barrysternberg

Should You File Your Own Bankruptcy Petition?

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Do you need a lawyer to file bankruptcy? It depends – would you be willing to fly an airplane without a pilot’s licence? Trying to file a bankruptcy petition without a lawyer, especially after the complex changes to the bankruptcy laws in 2005, would be a lot like trying to fly an airplane just because you read a book on the subject. You’ll gain some knowledge of the mechanics involved, but it’s guaranteed that you simply won’t be equipped to handle the unforseen events that will inevitably occur once you start heading down the runway. It’s possible you won’t kill yourself, but the odds are against you.

Heck, even a good many lawyers screw up bankruptcy filings these days because of all the complicated requirements under the new laws. Don’t listen to the do-it-yourself services or self help books that try to convince you bankruptcy is just a matter of filing a few routine forms. They are not trained professionals giving you trusted advice, they are people trying to sell you something so they can make money. Paralegal services and petition preparers are prohibited from giving you any advice. They can type up the forms for you, but they can’t tell you which Chapter to file, how to protect assets, how to remove liens, or what property is covered by exemptions.

Trust me on this, it’s what happens after you file the routine forms that matters. People have been known to lose their home because they didn’t understand their rights. Furthermore, there are all sorts of requirements to file documents with the court, and to provide documents to the trustee prior to the court date. Failing to comply with any number of these requirements will result in your case being automatically dismissed. There’s a lot that can go wrong after you file, and no one will be there to help you if things get rocky. Bankruptcy is an adversarial process. That means that the trustee assigned to your case is not looking out for your best interests. The trustee represents your creditors, and gets paid whenever he can sell your property, so don’t look for anyone to cut you any slack. The trustee wins when you lose.

I can tell you from my experience that almost everyone who tries to file their own bankruptcy case ends up hiring a lawyer to straighten out the mess, so you’re simply better off saving time and money by hiring a competent lawyer to help you right from the start.

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