Yes, you can file bankruptcy without the help of a lawyer. Is it advisable? Definitely NOT!
There is an old adage: “he who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in the bankruptcy court. Bankruptcy is much more than just filling out some forms. If things aren’t done correctly, there are numerous pitfalls along the road to debt relief.
Are you capable of responding to a motion objecting to your homestead exemption that could cost you your house? If not, read on…
Bankruptcy Laws Changed Dramatically in 2005
The effort and legal knowledge needed in properly preparing bankruptcy cases was substantially changed in October of 2005. The ‘new’ bankruptcy laws added extreme and unneeded complexity to the process of filing for bankruptcy, and added the requirement to produce many more documents. Lots and lots of documents. Unlike tax forms, bankruptcy forms don’t come with instructions for the non-professional.
Local Rules and Customs Further Complicate Matters
Additionally, two new ‘schooling’ requirements have been added. There are many new regional and local court requirements, as well. Chapter 13 bankruptcy brings with it many unwritten local rules and customs that the layperson simply wouldn’t know about. All in all, it is a difficult task for anyone, a qualified lawyer included, to properly guide even a ‘simple’ bankruptcy through the process to a successful discharge.
Potential Pitfalls for Pro Se Debtors
There are many many pitfalls, exceptions, interpretations and processes too numerous to mention, that can upset the completion of your case. To make matters worse, if your case is filed improperly, and then dismissed, it becomes even more difficult to file and successfully complete a re-filed case. All the more reason to insure that your first case is prepared, filed and completed properly, with the help of a qualified bankruptcy lawyer.
Most Firms Offer Payment Plans
Certainly you can expect to pay a reasonable fee for the service of a lawyer, but most debtors lawyers have payment plans, and their fees are reasonable and subject to review and approval by the Bankruptcy Court. Check your attorneys qualifications, check the State Bar, the BBB, and inquire of your attorney’s membership in related organizations such as NACBA at www.nacba.org.