The Following Is An Overview Of The Major Parts Of The Bankruptcy Petition
IMPORTANT! This is not a how-to guide! However, a careful review of the bankruptcy petition is the responsibility of every consumer debtor who files bankruptcy. The following paragraphs will help to acquaint you with some of the information youll need to review before filing your case.
REMEMBER! Every bankruptcy petition is filed under penalty of perjury all the information needs to be accurate and complete. Penalties for falsification of a bankruptcy petition include fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment.
Official Form One: Voluntary Petition
This identifies the individual who was filing, name and former names, and identity. The filing status will indicate married or not married, and in Ohio, common-law marriage is not recognized. All legal marriages, including same-sex marriages, are recognized. Prior names must be disclosed as well as full address information.
The trustee will require proof of identity through Government Issue photo ID and proof of Social Security number, typically provided by a social security card or a 1099 or similar document.
The voluntary petition indicates which chapter being filed and provides information about any prior bank cases.
Not All Debt That Can Be Eliminated In Bankruptcy
There are several debts that cannot be included in bankruptcy, such as:
- Most student loans
If you are ready to file for bankruptcy but are having difficulty finding a lawyer or your income is too high to qualify for legal aid, visit upsolve.org to learn more about their online tools that can lead you through the self-filing process.
Their online tools are free. No credit card is to use it, but you will have to create an account that is connected to your email address.
The Upsolve website also has an extensive online learning center that may help answer some of your bankruptcy questions and determine whether or not it is right for you and your family.
How A Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help
Our advice is to avoid the risks of pro se filing and seek the proper legal services. After you choose a bankruptcy attorney, they help you through the filing process. An attorney can help you:
- Understand which debts can be discharged and which cant.
- Accurately fill out your bankruptcy forms.
- Know what tax consequences to expect.
- Understand which assets you can keep.
This is just a small sample of what a bankruptcy attorney can do for you. Filing without a lawyer is possible, but requires so much work on your part and leaves plenty of room for error. Letting your lawyer provide legal advice and handle the difficult stuff also gives you more time and energy to repair your credit score.
Need help starting the filing process? Were here so you can get the fresh start you need.
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Mistakes Can Cause Harm
Bankruptcy laws are complex, and filing for bankruptcy properly requires detailed knowledge of those laws. Bankruptcy attorneys will not only know all of the technical requirements for filing a successful petition, they can also explain the long-term impact of filing bankruptcy to their clients, assess what type of bankruptcy is best for their clients and how to best take advantage of bankruptcy exemptions for their clients.
Making errors when filing bankruptcy can have a devastating impact on a persons bankruptcy petition. If a person fails to meet all of the filing requirements, the court will dismiss the petition. A study conducted using data from the Central District of California found that only 0.4 percent of Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases filed pro se, or without attorneys, resulted in the court confirming a repayment plan that would lead to a debt discharge for the filer. In contrast, 55 percent of the cases filed by attorneys resulted in plan confirmations.
What can be even more damaging than having a petition dismissed is that the court can deny the filer the right to file another bankruptcy case for a certain amount of time, or the filer may lose some protections offered by filing bankruptcy, such as the automatic stay on debt collection, in future cases.
New Bankruptcy Forms Make It Easier To File Without An Attorney
Now don’t get me wrong, there is no substitute for the experience, knowledge, and wisdom of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. But for decades people have been filing out their own bankruptcy petitions, because they can. The forms were not geared for the average person to easily figure out.
On December 1, 2015 the bankruptcy forms are going to change, in a big way. The new forms will make it easier for people to understand and complete their own bankruptcy petitions and I would not be surprised if more people actually filed their own bankruptcy petitions without paying for an attorney.
According to the U.S. Courts, “The revision process drew on the services of a professional forms-design expert, and surveys of bankruptcy petitioners, software vendors, bankruptcy judges and clerks, as well as other members of the bankruptcy community.” Among the most significant changes, individuals and businesses will have different documents for filing bankruptcy. Currently, individuals use the same filing forms as the largest corporations, and must pore through potentially confusing questions not relevant to their cases.
Here is a sample of how major the changes are.
The forms even include this general warning which I completely agree with.
