Massachusetts Loan Officer Licensing

Massachusetts just recently passed legislation making additional requirements for prospective licensees. Among those changes were audited financial requirements, increased bond requirements, and other minor changes. This has made it difficult for smaller mortgage brokers to get licensed since they do not have they time or money to complete audited financials. Audited Financials often can cost between $2,000 to $10,000 to complete and weeks of gathering paperwork for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Massachusetts has now passed another bill requiring loan officers to be licensed. Details have not been released about exactly what the timeframes will be for licensing, but with the US Senate looking at a bill to require Loan Officer licensing in every state, we may see more of this soon.

New licensing requirements should be coming out very soon. I am expecting the state of Massachusetts to require fingerprint background checks, tests, continuing education, and a hefty fee between $200 to $300 per Loan Officer.

Massachusetts Senate Passes Homeownership Protection Legislation

The Massachusetts Senate passed House Bill 4306, a bill protecting and preserving home ownership on October 25, 2007. The bill, which the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed on October 18, will be returned to the House for concurrence on Senate amendments.

Highlights of the legislation include:

o New requirement for loan originator licensure;

o 90 day right to cure to borrowers of owner-occupied family homes who default on a mortgage payment;

o Felony or misdemeanor offense for mortgage brokers or lenders operating without a license;

o $3 million appropriation to fund staff at the Division of Banks to implement and enforce mortgage loan originator licensure; and

o $2 million appropriation to fund at least 10 foreclosure education counseling centers through the Division of Banks.

The legislation also offers incentives to lenders to revise adjustable or variable rate home loans to fixed terms.

Source by Steven Sheasby

The Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offender Law

In Massachusetts, a Habitual Traffic Offender is someone who, in any rolling 5 year period, has three or more convictions for operating under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, reckless driving, or leaving the scene of an accident; or twelve or more convictions for other reportable violations such as speeding, failure to stop for a red light or stop sign, failure to stay within marked lanes, etc,

When determining whether someone qualifies as a habitual traffic offender, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles uses conviction dates and not the dates upon which the motor vehicle offenses were committed. Also, out of state convictions are counted just as if they had occurred in Massachusetts. Once someone is declared a Habitual Traffic Offender, the accumulation of any new qualifying violations will generate additional Habitual Traffic Offender license revocations unless and until the older violations drop outside of the rolling 5 year HTO look-back period.

It is possible to become a Habitual Traffic Offender overnight, in a single incident. For example, suppose a driver is convicted of operating under the influence, which is commonly referred to in Massachusetts as DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. This is a common scenario where a driver is alleged to have crashed into something and left the scene, because he or she had been drinking. In addition to the license suspensions associated with the DUI and the 60 day suspensions for leaving the scene and negligent operation, the driver will automatically be declared a face a Habitual Traffic Offender and face four (4) year revocation of his or her license or right to operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts.

Someone could lose their license for four (4) years, as a Habitual Traffic Offender, by accumulating minor violations such as speeding tickets over any rolling 5 year period. It is for this reason that drivers should not only drive carefully, but they should also consider appealing traffic citations within the 20 appeal period. Once labeled as Habitual Traffic Offenders, many people regret not having appealed their tickets. Once the 4 year license revocation is triggered, it is too late to appeal.

The good news for Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offenders is that both the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance can consider you for a limited 12 hour hardship license, after you have served 1 year of the 4 year mandatory license revocation. It is important not to have any recent charges showing that you were driving on a suspended license, to receive favorable hardship consideration, which is completely discretionary. This means that there is not automatic right to a hardship license, even in the case of a 4 year HTO revocation.

Source by Brian Simoneau

Regionalizing of Emergency Dispatch Services in Massachusetts

The regionalizing of emergency dispatch services is a hot topic in many Massachusetts counties as of late. Grants are being given, committees are being formed, and studies are being conducted. Why all the time and effort, when, if you simply look to the rest of the country, it seems like a worthwhile trend?

As a matter of fact, Massachusetts is one of the only states that has not, for the most part, regionalized its dispatch services. Granted, it takes years, investment and dedication to accomplish such an undertaking. Case in point: the State of Oregon worked for 16 years to regionalize the dispatch of its state police services, but it was worth it. Now, there are two command centers that act as primary points of contact for all state police needs across the state – instead of 26. Tax payers’ money is saved, scales of economies are realized, and updated technologies are enjoyed throughout the state.

These are the emergent themes from all around the country – taxpayer savings, efficient dispatch processes, more dependable higher-tech technologies. According to Thomas Dubas who runs a dispatch center in Lackawanna County, Pa, and was hired to advise on the regionalizing proposal, “The level of expertise, the level of training, and the level of service that a regional center can provide is just so much more responsive for the communities,” he said. Why, then, hasn’t Massachusetts followed suit?

