What happens to people who file bankruptcy
without an attorney?
(Like the certified bankruptcy attorney in the picture,
Across the country, we’ve found how the costs of filing have, in various ways, caused harm to those bankruptcy was designed to serve. Earlier this year, we reported on how black Americans in the South are far less likely to attain lasting debt relief from bankruptcy because steep, up-front attorney fees force them to choose bankruptcy payment plans they are likely to fail.
In Los Angeles, we found, vulnerable people with debt, particularly minorities and immigrants, are more likely to try navigating the system with no attorney at all. Many turn to unlicensed bankruptcy petition preparers like Baez, who often operate beyond what the law allows and hide their involvement in filings.
Court districts in other parts of the country with high numbers of pro se filings — places like Atlanta, Detroit and Milwaukee — have similar fraud problems, particularly involving unscrupulous petition preparers who flout the rules and overcharge for their services.
In Detroit, the U. S. Trustee and Judges have been fairly aggressive in pursuing and shutting down the scammers.
What Goes Wrong?
The scammers file without telling the debtor, the person filing, that they have to complete a credit counseling course before filing, and, another one after, in order to get a discharge of their debts.
Which is the goal in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
So, cases are dismissed outright, or closed without a discharge.
Not being lawyers, assets are not listed or listed and not exempted, and lost to the bankruptcy trustee when they could have been kept, by using a lawyer.
The Eastern District of Michigan bankruptcy court, headquartered in Detroit, has a program that supplies competent bankruptcy attorneys at no charge to low income people who qualify.
It is called Access to Bankruptcy Court, contact the court if you think you qualify.
DO NOT USE A PETITION PREPARER.
By rule, they are only allowed to charge $100 for typing the papers.
That is when you supple the filled out forms.
In practice, the scammers charge much more, do not report what they charge, fill out the forms for you, often incorrectly. And then tell you NOT to report what you did pay them, or you will get in trouble.
What About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
From the same pro publica article linked to above:
But even when debtors file with an attorney, Chapter 13 has its risks. Without an attorney, it’s almost hopeless.
Between 2008 and 2014, almost half of the Chapter 13 bankruptcies filed in the Central District of California were done without an attorney. About 85 percent of these pro sefilings were left incomplete, lacking the debtors’ basic financial information, according to ProPublica’s analysis. Nearly all were dismissed within a few months, meaning the debtors were back at square one with no debt relief.
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
The answer to the question, do you need an attorney to file bankruptcy? is
Get a free consultation with a qualified bankruptcy attorney.