That warning aside, the easier forms will encourage more people to take on the task themselves to save money at a time they don’t have a lot of money.
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How To Pay For A Bankruptcy
Filing Chapter 13 means you have the financial footing to structure a repayment plan for your debts including attorney fees after youve filed.
But if youre in enough financial distress that you need to file Chapter 7, youll likely need to pay your attorney before he or she files your case. If you cant afford these costs, you can:
Raise the money
Work out a payment plan before filing
Go pro bono, which means finding an attorney who will take your case free of charge
The first option takes creativity and hard work. The others require you to prove financial need, so gather proof of your income and expenses, as well as your tax statements, before meeting with any legal counsel.
Figure Out Where To File
The next step in filing for bankruptcy without an attorney is figuring out where to file. Youre likely going to file in the local court where you live, but it might be where you have your business or where you have the majority of your assets. Heres the link for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada. Bankruptcy is a federal filing, so you dont file anything in state court.
In Las Vegas, the Lloyd D. George Federal District Courthouse located downtown is the place to go 333 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89101
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Here Are Some Of The Most Common Difficulties Weve Observed When Filing Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer:
- Choosing the wrong kind of bankruptcy. Individuals can choose between Chapter 7, Chapter 13, Chapter 11, and Chapter 12 bankruptcy. Businesses that are registered entities can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 11. If you choose the wrong kind, your creditors may be able to confiscate property that you would have been able to keep if you had made a better choice.
- Making an error in claiming your exemptions. You can exempt certain kinds of property from liquidation, but you have to list them correctly. If you dont, the asset is subject to liquidation.
- Defending yourself in court. Parties to the case such as creditors, the trustee, and the Bankruptcy Administrator can seek dismissal of the case or oppose discharge or oppose dischargability of a particular debt. This requires a hearing before the federal bankruptcy judge. Representing yourself in front of the bankruptcy judge may be challenging and stressful.
Mail Documents To Your Trustee
Once your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in West Virginia is filed, a number of things happen: Your case is assigned a case number, a judge and a trustee are chosen at random, a date is set for your , and the automatic stay goes into effect. Being a debtor in bankruptcy does include certain duties and responsibilities everyone has to abide by in exchange for protection from their creditors. One example of these duties is that everyone filing bankruptcy in West Virginia has to send a copy of their most recent federal income tax return to the trustee assigned to their case at least 7 days before their creditors’ meeting. The trustee uses the information contained in the tax returns, along with any other information or documentation they may have requested from you after your case was filed, to verify the information you disclosed in your bankruptcy forms. Even though the trustee does not represent you or your interests, you both share a common goal in that you want your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in West Virginia to go smoothly and without unnecessary complications. So, keep an eye out for any correspondence from your trustee after your case has been filed and follow any instructions it may provide with respect to the best way to submit the documents the trustee wants.
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Avoid Petition Preparation Services
One shortcut many individuals take when filing bankruptcy is to forgo hiring a bankruptcy attorney and, instead, hire a petition preparation service. While these services can help you complete the documents and forms required for your case, they cannot offer any legal advice. It is a crime for anyone who is not a licensed attorney to offer any type of legal advice or help in making legal decisions. A petition preparer can only fill out the information according to your decisions and instructions. This makes bankruptcy petition preparation services no more beneficial than a typing a service.
Hiring a bankruptcy attorney is the recommended course of action for everyone filing. Because of the impact bankruptcy will have on your life and your financial future, you will want to make sure it is in the hands of an experienced professional.
Important Disclaimer: The information discussed above and throughout this website should not be relied upon to make any decisions without first speaking to a bankruptcy attorney. There are many intricate rules of law governing bankruptcy with many exceptions to the general rules that could change the advice given by an attorney based on the differing facts in each persons special set of circumstances. THEREFORE, it is important to discuss any information contained in this website with one of our attorneys before taking any action or refraining from taking any action.
If You Can’t Afford A Bankruptcy Attorney
While having a bankruptcy lawyer on your side will almost always be better than filing yourself, not all debtors can afford legal counsel. If it isn’t a possibility, you might consider:
- getting help from a local free clinic or legal aid society
- finding a pro bono attorney to accept your case at a free or reduced rate, or
- paying most of the attorneys’ fees through a Chapter 13 repayment plan.
