Is Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney a Good Idea?
If you are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kentucky, you may be concerned about the expense of completing and submitting your petition. Maybe you think your finances aren’t all that complicated, and that it might be better for you to complete the petition yourself or hire a bankruptcy petition preparer instead of a bankruptcy attorney. However, these moves can end up costing you valuable time while your debts continue to grow and could result in additional costs in the form of re-filing your petition should it be rejected.
Filing a petition on your own, called filing pro se, can be a dangerous move. Many pro se filers underestimate the complexity of their own finances and of the bankruptcy petition forms. Strict requirements on the accuracy and completeness of these forms mean that many pro se petitioners’ filings are initially rejected by bankruptcy courts. Even worse, petitioners may lose valuable assets in the bankruptcy that an attorney could have assisted them in protecting. Hiring an attorney after a bankruptcy has already begun to go poorly can result in even greater expense than having an attorney from the beginning, and even an experienced bankruptcy attorney may not be able to undo all of the damage done.
What about Bankruptcy Petition Preparers?
Bankruptcy Petition Preparers are non-legal organizations that offer to complete the forms for a bankruptcy petition at a lower cost than you’d pay a bankruptcy attorney. These organizations may hold themselves out as being just as good as hiring a lawyer to file your petition, but petition preparers cannot offer anywhere near the same services as bankruptcy attorneys can. For instance, petition preparers cannot advise you on what form of bankruptcy to file (e.g. Chapter 7 or Chapter 13), which assets are the best candidates for exclusion or inclusion in your bankruptcy, and how to value your assets. They may only complete the forms on your behalf, reflecting your own decisions based on laws you may not fully understand. Even the website for the bankruptcy court for Kentucky’s Western District cautions bankruptcy petitioners against filing their bankruptcy pro se and offers warnings about using bankruptcy petition preparers. While the website offers a list of petition preparers which have been banned from preparing petitions for the Western District of Kentucky court, there is no such list of recommended preparers. The court strongly advises the use of an attorney to navigate the complex, high-stakes process of filing for bankruptcy.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Kentucky, ensure that you make the best possible decisions for your financial future by consulting with experienced Bowling Green consumer law and bankruptcy attorney Lanna Martin Kilgore, at 270-846-3700.