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BACH IS YOUR FINANCIAL FUTURE.
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Do I Need a Lawyer to File Bankruptcy?

Do I Need a Lawyer to File Bankruptcy?

If you’re considering bankruptcy, hiring an attorney might be the furthest thing from your mind. Your goal is to improve your financial situation, not make it worse by owing one more person.

The alternative to filing with an attorney, however, is filing pro se (i.e. representing yourself). While this is technically permitted, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court strongly discourages it, citing the complex web of laws, procedures, and requirements that must be understood and closely followed in order to obtain a debt discharge.

In other words, bankruptcy is a powerful way to overcome severe financial hardship—but you may not experience this relief if you attempt the process on your own.

To illustrate the challenges you may face if you file bankruptcy pro se, here are 10 common mistakes an experienced attorney can help you avoid:

  1. Filing under the wrong chapter. Bankruptcy can only benefit you if you choose a chapter that works for your situation. For business owners, choosing the wrong chapter could mean the difference between keeping and losing their companies. Individuals could unnecessarily lose assets or repay much more than they need to.
  2. Filing bankruptcy at the wrong time. An attorney can help you time your case to maximize the benefits and minimize losses. Good timing can help you keep your tax refund, avoid foreclosure or repossession, and much more.
  3. Failing to complete every required step in the bankruptcy process. To successfully navigate the bankruptcy process, you will need to complete steps in a certain order during each phase of the case. If you miss any of these requirements, the court can deny your petition—even if you otherwise qualify for relief.
  4. Including misinformation on your petition. From failing to include creditors to putting the wrong amounts of debt, the smallest mistakes can result in an objection or costly adversary proceeding filed by a trustee or creditor.
  5. Failing to verify your debt. Some debt collectors contact the wrong people for payments. If you don’t verify your debt (i.e. make sure you’re obligated to pay it), the collector could take you to court and obtain a judgment against you. Once a judgment has been issued, you will need to pay the debt (or include it on your bankruptcy petition), even if it was never yours to begin with.
  6. Choosing the wrong exemptions (or none at all). Most people who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy obtain a debt discharge without losing any assets, but this is only possible if you take full advantage of state or federal exemption laws. Some mistakenly believe exemption laws take effect automatically, but you must officially claim the property you are shielding from liquidation. An experienced attorney can help you select the right set of exemptions and properly claim them.
  7. Missing the opportunity to take a debt collector to court for creditor harassment. Many don’t understand the difference between debt collection and creditor harassment. While the former is legal, the latter refers to a range of tactics that are prohibited under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other consumer protection laws. If you have suffered from creditor harassment, an attorney can help you take the debt collector to court and potentially obtain compensation. For some plaintiffs, this compensation completely covers the debt they originally owed.
  8. Beginning life after bankruptcy without a plan of action. Bankruptcy is a fresh start, but some fail to maximize its benefits because they don’t make necessary changes to their financial strategies or lifestyle. For those who filed bankruptcy as a result of years of poor decision-making, the risk of a second bankruptcy (which generally comes with additional obstacles) is much higher without a failsafe financial plan.

Overall, hiring an attorney for your bankruptcy case is a worthwhile investment. The fees will be inconsequential compared to the tremendous financial relief your lawyer can help you obtain.

Let’s Begin Your Case Today

Are you ready for freedom from endless debt? Let our team at the Bach Law Offices help you take full advantage of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. These laws have rescued overwhelmed debtors for hundreds of years, and you have every right to experience this same level of relief. We take great pride in delivering a high standard of care for every client, and we look forward to exceeding your expectations.

For a complimentary case evaluation, call (847) 448-0025 or send us an online message today.

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