Bankruptcy Not Just Filling Out Forms

24 Sep Bankruptcy Not Just Filling Out Forms

forms

I spoke recently at a CLE (Continuing Legal Education) event for new bankruptcy practitioners or those thinking about doing bankruptcy cases. One of my colleagues was also speaking and was discussing fees for bankruptcy cases. My colleague stated, “bankruptcy is not just about filing out forms and collecting your fee.” So true.

Unfortunately, there are many out there who would imply that it is just that. Some websites will have you “call around and ask the attorney to see if that attorney’s fees are cheaper. Some sites state that, with the correct “form,” you can determine whether you qualify for a chapter 7 case. If price is your only consideration, to quote an old adage that “you get what you pay for“, you may be destined for trouble.

Sometimes, it is not about “completing forms” but knowing the legal importance of those forms and the impact of bankruptcy on YOU. Often, completing the forms and attending the creditors’ meeting is the easy part. Knowing and advising you appropriately is the hard part and that is what you are paying your attorney to do.

As an example, in one instance, I was able to advise a gentleman that he would most likely qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy and get rid of almost $60,000.00 in debt. There could be a few wrinkles but we could manage the wrinkles. The actual “case” part of the gentleman’s chapter 7 case went fine but it was the reassurance and thinking prior to filing where I earned my fee.

In another example, a lady used a forms provider and she filed bankruptcy by herself. Because she was concerned that her house was “paid for” and she did not want the trustee to get the house so she “deeded” it over to her son. The trustee found out and commenced a “fraudulent transfer” action to recover the house to sell it to pay her creditors. If only she had consulted with an attorney.

My colleague was correct. Bankruptcy is not about filling out a few forms and collecting a fee. It is about the knowledge and experience that goes into knowing how, why and when to complete those forms and file them that justifies the fee.

Experience does not come cheap.

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Adrian Lapas, Esq.

I've been practicing bankruptcy law in North Carolina since 1993, and am certified as a specialist in consumer bankruptcy law by the North Carolina State Bar.
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