Do I Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer?

We always recommend a free initial consultation prior to deciding to file for bankruptcy. During this telephone or in-person consultation, we’ll ask about your income, debts and assets and get a general understanding if why you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Pittsburgh.
While pro se bankruptcy filings (bankruptcy filings in which the debtor represents himself or herself) are not uncommon in Pennsylvania, there are a number of pitfalls that await the unwary debtor.
If you make mistakes while representing yourself, you can lose assets and you may not get the relief you were hoping for. Although there is a lot of “self-help” bankruptcy information online, there are plenty of laws that you will still not be aware of.

Bankruptcy is complicated even for bankruptcy lawyers. The law allows you to discharge some debts but not others. Bankruptcy exemptions allow you to protect some assets, but other assets may be seized by the trustee to pay your creditors.There are also different types of bankruptcy, and one may be better for you based on your financial situation.Here are some of the things that can go wrong when you file your own bankruptcy on a pro se basis:

  1. You could fail to obtain a discharge of debt, which means the court will not free you of some or all of the debts you have requested relief from.
  2. You could lose assets that are not protected by bankruptcy exemptions. This is not uncommon to the inexperienced filer who assumes some assets are protected, when in fact they are not.
  3. You could be charged with bankruptcy fraud. A worst case scenario that can land you in more trouble that you started with. Bankruptcy fraud can end in more debt or even jail time.
  4. You could file the wrong type of bankruptcy protection and not obtain the goals you wanted to achieve.
  5. You may need to hire a lawyer anyway to fix the mistakes in your application. You could end up having to hire a lawyer anyway to fix any mistakes or assumptions you have made yourself. This will only waste time, aggravate you and compound your situation.

Before you attempt to file bankruptcy on your own, you should talk to an experienced lawyer. Hiring an attorney may be less expensive than you think and could end up saving you thousands of dollars.