Individuals can file bankruptcy without an attorney, which is called filing pro se. However, seeking the advice of a qualified attorney is strongly recommended because bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal outcomes.
Filing personal bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 takes careful preparation and understanding of legal issues. Misunderstandings of the law or making mistakes in the process can affect your rights. Court employees and bankruptcy judges are prohibited by law from offering legal advice.
The following is a list of ways your lawyer can help you with your case.
Advise you on whether to file a bankruptcy petition.
Advise you under which chapter to file.
Advise you on whether your debts can be discharged.
Advise you on whether or not you will be able to keep your home, car, or other property after you file.
Advise you of the tax consequences of filing.
Advise you on whether you should continue to pay creditors.
Explain bankruptcy law and procedures to you.
Help you complete and file forms.
Assist you with most aspects of your bankruptcy case.
Homeowners who are having trouble making mortgage payments and/or have fallen behind on their payments may have options that would allow them to avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy.
A chapter 7 bankruptcy case does not involve the filing of a plan of repayment as in chapter 13. Instead, the bankruptcy trustee gathers and sells the debtor's nonexempt assets and uses the proceeds of such assets to pay holders of claims (creditors) in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. Part of the debtor's property may be subject to liens and mortgages that pledge the property to other creditors. In addition, the Bankruptcy Code will allow the debtor to keep certain "exempt" property; but a trustee will liquidate the debtor's remaining assets. Accordingly, potential debtors should realize that the filing of a petition under chapter 7 may result in the loss of property.
A chapter 13 bankruptcy is also called a wage earner's plan. It enables individuals with regular income to develop a plan to repay all or part of their debts. Under this chapter, debtors propose a repayment plan to make installments to creditors over three to five years. If the debtor's current monthly income is less than the applicable state median, the plan will be for three years unless the court approves a longer period "for cause." (1) If the debtor's current monthly income is greater than the applicable state median, the plan generally must be for five years. In no case may a plan provide for payments over a period longer than five years. 11 U.S.C. § 1322(d). During this time the law forbids creditors from starting or continuing collection efforts.
Disclaimer: Jeffrey R. Kays provides the information in this web site for informational purposes only. The information does not constitute legal advice. The use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Further communication with our attorneys through the web site and e-mail may not be considered as confidential or privileged. Please contact our attorneys if you wish to discuss in more detail the contents of this web site.