Filing a bankruptcy petition without an attorney can be a vastly time consuming task. You will need to learn a couple of procedures, laws, and documents. It is not an impossible task but due to the effort required it is quite easy to make a mistake during the process or even before you are ready to file. Here some of the common mistakes you can avoid in the filing of a bankruptcy case.
Filing for Bankruptcy When It’s Not the Right Choice
Simply because you are in some debt or you missed one payment does not mean filing for bankruptcy is the best option for you. Some debts that are incurred can’t be discharged. Even more, if you have some assets that you are not willing to let go you could lose them if you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To help a debtor decide on whether they should file for bankruptcy they should consider the type of debt they want to wipe out, whether they own any non-exempt property, or whether they can afford to pay. The best way to avoid this mistake is to talk to at least two (2) experienced attorneys and make your won decision.
Filing Under the Wrong Bankruptcy Chapter
Most of the people who file for bankruptcy believe they should file a Chapter 7 so they don’t have to pay anything back. Although it is true that most of your debt will be forgiven in a Chapter 7, if you have any nonexempt assets, they will be taken by the trustee and liquidated to help appease your creditors.
Other people will sometimes file a Chapter 13 because they believe they do not qualify for a Chapter 7 due to one consultation with an attorney or from what they have read on the internet. However, it has been our experience that several people that think they do not qualify for a Chapter 7 actually do because of there case is actually more complex than they understand, and/or an attorney they consulted with does not know all the exceptions and rules of the means test that will allow them to actually file a Chapter 7.
It is important to know what situation you are in and what chapter you should file so that you receive the best possible outcome. If you have been told you do not qualify for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 by an attorney, it is best to get a second opinion.
Not Completing Bankruptcy’s Credit Counseling or Debtor Education Requirements
If you are interested in filing for bankruptcy and plan on receiving a discharge you are required to complete debtor education and credit counseling courses. You are required to receive credit counseling before you file for bankruptcy. When filing for you will need to submit a certificate of completion to the court. If you don’t complete the course the court may dismiss your case.
Furthermore, after you file your case, you must also complete a course debtor education course. If you don’t complete the debtor education requirement, the court will not issue a discharge in your bankruptcy.
The following should be understood when trying to complete the bankruptcy credit counseling and debtor education classes:
- The initial credit counseling course generally must be taken before the bankruptcy case is filed.
- Your bankruptcy case can be dismissed if you do not take the initial credit counseling course.
- The bankruptcy case should be filed within six (6) months of the initial credit counseling case being taken.
- Joint (married) bankruptcy filers can generally take the initial credit counseling course together at the same time.
- The second debtor education course cannot be taken until after the bankruptcy case is filed.
- The second debtor education course should be taken within sixty (60) days after your first meeting date with the bankruptcy trustee. See 11 U.S. Code § 341.
- Joint (married) bankruptcy filers must each take the debtor education course separately.
- If you do not take the second debtor education course, your case can be closed without you receiving a bankruptcy discharge.
- Both course can generally be taken on the internet, on the phone or in person. However, the internet courses are almost always the fastest way to take the courses.
Not Filing Bankruptcy Forms Correctly With the Court
When filing for bankruptcy you are required to complete a packet of documents which include your petition, schedules, statement of financial affairs, and other necessary documents. If you did not hire an attorney it is your responsibility to know which documents to file and how. Problem is for most people filing for their selves (without an attorney) is that they will make the following mistakes:
- filing the wrong documents with the court (the Southern, Middle and Northern District of Georgia each have different rules and requirements, along with other states)
- filing incomplete documents with the court
- filing incorrectly completed documents with the court
- failing to file required forms and documents with the court
- filing documents too late with the court, which causes minor or very serious problems with the case
Not Following the Rules of Your Local Bankruptcy Court or Trustee
The rules of a bankruptcy court are generally the same with a few having a different rule or two but they must always be followed. After filing for bankruptcy the filer is usually required to provide the trustee with certain documents meaning that the trustee might have rules of their own that the filer must follow. Failure to follow those rules may cause a delay or even a dismissal of your case.
Not Using Bankruptcy Exemptions Properly
Exemption in a bankruptcy allow you to retain a certain amount of property in chapter 7 and lessen the amount you pay to unsecured creditors in a chapter 13. Exemptions are paramount because they can be the defining line in you keeping or losing an asset, such as your house, in a bankruptcy.
Not Going to Your Meeting of Creditors
After you initially file for bankruptcy, usually between 30 to 40 days, you are required to attend a meeting of creditors or, as it is sometimes known, the 341 hearing. At the meeting the trustee will ask you questions while you are under oath about your financial affairs, which you are obligated to answer truthfully. You will receive a notice from the court, usually by mail, containing the information of your 341 hearing. Failure to show might result in the dismissal of your case.
Not Filing a Feasible Chapter 13 Repayment Plan
If you file for a chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will allow repayment of your debt in the form of a repayment plan. You can make a proposition on the terms of the repayment plan and then the court will review your proposition and make a decision. If it is not a fair repayment plan the creditors and the trustee and object to it, causing the court to make a decision that will probably not be in your favor.
Not Retaining an Experienced Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney
A lot of the problem that people experience in their bankruptcy case could have been avoided by being diligent in their search for an experienced bankruptcy attorney. If you would like to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, call us at 770-609-1247. We offer free consultations for qualifying cases. Contact >