February 2, 2021
Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Bankruptcy in Virginia?
For many, bankruptcy can seem like their last option to save them from mounting debt. If you decide to begin the process of filing for bankruptcy, you may not want to spend money or just want to try to save money. Therefore, you might consider not hiring a bankruptcy lawyer to represent you in court.
While you may think it is cost-effective to not hire an attorney in the short-term, you will pay way more in the long term if anything goes wrong during the filing process. Filing for bankruptcy is a complicated process that requires many steps and knowledge to properly navigate. Any wrong step can throw out your case or lead to an unfavorable outcome. Worse yet, if you do not know the laws, you could put your property at risk.
Before you decide to go in alone, it’s important to understand what it takes to file for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Can You Legally File for Bankruptcy Yourself?
The short answer is yes.
There is nothing legally keeping you from filing for bankruptcy and representing yourself in court. This is called Pro Se, or “filing on your own”.
It is possible to represent yourself, but it requires a lot of time, knowledge, and management skills to successfully pull off.
What Can Go Wrong When Filing for Bankruptcy?
Filing for bankruptcy is a time consuming and complex process that requires a lot of paperwork and time management skills. Many things can go wrong along the way, and you need to have a clear idea of how every step works and what’s required of you.
Because of this complexity, filing either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 requires specific knowledge, paperwork and information and deal in different types of asset management. It can be a lot to handle if your sole focus isn’t on the case.
Here’s what can go wrong:
- File for the wrong chapter: The most common bankruptcy chapters are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Both types come with different requirements and solve specific problems with your debt. That’s why it’s important to fully understand your situation so you file for the correct chapter.
- Fail to file all of the required documents: In order to properly file for bankruptcy, you have to complete many lengthy forms from different sources. There’s the federal packet which you’ll find anywhere, along with your local forms provided by the court. If any document is not turned in, your case will be dismissed.
- Fail to file on time: Even if you do complete all of the required documents, you still need to turn them in to the proper parties at the specific due time. If you fail to do so, your case can be dismissed.
- Failing to protect property: Part of filing for bankruptcy is taking advantage of property exemptions. Yet, it’s very easy to forget some properties or fail to list the proper exemption. This puts you at risk for losing your valuable property if left unprotected.
- Failing to take required courses: An important step in filing for bankruptcy is taking the required credit counseling courses from approved providers. If you fail to take the proper financial management course, or don’t file the right certificate, then your case can quickly be dismissed.
- Fail to properly defend against motions for adversary actions: While most Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases go fairly smoothly if done properly, there’s always the chance that something can go wrong. One of your creditors can challenge whether a debt can be discharged, or the bankruptcy trustee can accuse you of committing fraud. If any of your documents or court motions are filled out improperly, you risk losing your case.
The Benefits of a Bankruptcy Attorney
Bankruptcy cases are complicated no matter what chapter you file for the amount of assets and debts you have. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney before taking the first step. At Cravens & Noll, we do not charge a fee for the initial consultation. A skilled and experienced bankruptcy attorney can help you:
- Find the right bankruptcy chapter for your situation
- Keep track of the documents and financial information you need to file
- Direct you to the right courses and certifications
- Create a repayment plan that’s within your best interests and appeases the court
- Defend you in court in case a creditor, trustee, or judge tries to push back
- Ensure from the outset that you will receive a discharge and relief from your debt
Consult Richmond’s Finest Bankruptcy Attorneys
When you’re considering filing for bankruptcy, make sure to call the bankruptcy attorneys at Cravens and Noll. Your initial consultation is at no cost. There really is no reason not to take some time to see how we can help you.
Our Richmond based law firm has decades of in-court experience in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. We work with you throughout the entire process, defending your best interests and ensure you get back on your feet with a fresh financial start and use your time to focus on other important things in your life.
Schedule a consultation to start taking control of your financial situation.