Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Do You Need A Lawyer To File For Bankruptcy?

In this day and age, the internet has become a viable source for everything from buying groceries to purchasing a plane ticket. However, using the internet to research information about bankruptcy can be a slippery slope, filled with bad information or things that do not apply to each unique situation. It is possible to file a bankruptcy case yourself, however it is not recommended. When dealing with this type of case, you have to file correctly, have all required documents properly filled out, and list all property and debts, or your case could be dismissed. Another thing to keep in mind is individual cases are randomly audited. “The audit checks for accuracy, completeness, and truthfulness.” You must not lie, falsify records, or destroy or hide property (1).Filing for bankruptcy in Missouri, Kansas, or any other state is an extremely technical and complex process. A single error could negatively affect the results of your case or even result in your case being dismissed. In certain situations those errors can lead to the debtor losing the right to file another bankruptcy and/or lose certain protections in future cases.

The term “pro se” mean to advocate on one’s own behalf before a court, rather than being represented by an attorney. A pro se litigant is still expected to recognize the rules and procedures of the local and federal courts. One must also be familiar with the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedures and the United States Bankruptcy Code. Even though you are not an attorney; you will still be held to the same rules and standards.

Some people choose to file bankruptcy pro se because they believe they cannot afford an attorney. Speaking with an attorney and discussing your options is your best option. Having an attorney is to your advantage and will likely save you time, money, and offer more protection for your assets. In the instance you have an aggressive creditor violating the collection laws, Heartland Law will prosecute any of your creditors that do not follow the rules once bankruptcy is filed. If you do not have an attorney you will have to handle harassment from creditors, lawsuits and illegal post-bankruptcy garnishments on your own.

There is more to filing for bankruptcy than simply filling out forms. Trying to save money by filing yourself can hurt you in the long run. Often one has to seek counsel to fix a mistake. In the end it will cost you more than if you had simply worked with an attorney in the first place.

Contact one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Heartland Law for a free initial consultation to evaluate your options.


(1) “Filing for Bankruptcy without an Attorney,” This site is maintained by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on behalf of the Federal Judiciary. tcyWithoutAttorney.aspx

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