People in financial distress do not have money. That seems rather obvious, but many times people feel that bankruptcy is beyond their reach because they do not have the money to hire an attorney to handle it for them. This is tragic because it can lead folks not to file, or to file it without a lawyer because they think that they can handle it themselves.
Can I Handle Bankruptcy Myself?
How hard can it be? Well, plenty, actually, especially if you are in an upper income bracket and are considered "over the median" in means testing. There is more to bankruptcy than just declaring it.
What Could Go Wrong?
I have represented more than one client who started out on their own and realized that they had stepped into a mess when they met with their trustee.
- Income and expense statements that were wrong, resulting in more disposable income than they really had, and making it look like they could repay their debt
- creditors that were left out
- assets that weren't disclosed, which could lead to claims of bad faith by the trustee, a denial of discharge, or worse, a criminal conviction
- assets, like a home, that were listed but not properly exempted, which could result in the trustee selling it
- the means testing calculations were off, which could lead to the dismissal of your case.
Representation may not be as expensive as you may think. Attorneys, including myself, handle bankruptcies on a flat fee and offer a free consultation.
So What Should I Do?
My advice is, hire a lawyer. You might not need one, but you should have one. Since the laws changed in 2005, the bankruptcy petition preparation process has become more complex, and there are too many opportunities to make mistakes that could cause you serious problems.
If you are thinking about bankruptcy and wondering if you can afford to have an attorney handle it for you, I offer a free consultation to South Jersey residents considering this option. You might find out that representation is not beyond your reach. You can get into a payment plan or use some of your tax refund, for example.
Please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment in my Woodbury office to discuss your situation.
If you are looking for more information about bankruptcy, then download my free book,Top Questions People Ask About Filing Bankruptcy in New Jersey.
Not sure if bankruptcy is right for you? Take the quiz to the right to find out more!
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