Aren’t there websites and self-help books that will help you file for Bankruptcy on your own?
There are websites and self-help books that will help you file for Bankruptcy on your own. These books will not tell you the whole picture. Your case may have a few twists and turns or you may not complete the papers correctly. There are always exceptions to the rules and changes in the case and statutory laws that may affect you adversely. Some self-helpers have a knack for understanding legal matters; other self-helpers have no property or income and if they follow the step by step directions they can successfully file in proper. Anyone else who represents themselves may have ‘a fool for an attorney’.
What happens if you file your petition and fail to follow the correct procedures and your case is dismissed? The Court can bar you from filing another bankruptcy for six months. If you file more than one bankruptcy in a year, the second filing protects you from your creditors for 30 days only, unless you file a motion to extend the automatic stay, have the hearing and obtain a Court Order extending the stay within those 30 days. If you file two cases within a year the third case you file does not have the protection of the automatic stay.
One of the first questions I ask on a consultation is ‘have you filed bankruptcy before, and if so, when?’ Many homeowners desperately working on loan modifications filed bankruptcy to stop a foreclosure and didn’t follow through with the bankruptcy so the bankruptcy was dismissed. Then they didn’t receive their modification and so they filed another bankruptcy while they were working on another modification, and this bankruptcy is also dismissed, and then the second loan modification falls through, so a third bankruptcy is filed, within a years’ time, to stop the foreclosure only the lender forecloses anyway. These people foolishly used up all of the protection a bankruptcy would have offered to save their home. Had these homeowners consulted with a bankruptcy attorney before they filed their first bankruptcy they might have saved their home?
Why do attorneys specialize? I can testify that I am not equipped to handle a personal injury case without a lot of studying. I do not draft wills and trusts. I continue to update myself in the legal realm of Bankruptcy Laws and Procedures. I am a specialist in Bankruptcy Law, certified by the Board of Legal Specialist for the State Bar of California with over twenty years experience. The legal landscape is constantly changing. If your purpose is to obtain a fresh start, wouldn’t you want the complete fresh start available? Missing the mark may cause you to be a slave to debt and ‘do-overs’ have consequences. Balance the cost of attorney fees with the amount of debt discharged.
Your credit score affects the cost you pay for things on credit, your employment, and your lifestyle. Bankruptcy has become more and more complicated. Finding someone with the right tools can be the difference between your ability to build a new life or drop deeper into debt slavery.
There is also a lot of misinformation on the internet or information that works in another state but not yours. The securitization of mortgages is a great example of how something may work in New York or Florida but not in California. Stories on the internet of a Judge awarding a homeowner a ‘free house’ because the lender could not prove it had the right to collect just didn’t happen in California because our State Laws governing foreclosure are different.
What if you forget to reaffirm your Auto Loan because you missed that chapter in the self-help book? You received your discharge, paid your monthly payment on time and the vehicle is properly insured but your lender repossesses your car anyway. Now, what are you going to do? You need the car to work, take the children to school and run errands. Maybe the vehicle was almost paid for. You find out you must Reopen your Bankruptcy Case for a fee of $235 to file the reaffirmation agreement and pay the costs to get the car back from the lender. The headaches and cost could have been prevented by hiring a real bankruptcy attorney.