It’s not that the ideas haven’t been presented. In the last three years, Essex, Plymouth and Worcester counties have all brought up proposals for regionalizing emergency dispatch services. And with any Massachusetts proposal, there have been dissenters. Those opposed to the combining of services, site possible layoffs, lack of presence in overnight facilities to greet visitors, and varying degrees of dispatcher familiarity with towns involved, as main reasons to veto.

It’s not that they don’t see the financial and procedural benefits of such a project, but those opposed do not want to rush into something without looking at it from every angle. The reason to regionalize emergency dispatch services should not be for finances alone. There is an obviously-human element to the work performed by dispatch personnel. A large degree of the work the dispatchers perform now is to walk-ins, as well as monitoring late-night activities. If towns combined dispatch efforts, those high-touch elements would be eliminated.

However, it is hard to overlook the hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money that could be saved, especially in a time where agencies are expected to do less with more, and budget cuts are forcing every department to look more thoroughly than ever at its expenditures. And when you get right down to it, almost every other state is already combining emergency service management – and doing it successfully. If nothing else, then there are plenty of case studies to show us the way to regionalize emergency dispatch for our own success.

Source by Jennifer K. Harris

Adding More Vocational Seats in Massachusetts: Three Short-Term Solutions

Let's accept the promise that we need to increase overall state capacity to deliver high-quality vocational education to more students. Short of building more vocational schools – sometimes we should consider that, too – what do we do in the short term to create more opportunities for students?

Here are three ideas to actually guarantee increased voluntary opportunities:

o The state needs to assign sufficient staff to expeditiously review and approve Chapter 74 applications . Chapter 74 of the Massachusetts General Laws governs vocational education. One of the many reasons why voluntary education is so successful in Massachusetts is that Chapter 74 and its implementing regulations have strict standards for program approvals. To ensure integrity in the system, these standards need to stay in place. However, if a voluntary school can demonstrate a clear labor market need for a program and can satisfy all of the other criteria outlined in the law and regulations, why should it wait years to get a program approved? It simply makes no sense. DESE needs to readjust its staffing pattern to focus its efforts on things that count. Approving new high-quality voluntary programs counts.

o The state should develop a grant program to pilot new and innovative approaches for providing additional high-quality vocational education in Massachusetts . As part of the grant application, it must require collaboration between voluntary schools and their academic counterparts. The state needs to put an end to the "us versus them" approach to solving this problem. Vocational schools and non-voluntary schools can – and must – work together to jointly solve the problem. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) can use existing Perkins grant funds – federal money – to create this new grant program. I am not a big fan of throwing money at a problem and I'm not suggesting that we do it in this case. But the voluntary and non-voluntary systems need an incentive to work together. Let's give it to them.

o The state needs to expand and refocus its existing voluntary equipment grant program . At the urging of former Lt. Governor Timothy Murray, the state set aside $ 1 million per year to fund the purchase of equipment for voluntary programs. This equipment grant program has been very successful, but it's too small. It needs to be doubled or tripled in size. And the state needs to change its focus. It needs to give more "weight" to applications that support the creation of new Chapter 74 programs or increase enrollment in existing Chapter 74 programs. Funding to maintain existing programs is fine, but it does nothing to help solve the underlying problem: finding more capacity.

Source by Steven C Sharek

Massachusetts Food Allergy Training Certification

Those people who do not have any food allergies are free to eat what they please and do not have to live in fear that their next meal might be their last. This however is not the case for those people who do have allergies to certain foods. People with food allergies constantly struggle with knowing whether or not the food that they are about to eat is going to make them sick or even lead to their death. This fear is made worse when they eat out at restaurants. At restaurants they have little control over the preparation of the food they are about to eat. In some cases servers are not sure how to correctly convey the allergy related preparation instructions to the person cooking the food. Also, in many instances the person cooking the food does not have the proper allergen awareness training to prepare the food in a manner that is safe for the person with the food allergy to eat. It is a very dangerous game that restaurants knowingly or unknowingly are taking part in. Granted it is the responsibility of the person with food allergies to inform the restaurant that they do indeed have a food allergy but that is in no way guaranteeing that the food they are about to eat is safe.

