Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Are your debts so great that you are just scraping by each month and are so deep in unmanageable debt that you can't figure out what to do next? Has your life become solely about finances to the extent you're arguing with your spouse, grouchy with your children and distracted at work? Filing bankruptcy can help eradicate debt and turn your life around. But before you decide to try and DIY your bankruptcy thinking it's something you can handle yourself, here are five things to consider.
#1 You are likely not to save money in the long run
If you're thinking it will cheaper to file bankruptcy without an attorney, think again. First, the filing fees are identical whether you file pro se (for yourself) or with an attorney. The lawyer fees themselves are usually quite reasonable for a Chapter 7. And while you wouldn't have to pay these if you filed on your own, you could lose money in other ways that could see you paying more in the long run. For one, if you mess up your documents and your case is dismissed, you have to refile and pay another filing fee.
#2 You are likely not to have all your possible debt dismissed
Working with a North Carolina bankruptcy expert means they know exactly which debts of yours can be discharged and will make sure these are all included in your bankruptcy petition. Without knowing the law, it's likely you won't include a comprehensive list and will miss some debts that could have been relieved. That means those bills will still be hanging over your head, and that can end up costing you far more than an attorney's fee.
#3 You are likely to be in over your head with the court system
The court system is complicated and a hassle to navigate. And the judge and Trustee in your case will expect you to act as an attorney would. That means they will not spoon feed you information or assist you in any way. In fact, their hands are tied, and they can't give you anything that would be construed as legal advice. And even reading up on the law itself doesn't help you understand the way the court itself operates and what is expected of you.
#4 You are likely to lose out to creditors in case of opposition
Your creditors have the opportunity to show up to protect your bankruptcy filing at the 341 Meeting of Creditors. And when they get the bankruptcy notice, they'll see you're operating without an attorney. With you acting pro se, they may pounce and object to every possible aspect of your case so they can to try and derail you to keep pursuing you for the full amount of the debt. It's in their best interest to try and get your case dismissed so they can resume collections.
#5 You are likely to find you're in more stress rather than less
One of the reasons to consider bankruptcy is that it can offer you peace of mind – you get out of debt and can have a fresh start. But if you're trying to combat creditors, figure out how the courts work, interpret the law and complete lengthy documents, you're likely to find more stress rather than less. And if your case is dismissed and you have to refile, it can grow progressively more stressful rather than less as it drags on, and your debts are still there.
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