If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you are likely trying to find every way possible to save money. Many people think they can save money by representing themselves in their filing. This is called filing “pro se” or without the assistance of an attorney. Sadly, many cases filed by pro se debtors end up costing them much more!
Why are pro se filings often not successful? Bankruptcy law can be complex and court procedures can be confusing. We attend years of school to learn how to understand the law and to best represent you in court. While there are “do it yourself” websites and books, they cannot replace retaining an experienced lawyer that practices in your jurisdiction to review your individual circumstances and provide the advice and guidance you need. We understand how the local bankruptcy court operates, and we are familiar with the trustees and judges that will be handling your case. This can make a significant difference in ensuring that your case goes smoothly.
There are a few areas where pro se debtors commonly make mistakes in their case:
- Chapter 7 means test. The means test is a formula used by the court to determine whether or not you are eligible to file a Chapter 7 case. The formula can be confusing and if it is not applied correctly, it could result in your case being dismissed.
- Deadlines. Bankruptcy courts have strict deadlines, which can vary from district to district. Thus, DIY sources often provide general guidance, but many pro se debtors miss important deadlines that cause their case to be dismissed.
- Exemptions. It is common for a pro se debtor to have an asset seized by the trustee to pay creditors because the proper exemption was not claimed. There are numerous exemptions in Florida that protect a variety of different assets. We can help ensure that all of the applicable exemptions are properly claimed in your case so you can maximize the assets you can keep.
There are several other pitfalls that a pro se debtor may encounter during the bankruptcy process. Thus, if you are considering filing an individual Chapter 7, 11 or 13, contact us to learn how we can actually save you money.