Sure, you can file your own bankruptcy. The law does not require you to have an attorney in order to file bankruptcy. It also does not require you to have a doctor to fix your broken leg or to have a doctor deliver your baby – you can do just about anything you want to on your own. I’m being a little humorous but seriously – the question is –do you really want to do these things on your own?
Do you have the training to ensure it’s done right? Do you have the information, tools, and knowledge needed to ensure your success?
Bankruptcy laws are complex and full of pitfalls. If you make a mistake, whether by recording something inaccurately or failing to report something at all, it can cost you your discharge and possibly your property. You could even land in jail for misrepresentation or dishonesty in your bankruptcy filing. Let’s talk about the preparation and filing of a bankruptcy case.
The preparation involves 50+ pages of details surrounding your income, property, debts, financial transactions, etc. All lawyers use software to assist and ensure all forms are completed per court requirements, just like your tax preparer uses tax software to ensure they comply with the IRS forms, and just like your doctor uses a software program to track your medical history.
Utilizing a software program to print the forms and papers for the court sounds simple enough. (Not really but lets say it is for the sake of this discussion.) But most of the action occurs after you have filed the papers with the court. Once they are filed, both the U.S. Trustee and the case Trustee as well as the court clerks all begin reviewing your papers to see how to kick out your case, deny your discharge, or otherwise disqualify your case so that you cannot receive the benefits provided through bankruptcy.
Why? It’s not personal. It’s their job. They are the gatekeepers that ensure compliance to bankruptcy law. Many people misunderstand thinking that the Trustee is on their side – fighting for their right to bankruptcy. No. That’s your attorney’s job. Your attorney is the only one in this process on your side – fighting for you – looking after your best interest. Everyone else has other obligations – to the law itself, to the creditors, etc.
If they object to your case, do you know how to defend your position? Do you know how to even provide a response to a filed objection? Do you know how to file objections to claims filed by creditors? There are motions, objections, notices, and on and on and on.
Some bankruptcy cases are full of this type of activity and some are not. Some are very basic and are quickly completed. Every case is unique because people are unique. There is so much more to filing bankruptcy than just filing papers. The real work involved in filing bankruptcy starts with advising the client on all their legal options, helping devise a legal strategy that will benefit you the most, gathering all the information required by the courts, reviewing it, evaluating the situation, explaining the process, leading you through the court system, and most importantly protecting you, your income, your property, and your financial future.
When you need a fresh financial start – it’s critical that you are successful in getting just that. You need an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to advise you and guide you through this process. Bankruptcy law is an area which is complex and continually changing. It is not something you want to go through alone.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.