Filing Chapter 7 on Your Own?

Posted on May 22, 2013 at 3:39pm by

In today’s economy, just coming up with the resources to file bankruptcy can be tough.

But there’s a reason you want to hire an experienced attorney to file on your behalf, just as you would want to hire an experienced mechanic to work on your car.

Justin Harelik from Bankrate.com answers a consumer question on filing Chapter 7 without an attorney, and points out several other mistakes of those who attempt to file on their own.

Missing Required Schedules

You can download the bankruptcy petition and schedules on most bankruptcy court websites. Most of the sites are relatively user-friendly. You may even be able to enter your information directly onto those documents before you print them out.

Once you file your petition, it is reviewed by the clerk of court. The clerk will issue a notice of deficiency if you don’t file one or more required schedules. You have 15 days from the date that deficiency notice is filed to provide the missing schedule(s), or your case may be dismissed.

Not Sending in Required Trustee Documents

You are randomly assigned a bankruptcy trustee when you file your bankruptcy petition, along with a hearing date and time to meet with the trustee. The trustee reviews your petition, schedules and required documents. All trustees will want to see pay stubs for the 60 days prior to filing and the most recently filed tax returns. If you are self-employed, you will need to provide a business profit and loss, generally for the past six months, and two months’ worth of bank statements.

The trustee needs to see these documents a minimum of seven days prior to your hearing. If you fail to send in the required documents, the trustee has the right to dismiss your case. In most cases, though, the trustee wouldn’t dismiss the case immediately, but will continue your hearing to give you one more chance to comply. In many cases, the trustee will file a motion requiring you to explain to the judge at a separate hearing why you did not comply with the requirements.

Not Filing for the Second Credit Counseling Course

Prior to filing, you had to complete a credit counseling course and receive a certificate of counseling. After you file, you need to complete a second course, called Post-Petition Instruction Course Concerning Personal Financial Management.

If you do not complete and file the second course paperwork prior to the closing of your case, you will not receive a discharge. That is the whole point of filing, eliminating your debt. If the case is closed without receiving a discharge, you will have to file a motion to reopen your case for the purpose of proving you completed this second course certificate. That will cost you a filing fee to reopen the case.

In the end, you get what you pay for and not all attorneys (or attempts to file on your own) are created equal. Before you go any further with self-filing, give The Sader Law Firm a call for a free telephone consultation. Filing is more affordable than you may think and can help you avoid much more costly pitfalls of inexperience. Let our combined decades of experience work for you by calling 816-281-6349 today.



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