Lenny “Nails” Dystra, 1980’s superstar Mets and Phillies outfielder was paid about $36.5 million during his career but filed bankruptcy with debts totaling more than $37.1 million and assets of only $24.6 million; $21 million of those debts are secured by two homes. The sportsman turned financial guru, turned financial disaster has baffled friends, creditors, the bankruptcy trustee and even critics as he attempts to run his own bankruptcy case which is extremely complex. So far it hasn’t worked out well for Dykstra. He lost the battle for his mansion and even ended up living in his car at one point. He’s now facing eviction because he has reportedly failed to pay rent for several months and is in a battle with Wells Fargo who foreclosed on the property owners.
All of this while battling it out with creditors in bankruptcy. Dykstra has been reportedly advised to seek experienced counsel for his bankruptcy case; but he has refused to do so and has kept a steady confidence in his ability to navigate the bankruptcy process even though he lacks the skills, experience and knowledge. There is no debating the fact that Dystra’s skills and experience on the baseball field are valuable and hard to beat; but that experience and skill does not necessarily translate to being able to effectively protect his assets in bankruptcy.
Many accomplished individuals make the mistake of believing that they can run their own bankruptcy case much like they ran their career or business; but the truth is that it takes years of experience and education to even begin to navigate the bankruptcy system which is complex and constantly changing. Remember, bankruptcy is designed to protect the debtor’s assets; but it is also designed to pay the creditors as much as possible. While the bankruptcy trustee protects the interests of the creditors, who will protect the interests of the debtor if he/she insists on trying to represent themselves when they don’t have the skills, knowledge and experience to effectively do so?