The Perils of Filing for Bankruptcy without an Attorney

With all the bankruptcy information and forms available on the Internet, some people have taken to filing for bankruptcy on their own without any help from an experienced bankruptcy attorney. This is a mistake, as even the United States Federal Courts system recommends using an attorney when filing for bankruptcy. If you would like to learn more about the nuances and complexity of filing for bankruptcy, a Washington DC or Maryland bankruptcy lawyer can guide you through the filing process.

Why Filing for Bankruptcy with an Attorney is Important

Filing for bankruptcy is an important decision that will have important financial and legal consequences for the rest of your life. For these reasons, it is always advisable to have the assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney when filing for bankruptcy. There are too many loopholes, details, and changes in the law for people to file properly on their own.

The following are some of the areas in bankruptcy law where it is important to have the expertise of a bankruptcy attorney:

  • Properly listing property and debts. Bankruptcy can only discharge certain debts. It is not worth your time and effort to file for bankruptcy if the bankruptcy will not change anything for you. Additionally, if you fail to list debts, the bankruptcy will not discharge them.
  • Financial actions taken leading up to bankruptcy. A bankruptcy judge can deny your bankruptcy if he or she finds that you were engaged in any fraud leading up to the bankruptcy filing. This does not have to be overt fraud either. If you took out a loan or took on credit shortly before your bankruptcy filing, and it appears to the judge that you could not afford it, the bankruptcy will not discharge that newly acquired debt.
  • Knowing and using bankruptcy exemptions to the best advantage. Certain property is exempt from consideration in a bankruptcy. You will not lose that property to pay off your creditors. There are federal bankruptcy exemptions and state bankruptcy exemptions, which can vary a great deal between states. Exemptions cover things like houses, cars, occupational possessions, and valuable personal property. Knowing which exemptions exist and how to utilize them is an extremely important determination to help you get through bankruptcy as smoothly as possible.

Perhaps the best reason to avoid pursuing a bankruptcy pro se, or on your own, is that the bankruptcy court, bankruptcy judge, your bankruptcy trustee, and your creditors will not treat you any differently. Just because you are unfamiliar with the process, they will not take it any easier on you or guide you through the process. They are not there to teach you or protect your interests. Everyone expects you to know the United States Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.

For guidance through the bankruptcy process, contact a Maryland or Washington DC bankruptcy attorney at the law firm of Kevin D. Judd.

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