Friday, April 3, 2009

Are You Rolling the Dice by not Using an Attorney to File for Bankruptcy?

It seems like I am called or emailed weekly by someone who is now in trouble who filed bankruptcy without the help of an attorney. Unfortunately for consumers, the 2005 bankruptcy laws made it more complicated than ever to file for bankruptcy.

Today, a woman, let's call her Jane, contacted me. Jane recently filed her own bankruptcy and has had her bank account frozen. Jane is now unable to pay her bills (including mortgage, property tax, and utilities) and she does not even have money to pay for groceries. My heart really goes out to Jane and to all the other Janes out there. Unfortunately, she has a bigger and more expensive mess than she would have had if she had used a capable bankruptcy attorney in the first place. There are simple ways to avoid this situation and they are things I tell my clients every day. Before you file bankruptcy, you need to move your bank accounts to a bank that is completely separate from any banks who are your creditors. Many of the smaller, local banks are perfect for this - as are credit unions.

Another question also comes up from time to time - can I have a paralegal help me file for bankruptcy? For the answer to that question, I will send you to Linda Rantz's blog. To give you some perspective, Linda is an incredibly capable and experienced bankruptcy paralegal.

So, please be careful if you are going to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a very serious process that can be quite beneficial when you have adequate counsel. If you cannot afford to hire legal help try to see if you can obtain some pro bono (free) help instead. Often pro bono help is found in non-profit entities called Legal Services.

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