One state however has decided to get smart about food allergies and has passed a law aimed at keeping those people with food allergies safe when they eat out. Massachusetts recently passed M.G.L. c. 140, which requires all restaurants to have a person on staff that has been certified as a food protection manager. This regulation is aimed at educating food preparation staff of the dangers of food allergies and how to make sure that food being prepared for a person with food allergies is safe for them to eat. The law also states that the training needs to be completed by February 1, 2011. Those who do end up taking the training will be certified for five years. After the five year time period the food protection manager will have to take the course over again so that they can become re-certified.

But this raises the question of how people in the food service industry are supposed to go about getting certified as food protection managers? The state of Massachusetts has approved only three vendors to provide the food allergen awareness training. These vendors either provide the required training via a video and certification process or through a classroom training course and certification process. The courses are designed to provide food service workers with information about various food allergies and celiac disease related food intolerance. It also includes information on celiac disease, crucial food allergens, and the types of allergic reactions people can experience due to food. Lastly, the course informs food service workers on how to educate patrons about food allergies and what they should do if someone does end up having an allergic reaction while in their establishment. Overall the food allergen certification process is designed to make it much safer for those with food allergies to eat in restaurants in Massachusetts.

Out of the three vendors providing the food allergen certification training I have found that CompuWorks provides the easiest and best option for completing the training. Their training consists of a video that can be easily watched from any computer and at the successful completion of the course they provide you with the ability of instantly printing your certificate. Some of the other vendors do not provide this convenience and make you wait up to 10 days to receive your completion certificate. When it comes to proving compliance it is much better to choose the option that offers instant proof as opposed to having to wait and rely on the mail for delivery.

Source by Clark D Anderson

The Massachusetts Homestead Act and Bankruptcy

I. The Homestead – A Product of State Law

The Massachusetts Homestead Act allows a homeowner to acquire an estate of Homestead to the amount of $ 500,000 with respect to a home owner’s primary residence. This allows the owner to claim the first $ 500,000 of equity in his or her home above the mortgages that the owner has placed on the property. Homestead Declarations are for primary residences only and do not apply to vacation homes or investment property.
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The following are exempt from the Homestead Law:

1. federal, state and local taxes, assessments, claims, and liens;
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2. mortgages used to purchase the residence, and in the case of the Elderly Homestead, first and second mortgages held by financial institutions or others;
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3. an execution issued from the Probate Court to enforce its jurisdiction that a spouse pay for the support of a spouse or minor children;
4. upon an execution issued from a court of competent jurisdiction to enforce its jurisdiction based upon fraud, mistake, duress, undue influence or lack of capacity;
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5. debts contracted prior to the acquisition of the Homestead
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There is also no protection for recovery of expenses for nursing home care paid for by the government.
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Therefore, if you have a Homestead and you’re in an automobile accident and your insurance is insufficient your home will not be exposed to the amount of $ 500,000. The same is true of dog bites, drowning in pools, slip and falls and professional liability claims.
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It is important to note, that Homestead protection is not a substitution for home insurance or any other type of liability insurance. These are separate and distinct types of protection. The Homestead protection will be effective after any liability insurance is used to pay for any judgments that are related to liability incurred under that particular insurance policy (eg, home, automobile, etc.).
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There are actually two sections of the Homestead Act. Under Section 1 all individuals may obtain a Homestead. Section 1A applies only to the elderly (more than 62) and disabled. A key difference between the sections is that Section 1A mentions obtaining a Homestead in manufactured mobile homes, while Section 1 does not.
State courts have not yet interpreted whether the right to claim a Homestead in a mobile home is limited to the elderly and disabled. Also, Section 1 extends protection to the declarant’s spouse and children, while Section 1A protects only the declarant’s interest in the home. Where a declaration is filed under Section 1, only one owner may file. Under Section 1A, all owners more than 62 should file a Declaration to protect their interests.
All Homesteads must be filed in the county in which the residence is located. To acquire a claim of Homestead for a mobile home under Section 1A, you must file at the city or town clerk’s office in the city or town in which the mobile home is located. Massachusetts Homesteads are not automatic. A Declaration must be recorded to obtain Homestead rights.
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II. Bankruptcy

In a MA Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is an asset liquidation proceeding, a homeowner is allowed to claim certain exemptions which function as asset protection allowances. If a Homestead Declaration is in place, and the state exemptions are claimed, a homeowner would be permitted to retain a much greater portion of the proceeds from a liquidation sale of the home ($ 500,000) than she or he would be allowed to keep under federal bankruptcy law exemptions ($ 20,200). This factor in turn decrees or eliminates the possibility that the homeowner would be required to sell his / her home as part of MA Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. The state exemptions in other categories are low compared to the federal exemptions. For example, the state automobile exemption is $ 700 and the federal $ 3,225.
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The goal of a MA Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to wipe out (“discharge”) your debts. In exchange for having your debts erased, you must give up all your nonexempt property to your creditors. You need only give up your nonexempt property. For most people, once the proper exemptions are applied, this amounts to nothing. In many cases, much or all of your property may be exempt. The debtor and their attorney elect to use state or federal exemptions prior to the MA bankruptcy filing.

