The paralegal services and on line bankruptcy providers try to characterize filing bankruptcy as “just filling out forms”.
That’s just as true as seeing tax preparation as “just filling out forms”.
It’s even worse because tax forms come with instructions written for the non professional. Bankruptcy forms don’t.
What is at stake
The more assets you have to lose in a botched bankruptcy, the more it is worth your while to pay a lawyer to protect them in a bankruptcy proceeding.
Besides your assets, there is also your discharge at stake. Move assets around or omit assets from your schedules and you could lose the discharge entirely.
When you represent yourself
Congress was upfront in 2005 that it wanted to discourage consumers from filing bankruptcy . They deliberately made the process substantially more complex and the consequences of mistakes more costly.
The bankruptcy amendments of 2005 have now studded the Bankruptcy Code with more duties for the debtor. Miss performing one of these duties, and dismissal of the case is automatic. If you refile after dismissal, the relief available is strictly limited.
The means test forms, new in October 2005, are difficult to get through and easy to bungle.
Your escape from debt is at stake
The bankruptcy schedules are signed under penalty of perjury. Omit something that should have been disclosed, and you put your ability to get a discharge of your debts at risk, since you’ve just made a false oath.
The results of mistakes are seldom that harsh, but it is part of the risk you run when you don’t really understand the game.
Is your case really simple?
We recommend that you visit a bankruptcy lawyer, get an overview of your situation and any issues that are presented in your case.
Initial consultations are frequently free or at a reduced cost.
You may find there are bankruptcy issues that you didn’t see at first glance or didn’t give as much importance as a bankruptcy judge will.
Attorneys fees paid via Chapter 13
One of the signal features of Chapter 13 cases is the provision that allows the debtor to pay their attorneys fees for the case from the payments made to the Chapter 13 plan itself.
Where courts are divided about whether an attorney can properly take Chapter 7 fees after the case is filed, paying Chapter 13 lawyers after the case is filed is standard.
Image courtesy of susi.bsu.