Braintree Legal Blog

Chapter 13 bankruptcy basics

Massachusetts residents who are in significant debt spend a lot of time looking at their debt relief options. The problem is there are a lot of options out there, but only so many actually produce positive results. Consumer bankruptcy is something many people want to avoid, but at the end of the day, it can help. There are two types of personal bankruptcy for which one might qualify. This week, this column will focus on Chapter 13 relief.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is for people who have disposable income and can pay back some of their debts, but they need a little help. Rather than liquidating assets to pay creditors, a Chapter 13 plan, if approved, results in the creation of an affordable repayment plan -- giving the petitioner three to five years to pay back what is owed to his or her creditors. When the bankruptcy period is up, some remaining debts may be discharged.

When you can contest a will

When a loved one passes away, wanting to get through the estate administration process as quickly as possible is usually desired. In the state of Massachusetts, it generally takes several months to do so. If one has questions or concerns about the will, though, it is okay to speak up and slow things down. There are reasons why one might want to contest a will, and those will be the focus of this week's column.

In order to contest a will, one cannot just have the desire to do it; one must have the necessary legal grounds. There are only so many legal grounds to contest a will. Currently, they are:

  • The testator did not understand what he or she was signing
  • The testator failed to sign the will
  • There were no witnesses to the signing
  • The testator was a victim of undue influence
  • The testator did not realize he or she was signing a will

Don't let change orders, or lack thereof, be your undoing

Construction projects, whether residential or commercial, can be difficult to get through. A lot goes into the construction process, and mistakes can cost those involved in a project a lot of time and money. One way those in Massachusetts can protect themselves throughout the construction process is by using change orders when needed and making sure those orders are clear.

A change order is just what it sounds like -- a document that is used to record a modification to the original construction contract. Change orders can and should be used if there is an adjustment to price, scope of work or construction schedule -- among other things. The order may become necessary because of requested upgrades or additions to a project. In addition, errors in the original contract or unpredictable conditions may also elicit a need for a change.

Want to know if you qualify for Chapter 7 relief?

When struggling financially, it is normal to spend time looking at available debt relief options. What many Massachusetts residents may find, though, is not all debt relief options are created equal. Some may seem like a good idea but really are not, and others may seem extreme but are actually worthwhile. Take Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for example. It may seem like a drastic approach toward gaining financial freedom, but it may be the best approach when looking at the bigger picture.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is sometimes referred to as liquidation bankruptcy. If one's petition receives approval, some assets may need to be sold to pay down creditors, though many may be kept. Every case is different. After that, all qualifying debts may be discharged -- meaning one will no longer be responsible for paying back those specific creditors. 

Starting an LLC can come with many questions you need to answer

If starting a business and reaching unprecedented success was easy, everyone would do it. Of course, this endeavor is not easy, and many small businesses do not get many years under their belts before they have to call it quits. Still, you have the drive and determination to move forward with your business idea and take the risks involved.

It is important to set your company up for success by starting out on the right foot. You have already chosen a limited liability company as your business structure, but you still have several actions to take before your company becomes operational.

Is your business being sued for false advertising?

Every business owner in Massachusetts and elsewhere wants their company to be successful. Every business owner wants their product or service to be the one that consumers just have to have or use. Advertising helps draw interest and attention to companies, but it is necessary to be careful about what is being put out there. False advertising claims are no joke and can cost companies a lot to resolve.

What does the Federal Trade Commission have to say about advertising? No matter how one advertises, whether it is on the radio, television, internet, social media, newspaper or with mailers, the advertisements must be truthful. What does that mean? It means they cannot be misleading. In some cases, it means there has to be scientific evidence to back up one's claims.

Filing will contests due to undue influence

When a loved one passes away, the estate administration process can be quite eye-opening. Some may have questions about the status of their loved one's estate due to the contents of their will. Sometimes, undue influence is suspected of having played a role in the will creation process. When undue influence is believed to be a problem, in the state of Massachusetts, any concerned parties can file will contests to officially challenge the validity of this legal document.

What exactly is undue influence? Some older individuals have unhealthy relationships with friends, family members or various professionals -- such as doctors or financial advisors, among others. These relationships may cause them to make decisions that do not serve their interests or the interests of their beneficiaries. The influencers in their lives have such a power over them; they will do anything to please them -- even to the point where they may be persuaded enough to change their wills to benefit only their influencers.

Is litigation necessary to resolve partnership disputes?

Going into business is a risky move. Going into business with a partner can be even more so. Sure, having someone to share responsibilities with can have its advantages, but it can certainly have some disadvantages as well. When owning and operating a company with a partner, disputes are bound to happen. Do business owners in Massachusetts have to turn to litigation for resolution when problems arise?

Most business partnerships do start out on good terms. In smaller companies, many partners choose to have verbal understandings of what each person's role will be rather than having formal contracts created. Having a partnership agreement written up is not something that should be avoided, though. In this type of contract, roles can be defined, compensation can be outlined and dispute resolution methods can be identified -- among other things. Without a partnership agreement, when disputes arise, going to court may be unavoidable.

Business litigation is sometimes unavoidable

Most Massachusetts entrepreneurs go into business without considering they may someday face a lawsuit. Depending on the type of business entity they have chosen, they may face personal and professional losses if the business litigation does not go their way. This is why it is critical for business owners to be prepared for the possibility that someone may file a claim against them in civil court.

Among the most common business disputes are those involving contracts. Breach of contract means that a client, employee or other party feels the business did not fulfill its terms of the contract. These can be complex cases, and a business’s liability insurance may not cover the cost. Business owners may reduce the chances of such lawsuits by having their contracts evaluated by an attorney.

How does bankruptcy protect you?

Financial struggles are nothing new to many people here in Massachusetts, just like other parts of the country. If you are in the midst of a monetary crisis, you can probably empathize with others who are in the same position. Like them, you may have tried cutting your budget, eliminating luxury items and more, but nothing seems to work. There just isn't enough money left at the end of your paycheck.

Maybe you've heard other people talk about bankruptcy and think it may be right for you. However, you want to know just what types of protections it can offer you before taking that step.

Attorney Christopher J. Fein

Fein Law combines a fundamental understanding of the law with common sense. We speak to you in a language that you can understand.

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