If an individual has more property than can be protected by available exemptions, or their income is too high to qualify for a Chapter 7 case, or if they are delinquent in a debt secured by property they wish to retain, a Chapter 13 case can be filed. In MA Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings, the court will require a homeowner to repay some or all of the unsecured debts over a three to five-year period required to a plan. The debtor is required to repay a percentage of that debt at least equal to that which the unsecured creditors would receive were a homeowner required to proceed under Chapter 7 liquidation regulations. By increasing the amount of the home’s exemption, the Homestead Declaration decrees the procedures which would have been available for repaying unsecured creditors through the Chapter 7 alternative. This may decrease the percentage of the unsecured debt the homeowner would be required to repay through a Chapter 13 plan.

A MA Chapter 13 bankruptcy is much less attractive than a MA Chapter 7 filing since a Chapter 13 requires you to pay into a plan, whereas a Chapter 7 just wipes out your discharge debts without any payment. In most cases a Chapter 7 filing will be more advantageous. However, Chapter 13 does have many benefits. It can save your home from foreclosure, allowing you to satisfy unsecured mortgage or tax bills over time while your lender is claiming that you pay in one lump sum in order to stop foreclosure. Additionally, under the new bankruptcy law, Chapter 13 bankruptcy also applies to your credit report for three fewer years (7) than Chapter 7 does (10).

Remember that the Homestead Declaration protects a homeowner only from unsecured creditors. It will not offer protection from first or second mortgage lenders and / or equity lenders who possess a security interest in a home. If payments are not current on these types of secured credit, a homeowner runs the risk of losing the home to foreclosure proceedings. When delinquent in these debts, a Chapter 7 filing is not available unless the real estate will be surrendered. A Chapter 13 filing will stop foreclosure proceedings and implement a plan for the debtor to come current, thereby saving the property.

Given the high values ​​of real estate in Massachusetts, the Homestead is of great value to bankruptcy attorneys as a tool to protect debtors. Debtors must choose between the federal bankruptcy exemptions and the exemptions arising under Massachusetts and federal non-bankruptcy laws. This is a key decision that is made in consideration of the nature and value of the debtor’s property and when it was acquired. There are provisions in the 2005 Bankruptcy Act limiting the state Homestead to $ 136,875 if the property was bought or otherwise acquitted within 1215 days of the petition date. An addition might be considered an acquisition. There is an exception to the 1215 day rule in circumstances in which you buy a home in the same state and roll your equity into your new home. The trigger for reduction of the Homestead amount allowed in Bankruptcy is the date of acquisition of the property and not the date the Homestead is recorded. In re Lyons, 355 BR 387 (Bkrtcy D. Mass, 2006).

III. Interpreting the MA Homestead

There is little state court case law establishing the Homestead Act in Massachusetts. However, there have been a number of cases that have been determined by the Bankruptcy Court which makes rulings based upon what it presumes the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court would say if it were presented with the case. These federal court decisions are not binding on our state courts. These cases are the only guides available in the absence of state cases and they will be followed by other bankruptcy cases until the Supreme Supreme Judicial Court takes a contrary position. The Massachusetts Homestead Statue is poorly drafted and contains many ambiguities leaving many questions unanswered.

Bankruptcy Judge Henry J. Boroff recently expressed his frustration when he included dicta in an opinion that addressed a Homestead issue. He wrote: “This Court fees compelled to express at the sunset it’s growing frustration with the application of the Massachusetts Homestead Statue. While it is well settled that the statute’s purpose is to protect the family home … the statutes of ambiguities have proven to be legion and its benefits 1) appear to be available only for those with the legal training or resources necessary to locate a registry of deeds and record what is, for a layperson, a relatively complex document, and 2) may be easily and inadvertently lost by statutory language and conditions that are hyper-technical and often counterintuitive. ” In re: Edward R. Szwyd, —– BR —– (Bkrtcy D. Mass., 2007).

