I understand why people search for help on how to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy without a lawyer. Money is tight. You don’t think you can afford to hire a lawyer. While a person has an absolute right to represent themselves in court including bankruptcy proceedings it doesn’t mean you should do it. A person also has an absolute right to give themselves a root canal or remove their appendix, neither of which is a good idea.
There is a lot of financial information that needs to go into a Petition including any interest in real estate, personal property of any type or kind, all of your creditors, your financial history for the past couple of years and then there is the Means Test. Figuring out how to do this has confused bankruptcy judges across the country since 2005.
Don’t forget you have to exempt all of your property or you will lose it. Did you know next year’s tax refunds need to be listed and exempted? No? You just lost your refund. Think there might be other things you don’t know? Of course there is.
Well, even if that is all true, you still can’t afford a lawyer. You see a sign on the side of the road or a posting on Craigslist for a guy who can help you prepare your bankruptcy case. Cheap. Really cheap. Maybe $200.00. He is a bankruptcy petition preparer. You give him all the information he asks for, sign the documents where he tells you, and file the case. The petition preparer can’t go to court with you. He can’t even give you legal advice. He isn’t a lawyer and if he did that would be practicing law without a license.
The case is filed and you get your notice to appear at a hearing. You show up and a Chapter 7 Trustee is there to ask you questions. The Trustee also wants to know why you didn’t send certain information over before the hearing. The Trustee wants to know why you haven’t listed all of your property and why your Means Test is filled out wrong. You keep saying the bankruptcy petition preparer did it. You don’t really understand. Too late. What you don’t know may really, really be a problem. More bad news. If your case is totally messed up, you do not have a right to dismiss it and start over. If the Trustee starts seizing property that is not properly listed and exempted, your problems are just starting.
And when the Chapter 7 Trustee is done, the Department of Justice sends an attorney to the hearing to find out more about this bankruptcy petition preparer. Why? Because we have a problem with guys taking advantage of people with debt. You need help and they sell it to you cheap. You get what you pay for. Most of these guys are snake oil salesman looking for a quick buck. Take my word for it, they are clueless. Even the guys with a fancy website don’t know what they are doing. I have fixed their mistakes more than once.
To learn more about bankruptcy, please take some time to visit my website at: Downriver Bankruptcy.