The bankruptcy code allows debtors the option of representing themselves,
also known as a “pro se” debtor. Yet, just because you can file
on your own doesn’t mean it is always the best idea. In many cases,
you should complete the process with an experienced bankruptcy attorney,
especially when your financial future is shaped by the process. To understand
this further, it helps to get advice from an attorney even if you decide
to file on your own.
Factors to help determine whether you should hire legal
- The type of
bankruptcy you want to file, either
Chapter 7 or
Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- The amount of personal assets such as property and income.
- The complexity of your case or personal situation.
- Whether or not you are confident you can complete the process on your own.
This is often an important decision that needs a considerable amount of
time, review and understanding in order to secure the outcome you want.
With simple Chapter 7 cases, filing pro se may be something to consider
when you have little or no property. Still, there always exists a risk
for error and mistakes when you file without experienced representation,
especially if unforeseen complexities arise.
There are other points to consider such as household income being below
state median level, having a thorough understanding of the forms needed
to complete and making sure your debts are indeed dischargeable in which
creditors cannot argue they are non-dischargeable.
So when is it best to work with a bankruptcy attorney?
- Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases in which debtors are looking to reduce what
they owe on their vehicle, catch up on vehicle or mortgage payments or
want to strip or eliminate junior liens and second mortgages.
- A complex Chapter 7 case if you own a business, have assets high in value
or may put you at risk if filing on your own, or debts that may not qualify
for discharge. Other elements may apply to this scenario.
- When you are uncomfortable with the idea of presenting your case to the
bankruptcy court alone, want to ensure all matters are handled efficiently
on your behalf, and wish to put yourself in the best possible position
for a positive financial future.
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