A. Pre-existing debts

The language of the Massachusetts Homestead statute says that it does not apply to debts existing before recording the Homestead. Therefore, one would believe it is important to file it as early as possible. However, one of the early bankruptcy cases involving Homesteads held that under federal bankruptcy law the Homestead did apply to pre-existing creditors. Federal law pre-approved state law. In fact, debts can be incurred over a period of years and a Homestead successfully utilized which is filed minutes before the bankruptcy petition. In Re Whalen-Griffin, 206 BR. 277 (Bkrtcy D. Mass., 1997). Court ruled that the federal bankruptcy laws preempted Massachusetts Homestead exemptions. Effect is to protect Homesteads from liens, even where debts are incurred prior to Homestead recording.) In Re Weinstein, 217 BR 5 (Bkrtcy D. Mass., 1998) supports the decision in Whalen-Griffin and goes on to include both unsecured and secured pre-homestead debt under bankruptcy protection.

Bankruptcy cases often involve a debtor who has a judgment lien against their real estate. The bankruptcy law provides that if the mortgages on the property and the exemption excludes the value of the home, then the judicial lien can be “avoided” in whole or in part on a motion filed by the debtor. For example, if a home was valued at $ 790,000 and the home owner had mortgages on the property of $ 300,000, the court would avoid a judicial lien because the mortgage of $ 300,000 plus the Homestead of $ 500,000 totals $ 800,000 and, therefore, would be in excess of the value of the home. Any judicial lien on the property would have been released by the Bankruptcy Court Order recorded in the registry of deeds. NOTE: I’ve found some bankruptcy attorneys believe the mere filing of the bankruptcy petition is sufficient to dissolve the lien. It is not. A conveyancer will require more. The motion must be filed, allowed and recorded.

Certainly, a different result would have been reached by the Massachusetts appellate courts considering the order of recording the Homestead and a lien. A recent state trial court case, Walsh v. Yarossi, Mass. Land Court, December 5, 2006, held that a prior attachment filed before a Homestead Declaration is a valid preexisting lien, negating the Homestead protection, even when the sentence is obtained after the Homestead.

B. Termination of the Massachusetts Homestead

A major cause of concern is the incidental termination of Homestead protection. The terms of the Homestead statute make clear the estate or claim of Homestead will be terminated upon the sale or transfer of the real property or mobile home during the declarant’s lifetime, upon the death of the declarant and the remarriage of the declarant’s surviving spouse and upon each child reaching the age of majority or a release of the Homestead estate duly signed, sealed, and acknowledged by the owner and the owner’s spouse, if any, and recorded at the Registry of Deeds, or when the property ceases to be the principal residence. In addition, the Bankruptcy Court has ruled that the filing of a consequent Declaration of Homestead acts to discharge a prior Declaration.

It is unclear how other transfers might be grateful under the state statement.

In the recent case of In Re Hildebrandt, 313 BR 535 (2004), an unmarried couple purchased a home and one of the two filed a M Homestead Declaration. Thereafter, the person who did not file the Homestead transferred her interest in the property to the Homestead declarant. The Bankruptcy Court ruled that the transfer terminated the pre-existing Homestead. In this case there was an acquisition of an interest that caused the termination of the Homestead.

Existing state law on the effect of refinancing a mortgage on an existing Homestead is unclear. On August 31, 2004, Judge Henry J. Boroff, of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts ruled that the Homestead Exemption is subordinate to a mortgage. Real estate practitioners always assumed that the exemption was subordinate to a pre-existing mortgage, but believed the Homestead otherwise remained valid when a new refinance mortgage was recorded after the Homestead. Judge Boroff clarified the law in this area by ruling that, in case of refinancing of a mortgage, the exemption will be rendered null and void. Essentially, as a homeowner, a Homestead Exemption is not valid after refinancing unless you re-file it after the time of the refinancing, or otherwise reserve it at the time of refinance. In Re Desroches, 314 BR 19 (2004) (Homestead protection was denied where the mortgage was filed after an earlier Homestead Declaration and mortgage did not specifically reserve the debtor’s Homestead rights).

Homesteads are often inadvertently terminated during estate planning changes. The estate planner must be careful in implementing a plan to not terminate the Homestead. Situations to consider include:

Selling or transferring of the property;

Selling or transferring the declarant’s interest in the property;

Acquiring a new interest in the property, as was done in the Hildebrandt case;

Deeding the property including to reserve a life estate without reserving the Homestead exemption;

Filing a new Homestead Declaration;

Refinanced debt on the home.

C. Proceeds from Sale

In Re Cunningham, Not reported in BR, 2005 Bankr. LEXIS 2419, 2005 WL 3348861 (2005). Land subject to debtor’s Homestead exemption was sold and the exemption applied to the sale proceeded. The debtor was able to keep the proceedings of sale.

