Filing for Bankruptcy

  • Bankruptcy

Can you Risk Filing for Bankruptcy Pro se?

People struggling with debts have the option of filing for bankruptcy. You can either choose to file without a lawyer (pro se) or seek assistance from bankruptcy lawyers to handle your case. As per a study by US bankruptcy court, nearly 1/4 of debtors in California file their case “pro se” which has a success rate of merely 0.04% i.e. 1 case in 2,500 filers results in a bankruptcy discharge. The court approved attorney fee for a non-business case is $4000 and that for a self-employed filer is $5000. The court filing fee for bankruptcy is $281. Though the amount seems a bit high, you end up paying a large portion of the fee over or 3 to 5-year period, in case of chapter 13 bankruptcy. The attorney fees can be incorporated in the repayment plan. Considering the poor success rate of pro se filing, it makes sense to hire an attorney.

How pro se bankruptcy filing can end up being more costly?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is meant to pay off all your secured debts and a fraction of your unsecured debts. One can easily file for chapter 13 bankruptcy on their own as necessary forms are available online and bankruptcy courts have self-help desks to assist pro se filers. In the case of chapter 13 bankruptcy, your disposable income, your assets, and your debts are kept in mind while formulating a repayment plan. You end up paying a fraction of your debt, while the remaining unsecured debts are discharged after your bankruptcy ends. The automatic stay prevents all collection actions by creditors such as repossession, foreclosure, wage garnishment, etc. This starts from the moment you file your bankruptcy papers till the time you keep making repayment plan payments.

When you file pro se, you need to attend court hearings, legally justify your plan, monitor your case in federal court filing system (Pacer) for motions, hearings and objections. You also need detailed accounts of your financial situation. Any missing document can result in dismissing of your bankruptcy case. Since most pro se filers are inexperienced, they end up missing a couple of details which might prove crucial in their case, ultimately resulting in the dismal success rate of pro se bankruptcy filing. Automatic stay benefit is available only on successful chapter 13 or chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy cases. If your case is dismissed, you still owe your debts, along with with the interest accumulated over the duration of your bankruptcy filing, and the money spent on filing for the case. The creditors can pursue legal actions against you including foreclosure and repossession. Additionally, you will need to file for bankruptcy again if you wish to have a respite from unsurmountable debts.

According to the Los Angeles based bankruptcy law firm Recovery Law Group, you also have the option of Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (BPP). Many people use a BPP while filing for bankruptcy. ABPP charges $200 to assist pro se filers. However, there have been instances, where a BPP has been involved in the fraud “loan modification” and “foreclosure assistance” schemes. Since they are not trained attorneys, they cannot provide legal advice to you. They can merely assist you in the filing of forms, typing them and directing you to where you can file the case. This is merely an extension of pro se filing.

Save time and money by opting for experienced bankruptcy attorneys

The confirmation rate of chapter 13 bankruptcies in California is 55% in attorney represented cases. this is huge compared to 0.04% for pro se filers. It, therefore, makes sense to hire an attorney for your bankruptcy case. when you do so, you do not have to worry about when and which forms to file, drafting responses and objections to motions during the case. in a nutshell, while paying the attorney their fees, you get to have your peace of mind as well as a better chance at getting your bankruptcy case discharged. despite $4000 in attorney fees may seem huge, it is a small price to pay for getting a successful bankruptcy. over a period of your repayment plan, the attorney fees come down to $67 per month which is affordable if you can get a large portion of your unsecured debts discharged.

Trying your hand at pro se filing, and then re-filing with an attorney, will result in you wasting a lot of your money and crucial time. Changes in bankruptcy laws (in 2005) also result in losing the protection of automatic stay if your case is dismissed. In case your case is dismissed one year prior to the filing date, the automatic stay cannot be extended beyond the initial 30 days (if the case is not heard within 30 days). If you have ha 2 cases dismissed within the previous year, you do not have any protection until you file for a motion for imposing protection. All of this results in additional fees. Filing for bankruptcy is a decision which should not be taken without proper consideration of all factors. An adept bankruptcy attorney can help suggest the appropriate chapter for consumer bankruptcy which suits your condition. Improve your chances of getting respite from harassing creditors by calling at 888-297-6023 to discuss your case.