DIY Bankruptcy: What’s the Risk?
If you’re facing debts you know you can’t pay, you may be wondering whether you can file bankruptcy on your own. Doing your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy isn’t impossible, but in my opinion, it’s also not advisable. It comes with special risks that could cost you even more in the long run.
Doing your own bankruptcy is known as filing “pro se.” People who file pro se often want to save the money on attorney fees, which I certainly understand. However, if you go it alone, you may end up making mistakes that cost far more than an attorney. Just ask my clients who ended up needing our firm to fix those mistakes later!
With that in mind, here are some things to consider before filing Chapter 7 on your own.
Some of the Most Common Errors from Filing Bankruptcy Pro Se
First, before you ever file bankruptcy, you have to assess your situation correctly:
- Do you actually need a bankruptcy?
- Do you qualify for a Chapter 7?
- Would the debts you want to get rid of even be included?
- Does Chapter 7 protect the property you want to keep?
These decisions are absolutely critical. For example, if you file Chapter 7 carelessly, you could lose property you were planning to keep. On the other hand, you might find certain debts you assumed were included actually can’t be discharged the way you thought.
From there, you’re in the paperwork stage. Bankruptcy requires a ton of paperwork. Just look at this list of the required federal forms if you don’t believe me—and that doesn’t include possible local forms! Failing to fill out these forms can cause a dismissal of your case.
At this stage, you also need to make sure to protect any property you want to keep. This is one of the highest-stakes things you have to deal with if you file Chapter 7 on your own. In addition, you need to take the required education course and make sure to file the certificate afterward.
Thirdly, you may need to deal with motions or adversary actions. Many bankruptcy cases go smoothly, but what if a creditor challenges your right to discharge a certain debt? In other words, what if someone you owe money tells the court to stop your bankruptcy because they think you should still be obligated to pay them? What if a bankruptcy trustee sees a mistake in your application and suspects you committed fraud?
These are complicated problems that need an expert. You don’t want to get stuck deep in your bankruptcy case with court motions you don’t know how to address.
In every single situation above, your lawyer can handle it for you.
A Trusted Memphis Bankruptcy Attorney for Your Case
If doing your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy sounds a little intimidating, that’s because it can be—especially for anyone new to the system. It can cost you a lot more money than an attorney. You could even lose property and have your case thrown out at the very last second.
That’s why I recommend giving us a call instead. Our Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys work with you every step of the way. We go over all the details in your case: what property you want to protect, what debts you have, and any of your worries. We handle the paperwork, deal with the courts, and defend you when anything unexpected comes up.
What’s more, we don’t charge you extra for that help. Some attorneys make you pay for every extra phone call. If something goes wrong, that’s extra. Have questions after your bankruptcy? Extra!
Here at Darrell Castle and Associates, we’re committed to you and your financial health. We have no hidden fees, ever. We’ve dedicated our lives to helping our clients get a fresh start, and we’ve helped thousands of people do exactly that.
We can help you, too. Just give us a call at 901-327-2100 or contact us using the form on this page.