off must also be detailed in Schedule G of your Massachusetts Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms.
Massachusetts Bankruptcy Schedule H: Codebtors
It’s not unusual for parents and their adult children, married couples, and business partners to apply for loans together. When two or more people can be held legally responsible for the same debt, they are referred to as codebtors. In Massachusetts Bankruptcy Schedule H, you are required to provide the Court with specific personal information for each codebtor associated with any of your debts. Creditors can still hold codebtors responsible for all jointly held debt even after the Court has ordered a bankruptcy discharge in your case. The only exception to this general rule is that your spouse will not be held responsible for jointly held debt if you are filing Massachusetts bankruptcy together.
Massachusetts Bankruptcy Schedule I: Income
In Massachusetts bankruptcy Schedule I, you will provide details about your income. If you’re employed, you will provide your employer's name and address, note how long you have been working for your current employer, and list your occupation. You will also use this Massachusetts bankruptcy form to provide information about any additional sources of income you regularly benefit from. You don’t need to list one-time gifts. If you receive disability, military or Social Security benefits, collect a pension, receive spousal support and/or child support, earn business income or take in any other source of regular support, you will list it here. Just like when you file taxes, you will be able to deduct specific financial obligations (like buying certain kinds of insurance and your tax withholding) from your income total to increase the chances you will qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge. Deductions help to explain why you take in income but still can’t afford to pay your creditors over time.
Massachusetts Bankruptcy Schedule J: Expenses
You will provide the Court with information about your expenses in Massachusetts bankruptcy Schedule J. Like the beneficial payroll deductions in Schedule I, detailing expenses helps the Court to understand why your income can’t be reasonably used to pay back your creditors. Regardless of what your specific expenses are, you need to list them honestly. For example, you might be unsure whether the Court will understand that you spend money each month traveling up the coast to visit a sick relative. However, the Court be more judgmental if you are not forthcoming about your expenses than it will be judgmental about how you spend your income. This Massachusetts Chapter 7 bankruptcy form, as all the others, should be completed in a truthful manner if you want to secure a bankruptcy discharge.
Declaration About Schedules
In the Declaration about Schedules, you will swear that you have been both truthful and forthcoming when completing your Massachusetts Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms. Swearing an oath on this form is like agreeing to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" as a witness would in Court. Lying and/or intentionally leaving requested information off your forms can lead to severe consequences. You could even be accused of contempt or bankruptcy fraud, which is a federal crime. In this form, you will also be asked if you benefited from the assistance of a petition preparer as you prepared your bankruptcy case. Using help from Upsolve does not need to be disclosed on this declaration because Upsolve is both free and not classified as a petition preparer. The Court only needs to be informed if you received any paid assistance from someone.
Summary of Assets and Liabilities
Once you have filled out each schedule, you will need to transfer numerous totals listed in these schedules to your Summary of Assets and Liabilities form. The Summary of Assets and Liabilities allows the Court to evaluate your finances as a whole after it has evaluated each individual part of your financial picture explained in your schedules. Make sure to double-check that you haven't made mistakes when transferring these totals. Your Massachusetts Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms need to be accurate and all required information must be provided or you risk delay or rejection of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge order.
Statement of Intention for Filing Massachusetts Chapter 7
Massachusetts bankruptcy forms are usually easy to navigate. However, your Statement of Intention for Filing Massachusetts Chapter 7 form is more complex than most of your other forms. This document asks you to decide whether you will return any property to creditors that you have not already paid off. Specifically, property classified as secured debt, unexpired leases and executory contracts will need to be addressed here. Deciding whether to keep paying the property off or return it to creditors can be a rough process, especially if you are unsure of whether you can reliably keep making payments after your bankruptcy discharge has been ordered. When making this decision, keep in mind that the goals of bankruptcy discharge are to give you a fresh financial start and to allow you to focus on your most pressing financial needs. If keeping your property will financially burden you and ultimately prevent you from achieving these goals, you may need to return certain property to serve your broader interests.
Statement of Financial Affairs
When completing your Statement of Financial Affairs for Massachusetts bankruptcy, you will tell the Court the story of how your financial situation has affected your life over the past few years. This form asks about whether you have received any government assistance, your past income and expenses, whether you have been affected by foreclosures, repossessions, garnishments, whether you have had to pay judgments related to a lawsuit, etc. To be granted a Massachusetts bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7, the Court will need to understand why you can't reasonably complete a 5-year Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan. The Statement of Financial Affairs will help you make your case by prompting you to explain how your financial challenges have impacted you and your family in the years leading up to your Massachusetts bankruptcy filing.
