Chapter 13 bankruptcy is quite the involved process, requiring not only a formidable stack of paperwork to begin the process but also a long and involved budgeting process that is meant to last for three to five years. Because of the long-term financial and personal consequences involved with bankruptcy, you should always consult a bankruptcy lawyer for help and assistance. However, every year, thousands of Americans attempt to navigate the US Bankruptcy Court on their own and because they aren’t familiar with the entire process, numerous mistakes are made. If you do decide to proceed against better judgment and filed Pro Se (on your own without the help of a Houston bankruptcy attorney, below are a few mistakes made by other bankruptcy filers that you should avoid.
Don’t Mail Out Notices
When you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your creditors receive a notice, as well as, your Chapter 13 reorganization plan. The US bankruptcy court will notify your creditors, so there is no need to do so yourself. If you are unsure, contact the county clerk or your bankruptcy case manager before dropping hundreds of dollars in postage to mail out your organization plan to your creditors. If for whatever reason, you speak with a credit card company that hasn’t received a notice, you can email or fax them the information from your bankruptcy filing.
Don’t Elaborate with Trustee
Once your bankruptcy paperwork is filled out and filed, you’ll get a date to meet with the bankruptcy trustee who will oversee your bankruptcy case at a 341 meeting. While bankruptcy attorneys can’t speak at this meeting for their clients, they can recourse prepare the debtor on how to avoid scrutiny of their bankruptcy case and the best way to answer questions. While it goes with saying that you should ALWAYS answer the question honestly (after all, you will be sworn in and lying constitutes perjury), you also should elaborate while answering any questions if possible. Answer any questions with a simple yes or no when applicable to avoid adding additional assets into your bankruptcy estate.
Know Where to Go for Special Forms
All the standard bankruptcy forms can be found on the US Bankruptcy Courts website, but can also be obtained from your local count clerk. Knowing which form to file can be quite confusing, but having advanced knowledge of where to find needed forms can be very helpful.
Don’t Stick Out from the Crowd
The straighter forward your bankruptcy case is, the better your chances of navigating a pro se filing smoothly and having your bankruptcy case confirmed. The more attention you draw to yourself or your case, the more likely your Chapter 13 bankruptcy will be heavily scrutinized by the bankruptcy trustee.
Contact a Bankruptcy Attorney
The majority of bankruptcy attorneys in Texas know the law and, just as important, know the trustees and players within your bankruptcy jurisdiction. This is invaluable information to have because it allows you to plan your bankruptcy strategy with confidence. It should be noted that very few Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases succeed without the help of bankruptcy attorney, and if you have had a pro se case dismissed without a debt discharge, it’s time to contact your local bankruptcy law firm to help you get the debt relief you need.