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Filers In All Other States And Territories
Certificate of completion for both credit counseling and debtor education are required but before the filers debts can be discharged. Only credit counseling organizations and debtor education course providers that have been approved by the U.S. Trustee Program may issue these certificates for filers in all states and territories except for Alabama and North Carolina. Find an approved or debtor education provider.
When You Definitely Should Not File On Your Own
Chapter 13 bankruptcy
You most likely need an attorney when filing Chapter 13, since it involves complex processes that are really difficult to navigate on your own. Declaring Chapter 13 involves creating a plan of how you will pay back the money you owe the debtors which the court will then approve. Its very time-consuming to make this plan unless you have expensive financial software that many attorneys own to make creating this payment plan much faster and easier.
Chapter 13 cases filed without an attorney often get dismissed by the court. Chapter 13 cases are so difficult to file properly that the court may not even look at filings that were not prepared by a lawyer. Many attorneys avoid taking on Chapter 13 cases as the laws and procedures are so nuanced and challenging to apply. Be sure to check your attorneys track record in Chapter 13 cases to determine whether theyll help get your case discharged. Therefore, paying for a qualified attorney can help you get out of debt in these complex scenarios by actually ensuring your case gets discharged.
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How To File Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer
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In a Nutshell
You are not required to hire an attorney to file bankruptcy. You can do so for free, or with a legal aid organization.
Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice.
You always have the option to file bankruptcy without a lawyer. Representing yourself is called filing âpro seâ and it is an option in any legal proceeding. And yet, while it is always possible to file a bankruptcy without a lawyer, the better question is should you? In this article we will examine some bankruptcy basics to help educate you about the different types of bankruptcies and the relief they can offer. For simple straightforward cases it is entirely possible to be successful pro se. For more complicated matters it is usually better to have a lawyer or legal aid to assist you.
Can I File For Bankruptcy Without A Lawyer
Attorneys are asked this question frequently when it comes to any type of legal matter. Can I do this without a lawyer? Usually this means that the person facing the legal proceeding wants to avoid having to pay legal fees.
While that concern is understandable, it is often better in the long run that you hire professional assistance rather than go it alone. Certain situations do exist where it is possible for a person to handle a legal matter on their own, but unless they have the knowledge and time, it can be hard to do. So, that leads one to ask: can I file for bankruptcy without an attorney?
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Filing The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition Yourself
When you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition yourself, you will need to either mail the petition to the Court or personally deliver it to the Court. The court offices are now open daily to receive bankruptcy filings. You will pay the court fees when you file.
While attorneys are required to file bankruptcy petitions electronically when you file your bankruptcy yourself, you are permitted to file it in paper format on official bankruptcy forms. You should call the Court to ask how many copies to bring with you.
When you file a bankruptcy petition yourself, the court fees are the same as that charged when an attorney files a case for you. The Chapter 7 petition fee is $338 unless you qualify for and apply to have the fee waived. Information about obtaining a waiver of the filing fee can be found here Waiver of Filing Fee. Again, it is ill advised to use a bankruptcy petition preparer to help you with this debt relief project.
Attend a Meeting of Creditors with a Bankruptcy Trustee
After you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, the Court will see that a bankruptcy trustee appointed to your case will oversee your case and your creditors will be notified of your bankruptcy filing. You are required to send a copy of your statement of intent if you have secured debts to the creditors yourself. The Court will not send this document for you. The trustee will ask you about this at your meeting of creditors.
Documents Required to be Provided to the Trustee
Fill Out The Paperwork
Filling out the official bankruptcy forms is generally the most complicated and time-consuming task if you choose to file bankruptcy without a lawyer.
Download the bankruptcy forms package to save the time and stress involved in tracking down the necessary materials. The packages are inexpensive and provide you with all the forms you need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in your state.
Once you complete the forms, attach the relevant documents and submit the paperwork with the filing fee either in person or by mail. It’s important that you promptly respond to any correspondence from the bankruptcy trustee. Failure to do so can get your case dismissed.
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