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Photo of attorneys Shelley Slafkes and Bruce Levitt
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DIY Bankruptcy Disasters

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2016 | Bankruptcy Basics, Why Hire an Attorney?

We’ve all seen some amazing Do-It-Yourself projects. From Pinterest to HGTV, perhaps you’ve seen the incredible home remodel or unbelievable craft idea. While it may be tempting to test your DIY abilities in bankruptcy law, it is best to keep those skills in the home and out of the courtroom.

DIY Bankruptcies, commonly known as “pro per” or “pro se” fillings, make up about one in ten bankruptcies in New Jersey. These bankruptcies are disproportionately more likely to fail than bankruptcies where the filer is represented by an attorney. In fact, one survey by Crain’s New York Business found that the failure rate among Do-It-Yourself filers in the Eastern District of New York is around 90%. For filers considering a DIY Chapter 13 bankruptcy the numbers are even more stark. According to a report from the Central District of California, a DIY filer has a 0.4% chance of obtaining a confirmation of their Chapter 13 payment plan-a necessary step before making payments and eventually obtaining a discharge.

The reasons for turning to DIY legal solutions may seem obvious: pro se filers report that they do not have the funds to hire an attorney or that they have simple cases that do not require an attorney. However, for most people contemplating bankruptcy, these assumptions are mistaken.

At Levitt & Slafkes, P.C., we offer clients a free consultation to see how we can help. You might be surprised by how affordable hiring an experienced, knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney can be. More importantly, even in a simple bankruptcy case, an attorney adds incredible value. An attorney can help you create a customized strategy tailored to your needs and financial situation, help you avoid common mistakes, and get you the most possible out of your bankruptcy discharge.

Many DIY filers do not recognize the risk involved in representing themselves. Courts hold pro se filers to the same standard as licensed attorneys. This means that if you violate a local rule or a rule of civil procedure, you could be fined or forced to pay the costs and attorney’s fees of the other party. Even worse, if you are unsuccessful as a DIY filer and are forced to file again in the same year, the automatic stay that protects your assets could be limited to a mere 30 days. It is for this reason that if you are filing for bankruptcy, you should turn to a licensed attorney who can help you file successfully the first time.

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If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, don’t try DIY. Call 973-323-2953 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at Levitt & Slafkes, P.C.. We are bankruptcy lawyers who know how to give you a fresh financial start.