Should I represent myself in NYC bankruptcy court?

The U.S. Courts might say it best on their website.  “While individuals can file a bankruptcy case without an attorney or “pro se,” it is extremely difficult to do it successfully.” Filing for bankruptcy in New York is very complicated.  Most attorneys will agree it is generally a bad idea to go it alone in bankruptcy court.  Considering what’s in question there is very little value, and very high risk associated with filing bankruptcy without an attorney.

A bankruptcy case must be filed and managed correctly or there could be severe consequences as a result. Bankruptcy laws are very technical and mistakes are not easily forgiven by the court.   Cases are regularly dismissed for failures to file the required documents, and slip-ups can be costly toward future rights and future bankruptcy protections.  With your financial future and lasting legal ramifications at stake, working with an attorney is absolutely necessary.

Most consumers do not realize how involved filing a bankruptcy can be in New York.  Local bankruptcy codes must be complied with in addition to the federal bankruptcy laws.  New bankruptcy laws have many additional filing requirements and deadlines that are best managed by an experienced professional.  Having a case dismissed because it is mishandled is bad enough, but the consequences of improper filing don’t necessarily stop there.

You could potentially lose your possessions as well.  In addition to complicated filing requirements, consumers also need to know how to protect their assets through the specific exemptions in New York.  Understanding the exemptions is crucial to stopping the collection efforts from creditors. Consumers representing themselves often loose major possessions including homes, automobiles and more because they did not know how to appropriately protect their assets per these exemptions.

It could get even worse than losing a car or house.  Bankruptcy petitioners that are not familiar with the law might even create a situation where their friends or relatives end up getting sued.  Certain statutes pertaining to pre-bankruptcy transactions and personal repayments exist in New York that give the bankruptcy trustee the power to sue the friends and relatives of pro se petitioners.  Trustees will not hesitate to go after the family and friends of petitioners who may have been unaware of the future ramifications of their pre-bankruptcy activity at the time of their filing.

Simply completing the required bankruptcy forms correctly will not necessarily translate to the discharge or protection a pro se petitioner is looking for either. There is a lot to know.   From the outside looking in the bankruptcy process may appear relatively straightforward, but in the view of most all legal professionals as well as the US courts, a bankruptcy attorney is needed in order to successfully file for bankruptcy.

Some petition preparation services claim the process can be handled without an attorney.  Remember, only an attorney can offer legal advice, and just because a company is filling out the bankruptcy forms on your behalf doesn’t mean it will be done in a way that will fully protect you.

If you live in New York and are considering bankruptcy relief please contact the Law Office of William Waldner for a free bankruptcy consultation.  After the free consultation most clients will understand the complex nature of filing a bankruptcy and will feel better knowing they are in expert hands.  We only practice Bankruptcy Law and are always here to help.

Call 212-244-2882 to arrange a free bankruptcy consultation today.  Mention this blog post when scheduling by referencing the promotional code: IRS212 to receive the required 3 bureau credit report, and required credit counseling course, both free with any signed retainer agreement.

This article is intended for educational purposes only.  By reading this article no attorney-client relationship has been created.