• Hiring a lawyer to file my bankruptcy petition seems expensive. After all, I’m filing for bankruptcy because I’m broke – why should I pay a lawyer? Can’t I do it myself?

Sure. People file pro se bankruptcy petitions all the time. Usually, however, they regret not having the assistance of counsel.

For instance, Chapter 7 debtors whose unsecured debt exceeds a certain threshold amount (generally $100,000) must produce copious documentation to their bankruptcy trustees prior to being granted a discharge. This can be a time- consuming, costly and confusing process which, if not handled correctly, often ends badly for the debtor. Debtors who have assets they wish to retain and protect from liquidation may run into serious difficulties if the assets are not properly exempted from the bankruptcy estate, or if their bankruptcy petitions and schedules are not forthright concerning the existence of such assets.

Likewise, a debtor who either forgets about a particular debt, or purposely omits a debt from a bankruptcy schedule, may be in for a rude awakening when that debt is not discharged, or he is sued by the creditor owed the debt. As my grandmother might say, forgoing competent bankruptcy counsel to save a few bucks is “penny wise and pound foolish.”

The decision to file for bankruptcy is a momentous one. If there’s ever a time to invest in qualified legal representation, it’s when a simple clerical error or misfiled document could impair not only your present ability to obtain a fresh financial start, but also your future ability to manage your debts and obtain credit, employment and housing.

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