With many people becoming so broke they can’t even afford to file bankruptcy, do-it-yourself practices in just about every field has reached all-time popularity. This is an area of law that has also gained a lot of interest. When an individual is counting pennies to make ends meet, it’s pretty hard to come up with $2000 to pay a bankruptcy attorney and file. Although, it is true that most attorneys will accept payments, but when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from it’s pretty hard to sign up for any payment plan. There are many options online, but as with anything online people need to do their homework and make sure it is not a scam. I suppose if someone is unemployed and has a lot of time on their hands, it might be worth a try.
Under the US Constitution, any American has the right to represent themselves in a court of law. And since filing bankruptcy falls under our legal system, it is possible for a person to file on their own. Back in the 90s, came a huge interest in the do-it-yourself industry. This didn’t transfer into the bankruptcy filing arena until the growth of the Internet. With the growth of the Internet, many do-it-yourself bankruptcy websites popped up with the intent of helping people file pro se. Most of these websites offered a form kit with minimal instructions and sent people down the road. After a few years, there were some premium do-it-yourself bankruptcy websites that offered the completion of the bankruptcy petition for a small fee. Problems arose when different bankruptcy trustees questioned whether the website offered legal advice to their customers. For some folks, it left a big cloud over their bankruptcy filing. Another way some have found help from a paralegal that works for a bankruptcy attorney. The paralegal will be able to prepare the bankruptcy petition but won’t be able to give any legal advice. The person will still be required to go in and file the petition on their own and attend the 341 meeting by themselves. Once again many trustees question the individual filing with this kind of preparation if they got any kind of legal advice. The trustee might even ask how old the individual selected their bankruptcy exemptions. If the paralegal helped, the trustee could go after the document preparer for practicing law.
Everyone’s situation is different but in most cases it’s not a good idea to file bankruptcy on your own. With all the constant changes to the bankruptcy code, there are many landmines that an individual might step on. When considering the cost of hiring a bankruptcy attorney versus the amount of debt that will be wiped out in the filing, the cost is really pretty minimal. The only way it’s advisable to file on your own is if you’re being sued by creditors and you have none or very little property to protect. In this particular situation, most of the trustees understand the situation and give this individual a little extra leeway. This is a unique situation where the person is almost too broke to file bankruptcy. For most people, it’s best to make sure that everything is right when it comes to protecting your family’s future. A bankruptcy attorney will know what’s expected of the local bankruptcy court and how to get the maximum benefit out of the bankruptcy exemption laws. With the new means test, someone inexperienced might end up being forced into Chapter 13, when a bankruptcy attorney would know how to qualify the person for Chapter 7.