It is possible to file for bankruptcy without the assistance of a lawyer, and some may advise you to do so if your situation is “simple.” However, there are many pitfalls to consider when considering filing without proper legal counsel. Incomplete forms, misfiled documents, missed deadlines, and unintentional errors can very easily lead to issues that can cause a case to be dismissed or even a denial of discharge.
Ensuring your financial situation is handled and evaluated by a professional will ensure your case is filed properly and successfully. Don’t you want to be certain that every detail has been carefully considered when it comes to a critical legal process that will affect your financial future for years to come?
Of course, you do. As a result, you must retain the services of Winterbotham Parham Teeple, a PC by calling us at 800.400.9000.
Working with a lawyer can help you avoid common filing mistakes.
When you try to fill out the bankruptcy petition on your own or with assistance from anyone other than an experienced bankruptcy attorney, there is always the possibility of error, regardless of the type of bankruptcy you are considering or how straightforward you believe your financial situation is.
Filing under the incorrect chapter:
The most common types of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. While Chapter 13 creates a repayment plan for your debts, Chapter 7 allows you to discharge all eligible unsecured debts. Not everyone qualifies to file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, so it is important to thoroughly review the facts of your financial situation before filing your bankruptcy. Filing under the wrong chapter can result in the dismissal of your case, denial of your discharge or even putting your assets at risk. It goes without saying that you don’t want to file the wrong type of bankruptcy, so it is important to speak with a knowledgeable attorney before you proceed.
Making an error with the means test:
If you want to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, your income must meet certain requirements; if it is too high, you will be denied. One of the ways this is determined is by completing a means test. The court will use this calculation to determine if you can file Chapter 7 or if a Chapter 13 repayment will be required. This means test calculations can be complex and rely not only on actual expenses but Federal standards, so it is easy for an unfamiliar person to make mistakes that could be fatal to your case. Due to the complexities of the California means test, it is best to leave it to a professional.
Choosing the incorrect exemption:
Another common mistake people make when attempting to file independently is selecting the incorrect exemption list or using the wrong amounts to protect their assets. Failure to accurately protect your property could lead to the court liquidating that asset to pay your creditors. This could leave your home, vehicle or other essential asset at risk. There are also circumstances where some assets cannot be protected. A qualified bankruptcy lawyer can determine if this is the case and advise you on what the best course of action would be. A person with exposed assets may benefit from filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead of Chapter 7, so they can keep the assets that would otherwise be at risk.
Prior to filing, paying creditors, or transferring assets:
When you can file for bankruptcy, your case is subject to a set of very specific rules. Actions you have taken before filing bankruptcy can directly affect the outcome of your case. Issues like transferring assets, repaying a creditor, making large charges on your credit cards prior to filing or liquidating certain assets right before filing can cause major problems in your case. An attorney will be able to determine if any of these issues arise in your case and advise accordingly so you can feel confident you are proceeding correctly.
Making errors on any aspect of the paperwork:
A personal bankruptcy petition typically requires 60 pages of paperwork and has numerous opportunities for error. For example, you could overestimate the value of an asset or fail to disclose all of your holdings. Even if the error is initially overlooked and your petition is approved, your case may be reopened if a mistake is discovered by the bankruptcy trustee. Likewise, there are specific deadlines for filing the required documents. Miss one of these deadlines and your case will be automatically dismissed, so it is important your paperwork be submitted accurately and timely.
Why take the risk? Please contact us right away.
Errors may result in your petition being denied or delayed at best. At worst, they could lead to charges of perjury or fraud. Why take the risk? Call Winterbotham Parham Teeple, a PC at 800.400.9000 and leave the rest to the professionals.