Are you thinking that you might need to file for bankruptcy but you can’t afford an attorney? If so, I urge you to consider talking to one or more attorneys anyway. This is because filing for bankruptcy without an attorney can be hazardous - there are services out there that will take advantage of you by charging you for a package of bankruptcy forms, which can be obtained for free from the bankruptcy court’s website.
Not only that, but filing your own case without the benefit of an attorney’s advice is fraught with potential pitfalls of which you may be unaware. Indeed, the court system itself warns of the dangers of filing for bankruptcy on your own.
As the courts point out, bankruptcy rules are highly technical and the consequences for not being aware of them can be serious. In my opinion, the most important work on a consumer bankruptcy case is that which is done before the case is even filed. The preparation involved in considering whether to file, when to file, and how to prepare the paperwork is complicated. Some believe that bankruptcy attorneys are supposed to just fill in the blanks on forms, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Often, attorneys must develop a different strategy for each case, depending upon the individual facts involved and the wants and needs of each particular client. Each of those strategies must take into account various requirements, not only of the national bankruptcy laws and rules, but also of state and local laws, as well as the particulars of local bankruptcy practice where the filing is to take place.
Sometimes even the most basic considerations that you take for granted are open to question, such as whether it is a good idea for you to file for bankruptcy. Believe it or not, there are some people who just should not file for some reason – for example, perhaps they would lose an important asset if they were to file. Most people who are not consumer bankruptcy attorneys would be unaware of whether that situation would apply to them. And of course, the opposite situation often crops up – where people think they would lose everything after filing for bankruptcy when actually, all of their assets would be protected by the exemption laws.
Another basic consideration is where to file. When someone has moved recently, or is about to move, or when someone lives outside the U.S. but has assets within the U.S. – all of these factors can affect where someone might file their bankruptcy case. Occasionally, a person might have options regarding where to file, which is when a whole different set of factors might come into play.
The bottom line is that the decision of whether to hire a consumer bankruptcy attorney should not be taken lightly. You should decide whether you might benefit from the legal advice provided by an attorney who will devote time and attention to your individual case. If so, please look into contacting a bankruptcy attorney before trying to file your bankruptcy case alone.
Photo by time_anchor.