Some people who are struggling with debt decide they will file for bankruptcy without an attorney, known as filing “pro se.” In some districts, more than one-quarter of all bankruptcy filings are done without a lawyer. However, there can be many disadvantages to going it alone even for people who feel they don’t need or can’t afford an attorney.
Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy The Right Choice?
The first issue that may arise is whether the person should even be filing for bankruptcy. Some people file without realizing there may be more beneficial alternatives, while others are unaware that bankruptcy can’t expunge certain debts.
People also often file for the wrong type of bankruptcy. Most people facing bankruptcy file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Registering for the wrong kind of bankruptcy could mean losing property or being unable to discharge certain debts. For example, a person facing foreclosure on a home might be able to save the house by filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be a better choice for someone with little property and a low income.
Paperwork Errors Can Make Declaring Bankruptcy Difficult
There is plenty of paperwork involved in a bankruptcy filing and pro se filers tend to make several common mistakes when submitting an application.
First, they may simply fail to fill out all the required paperwork. In addition to a federal packet, there are sometimes local forms as well. People often forget to file a form, resulting in the dismissal of the case.
Next, pro se filers may not understand how to take property exemptions and may lose property unnecessarily. These exemptions are available for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filers. People who have particularly valuable property they do not want to lose may want to consult an attorney.
Finally, some people may fail to take the required credit counseling and financial management courses that accompany the bankruptcy, which could also result in the case’s dismissal.
Adversary Actions and Motions in a Bankruptcy Case
A pro se filer may need the assistance of an attorney if there are any complications with the bankruptcy. An attorney may be helpful if there are challenges to discharging certain debts or a need to file a motion or response.
Getting Help from an Experienced Attorney
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, talk to a professional first. Bankruptcy is a huge step, and while you may be educated enough to make the right choices and fill out the right forms in this situation, it never hurts to get confirmation from an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.
The Louisiana bankruptcy lawyers at E. Orum Young Law Offices have filed over 20,000 bankruptcies in Northeast Louisiana. We can use our experience to help ensure a smooth bankruptcy process for you. Contact us today at (318) 450-3192 for a free case evaluation. Our Trial Guarantee ensures that we will take your case to trial per your request.