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Do You Need a Lawyer to File for Bankruptcy? – Legal Reader

It is fairly unlikely for an ordinary person’s bankruptcy to be challenged at the Meeting of Creditors. It is generally the paperwork that trips people up.


There are few things that are easier to understand the concept of being broke. Almost everyone has been there and you would think it would be very easy to explain. However, if the person you are explaining it to is a bankruptcy trustee, it might not be quite as simple as you think.

Documenting the fact that your pockets are empty and the reason for it is the key to a successful bankruptcy. Although you are not required to be represented by counsel when you file for bankruptcy, it is always a good idea. 

The Drawbacks to a Do It Yourself Bankruptcy

When a person represents themselves in court, it is called pro se. It is possible to file for bankruptcy pro se. If you do, you will not have to pay a lawyer to represent you. Although this may seem like an economical way to get things done, it can end up costing you more. 

If you fill out your paperwork incorrectly, your bankruptcy may not go through and you may end up having to file again. The filing fee for a Chapter 7 in the state of New York is $338 and $310 If you file a Chapter 13. The court expects you to pay this no matter how dire your financial situation. 

What are the Steps to Filing Bankruptcy?

The first thing you will need to do when you file for bankruptcy is collect all the necessary documents. You will need things like bank statements, pay stubs from your job, and your most recent tax return.

You will want to collect documentation of your liabilities. You will need credit card statements and a copy of the lease or mortgage to your home. If you have a car loan, you will want to make a copy of that as well. 

Although a bankruptcy will not forgive student loans and government debt, you will still want to bring documentation if you owe the Internal Revenue Service money or if you have loans for school that are unpaid.

You will then have to take a credit management class. Credit counseling is required by the state of New York for all persons who are filing for bankruptcy. If you think that you will have to attend multiple classes for weeks on end, fear not, it only takes about an hour and you will incur only a nominal fee.

Petition to file for bankruptcy; image by Melinda Gimpel, via Unsplash.com.
Petition to file for bankruptcy; image by Melinda Gimpel, via Unsplash.com.

You will then need to fill out a lot of forms with the state. There are over 20 forms and they all contain plenty of legalese. These forms are the reason that you need an attorney. A bankruptcy attorney will have years of experience in filling out all the necessary paperwork.

You will get a notice of your hearing from your trustee. A trustee reviews bankruptcy cases. You will be required to mail the trustee some of the documentation that you have. You will also be expected to take a second credit management class known as a bankruptcy class.

You will then pay the filing fee and a hearing date will be set. You will attend your Meeting of Creditors and your bankruptcy will be discharged.

It is fairly unlikely for an ordinary person’s bankruptcy to be challenged at the Meeting of Creditors. It is generally the paperwork that trips people up. Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer may be expensive, but being able to move on with your life in a timely fashion will make it all worthwhile.

Source:

https://www.nysb.uscourts.gov/payment-filing-fees

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