Don’t Be On Your Own During Bankruptcy

August 9, 2010

A person who files a bankruptcy case without an attorney is called a pro se debtor.  “Pro se” is Latin meaning “for oneself;” in other words, you are on your own.  Being on your own during your bankruptcy may save a few upfront dollars, but can cost you plenty in the long run.  There are many negative consequences that are often unexpected and sometimes disastrous. 

The savings pro se debtors receive is minimal and the risk is great.  Attorney fees during bankruptcy are supervised by the United States Bankruptcy Court.  The federal bankruptcy law allows an attorney to collect reasonable compensation for services rendered during a bankruptcy case.  Consequently, bankruptcy attorneys charge similar fees in order to stay competitive, and attorneys must disclose their fee to the bankruptcy court.   

When you are represented by an experienced bankruptcy attorney you receive several benefits.  Your attorney brings years of experience and knowledge in areas including the Federal Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the bankruptcy court’s local rules, federal bankruptcy case law, and state and federal exemption and collection laws.  Your attorney is also familiar with the bankruptcy judge, the bankruptcy trustee, and local creditor practices. 

When you are represented, you will have counsel at the Meeting of Creditors with the bankruptcy trustee.  The trustee assumes that a pro se debtor has made errors in the bankruptcy, and will grill the pro se debtor and scrutinize the bankruptcy case.  When you are represented, your attorney helps you answer any trustee questions, and can file motions and responses via the court’s electronic filing system.  When you are on your own you must mail or personally file documents with the court and must appear before the bankruptcy judge to reaffirm a debt. 

The federal law guarantees open access to the courts and permits self representation in lawsuits, including bankruptcy proceedings.  However, the benefit of having an experienced bankruptcy attorney at your side far outweighs any savings proceeding on your own.  Consult with an experienced attorney and discover how the federal bankruptcy laws can help you.

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