Individuals can file bankruptcy without an attorney. This is called filing pro se. Working with a qualified bankruptcy attorney, however, is strongly suggested because bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal outcomes.
Additionally, it is very difficult and takes a lot of time to learn what is necessary to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney and issues can easily pop up along the way.
This blog will discuss some of the most common problems that occur when a person files a bankruptcy pro se.
Considerations Before Filing Bankruptcy
- Not needing to file. Many people who file bankruptcy pro se don’t understand their alternatives or what bankruptcy can and can’t do. For example, they might be filing to wipe out debts that can’t be discharged (eliminated) such as recent taxes, debts for drunk driving and most student loan debts. After the bankruptcy they are surprised that they still owe the debt.
- Filing the wrong type of bankruptcy. Most people file either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Each type of bankruptcy has different benefits and solves particular problems. For example, if you want to save your home from foreclosure, Chapter 13 is likely the correct bankruptcy to file. It might also be the right Chapter if you have too much equity in a home to file Chapter 7 and therefore would put your home at risk.
If you file the wrong type of bankruptcy you could lose valuable property such as your home or end up not discharging, and still owing, certain debts.
Filling Out the Bankruptcy Forms
The paperwork necessary to file bankruptcy is extensive and complicated.
- Failing to file required documents and schedules. To file bankruptcy you must complete the extensive bankruptcy schedules which includes listing all of your assets, income and exemptions. Oftentimes, pro se bankruptcy filers do not file all of the required bankruptcy documents which can result in their bankruptcy being dismissed.
- Failing to Protect Assets. To protect your property and assets in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy you need to understand bankruptcy exemptions. Many pro se filers do not list the proper exemptions and therefore risk losing their property. Experienced NJ bankruptcy attorneys Bruce Levitt and Shelley Slafkes, fully understand what is necessary to protect your property and can guide you through this.
- The Means Test is Complicated. In order to be eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass the means test. The means test requires complex calculations and many questions generally arise during its completion. It may be extremely difficult to correctly complete the means test without an experienced bankruptcy attorney. You might even find yourself ineligible to file Chapter 7 because you incorrectly completed the means test.
Don’t Do It Alone
Levitt & Slafkes, P.C. has already successfully helped thousands of clients through the bankruptcy process. We are here to answer all your questions and to help you. Call us at 973-323-2953, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
We are proudly designated as a debt relief agency by an Act of Congress. We have proudly assisted consumers in filing for Bankruptcy Relief for over 30 years. The information on this website and blogs is for general information purposes only. Nothing should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.