Many people struggling with debt are tempted to file bankruptcy on their own. But while filing bankruptcy without an attorney is possible, it isn’t easy and could lead to costly mistakes. Here are some very important things you need to consider before going ahead with your bankruptcy filing. To learn more, contact the Andrade Law Office, LLC today.
Do You Understand All Your Options?
When you’re under pressure from debt collectors, bankruptcy may seem like a fast way out. But it may not be the best decision for you. First, there are debts that cannot be discharged (dismissed). Most taxes, student loans, and child support cannot be discharged. A good first step is to visit with a bankruptcy attorney. Even if you want to do the filing yourself, he or she can help you assess your financial situation, and advise you about the type of bankruptcy to pursue. There are two types of bankruptcy consumers can file, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
Are You Filing the Right Chapter?
When people file bankruptcy pro se (representing yourself), it’s common for them to file the wrong type of bankruptcy. Under Chapter 7, you must sell some of your assets and use the money to pay your debts. The exemptions (what you keep) vary from state-to-state so do your research. When you’ve sold the assets specified under Chapter 7, the rest of your debts are discharged.
If you choose Chapter 13, you will have a repayment plan for your debts, but don’t have to sell any assets. Repayment plans typically last for three to five years and will depend on your income. Both types of bankruptcy have eligibility criteria you have to meet, but under both types of bankruptcies, there are things you cannot have discharge, taxes, student loans, etc. Also, if you file Chapter 13, you need to create a realistic repayment plan and submit it to the court for approval.
Both the types of bankruptcy will stop a foreclosure, Chapter 7 temporarily and Chapter 13 allows you to catch up on your back payments.
Do You Have the Correct Forms?
Another mistake many people make when filing bankruptcy without an attorney is not filling out the right papers or not completing the forms. There is a packet of forms which include schedules, statements, and documents required to file bankruptcy. Depending on the court, you may need to fill out additional forms.
Do You Know About Credit Counseling?
You may not know it, but you have to attend credit counseling and debtor education classes. In order to file your bankruptcy case, you have to present your completion certificate to the court. And be warned that if you don’t complete this requirement, the court may dismiss your case. After you file your case, you also have to attend a debtor education or personal financial management course. If you fail to complete this course, the court won’t discharge any of your debts.
What Is a Bankruptcy Trustee?
Even if you are filing bankruptcy without an attorney, you have to meet with a bankruptcy trustee. They are usually a local attorney or non-attorney who is familiar with bankruptcy requirements in your state. A few days after you file, you will receive contact information about the trustee. It’s a mistake not to meet with them. Your case could be dismissed.
Do You Know What’s Exempt From Bankruptcy?
An exemption is a property you are allowed to keep after you file for bankruptcy. If you don’t know about exemptions, you need to do research and make sure the information is correct. Failure to understand exemptions could affect what you can keep and what you might lose.
Have You Planned for Your Meeting of Creditors?
Another requirement for your bankruptcy is a hearing called the meeting of creditors, or a 341 hearing. The court will send you a letter about the time, date, and place of your meeting. If you don’t go, your case might be dismissed.
Don’t Make the Mistake of Filing Bankruptcy Without an Attorney
An experienced Middletown OH bankruptcy lawyer at Andrade Law Offices LLC can help you avoid mistakes that can happen when trying to file bankruptcy on your own. Call us today to learn more about how we can help.