The number of bankruptcy filings in Maine has decreased from 2019, according to the United States Bankruptcy Court.

In April, 83 people or businesses filed for bankruptcy, which was fewer than the previous three months, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maine.

Maine has had 377 people or businesses file for bankruptcy in 2020, which is 53 fewer than at the same time last year.

In fact, the number of bankruptcy filings in Maine for the first four months of 2020 were fewer than they have been in three years.

The decreased number of bankruptcy filings in Maine aligns with the nationwide number of people filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection, the most-common type of bankruptcy for individuals or owners of small businesses.

Statistics from the American Bankruptcy Institute show that as of April, every state except Delaware had seen a decrease in the rate of bankruptcy filings compared to 2019.

While Maine has yet to see a noticeable impact from COVID-19 on bankruptcy filings, David LePauloue, acting clerk of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maine, said, “As bankruptcy clerks, we don’t like to speculate on what may or may not happen down the line.”

“We’re keeping an eye on it, but currently, bankruptcy filings are sort of at status quo,” LePauloue said. “We’ll be ready though, in case an increase should happen.”

However, Neil Shankman, a longtime lawyer who developed Shankman & Associates into one of the state’s largest bankruptcy practices, said that he expects the number of bankruptcy filings in Maine to “explode by June.”

He said he was basing his prediction on “having done this for a number of years” and “the number of initial appointments that have turned into requests for second appointments.”

“The last time we were facing a potential concentrated explosion of filings was 20 years ago, when the market bubble burst,” Shankman continued. “That was different though. It was a lot of rich people suddenly filing because they couldn’t maintain what they were doing. Right now, with the way things are, it’s bad out there.”

Shankman said the number of inquiries people are filing, including “the number of prospective clients requesting bankruptcy questionnaire,” are “up substantially.”

“By the time you’re asking for a questionnaire,” he said, “you’ve been actively considering filing for bankruptcy, so it’s a good indication of what’s to come.”

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