Due to the lack of available cash or extensive knowledge of the law, some debtors ask themselves: “Can I file bankruptcy myself?” The short answer to this question is yes. The debtor has the right to represent himself at the bankruptcy court. However, that course of action is totally unadvisable from all prudent points of view.
Steps on Filing Bankruptcy on Your Own
In general, the debtors who choose to represent themselves in the court hearing are dubbed PRO SE Litigants. The Latin phrase “pro se” can be translated simply into “by yourself” and hence, does not grant defaulters additional rights than they would normally have. The pro se debtors are expected to know the various articles and chapters of the law, as trustees and judges usually have no time for explaining the bankruptcy legal system. Here is, in short, the process of filing for bankruptcy without a legal representative:
Deciding on the chapter of bankruptcy to file for
- Meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer and learning more about what to expect
- Procuring the B200 form from the United States Court
- Gathering important documents and papers needed for filing for insolvency
- Undergoing credit counseling courses 180 days prior to filing the forms
- Filling in and sending the paperwork
- Expecting confirmation and the date of the 341 meeting
If You Decide to File for Bankruptcy Yourself, then Remember…
Considering that the Bankruptcy Court is strict about the correct filing of the necessary paperwork debtors need to send, one idea would be to consider paralegal services. Paralegals often provide services to the public in exchange for a fee and can make sure that the defaulter has completed the forms correctly, all paperwork is in order, and all notices are sent. However, they do not provide any legal advice on bankruptcy, meaning that the non-payers cannot expect paralegals to tell them what to claim, which chapter of bankruptcy they should file for, etc.
Top Reasons Why Asking Yourself “Can I File Bankruptcy Myself?” is a Genuinely Bad Idea
At first glance, the paperwork and forms needed to file for insolvency seem comprehensive and simple. However, in the vast majority of cases, debtors that decide to file for bankruptcy without an attorney make these common mistakes:
- Not selecting the proper exemptions and losing assets
- Leaving out properties, trust funds, tax returns, lawsuits, retirement funds
- Underestimating living expenses (sometimes leading to substantial abuse accusations from the court)
- Not disclosing assets or transferring properties, assets or funds to friends and family
Other Rationales of Working with a Bankruptcy Lawyer
Overall, filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy without a san diego bankruptcy lawyer is usually simpler than filing for chapter 13. With regards to chapter 13, it is worth pointing out that, due to its complex nature, it is considered counter-productive and ill-suited for debtors to represent themselves. Moreover, while it is true that defaulters do not need to have a legal representative in the reorganization hearing, they should keep in mind that the main topic of discussion with the court is the creditors and the repayment plan, and the creditors will most certainly have an attorney to represent them.
Seriously, are you that confident in your negotiation skills and knowledge of the local, state and federal law? Don’t take chances, folks!