Filing Bankruptcy

Advice when filing bankruptcy must be provided by a qualified attorney

For over 90% of debtors, filing personal bankruptcy is a once in a lifetime event. No one wants to file, yet circumstances often grow beyond control and court relief may offer the best avenue for financial recovery. The benefits and burdens of personal bankruptcy should be carefully weighed against non-bankruptcy alternatives. When considering a voluntary bankruptcy filing, a little planning can produce big results and may assure an uneventful discharge. Also be aware, filing bankruptcy while separated creates unique advantages and disadvantages for spouses.

Preparing to file bankruptcy after new laws

For many debtors, the decision to file is delayed until asset depletion causes extreme economic hardship. After stoic determination to repay creditors, low cost bankruptcy filing may be only option available. Certainly, individuals may file pro se, that is, file without an attorney using various sources of free help with filing bankruptcy. But be aware that services are usually free for a reason, and be certain to verify the underlying motivation driving donations of free legal advice. Credit card companies are quick to offer free advice, and almost always, this advice includes full payment of credit card debts. Full repayment may or may not be in the best interest of debtors when considering the wide range of alternatives today. Also be careful. Even though free forms for filing bankruptcy widely available, the forms themselves are worthless until completed in strict compliance with all applicable laws, rules and court procedures. These forms require many complex legal decisions pertaining to financial disclosures, elections of remedies, and interpretations of current law. These decisions determine the success or failure of each case.

Many software programs are available to assist debtors, even filing bankruptcy online through the Court's electronic filing system. These software programs also attempt to offer assistance and help with formulating answers and completing forms. One of the primary benefits of these software programs is the error checking feature. These program generally provide alerts for common errors and omissions. Nevertheless, the repercussions of filing bankruptcy with defective forms remains the same, whether represented by an attorney, using software programs, or using a do-it-yourself-kit.

Legal compliance when filing bankruptcy under all chapters

The Clerk's requirements when filing for bankruptcy should be verified because Local Rules are subject to change without notice. Most often, the Clerk's Office will provide a list of required documents, fee disclosure, office hours, and access to their version of "official" instructions. These instructions do not provide legal advice or explain the range of options available, and in fact the law prohibits the court's personnel from offering any interested party what may be consider legal advice. If electing bankruptcy filing for Chapter 7, the case ordinarily lasts about four months, from the date the petition is filed, until the order of final discharge from the court. Be aware, all cases are not ordinary and may take longer. If filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, confirmation of an acceptable plan usually takes 60 to 90 days. Thereafter, the plan begins and debtors must continue making timely payments until the end of the plan. After October 17, 2005, all plans must last five years and contribute all disposable income into the plan, before receiving a discharge of remaining balances.