In an attempt to save time, money, and embarrassment, many people decide to file for bankruptcy on their own, without the help of a bankruptcy attorney. Representing yourself, or working Pro Se, has become a popular trend in court. Over the last five years, Pro Se Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings have increased a whopping 208%. Although it might seem like a great way to take care of things, working through a complicated financial mess without the help of a lawyer can be a bad idea. Here are two reasons not to file for bankruptcy alone.
1: Lawyers Can Help You to Understand Your Debt
If you decide not to work with a lawyer, you might enter the bankruptcy arena without a realistic idea of what you will be able to accomplish. There is a tendency for people to think of bankruptcy as an answer to all of their problems, and a way to pay off every single outstanding balance they have.
Although all of your debts might seem the same, they often fall into different categories that may or may not be eligible for discharge. Among other things, debt stemming from student loans, taxes, court judgments, or alimony payments will not be wiped clean through a bankruptcy filing.
When people fail to understand the complex eligibility standards of bankruptcy, it can lead to some bad surprises down the road. In order to avoid ending up with intact debt after you have destroyed your credit with a bankruptcy filing, it is always best to work with a lawyer who can analyze your case.
An attorney will be able to look at your debt, and explain how a filing could benefit you. They can also help you to understand the timetables and legal proceedings that you are about to endure, so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.
2: Lawyers Can Help you to File for the Right Type of Bankruptcy
When it comes right down to it, bankruptcy is complicated. In addition to loads of paperwork and strict regulations, there are also several different types of bankruptcy to choose from. If you file for the wrong type, your case might be thrown out or you might end up losing valuable assets. Here are a few of the most common types of bankruptcy, and which kinds of cases they are right for.
- Chapter 7: Commonly referred to as "liquidation" bankruptcy, Chapter 7 proceedings generally involve selling your assets and using the proceeds to pay off creditors. If your Chapter 7 filing is successful, you might be able to have most of your non-secured debt discharged. These types of filings are best for people with large amounts credit card debt or past due medical bills.
- Chapter 11: If you have a business that isn't doing well, you might owe money to your building landlord, your employees, or even your vendors. In order to keep your business afloat while you restructure your finances, you might want to consider filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy will allow you to discharge your debt while you continue to operate your business. Because you have to owe less than $2,490,925 in total claims to be eligible for this type of bankruptcy, Chapter 11 filings work best for smaller companies.
- Chapter 13: When people file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, they work with the court to create a repayment plan that spans between three and five years. Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings are great for people who have traditionally been financially successful, but have experienced large financial blows. Because folks can use their future proceeds to pay off their structured repayment plan, it allows people the opportunity to make things right over time.
When you work with a lawyer, he or she will be able to recommend the right type of bankruptcy for your case, and file the appropriate paperwork. Not only will this save you loads of time and hassle, but it will also help you to achieve the best outcome possible.
Filing for bankruptcy with a trained professional at your side will keep your case from being dismissed, so that you can start healing financially as soon as possible.