So, you’re filing or filed a bankruptcy in Maryland, and you’re not using an attorney? You think lawyers are expensive? We often are, but so too is the cost of entering into an irreversible bankruptcy without guidance.
They call the form that opens a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy the Voluntary Petition. Once that petition is filed with the United States Bankruptcy Court, however, the voluntary portion ends. When you file a chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can’t just dismiss the case. You can ask the court, but if the court or trustee discovers some asset that you did not or can not exempt (i.e. protect) you may be stuck. Chapter 13 bankruptcies aren’t that bad, because you have the right to voluntarily dismiss that case should you choose, but until you do get your case dismissed, you can do a lot of damage to your situation.
Are some people successful filing Bankruptcy in Maryland without the assistance of counsel? Yes, but the success rate is significantly lower than that of represented parties. Are some people harmed by their attorneys? Yes. Attorneys can and do make mistakes. New attorneys or attorneys new to Bankruptcy tend to jump into this practice area with both feet and unfortunately, sometimes they land on an unsuspecting debtor.
So I filed a Pro Se Bankruptcy in Maryland, What Could Go Wrong?
Well, let’s start with your objectives. You filed bankruptcy to get out of debt, right? What type of debt do you have? Is it all dischargeable? Are you getting the maximum discharge? Do you need to file an Adversarial Proceeding to Determine the Dischargeability of a debt in order for it to be discharged? Did you list all of your debts? What happens when you fail to list a debt?
Did you file to protect your assets? Are you due a large tax refund? Is your homestead equity covered by the exemption? Were you garnished in the last 90 days? Did your list all of your assets?
What are the consequences? Lost home, lost car, lost tax refund, lost savings or investment account? If you don’t properly fill out the means test or attempt to exemption plan on your own (a common mistake for pro se filers) you could have transfers undone and the property seized. You could be forced to convert to a different chapter or worse, denied a discharge, which would impact future attempts to resolve your debts.
Scared yet? You should be.
I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years. If I were going to file bankruptcy for myself, I’d go hire a lawyer. So should you.
If you are planning to file, or have already filed bankruptcy in Maryland and you need help. Please do not delay. Call us, call our competitors, but call somebody.