Debtors exploring the option of filing
Chapter 7 bankruptcy on their own without an attorney, (pro se) may be in for a few surprises
if they do not know what they are getting themselves into. While it is
true you have the option to file on your own, it is often not advised
for debtors to do so for several reasons. The bankruptcy code is filed
with complex rules and regulations an experienced bankruptcy attorney
practices and exercises on a regular basis. Plus, many debtors who try
to file on their own turn out unsuccessful in the end.
There are a number of pitfalls debtors have come across in the case of
representing themselves in bankruptcy court.
The following points detail a few common problems:
- Debtors often choose to file bankruptcy but it turns out to be the wrong chapter. This may happen when the debtor didn’t take time to review their options
in full detail, or they didn’t realize there are multiple bankruptcy
chapters with different purposes. Sometimes filing the wrong chapter could
lead the debtor into losing their property or not being granted discharge of debts.
- Paperwork related to the filing is either inaccurate, missing documents,
or not filed out correctly. You may have an idea of which chapter you want to file, but the petition,
schedules, and related documentation need to be completed in its entirety
before the court will consider reviewing them. If you are missing documents
your case could be dismissed before it gets reviewed.
- Failing to understand property exemptions. Such
exemptions help you retain and protect assets and personal property, but they work
differently depending on which chapter you file, and vary at state and
federal levels. You must also list property values accurately or you stand
to lose them.
- Credit counseling and financial management: failing to understand their
differences. Each is different from the other while they are both required in either
bankruptcy chapter you decide to file. Debt may not be granted discharge
if each course isn’t completed.