In personal bankruptcy cases in Southern Illinois and Missouri, the law allows individuals to choose the manner in which they want to file the proper papers declaring bankruptcy. That could include law firms with little or no specific bankruptcy expertise, an online document filing enterprise or filing the required paperwork without any help at all. Though it’s understandable that someone facing bankruptcy may have little or no available money, filing for bankruptcy protection without an experienced bankruptcy attorney is very close to legal suicide.
Bankruptcy Law Isn’t Easy
There’s really no other way to succinctly explain why it’s an absolute necessity for anyone considering bankruptcy to talk to a bankruptcy expert. Here are some reasons that highlight the need for a firm with bankruptcy expertise, as opposed to a general law firm that takes on all types of cases:
Familiarity With Court & Forms
There is a pretty thick packet of forms with all sorts of personal and financial information that must be filed with the court in any personal bankruptcy case. For example, you must establish in a Chapter 7 case that your income qualifies, compared to the median income of all residents in your state. A bankruptcy attorney knows what is expected from the trustee and bankruptcy judge based on previous experiences.
Bankruptcy Is Complex
Even the website for U.S .District Courts warns prospective bankruptcy filers to rely on a bankruptcy expert because of the complexity of federal bankruptcy laws. “It is very important that a bankruptcy case be filed and handled correctly. The rules are very technical, and a misstep may affect a debtor’s rights.”
Dismissal of Your Case
A debtor who doesn’t file the required information in a bankruptcy case risks having the case dismissed. Someone who is not familiar with federal bankruptcy law might not file the required credit counseling certificate or not include all the necessary information on property and debts required in the bankruptcy filing. If your bankruptcy case is dismissed, your debtors are once again free to resume collection efforts.
Don’t Assume You Can’t Afford Bankruptcy
The first thing to do is to visit your local bankruptcy attorney to talk about your situation. Most attorneys offer a free evaluation session in which you can get answers to many of your bankruptcy questions. During this session, your bankruptcy attorney can explain that there are payment options when it comes to filing fees and attorney’s fees:
Chapter 7 Options
The bankruptcy court specifically allows a debtor to pay for the $299 filing fee in installments over a 120-day period of time. Though your financial picture seems grim now, remember that once you file you do not have to pay unsecured creditors. They will have their debts discharged as long as you successful in your case.
Chapter 13 Options
The same installment plan is available for the $274 filing fee in a Chapter 13 case. In both Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 cases, a debtor can ask the court to waive the filing fee. This requires its own filing that lays out your financial picture. If you make less than 150 percent of the poverty level in your state and can’t handle an installment plan, the filing fees can be waived.
This is simple in a Chapter 13 plan because attorney’s fees can be included in the repayment plan that is at the heart of a Chapter 13 filing. In a Chapter 7 case, consult with your bankruptcy attorney about the fees in your case. In many situations, there is at least some money available once unsecured creditors are no longer being paid.
Important Disclaimer: The information discussed above and throughout this website should not be relied upon to make any decisions without first speaking to a bankruptcy attorney. There are many intricate rules of law governing bankruptcy with many exceptions to the general rules that could change the advice given by an attorney based on the differing facts in each person’s special set of circumstances. THEREFORE, it is important to discuss any information contained in this website with one of our attorneys before taking any action or refraining from taking any action.