Interviewer: People shouldn’t assume they are going to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13; they should go to an experienced bankruptcy lawyer like you for a consultation?
Court: Yes, absolutely. You don’t want to make that decision without the help of an attorney, definitely.
Do-It-Yourselfers: Can You File for Bankruptcy without Retaining an Attorney?
Interviewer: How about trying to file on your own versus using an attorney. Is that foolish? How complicated is bankruptcy itself?
Court: A lot of people think that they can do it themselves, and to be perfectly honest some people can manage. If you have some particular knowledge and you understand the legal terms, you might be able to do it yourself.
But typically what I see, is people who have tried to do that and they spend hours and hours researching legal concepts that they just don’t have the background to completely understand, and they can really get themselves into a lot of trouble.
Why You Should Retain an Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney
I’ve seen people unintentionally missing deadlines and filling out forms the wrong way. I’ve seen people lose furniture and assets they didn’t have to lose, if they had understood how to fill out the forms the right way.
I’ve seen people’s cases get dismissed. Almost every time I’m in court, there’s someone who filed bankruptcy by themselves, and they get their case dismissed because they failed to adhere to some procedural rule.
Without an Attorney, Your Case May be Dismissed or You May Lose Assets You Might Have Been Entitled to Keep
It’s sad, and even the judge feels bad about dismissing somebody’s case, but the judge, in a lot of circumstances, can’t do anything about it because he or she is prevented from doing something that goes against the ruling of the law.
If you fail to follow certain procedural rules, the law says your case gets dismissed, and the judge has to adhere to that. It’s really sort of a risky and dangerous thing to try to do on your own.
Unless you have some sort of specialized knowledge, it’s really going to save you a lot of time and heartache to just go and get it done right by a professional.
Is Using a Debt Consolidation Company a Viable Option?
Interviewer: What about the consumer credit debt consolidation companies? Are they a better option than bankruptcy? Are they a good idea or do they just stave off the inevitable?
Court: The latter. They are generally just staving off the inevitable. A lot of times you’re paying someone to negotiate a debt for you, when you could just be paying the debt off or using that money to file bankruptcy.
You’re probably going to end up in a similar situation to the payday loan and still be taking first steps toward the filing of bankruptcy. It would really be much smarter, if you’re in that situation, to go and talk to a bankruptcy attorney.
Most Bankruptcy Attorneys Offer Free Consultations
Like I said before, I give free consultations. You can come in and you can talk to me. If you have an issue where debt consolidation would be a better option for you, I can tell you about that. I can even handle it for you.
What you want to do is talk to someone who knows both sides of the fence and understands the situation you’re in, instead of going and just letting a debt consolidation company convince you to give them a great deal of money every month.
Inexpensive Bankruptcy Filing Companies Are Not Lawyers and Cannot Dispense Legal Advice
Interviewer: Are there the “bargain basement” bankruptcy preparers in your areas? They claim they will file your bankruptcy for about $200.00? Is it a good idea to use a company such as that?
Court: Yes. For a couple hundred bucks, they’ll fill out the petition. It’s basically like having your taxes done. The problem with the staff in those companies is they can’t give you legal advice because they are not lawyers.
They are not allowed to give you legal advice, even if they knew what they were talking about, which maybe they do and maybe they don’t. They can’t tell you anything about your situation.
A Qualified Bankruptcy Attorney Will Explain Each Step of the Bankruptcy Process and Offer Advice Tailored to Your Individual Situation
What a bankruptcy attorney can do is look at exactly what you’re facing, and give you definite and customized answers and advice on what you should do and how you should do it, what chapters to file, when and what steps to take before you file.
A person that fills out a petition and can’t give you legal advice is really not much better than just going to the law library and trying to do legal research yourself. They might know how to fill out the forms and they might know how to file them, but any answers you need to the underlying legal questions, you’re not going to get any of that from them. And there are details that are really dangerous and risky that you can mess yourself up with if you don’t fully understand the process.