D. Multiple Owner’s Recording Homesteads (Stacking)

In Re Garren, 338 F. 3d 1 (2003). Deborator was not allowed to “stack” two Homestead exemptions in order to avoid judicial lien on his property. If fact, where one Homestead is recorded and another recorded immediately after it, only the second is valid, the first having been terminated by the recording of the second. It should be noted, multiple valid Homesteads may be recorded under Section 1A (Elderly / Disabled), but the value is still only $ 500,000.

E. Children of Declarant

In Re Vasques, 337 BR 255 (Bkrtcy D. Mass, 2006). Daughter who co-owned residential property was a member of same “family” as mother and therefore protected by mother’s Declaration of Homestead without either the obligation or ability to file a declaration of Homestead on her own even though she was not a minor. The Court decided that the provision of the statute relative to minor children mean that Homesteads remain in effect after the death of a declarant-parent only while the children are minors, and that the provision had no other limiting effect.

F. Manufactured Mobile Homes

In Re Kelly, 334 BR 772, 2005 Bankr. LEXIS 2365, 2005 WL 3293309 (2005). Debtor may not claim a Homestead exemption, pursant to MGL. Ch. 188, sec. 1, in a manufactured mobile home. Although MGL Ch. 188, Sec. 1A provides for such protection, Section 1 does not. The Court noted “The most persuasive argument that subsection 1 does not include a manufactured home, however, is the fact that subsection 1A does provide for such a Homestead.” So only the elderly or disabled may have this right. Other Judges have disagreed.

G. Property in Trusts

In re: Edward R. Szwyd, —– BR —– (Bkrtcy D. Mass., 2007). Property held in trust is not eligible for Homestead protection. Only individuals may claim a Homestead. The Court allowed the Homestead to stand in this case since the debtor was the sole trustee and beneficiary and no trust implemented under Massachusetts law.

H. Owner-Occupied Multi-family Homes

As long as the property is the primary residence of the declarant a Homestead will be valid as to the whole.

Source by David Lima

Massachusetts Immediate Threat Assumptions

GL c. 90, Sec. 22 (a) grants the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles broad power to irrefinitely revoke a driver's license for violations of the motor vehicle laws which stipulate an immediate threat to the public safety. A revocation under the immediate threat law has been determined not to sentence a punishment and, therefore, a criminal prosecutions and non-punitive immediate threat suspension arising out of the same incident, such as an operating under the influence event, does not violate the double jeopardy clause of the United States Constitution or Massachusetts common, statutory, or constitutional law.

These indefinite license revocations are usually triggered by a police officer filing a report with the RMV wherein he explains why preventing the driver to remain on the road computes an immediate threat to public safety. Sometimes the issue is medical related such as a case where a person is operating under the influence of prescription medication. In other cases, the report is generated as a result of dangerous or reckless driving witnessed by or reported to a police officer. Immediate threat reports may involve companion criminal charges.

The legal standard for an indefinite immediate threat revocation, which the Registry had wide latitude in interpreting, is that the driver "has committed a violation of the motor vehicle laws of a nature which would give the Registrar a reason to believe that continuing operation by such holder is and will be so seriously improper as to institute an immediate threat to the public safety. "

The immediate threat statute requires that the Registrar find that a license holder poses such a significant threat to public safety, that the license should be completely taken. Additionally, law requires that the Registrar provide the operator with a notice specifying the time and place of the violation or incident that led to the immediate threat suspension.

Anyone who has had his or her license or right to operate revoked as an immediate threat is entitled to a hearing at the Registry of Motor Vehicles within 30 days of the revocation and the driver is entitled to be represented by a lawyer. Massachusetts Immediate threat revocations are indefinite in nature, meaning that the revocation will not terminate unless and until the license holder has proved to the Registry's satisfaction that the causes of the past or present violations or issues of concern have been brought under control such that the driver no longer poses a threat to the motoring public. A Registry of Motor Vehicles lawyer can help you make this showing and get your license reinstated. The RMV charges a $ 500.00 reinstatement fee for immediate threat suspensions.

Source by Brian Simoneau

Using a Massachusetts Small Claims Court For Personal Injury Claims

If you sustain damages or minor injuries because of someone else’s negligence, you may consider bringing your injury claim before the Massachusetts small claims court.

The Massachusetts small claims court is not considered a separate court, as it actually operates under special sessions of the District Court, and therefore has its own benefits and restrictions. For example, the amount of damages sought cannot exceed $2,000 in order to qualify for consideration in a Massachusetts claims court. If your medical bills and other expenses are more than $2,000 you’ll need to file a Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit in a different court.

There is an exception to this rule. Property damage sustained in a Massachusetts car accident cannot exceed $2,000 in small claims court, but the court can consider statutory damages or attorney fees that are above the $2,000 limit. Yet, even in these cases, the base amount of your initial claim must still be below $2,000.

