Help Filing Bankruptcy
When filing bankruptcy, you can either file your case pro se, hire a petition planner or an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Today, our professionals at ZocLaw.com bring to light a few important points that may help you determine exactly what help, if any, may be best for your bankruptcy case.
Filing bankruptcy pro se (without an attorney)
When you file bankruptcy without an attorney, it is up to you to determine which Chapter to file under, whether or not your debts will be discharged and how to protect valuable property. In addition, you will also be required to create your bankruptcy petition that contains standard bankruptcy forms as well as documents that describe your current financial situation. For Chapter 13 filers, you have to include a Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan that will demonstrate your ability to pay debt with future income. If any discrepancies arise at either your confirmation hearing or your 341 Creditor’s meeting, you will be expected to address it on your own. Bankruptcy trustees are not going to be easy on you simply because you do not have legal representation. On the up side, filing bankruptcy on your own eliminates the fees associated with hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney or a petition preparer.
Filing bankruptcy by hiring a petition preparer
A petition planner is essentially a non-attorney typing service with access to bankruptcy filing software that allow them to created your bankruptcy petition. However, it is under your strict guidance and direction. Since petition planners are not lawyers, they cannot:
- Advise you on whether you should file a Chapter 7 or 13.
- Provide insight as to whether a bankruptcy is the best debt management strategy for you.
- Provide legal representation at bankruptcy hearings.
- Tell you what debts can be discharged or what exemptions you may claim.
- Advise you on any matters relating to your bankruptcy filing.
The scope of a petition preparer’s duty is limited to merely typing your bankruptcy petition based on the information that you provide. It is up to you to research how bankruptcy laws work, which debts are dischargeable, what state and federal exemptions you may be entitled to and any other matter pertaining to filing bankruptcy.
Filing bankruptcy with the help of a lawyer
When you hire a bankruptcy attorney, he or she will handle your case from the start. All you have to do is be as forthcoming as possible with your attorney, provide the necessary documents and be sure to attend all of the bankruptcy hearings. Your attorney understands the intricacies of the bankruptcy process and will be able to advise you accordingly should any legal issues arise. Although filing pro se or hiring a petition planner may cost significantly less, it may be the better choice in the long run to hire a bankruptcy attorney simply because a botched bankruptcy filing can have long-term adverse effects on your finances.
Cost of hiring a bankruptcy attorney
Bankruptcy attorneys’ fees depend on several factors including the type of bankruptcy you file and how complicated your case is. Most bankruptcy attorneys charge a flat rate for the bankruptcy filing. It could cost anywhere from $500.00 to $3,500 for a Chapter 7, and $2,500 to $6,000 for a Chapter 13.