Chapter 7 Statement of Your Monthly Income: 122A-1
To secure a bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7, you must pass the Chapter 7 bankruptcy Means Test for Massachusetts. A Means Test examines whether the size of your household and its corresponding income and expenses meet eligibility limits outlined in the Bankruptcy Code. In this form, the Court will ask you to provide information about your income for the past 6 months. In bankruptcy form 122A-1, you will provide proof that your income qualifies you for a Chapter 7 discharge order per the size of your household. This is among the most important Massachusetts Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms you must complete as you make your case. The information you provide will help you insist to the Court, "My household qualifies to have its debts erased now, not 5 years from now under a Chapter 13 repayment plan."
Statement About Your Social Security Numbers: Form 121
Your Social Security number is unique to you. You are the only living person associated with this number and it’s one important way that the government identifies you. This unique combination of nine numbers is such sensitive and consequential personal data that the Court uses a separate Massachusetts bankruptcy form just to make sure that your Social Security number is noted correctly. Be careful when completing bankruptcy form 121 because a mistake in transcribing your Social Security number could affect your bankruptcy case by slowing it down or leading to a rejection. Also, if another person's Social Security number is mistakenly associated with your Massachusetts bankruptcy, that person's credit could be negatively impacted.
A "Creditor Matrix" is a fancy way of creating a list of all of the businesses and individuals you owe money to that the Court can easily turn into address labels. Before you can complete your creditor matrix, you will need to research the names and addresses of every single one of your creditors. Massachusetts requires you to use a state-specific form to create your creditor matrix, so make sure to avoid using a more general form. It’s important to fill this Massachusetts bankruptcy form out correctly and as fully as you can because the Court will use the information you provide to notify your creditors that you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you rent your home or apartment and you want to get out of your lease early, remember to include your landlord's information on this form.
Verification of Creditor Matrix Massachusetts
On the verification of creditor matrix Massachusetts, you will again be asked to confirm that your bankruptcy documents feature "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." This form verifies that your creditor matrix is both complete and accurate to the best of your knowledge. As annoying as it can be to say over and over, "Yes, I'm telling the truth!" you need to take this form seriously. If the Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court suspects that you have not made every reasonable effort to provide a complete list of your creditors and their contact information, you could end up in serious trouble. Another reason to take this form seriously is that if you forget to include a creditor on your list, the corresponding debt could survive your discharge order.
Credit Counseling Course Certificate for Chapter 7 in Massachusetts
It’s important to note that not only do you have to sign up for credit counseling as a part of your bankruptcy process, you have to sign up for a course approved by the U.S Department of Justice or you will not get credit for your participation. You will receive a credit counseling course certificate once you have taken a credit counseling course approved specifically for Massachusetts bankruptcy filers. Then, you can file this certificate with the rest of your Massachusetts Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms. In addition to the in-person courses listed on the DOJ's website offered in Massachusetts, you may be able to take an online course approved for use by Massachusetts bankruptcy applicants, even though the company offering the course may be located somewhere else in the country.
Massachusetts Bankruptcy Fee Waiver
The fee to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Massachusetts is $335. However, many applicants understandably can’t afford to pay this amount because they are already dealing with significant financial challenges. Thankfully, if you can't afford to pay this fee, you may file a Massachusetts bankruptcy fee waiver request. This form asks the Court to waive your fee requirement so you can file your case for free. If you live at 150% of the poverty line or lower and you can demonstrate that you can’t afford to pay this fee in installments, even after you no longer have to pay your creditors, you should qualify for such a waiver. The Court will send you a notice of whether your fee waiver request has been approved after your Massachusetts bankruptcy forms have been processed.
Massachusetts Specific Bankruptcy Forms
The Massachusetts Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms are comprised entirely of the official forms used nationwide; everyone who files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Massachusetts or anywhere else uses these forms. Although there are a number of bankruptcy forms that are specific only to the district, none of them are needed when you first go to court to file your case. You can find all these so-called local forms, as well as instructions for how to create your creditors' mailing matrix, on the Court's website.
District of Massachusetts Bankruptcy Requirements
Special Forms – Matrix List of Creditors. Massachusetts requires that you list your creditors and their contact information in a highly-specific way. Use this state-specific form instead of a more general version.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts handles all bankruptcy cases filed in Massachusetts's 14 counties: