DIY bankruptcy can cause big money headaches
Image source: griffithchris via Flickr Creative Commons
North Carolina consumers have had a tough few years recently. We're still in recession recovery mode and unemployment rates continue to be way too high in many areas of the state. If you're struggling financially, you may be thinking about filing bankruptcy. If you're worried about the cost, you may be considering trying to prepare your own petition and filing it yourself. But unless you understand bankruptcy law and have some expertise, your petition could be rejected or you could end up with less than the best results. Here are five reasons you need the services of an experienced attorney to file your bankruptcy:
#1 Bankruptcy laws are complex
Any area of the law is complicated, but bankruptcy is especially so. Not only are there thousands of pages of federal bankruptcy law, but there are a number of additional terms and conditions that vary based on the state you live in. If you don't comply with both federal and North Carolina laws, you will have wasted your time, your filing fees and put your financial future further at risk.
#2 Bankruptcy exemptions are important
Bankruptcy exemptions are what protect your income and assets during the bankruptcy process. If you don't fully understand what aspects of your finances are shielded from your creditors in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you can end up shortchanging yourself. If you miscalculate your bankruptcy means test, you may believe you don't qualify for this advantageous option when you actually do.
#3 Bankruptcy petitions must be prepared properly
Just like when you testify in court, documents that you file with the court must be accurate and complete. If you make mistakes in your petition or supporting schedules, this can be construed as fraud if these errors result in a more favorable outcome for your case. You can try and plead ignorance, but the expectation when you represent yourself in court is that you have the knowledge to do so.
#4 Bankruptcy payments can vary widely
If you want to file Chapter 13 so you can get a repayment plan to catch up on your mortgage or auto loan, trying to file on your own behalf is an even bigger risk. If you make a calculation error or include income that should be exempt, you can end up with larger plan payments than you would have had you used an experienced attorney. You also risk having your plan rejected if it's poorly constructed.
#5 Bankruptcy petitions don't come with “take-backs”
If you leave out creditors or make mistakes and your petition is accepted, you'll be stuck with a less than optimal result. You can't just go into court and say “whoopsie” and ask for a take-back. When you file your petition or payment plan, you're signing off on it being accurate and complete. The court will take you at your word. Once you file and it's accepted, you'll have to live with the outcome, no matter if it's unfavorable.
The law offices of John T Orcutt offers flexible solutions to pay for your bankruptcy filing. Contact us now for a free consultation to find out how bankruptcy can get you a financial fresh start that you can truly afford.