Filing for bankruptcy is an extremely personal decision. It can also be a very emotional decision. Filing for bankruptcy may be done by an individual without the help of an attorney, but there are consequences if a mistake is made. Corporations and partnerships are not allowed to file for bankruptcy without an attorney.
Important Concerns Surrounding Bankruptcy
Some examples of important concerns in making sure your bankruptcy is filed, and completed accurately include:
- If a person files a document with mistakes or missing information, the person’s case might be dismissed, with negative effects on future filings;
- If a person fails to file a necessary document, the person’s case might be dismissed, with negative effects on future filings;
- If a person forgets to list a debt or debts for which the person seeks discharge, those debts may not be discharged;
- If a person does something dishonest, a judge may deny discharge of all debts of the debtor;
- If a person fails to attend required credit counseling from an approved provider, the person’s case might be dismissed, with negative effects on future filings;
- If a person fails to file a statement of compliance with credit counseling requirements, the person’s case may also suffer negative effects; and
- Homeowners who are having trouble or have fallen behind in making their mortgage payments may not know that they may have options that would allow them to avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy, and therefore may lose these options.
These are only a few examples of the pitfalls an individual may run into in filing for a bankruptcy alone.
Other Areas of Caution
Beware of bankruptcy petition preparers who do not comply with all legal requirements. The role of non-attorney petition preparers is solely to type information on bankruptcy forms, which are available on the United States Courts website at no charge.
Petition preparers are barred by law from providing legal advice—they cannot explain how to answer legal questions or assist in bankruptcy court. Petition preparers must sign all documents they prepare; print their name, address, and social security number on such documents; and furnish copies to the debtor. They cannot sign a document on the debtor’s behalf or receive payment from the debtor for court fees.
If you make the important decision of filing a bankruptcy, you probably did not make that decision easily. It is extremely important to make the most of your filing, and obtain any necessary, experienced help that you need in order to do so.