Bringing a Claim to Massachusetts Small Claims Court

Massachusetts small claims court is structured so that the parties involved can seek legal remedies in an effective and inexpensive manner. Filing fees for any claims totaling less than $500 are $30 and any injury claims seeking more than $500 have a $40 filing fee.

Civil court statutes also apply to Massachusetts small claims court, so be sure that the statute of limitations has not expired before filing your injury claim. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations covering personal injury claims is 3 years, although there are some exceptions to this rule.

When you’re filing a claim in Massachusetts small claims court, you must do so in the district where you live or work, or where the defendant lives or works. If you incurred damages from someone who works in Boston, it may serve your case to file in the Boston small claims court. Your lawyer should help you determine the best area to file your injury claim.

The most important filing information to obtain is the defendant’s proper address.

If you file a claim without the defendant’s proper address, your injury claim will be dismissed.

Unfortunately, you cannot sue a public employee in Massachusetts small claims court, which means any lawsuit brought against a public employee, state agency, city or town must be filed in Superior Court.

Massachusetts Personal Injury Claims

Even for a small claim, it is usually wise to seek a legal consultation before filing a Massachusetts small claims court notice. A good example is if your Massachusetts injury claim occurred as the result of a car accident.

A Massachusetts personal injury lawyer can look at the specifics of your case, advise you on where to file your claim, and represent your best interests in court. In your “Statement of Small Claim” form, you can ask that your attorney fees be included in the total amount of damages you are seeking.

Source by Thomas M. Kiley

The Devil in Massachusetts – A Modern Enquiry Into the Salem Witch Trials by Marion L Starkey

The back cover of the edition of The Devil in Massachusetts I read stated that Ms. Starkey “applies modern psychiatric knowledge to the witchcraft hysteria” which plagued Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Although Starkey’s work is obviously well-researched and is historically authentic, it is neither an enquiry nor a psychological evaluation with new insights into the mass panic caused by several seriously disturbed young girls. She poses question after question to the reader yet puts none of her own conclusions or hypotheses to any of them.

The Devil in Massachusetts is elegantly written based on Starkey’s research of actual trial transcripts, historical records and publications of the time. However her penchant for asking questions, double negatives and placing subordinate clauses at the beginning of sentences does cause the reader to double-back much of the time to re-read passages to understand her message.

The absence of any meaningful dissertation on the population may be a moot point in this post 9/11 world, whatever conclusions could be drawn in Starkey’s 1949 publication. Still it would be interesting to know what caused several young girls, ages eight to eighteen, to suddenly fall into convulsing fits and claim they were being tortured by invisible imps. They ‘cried out’ members of the community, mostly women, as their tormentors.

Arrests were issued and carried out with frequency to bring the accused before magistrates who firmly believe in the existence of witches. More disturbing than the girls made-up hysterics was the courts’ complete buy-in of the ‘spectral evidence’, unseen witches and wizards observed ONLY by the afflicted girls. And they weren’t the only ones. Families of the accused disowned their relatives at the mere thought of being related to a witch, even if the woman had never shown any behavior remotely reminiscent of witchcraft. Others stood by their loved ones, bringing countless witnesses to testify on their behalf. Cooler minds did not prevail as the shrieks and howlings of pre-teen girls gave precedence over more knowledgeable and sane people.

Other towns in the Salem area such as Andover and Ipswich encountered similar episodes but by now sanity began to take hold and these cases were dismissed as quickly as they began.

The self-important Massachusetts preacher Cotton Mathers got caught up in the hysteria as well and through his own reticence and culpability, failed to rescue a man whom he concluded to be innocent. In later years, he managed to attach his name to saving the souls of condemned pirates, a crime with more tangible and concrete evidence against the accused.

Despite the lack of any new insights on the Salem witch trials, The Devil in Massachusetts is a great glimpse into the mass confusion, terror and murder in pre-colonial New England. It does cause one to recall the old adage about history repeating itself, but if Starkey did not enlighten us onto the psychological reasoning behind the panic, are we repeating it now? The days of hunting witches to hang them or burn them at the stakes are over. But what about our current ‘witch hunts’ against persons of difference race, religion or sexual orientation?

I guess the answer to the first question is ‘yes’.

