Many debtors believe that they can go it alone and file bankruptcy without hiring an experienced Las Vegas bankruptcy lawyer. They reason that bankruptcy is a straightforward process and that a lawyer just costs money. A recent report from the Central District of California bankruptcy court http://ecf-ciao.cacb.uscourts.gov/Communications/prose/annualreport/2011/ provides plenty of data that disprove this theory. Here are 10 findings that suggest hiring a lawyer will improve the chances of your bankruptcy’s success.
- Unnecessarily filing in the first place – There are circumstances in which debtors are better off negotiating with their creditors than filing bankruptcy.
- Failure to file required documents, resulting in dismissals – It’s one thing for a petitioner to voluntarily withdraw his or her petition, but it’s another entirely when the court dismisses the case. The debtor wastes everyone’s time and money.
- Filing in an inappropriate chapter – Not all debtors should file in Chapter 7
- Choosing incorrect property exemptions – Exemptions can be convoluted, and a lawyer can be very helpful in choosing whether to choose between the state and federal exemptions, which isn’t a problem in Nevada.
- Not filing the credit counseling or financial management certificate – This is a requirement thanks to the 2005 bankruptcy law that was meant to prevent abusive filings. An apparent side effect is preventing pro se filings as well.
- Not understanding or adequately defending against adversary motions or motions to deny discharge – Losing motions to creditors can result in serious reduction in the outcome of one’s bankruptcy. Worse, a petitioner might be granted a discharge for some debts but will be stuck paying down others.
- Many pro se filers only use bankruptcy to prevent a foreclosure via the automatic stay. Once their cases are dismissed, they might be unable to benefit from the automatic stay in a subsequent filing.
- According to the report, in the Central District of California, only 61 percent of pro se petitioners reached a discharge as opposed to 95 percent of those represented by an attorney. 39 percent of pro se petitioners cases were dismissed while only five percent of those represented by attorneys had their cases dismissed.
- Chapter 13 cases frequently fail to make it to completion in the 3-5 years allotted to them. 55 percent of such cases aren’t successful even when an attorney is present, but for pro se petitioners, the success rate is only 0.4 percent.
- Many people who seek the help of pro bono legal services for addressing their credit problems chose against filing bankruptcy, implying that many pro se petitioners file needlessly.
Although the survey covers only the Central District of California, its findings are applicable to the rest of the country, even if pro se petitioners succeed more often in other districts. It’s a compelling reason to hire a competent Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney to handle your case.
For more questions about bankruptcy in Las Vegas, please feel free to contact an experienced Haines & Krieger Las Vegas bankruptcy attorney for a free initial consultation. Call us at 702-880-5554 to set up your free consultation.