Should You File Bankruptcy Yourself?
Pitfalls of Filing Bankruptcy Without an Attorney
Many people who struggle with overwhelming debt consider filing for bankruptcy pro se (without a lawyer). In fact, between 2005 and 2011, the number of Chapter 7 bankruptcies filed without help from a lawyer increased by roughly 187%. However, while you can file bankruptcy yourself, it’s rarely a wise decision. Keep reading to learn more about common mistakes a bankruptcy attorney might help you avoid in your bankruptcy claim.
For questions about bankruptcy, contact Allmand Law Firm, PLLC today.
Do You Understand All of Your Debt Relief Options?
Deciding to file for bankruptcy is a difficult and complicated decision. It’s not right for everyone. For example, you cannot eliminate most tax, student loan, or child support debt in a bankruptcy. Before you file for bankruptcy, it’s always a good idea to discuss your options with an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney. Depending on the types of debt you owe, your financial circumstances, and other factors, bankruptcy might be your best option. Other times, we discover that our clients have non-bankruptcy options that can help them control their debt.
However, the most common mistake is filing for the wrong bankruptcy chapter. Consumers can file for bankruptcy under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
You must sell specific assets, use the proceeds to pay your debts, and the remaining debt is eliminated.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
You enter a payment plan with your creditors and do not have to sell your assets.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Chapter and Chapter 13?
Both types of bankruptcy have strict eligibility criteria and offer specific advantages and disadvantages.
For example, while you get to keep your home, vehicle, and other assets in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll have to follow a strict repayment plan for years to come. In comparison, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is relatively quick and can eliminate large amounts of debt, but you’ll lose many of your non-exempt assets and you’ll have to meet a complicated “means test.” Many people just can’t fully assess their options and whether they meet the Chapter 7 means test without help from a bankruptcy lawyer.
When you work with Allmand Law Firm, PLLC, we get time to understand both your debt and long-term goals. Based on your unique needs, we carefully assess our clients’ options and help them build comprehensive debt recovery plans that meet their needs. And because our team includes board-certified consumer bankruptcy expert, our clients can rest assured that they are getting practical and accurate advice.
Filing for Bankruptcy Involves More Than Signing Forms
When you file bankruptcy yourself, you are solely responsible for managing your claim. Many unrepresented bankruptcy claimants struggle to keep up with the forms, hearings, and responsibilities of handling their claims. You might have to:
- File a series of detailed bankruptcy forms
- List all of your creditors and debts
- Identify local forms that your jurisdiction requires
- Protect your property by determining while exemptions apply to your claim
- Submit a certificate proving that you attended credit counseling and a financial management course
- Attend a meeting of creditors
- Handle any disputes and hearings that might arise out of your claim
- Negotiate with your bankruptcy trustee
- Review and interpret every letter, form, and notice you get from the bankruptcy trustee and court
This takes time, effort, and a comprehensive understanding of consumer debt laws and protections.
Trying to File Bankruptcy Yourself Could Cost You Time and Money
You might ask yourself, “Who cares if I choose the wrong chapter or miss a form?” The answer is simple: the federal courts, your bankruptcy trustee, and your creditors. When you file for bankruptcy yourself, the court doesn’t give you any special help or personalized advice. Instead, you are solely responsible for learning federal bankruptcy law and the court’s specific procedures and rules. Do you have time to read and interpret the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, and your federal bankruptcy court’s local rules?
If you miss a deadline, forget a form, or accidentally miss a property exemption, these mistakes can have very significant consequences, including:
- Losing property that you could have kept under a Chapter 7 property exemption or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, like your home
- Having to pay debts that you accidentally failed to list in your bankruptcy
- The dismissal of your bankruptcy claim and renewed, harassing debt collection techniques
- Wasted time in unnecessary hearings and court appearances
- Defaulting on your Chapter 13 payment plan because you agreed to unrealistic terms and conditions
- Facing allegations of fraud filed against you by your creditors or the bankruptcy trustee
An attorney’s job is to guide you through the complicated bankruptcy process and help you avoid these problems.
We Offer Comprehensive Services
When you work with a bankruptcy lawyer at Allmand Law Firm, PLLC, you get:
- A free initial case review that carefully assesses your debt relief needs
- A review of your existing bankruptcy petition, if you decided to file bankruptcy yourself
- A personalized bankruptcy strategy that is tailored to your specific goals and identifies the right debt solution
- Access to a special hotline that gives you direct access to an Allmand Law team member
- Practical advice from a board-certified consumer bankruptcy attorney
- Aggressive advocacy at your bankruptcy-related hearings
- Regular updates on the status of your bankruptcy claim and information that educates you about the process
- Peace of mind that your case is being reviewed and overseen by an experienced bankruptcy lawyer
We always offer new clients a free, confidential evaluation. If you’re ready to take the first step towards a new financial future, contact Allmand Law Firm today. One of our team members will listen to your story and help you schedule an appointment with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Consult With a Texas Board-Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer for Free
Less than 1% of all Texas lawyers are board-certified in Consumer Bankruptcy. Reed Allmand is one of these rare, skilled attorneys. He and his team have helped thousands of Texans with their bankruptcies, foreclosures, and other debt relief needs. If you’re ready to schedule your free, no-risk consultation, contact Allmand Law Firm, PLLC today. We’d love to help you take the first steps towards a new financial future.