Source by Alan G. Scott

Payroll Massachusetts, Unique Aspects of Massachusetts Payroll Law and Practice

The Massachusetts State Agency that oversees the collection and reporting of State income taxes deducted from payroll checks is:

Department of Revenue

51 Sleeper St.

Boston, MA 02205

(617) 887-6367

(800) 392-6089 (in state)

Massachusetts allows the use of the federal W-4 form if exemptions claimed are the same for state and federal. Otherwise, you must use “M4 Massachusetts Employee’s Withholding Exemption Certificate” for Massachusetts income tax withholding.

Not all states allow salary reductions made under Section 125 cafeteria plans or 401(k) to be treated in the same manner as the IRS code allows. In Massachusetts cafeteria plans are not taxable for income tax calculation; taxable for unemployment insurance purposes. 401(k) plan deferrals are not taxable for income taxes; taxable for unemployment purposes.

In Massachusetts supplemental wages are required to be aggregated for the state income tax withholding calculation.

You must file your Massachusetts State W-2s by magnetic media if you are required to file your federal W-2s by magnetic media.

The Massachusetts State Unemployment Insurance Agency is:

Division of Employment Security

Charles F. Hurley Bldg.

19 Staniford St., 5th Fl. DET

Boston, MA 02114-2589

(617) 626-6855

The State of Massachusetts taxable wage base for unemployment purposes is wages up to $14,000.00.

Massachusetts requires Magnetic media reporting of quarterly wage reporting if the employer has at least 250 employees that they are reporting that quarter.

Unemployment records must be retained in Massachusetts for a minimum period of four years. This information generally includes: name; social security number; dates of hire, rehire and termination; wages by period; payroll pay periods and pay dates; date and circumstances of termination.

The Massachusetts State Agency charged with enforcing the state wage and hour laws is:

Department of Labor and Industries

Fair Labor and Business Practices Division

200 Portland St.

Boston, MA 02114

(617) 727-3465

The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $6.75 per hour.

The general provision in Massachusetts concerning paying overtime in a non-FLSA covered employer is one and one half times regular rate after 40-hour week.

Massachusetts State new hire reporting requirements are that every employer must report every new hire and rehire and contractors over $600. The employer must report the federally required elements of:

  • Employee’s name
  • date of hire or contract
  • Employee’s address
  • Employee’s social security number
  • Employer’s name
  • Employers address
  • Employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

This information must be reported within 14 days of the hiring or rehiring.

The information can be sent as a W4 or equivalent by mail, fax or electronically.

There is a $25.00 penalty for a late report and $500 for conspiracy in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts new hire-reporting agency can be reached at 800-332-2733 or 617-626-4154 or on the web at

Massachusetts does not allow compulsory direct deposit.

Massachusetts requires the following information on an employee’s pay stub:

  • Gross and Net Earnings
  • Employer’s and employee’s name.
  • payment date
  • amount and nature of deductions
  • increases
  • straight time and overtime pay
  • hours worked
  • itemized deductions

Massachusetts requires that employee be paid biweekly or weekly; semimonthly or biweekly for FLSA-exempts or salaried employees (monthly if they agree).

Massachusetts requires that the lag time between the end of the pay period and the payment of wages to the employee not exceed six days if workweek is 5 or 6 days; 7 days after pay period if workweek is 7 days or less than 5 days.

Massachusetts payroll law requires that involuntarily terminated employees must be paid their final pay immediately and that voluntarily terminated employees must be paid their final pay by the next regular payday (if there is none, the next Saturday) or by mail if employee requests it.

Deceased employee’s wages of $100 must be paid to the surviving spouse, adult child, or parent (in that order) 30 days after death and if there is no will.

Escheat laws in Massachusetts require that unclaimed wages be paid over to the state after three years.

The employer is further required in Massachusetts to keep a record of the wages abandoned and turned over to the state for a period of 5 years.

Massachusetts’s payroll law mandates no more than $4.125 may be used as a tip credit.

In Massachusetts the payroll laws covering mandatory rest or meal breaks are only that all employees must have 30 minutes rest after six hours of work.

Massachusetts’s statute requires that wage and hour records be kept for a period of not less than two years. These records will normally consist of at least the information required under FLSA.

The Massachusetts agency charged with enforcing Child Support Orders and laws is:

Massachusetts Department of Revenue

Child Support Enforcement Division

51 Sleeper St.

P.O. Box 9492

Boston, MA 02205-9492

(800) 332-2733

Massachusetts has the following provisions for child support deductions:

  • When to start Withholding? Next payday more than 3 days after notice.
  • When to send Payment? Within 3 days of Payday.
  • When to send Termination Notice? Within 3 days of payday.
  • Maximum Administrative Fee? $1 per payment.
  • Withholding Limits? Federal Rules under CCPA.

Please note that this article is not updated for changes that can and will happen from time to time.

Source by Charles Read